Feast Of Fiddles was formed in 1994 as a one-off concert ensemble as Hugh Crabtree thought it would be a good idea and Mike Sanderson of Nettlebed Folk Club thought so too!
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 will be released.
Feast Of Fiddles embarks on its 24th annual spring tour in 2017 to coincide with the release of their new album. The band that has been variously likened to a “group of geography teachers” or “Bellowhead with bus passes!” doesn’t seem to be slowing down any. A band of musical friends that puts on a show of huge dynamic range performed with passion, joy and a liberal dose of fun. It all started at a folk club but has become a folk-rock institution with seven CDs to their name, several festival appearances and sell out shows up and down the UK. Typically, fiddlers Peter Knight (Steeleye Span), Chris Leslie (Fairport Convention), Phil Beer (Show of Hands), Brian McNeill (Battlefield Band), Ian Cutler (Bully Wee), Tom Leary (Lindisfarne) and Garry Blakeley (Band of Two) add their extensive range of fiddle playing styles to the rock back-line of guitars, keyboards, sax and accordion – all held together by legendary drummer Dave Mattacks. A live music entertainment like no other which is guaranteed to be enjoyed by even the most doubting of friends dragged along! Continue reading Feast Of Fiddles – new studio album
LIVE SHOW DELIGHTS ON ONE WET AND WINDY NIGHT IN RYE IN SUSSEX!
If Garry Blakeley ever had to bullet point and compile a CV it would probably read something like this:
Garry Blakeley – Amazingly brilliant fiddle player, Marketing Director, PR Manager, Record Producer, Recording Studio Manager, Singer song writer, Tour Manager, Web Site Designer, long standing associate member of ‘Feast of Fiddles’, and Band of Two.
This is because Gary Blakeley and his close friends and family are masters of their ever growing and highly successful ‘Cottage Industry’!! not to mention a great family man with his son Ed firmly rooted in this successful set up as the hugely talented bass and key board player, who Garry affectionately calls the musical director. Then of course there is the brilliant Rose Blakeley writing excellent well crafted and clever lyrics and a book!! This really is a recipe for success as the recent tour of Garry’s latest album ‘The Wheel Of The Year’ has proved with ticket sales rocketing and venues selling out!
I was however, lucky enough to get hold of a ticket for the last gig in a current run of Garry Bakeley and his brilliant bands ‘Wheel Of the Year’ show. (More shows are planned for next year)
On a wild wet windy night in Rye I ventured to The Rye Community Centre to be given a warm welcome by Garry and Rose Blakeley, where before they took to the stage I managed to talk to him and Jane Downes who narrates poems and archived news items spanning years both on the stage and on the album which adds a dramatic and intriguing twist, both the live show and the album drawing you in to a fascinating living tradition folk tales and hearsays interspersed with modern snippets of information – clever – really clever – and most enjoyable! The show was excellent musically uplifting and powerful laced with humour a brilliantly tight band to boot!
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It’s amazing what you can achieve at home these days and also where it literally becomes a ‘cottage’ industry. This couldn’t be more true than in the case of fiddler, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Garry Blakeley who has managed to keep it in the ‘family’ by collaborating with his wife Rose’s lyrics and son Edd (production, mixing and engineering) along with contributions from Dave Mattacks, Hugh Crabtree and Steve Hampton. The Wheel Of The Year features a song cycle using Continue reading GARRY & ROSE BLAKELEY – The Wheel Of The Year new album
The Cellars At Eastney would be a decent pub if it wasn’t for the music. Or, to put it another way, it would be a decent music venue if it wasn’t for the layout, the crowding, the lack of decent seating and the section of the audience that doesn’t have the wit or good manners to shut the f*** up when the artists are on stage. Continue reading CHRIS RICKETTS BAND – The Cellars At Eastney – 1st November 2011
Shanties seem to be coming back into fashion, which some of us regard as a good thing, and Chris Ricketts’ debut solo album is thus a timely collection of traditional shanties and songs of the sea given modern treatments. He starts out traditionally enough with ‘South Australia’, ‘Hanging Johnny’ and ‘Round The Bay Of Mexico’ which will do nothing to upset the purists. Then he slides into ‘The Mingulay Boat Song’ and things change. Sir Hugh S Roberton’s lyrics have undergone considerable editing over the past eighty years (does that make it old enough to be called traditional now?) and Chris’ text is broadly that of The McPeakes. It is at this point that his band: producer Steve Hampton, Alex Stack and Garry Blakeley begin to make their presence felt. ‘Blood Red Roses’ rocks and ‘Spanish Ladies’ is rich and full-bodied. Continue reading CHRIS RICKETTS – Port Of Escape – ACOUSTIC FUSION RECORDS AF01
OK, I know nepotism isn’t a nice thing but when the artist I am reviewing just happens to be my best mate in a professional and personal sense and a damn fine fiddle player to boot then I think I should be forgiven this one transgression. As well as part of our established duo Band Of Two, Gaz has many other strings to his bow and has recently completed a project he has been working on for some time called The Ceremony Of May. In collaboration with his wife Rose (who wrote the lyrics and poems), Jane Downes (the narrator), Edd Blakeley (Garry’s son) plus Hugh Crabtree (melodeon) and Tom Leary (additional fiddle) from Feast Of Fiddles, he has created a gem that only the ‘folk’ world could produce much like Ashley Hutching’s “The Complete Dancing Master” before it. The disk is festooned with great melodies each of which I could see at home as ‘session’ tunes particularly the opening track “Dawn Awakening” and the distinctly traditional Morris-sounding medley “Sunrise/A New Day Begins”. For those who enjoy their folk-rock with a bit of bite there are the dramatic “The Green Man” and “Bogies-of-the-Green” both of which possess fine anthem like qualities in the tradition of rallying calls for England and St George. Balancing the light and shade of the music there’s a more acoustic approach taken on the evocative song “Farewell To Winter” which I’m sure will prove a winner with those who enjoy their music Radio 2 friendly and the narrative carried throughout by the animated tones of Jane Downes (also established as ‘the caller’ for The Catsfield Steamers) is a delight that will appeal to anyone who listens to Radio 4. This is the kind of album that is hard to pigeon-hole as it crosses categories of the ‘arts’ scene but you can rest assured if you’re looking for something challenging but ultimately fulfilling this will definitely be the album for you. PETE FYFE