A PIONEERING group is taking Lancashire folk music into the 21st century - swapping cloth caps and whippets for MySpace and eBay.

New wave folkies The Lancashire Hotpots still have the same preoccupations as most bands of their ilk - a good pint, good company and a chippy tea.

But the quick-witted quartet, complete with stage names inspired by Lancashire dialect, are just as interested in the information super-highway, sat nav, Shopmobility scooters and the wonders of Dolby technology.

Now folk fans in the heart of East Lancashire can judge for themselves when the St Helens-based Hotpots descend on Gisburn's Beatheader Festival, June 30, and Darwen's Roots 666 Festival in September.

Band accordionist Dickie Ticker (Sheldon Southworth) said: "The speed at which this has taken off has caught us somewhat by surprise.

"The idea is that if you were setting up a folk group today, just starting off, then it is traditional to sing songs about what you know, which is why there are tunes about meeting a girl via MySpace, sat nav and eBay.

"It is great the way that everyone has embraced this. Our audience is a real cross-section, from dads to lads."

Perhaps betraying his old-fashioned folk tendencies, Dickie was especially looking forward to sampling East Lancashire's finest real ales when the Hotpots hit Darwen.

Even the Hotpots' line-up and respective roles gives a little inkling that this is not your average tank-top and beard outfit.

Bernard Thresher (Graeme James) juggles his duties as vocalist and penny whistle player with vital work defragmenting the band's computer hard drive.

Meanwhile Dickie is a demon when it comes to wireless networking. Routing genius Bob Wriggles (Ant Fildes) is a dab hand on the acoustic guitar and drummer Willie Eckerslike (Tom McGrath) is an HTML and Java wizard.

Their debut album, Never Mind The Hotpots, is going great guns.

Blatantly stealing a trick from punk legends The Sex Pistols, Their debut album, Never Mind The Hotpots, is going great guns.

And the band has already appeared on BBC Radio Lancashire's breakfast show and have a series of other dates lined up from Barnsley and Keighley to Liverpool and Preston.

Album tracks include the aforementioned homages to satelite navigation, eBay and PSP consoles, alongside The Firewall Song, I Met A Girl On MySpace and Bitter Lager Cider Ale Stout.

The Hotpots come from St Helens - which for Lancashire purists is still within the boundaries of the historic county palatine - even if it is classed as Merseyside these days.

Sheldon, Tom and Ant are all music technology lecturers at St Helens College.

Dickie added: "If you speak to anyone around here then 99 times out of 100 they will say they are Lancashire through and through."

The band, which is working on a follow-up album, currently tops the comedy download chart on internet site iTunes.