Forsaking electric instruments, Dando Shaft nevertheless radiated the same level of energy as electric British folk bands like Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span. Driven by hand percussion and standup bass, the Coventry-based group created a sound marked by intricate patterns and complex textures.
Formed as a five piece group, Dando Shaft initially featured the melodic interplay of guitarist/vocalists Dave Cooper and Kevin Dempsey and mandolin/violin player and vocalist Martin Jenkins.
Releasing their debut album, An Evening With, in 1970, Dando Shaft added Leamington Spa-born vocalist Polly Bolton, who had previously sung with June Tabor, before recording their second album, Dando Shaft, in 1971. While Bolton added the influence of Bulgarian music, sales of the band’s albums remained disappointing. After recording their third album, Lantaloon, in 1972, the group disbanded.
Following the demise of Dando Shaft, Jenkins went on to play with ex-Fairport Convention fiddler Dave Swarbrick in Whippersnapper, while Bolton embarked on a solo career.
Although it reunited to record an album, Kingdom, in 1977, the album failed to deliver the hoped-for commercial breakthrough and the members of Dando Shaft went their separate ways.