Feast of Fiddles Feeds the Soul; 14-day Tour Kicks off Next Week
If we’re going to start pointing fingers, we should start by singling out Peter, Paul & Mary, James Taylor, Richard Thompson, Melanie, Tom Rush, and Fairport Convention.
From the time I could toddle I was fed a steady stream of folk music from those and other artists thanks to my older sisters. Sure, I had my Van Halen phase and my Black Sabbath phase and even my Rolling Stones phase — we all did, right? — but I’ve come full circle, returning to folk as my format of choice.
So perhaps that’s why Coachella, Bonnaroo, and so many of the other big-draw festivals don’t really do it for me. My hot ticket this year is to one of the shows on the Feast of Fiddles tour in England. Hurry if you want one, too. They start next week and like Cherry Blossoms in Washington, D.C., they’re gone in a few weeks.
It’s not that I’m trying to be too cool for the rockers, really. Their music still fills a large part of my personal Heavy Rotation List on many days. And did I mention that Feast of Fiddles set list often includes some rock? Well more about that in a minute. First let me tell you — and I know I’m in good company with the No Depression crowd — why I’ve returned to folk. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve truly connected with the beauty, the spirituality, of hearing virtuosos play hand-made instruments. It speaks to my soul.
That’s not an accident. Lukas Nelson (sorry to be all name droppy about Willie Nelson’s son) told me last week that he’s researching the physical effects of acoustic vs. electronic music. He was prodded to do so, in part, by Neil Young (here I go again, right? Ok, I did not talk to him for this. In talking to the Wall Street Journal, Young coined “Occupy Audio!” as his catchphrase to spur a return to analog recording.
But I digress.
What you need to know is that Feast of Fiddles is a collaboration of just under a dozen of Britain’s best fiddle players including Peter Knight (Steeleye Span), Chris Leslie (Fairport Convention), Brian McNeill (the Battlefield Band) and backed by other musicians including Dave Mattacks (Fairport Convention who is still regarded as the best folk-rock drummer in the world), and, of course, Feast of Fiddles founder and mastermind Hugh Crabtree melodeon.
We can get into the whole discussion of how these world-class musicians — each of whom has played with a host of household name artists besides the main group for which each is known – have each made their musical marks. How their playing in the 19 year history of the group – with a set list that goes from rock to folk to blues and beyond – appears effortless. We can talk about formats and charts and digital vs. analog and all of that.
But I prefer to go back to the purity of the sound that lets you glimpse the hearts of the songwriters and their musical interpreters.
Alison Krauss talks about her childhood daydreaming about Del McCoury’s music and listening, almost breathless, to where a banjo, mandolin or fiddle would lead.
Anyone who has heard the music of even one of the extraordinary players in Feast of Fiddles understands exactly what she means.
Find out more about Feast of Fiddles on the group’s website.
April 2012 Feast of Fiddle Tour Dates
Mon 2nd – Nettlebed Village Club – 01628 636620 – www.nettlebedfolkclub.co.uk
Tues 3rd – Nettlebed Village Club – 01628 636620 – www.nettlebedfolkclub.co.uk
Weds 4th – The Roses Theatre, Tewkesbury – 01684 295074 – www.rosestheatre.org
Thurs 5th – Town Hall, Marlborough – 01672 512465 – www.marlboroughfolk-roots.co.uk
Fri 6th – Corn Exchange, Exeter – 01392 665866 – www.exeter.gov.uk/cornexchange
Sat 7th – Muni Arts Centre, Pontypridd – 08000 147111 www.muni.rct-arts.org
Sun 8th – Blackpool, Grand Theatre – 01253 290190 – www.blackpoolgrand.co.uk
Mon 9th – Leeds, City Varieties – 0113 243 0808 – www.cityvarieties.co.uk
Tues 10th – Alnwick, The Playhouse – 01665 510785 – www.alnwickplayhouse.co.uk
Weds 11th – Lichfield, Guildhall – 01543 262223 – www.lichfieldarts.org.uk
Thurs 12th – Milton Keynes, The Stables – 01908 280800 – www.stables.org
Fri 13th – Worcester, Huntington Hall – 01905 611427 – www.worcesterlive.co.uk
Sat 14th – Lowdham Village Hall, Notts – 01159 663596 – www.warthogpromotions.com
Sun 15th – The Brook Theatre, Chatham – 01634 241108 – www.medway.gov.uk/theatres