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The Case for Topette!!'s Two Exclamation Marks

Updated: Aug 1

Topette!! came to Guildford on 30 June to play for our Summer Bal and got us thinking about punctuation in band names.

People dancing a bouree in front of Topette, a five piece band, in a beautiful church with arches, columns and ornate interior
Enjoying a bourrée at our Topette!! Summer Bal in St Nicolas' Parish Church. Image credit: Sharon Carter

How many bands do you know with exclamation marks in their name? We asked Google.

  • “WHAM!” (of course),

  • “Ultravox!” (but they dropped the ! in 1978 for commercial reasons),

  • “Panic! At the Disco” (ambiguous),

  • “!!!” (not only ungoogleable but also unpronounceable - the band suggested chk, chk, chk. What?), and

  • “Godspeed You! Black Emperor” or “Godspeed You Black Emperor!” (Despite the wandering exclamation mark, this Montreal band's music is surprisingly compelling, perhaps the best of this bunch).

But what about “Topette!!”?

Disappointingly and undeservedly, Topette!! didn’t come up in our Google search. Of course, this oversight needed to be remedied now. We present the evidence.

Attention! C’est Topette!!

Exhibit #1: This band can turn even the mustiest of libraries into a heaving dance hall. Coincidentally, Clapham Library was on Topette!!'s tour this year (to be fair, the venue is far from musty).

Exhibit #2: At the band's workshop weekend at Halsway Manor in June, the exclamation marks were reinforced by the mysterious appearance of hazard warning signs whenever Julien Cartonnet, James Delarre, Andy Cutting, Barn Stradling and Tania Buisse played.

The band Topette playing on stage, 4 sitting down with banjo, violin, diatonic accordion and bodhran, one standing with bass guitar.
Caution: Topette!! gig under way in the Long Room at Halsway Manor

Exhibit #3: By the end of June, Topette!! had worked their punctuated magic across England and Wales to Guildford for our Summer Bal in St Nicolas’ Parish Church. With the wonderful teaching of Kerry Fletcher, the people who attended the introductory balfolk workshop were soon dancing bourrées in the magnificent nave. (See photo at the top of the page)

Exhibit #4: Barn's gorgeously sultry tune, Just Heavy, was perfect for dancing a rond de Saint Vincent, a circle dance from the Breton region of France.

Exhibit #5: Halfway through the evening, a couple of young people who were on their way home were drawn in by the sound of Julien's bagpipes. They had never heard music like it, they stayed and danced all night.

Five musicians from the band Topette playing in a church. 4 musicians seated playing bagpipes, violin, diatonic accordion and bodhran. One musician standing playing an acoustic bass guitar.
Beware the bagpipes - resistance is useless! Image credit: Sharon Carter

Based on this evidence, one exclamation mark doesn't do the band justice, but chk, chk, chk is probably over-the-top and not at all cool. Two exclamation marks is punctuation perfection.

We rest our case. Topette!!

To everyone who came to our Topette!! Summer Bal, thank you for your lovely dancing and amazing support.

If you missed our Bal, Topette!! are playing at Sidmouth and Shrewsbury folk festivals in August. Visit their website

Buy their music and merch


Why Topette!! ?

Barn explains: The name of the band comes from the Poitou-Charentes region of France, where we met. It literally means a little bottle or shot of liquor, but in the local slang it has come to mean "Cheers!"

Bonus fact: Topette is also what cyclists call the sachet of energy gel that they keep tucked down their jersey so that they can refuel mid-ride. Next time you're heading up Mont Ventoux or Alpe d'Huez, bring along Topette!!'s Bourdon album. We reckon a quick blast of Pot Neuve / De La Flamme will get you to the top quicker. Chapeau!

Topette!! Summer Bal at St Nicolas' Parish Church Guildford

30 June 2023

Set list:

Bloomsbury Market - traditional

Le Sac de Jambon / Ange / Long Legs - Barnaby Stradling / James Delarre / Andy Cutting

Mazurka à Lucas / Pierre Tanneux - traditional

Just Heavy - Barnaby Stradling

Bourrée Morvandelle / La Lustrée - traditional / Julien Cartonnet & Leo Garnier

La Belle Sur Le Navire / Bourrée des Cochettes - traditional / Jean Léger

Year of The Metal Rat - James Delarre

Balfour Road / Old Molly Oxford - Rhona Dalling / traditional

Meatballs, Whiskey and Beer - Ola Bäckström


Venture - Andy Cutting

Oblique Jig / Miss Heidi Hendy - Niall Vallely / Andy Cutting

Polka Know / Dixie’s / Halling Från Härjedalen efter Per Myhr - Andy Cutting / Ian Telfer /

traditional Swedish

La Pause - Julien Cartonnet

Pot Neuve / De La Flamme - Julien Cartonnet / Frederic Paris

JLP - James Delarre

Winstanley’s / Les Trois Canards - James Delarre / Bernard Blanc

Clanders Batch / The Blue-Eyed Stranger - Barnaby Stradling / traditional

Sur Les Bords De L’eau / Rencontre - Jean Léger / Antoine Turpault

Civet de Chevreuil / Appelle La Dame! - Antoine Turpault / Romain Chéré

Ricer - Andy Cutting

La Couturière - traditional

All arrangements by Topette!! (A Cutting, B Stradling, J Cartonnet, J Delarre, T Buisse)

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