The Band History

In the 1980’s, Joyce Riding, Sue Grills and Marie Luff were regulars at Horwich Folk Club. Nobody would have thought then that these three would get together some 20 years later to form THE SAGGY BOTTOM GIRLS.

In 2002, after a trip to The Lancaster Maritime Festival, the “girls” were having a bit of a sing on the way home, decided that they sounded pretty good and thought they should share their “talents” with the public at large.

Some of you may remember George Clooney in the film “Oh Brother Where Art Thou” in which he appeared in a group called The Soggy Bottom Boys. The “girls” felt that this catchy name could be adapted to personify their more mature years and so The Saggy Bottom Girls were born.

The group specialised in three-part harmony singing and, after several successful years, “kidnapped” Joanne Holt to give depth and flexibility to the group.

The group has a varied repertoire encompassing traditional folk, music hall, comedy songs, popular songs and self-penned material, all with the aim of providing entertainment and having fun.  The group’s line-up:

  • Joyce Riding    vocals, guitar
  • Sue Grills    vocals, bodhran
  • Joanne Holt    vocals, guitar
  • Marie Luff no longer forms part of the line up but does make occasional 'guest appearances when she's not galivanting around the globe! 

Joyce Riding

Joyce is the “senior partner” of the group and has sung all her life, starting at age 3 with a memorable rendition of “Put Another Nickel In”. She carried on performing in her school years by singing with friends and participating in choral work.

After learning to play the guitar in the 1970s she started visiting the local folk clubs and became a regular at Horwich Folk Club which was then run by Bluewater Folk. Joyce eventually became resident singer and joint organiser, with Sue Grills, at the club where they met Marie Luff.

Joyce has performed in various groups - Cottonsong, Trilogy and Crown Affair – in which she has shown her love of all types of music. Her main influences have been and remain The Everly Brothers and Simon and Garfunkel, for their close harmony singing, Barbara Dickson and Judith Durham, two of the finest female singers, and John Denver, a wonderful singer/songwriter.

Sue Grills

Sue started visiting the local folk clubs in the 1970s with Joyce where she developed her interest in folk music, particularly The McCalmans, who she regards as one of the finest harmony folk groups, and Eric Bogle, for his song/writing abilities.

Prior to forming the group, Sue had never performed in public and did not play any instrument.  She is, without doubt, the late-developer of the group and in the last 6 years has made up for lost time by not only singing, but learning to play the bodhran and writing songs, which the group perform.  Her song-writing skills were recognised at the Coppull Folk Festival where she was asked to take part in a song-writing workshop.

Sue writes both serious and funny songs, eg “Baby Boomers” recalls growing up in post war Britain.  Her serious songs are inspired by subjects that are close to her heart – her first song, “Mary Bryant”, was inspired by a TV programme about transportation to Australia and “I Remember” recalls her visit to the Somme.

Sue has an eclectic taste in music and, along with Joyce, is a big fan of The Everly Bothers.

Joanne Holt

Joanne is the most recent acquisition for the Saggys and also the baby of the band.

Joanne first saw the girls performing at the Masons Arms in Egerton Bolton on a singers night.  She’d gone up with her guitar to have a sing, although she was a bit wary having never being involved in the folk scene before.  She was soon won over, however, by the friendliness of both the band and the atmosphere of the club.

Joanne was then conned by this friendly group of pensioners into joining.  Sue and Joyce asked her to help out at a charity event they’d been asked to do whilst Marie was on holiday. “I’d gone up to the rehearsals” Joanne said “thinking I was going to be doing a few of the songs I normally sing to help fill the night out.  On leaving the rehearsal I was carrying 12 songs I’d been given to learn! I’m still not sure how that happened.”

Previously Joanne had sung in pubs and clubs and been and avid supporter of ‘free and easy’ nights, this all came to an end with the onset of karaokes and backing tapes.  She started to learn guitar about 4 to 5 years ago so she could join in on local acoustic nights and became a fan of Bob Dylan mainly because of his 3 chord songs.

“Never having been involved with folk music I always thought it was a bit miserable, 57 verse songs sang with one finger in your ear.  I’m glad to say the Saggys have re-educated me and introduced me to new songs and singers I really enjoy.

This initial gig was November 2007 and Joanne has been with the girls ever since and is actually quite amazed to be enjoying the folk club scene

Marie Luff

Along with Joyce and Sue, Marie’s musical background is in the folk clubs, being a regular at both Horwich and Westhoughton.
Marie learnt to play the guitar over 20 years ago and now concentrates on the banjo-guitar.  Her bodhran was used as a bed by her cats for about 20 years until the formation of the group when she decided it could be put to better use.

Marie’s interest in harmony singing stems from The Andrews Sisters and The Louvin Brothers and she is an admirer of Emmylou Harris.  More recently Marie  only occassionally joins the girls due to her numerous trips and adventures although we're all waiting for her to start singing with a French accent when she does appear :>)