Music Q&A:
Feast of Fiddles

What started as an idea in a folk club has become a national folk-rock institution, with the band heading out on its 25th annual spring tour. Hugh Crabtree chats

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What informs your music and songwriting?
A respect for the tradition of music from the British Isles. There’s so much of it still undiscovered. That said, we like to mash traditional music with the modern too to make the whole thing more accessible.

How have you evolved as a band evolved over the years?
I think we have. It started as a backline accompanying some fiddle players. It has become a coherent band with an established identity. This has been helped by the line-up being stable for almost two decades. We’re mates who enjoy playing together.

What are you up to at the moment artistically?
Right now preparing for our annual spring tour, which means rehearsals, practice and learning new tunes as we try hard to work without the dots or words. We released our latest studio album this time last year and we are sort of heading back towards the traditional after a short spell in leftfield!

What’s on your rider?
Oh, water mostly!

Tell us your most embarrassing or surreal experience.
I’m not sure the band has ever had a major thing like that but the closest were both related to main stage festival appearances – same festival: the first was the late arrival of one of the fiddlers, requiring my daughter to set up equipment and start to dep the gig, by which time he had arrived. We kept her on stage and she went down a storm. The second was being quietly announced by the MC before we were ready. No bass player on stage – he was chatting to the horn section below! That cost us four minutes of stage time and we had to cut the set.

What song do you wish you’d written?
From a Lullaby Kiss by Peter Knight – but that’s just me…

What’s your worst lyric?
“And even Murphy’s looking like he’s an optimist!”

Feast of Fiddles play City Varieties, Leeds, 18 April, Playhouse, Alnwick, 19 April, Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal, 20 April, Atkinson, Southport, 21 April

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