FEAST OF FIDDLES 27th ANNUAL TOUR – 2020
Feast of Fiddles was born in Nettlebed on Valentine’s Day 1994 as a one–off special concert. Since then the band has done 26 spring tours, 25 festivals and has 7 CDs to its name. Not bad for a bunch of old folk-rockers! This is a group of friends that puts on a show of huge dynamic range performed with passion, joy and a liberal dose of fun. Fiddlers Peter Knight(Gigspanner, Steeleye Span), Chris Leslie (Fairport Convention), Brian McNeill(Battlefield Band), Ian Cutler (Bully Wee), Tom Leary (Joe Brown Band) and Garry Blakeley (Band of Two) add the large range of fiddle playing styles to the back-line of guitars, keyboards, sax and accordion – all held together by legendary drummer Dave Mattacks. The show features all the individuals in a wide range of ensemble pieces – instrumental and vocal: a live music entertainment like no other on the circuit which is guaranteed to be enjoyed by even the most doubting of friends dragged along!
“Absolutely awesome!” – Sue Marchant, BBC East
“Britain’s fiddling supergroup” – Mark Radcliffe, BBC Radio 2
“The best fiddle players of a generation” – fRoots
Their first live recording Live 01 was released in 2002 – quite a long wait for the increasing number of fans of the band. However, it was only another two years before the next CD appeared – Nicely Wrong. Three more years before yet another live recording Still Live and then after another three years the first studio album Walk Before You Fly. You guessed it, another three years for the second studio album Rise Above It and with a slight break with tradition it’s taken four years to get to studio album number three. Fast forward and in 2017 their sixth album entitled Sleight of Elbow was released.
This album is something of a departure for the band as it features a lot of original compositions from within the band and only a single traditional tune. One well established feature of the band is well exposed however and that is Feast of Fiddles arrangements of tunes from other genres, film or TV. The title track is one of two pieces by guitarist Martin Vincent which was first aired during the 2016 spring tour – the tour that Martin missed because he was in hospital getting a new valve for his heart. McBrides is a tune from the band Moving Hearts and a real test piece for a big band. The Scottish band The McCalmans provide the first of only three songs on this recording – Smugglers Song, this rousing tale of smugglers going about their business complete with engaging chorus. The band’s arrangement of String of Pearls (best known through the Glen Miller Band) demonstrates perfectly the versatility of Feast of Fiddles. Used as tour opener in 2016 it instigated immediate spontaneous applause at more than one venue. This is followed by the second song – a beautiful original from Alan Whetton who joined the band on sax and keyboards in 2012. Butterfly’s Wing picks up the concept of chaos theory which suggests the brief flapping of a butterfly’s wing in England might result in a tornado in the mid-west of America. Another piece from Martin Vincent – Paper Chase is probably the nearest the band has got to jazz. Written for a huge school band when Martin was teaching music the title reflects the frustration of most teachers these days dealing with increasing burden of paperwork. The next track Siamese Kashmir is a classic example of what Feast of Fiddles is all about. A famous film tune segueing into classic rock. The March of the Siamese Princes and Princesses from the film The King and I somehow seemed to naturally lead to Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir…or so thought bass player Dave Harding a frequent provider of left field material choices to open the show. A great band tune from Alan Whetton – Three Legged Race comes next. Then a past top of show track which starts with the theme music of TV series Mission Impossible and joins with another tune from the pen of Alan Whetton Mission Statement, together almost inevitably entitled Mission Improbable. The final track on the album is the only traditional tune and one that has been a feature of the band’s repertoire ever since the very beginning. Frequently introduced as a French dance tune that morphs into a drum solo it is Branle des Chevaux or Horses’ Brawl as it is better known in the UK.
“Sleight of Elbow is extensive, quirky and delightful” – RnR
To see the band in action, please click on the links below.