The Willows Folk Club, Kirkham
15th April 2015
Nick Wyke & Becki Driscoll are a duo based in North Devon, with a vibrant take on English Folk music. They treated the audience at The Willows Folk Club to a spectacular display of seamless harmony and complex rhythms played out on various combinations of violin and viola.
Their repertoire was very much tied to their Devon roots taking many traditional songs and giving them a new lease of life, as well as showcasing original material. I particularly enjoyed ‘Rambleaway’ with Nick’s strong vocals accompanied by the melodic conversation of the two violins.
The material was not limited to the West Country; they seemed to tae inspiration from many different sounds from around the world. In particular Becki’s instrumental ‘Terra da Lua’ transports the listener to the majestic beaches of Brazil, which is then blended perfectly into an English Country Dancing standard ‘John of Paris. I found this eclectic approach extremely exciting to the ears.
Not only was the quality of the music astounding but the performance was filled with humorous anecdotes, the two managing to weave almost a comedy double act into their set. The audience very much enjoyed several opportunities to sing along in songs like ‘The Exmoor Ram’ and ‘The Torrington Ringers’…
Overall Nick & Becki managed to deliver to the audience filled folk club an evening that mixed dark historic tales with upbeat laughter, and soaring musicality.
Beneath the Black Tree Review
"Nick Wyke and Becki Driscoll are both virtuoso fiddlers and with their new album they have succeeded a masterpiece of English folk music. Their playing together is awesome and with three first class guest musicians they have created an innovative and exceptional sound."
Beneath The Black Tree succeeds by presenting traditional music through confident and considerate arrangements that avoid ramshackle pastiche, by opting for a refined performance that owes as much to chamber music as it might to folk music. The recording is beautifully open, allowing you to savour each subtle cadence and appreciate the uncluttered interplay between the instruments.
Fiddle players, composers and workshop leaders Nick and Becki hail from North Devon and produce top drawer music that's gaining them a nationwide reputation as true keepers of the flame. Nick's solo experience and his time with Cornish band Sacred Turf, plus Becki's career as part of the ceilidh group Sundance and with the Angel Brothers, has combined with their passion for the southwest's traditional songs and airs, to produce an album that's simply bursting with vitality and freshness. Barnstaple to Umberleigh is a particular delight, with its light-as-air feel, and this is followed by the old tale of Benjamin Bowmaneer, featuring Nick's strong, deep vocals. Great stuff.
Beneath the Black Tree' isn't played exclusively on fiddles but this is where you'll find the album's heartbeat. It's the thrill of wood and string and the glory of acoustic instruments that is on show here. Two fiddles played with a recorded clarity that lets you follow each microtonal shift as they work in complimentary patterns - akin to a strand of DNA spiralling off in search of a natural conclusion.