The Dollymopps

The Dollymopps are Virgil & Dorana Philpott and Justin Smith. They sing songs in harmony from the folk tradition of Southern England – and in particular, songs collected from their native Isle of Wight.  They have been singing together since 2005, during which time they have drawn favourable comment from the likes of Chris Wood, Shirley Collins and Heather Wood (of the Young Tradition).

The group started, out very much, as Copper Family aficionados but have long since developed an individual sound based upon rare source material, inventive arrangements and occasional use of open-tuned guitar accompaniments.  Their first CD “Long Songs” was released on their own ‘Rattletrap Records’ label in May 2011.  It featured traditional English folksongs from the collection of Nineteenth-Century Islander, W. H. Long.

The follow up CD (working title “Stately Southerners”) is scheduled for release on the, nationally distributed, WildGoose label in the Spring of 2013

Hellfire ClubTo answer a frequently asked question: the ‘Dollymopps’ name comes from Daniel P. Mannix’s highly scholarly (!) 1961 book The Hellfire Club about the life and times of Sir Francis Dashwood and the “mad monks of Medmenham”.

One particular, scene-setting passage about rakish nobility in Eighteenth Century London paints the following picture:

“…dollymopps were respectable girls who occasionally did a little soliciting on the side to pick up pocket money or just for fun… Flower girls who sold flowers in the street were often dollymopps.  So were milliners.  Sometimes they worked out of introducing houses (in which) meetings were arranged by go-betweens… although nothing improper was ever allowed to take place on the premises.”

For “soliciting” read singing, and for “introducing houses” read folk clubs, and you’ve pretty much got the original idea!

After using the name for several years it was discovered that Eighteenth Century slang also allowed for a more ‘graphic’ interpretation of the term dollymopp – but by that time it was too late to change!