Sleeve Notes for A Handful of Sky by Nick Wyke and Becki Driscoll
Nick and Becki are two outstanding fiddle players composing and re-interpreting traditional tunes. They also sing some great songs using their inventive playing as accompaniment.
Nick Wyke - Vocals, fiddle and viola
Becki Driscoll - Vocals, fiddle, viola, and bassoon
James Budden - Double bass
Ellen Driscoll - French horn
Nick Wyke & Becki Driscoll are highly respected musicians, composers and workshop leaders from North Devon. They first collaborated as a fiddle duo on a busking trip around Spain and Portugal. Since then, they have made a strong impact on the British folk scene and received national and international acclaim.
Their passion for English traditional music and the violin has led to the development of their unique style. Becki's melodic, emotive violin and viola blend with Nick's driving fiddle chords and powerful vocals to create a rich, captivating sound.
"...lovely, inventive playing" fRoots
The duo's compositions and their interpretations of traditional English tunes and songs are influenced by a wide range of musical cultures: "We are inspired by the people we meet and the places we've been. We like the idea of a global approach to the English tradition."
" ...passionate musicality and distinctive presence." The Living Tradition
As well as performing, Nick & Becki's work varies from recording symphonic string arrangements for the Angel Brothers to running community group 'The Folk orchestra of North Devon' for Wren Music.
"...a superb advert for English music" The Folk Mag
Becki Driscoll started playing folk and traditional music in her home town of Bridport with ceilidh band Sundance and went on to study community music in Liverpool. Since moving back to the South West she has been working for Wren Music, running
music workshops throughout Devon. Becki composes many of the new tunes for the duo, drawing on her interest and knowledge of traditional English and Western European music for inspiration. Her other work has included playing with The Angel
Brothers, accompanying Mick Groves from the Spinners and playing fiddle for a Country and Western show at Butlins!
Nick Wyke has lived in North Devon for as long as he can remember! He plays fiddle, guitar, bass and sings. After training with Wren Music as a community
musician, Nick began to explore the traditional fiddle-music of the area, particularly the tunes of William Andrew of Dartmoor. He writes many of the arrangements for the duo and is usually found happily chugging away on the chords...
Aside from his work with Becki, Nick plays fiddle with Gadarene, and has worked with great musicians including Jim Moray and Jackie Oates.
The version of this well-known song comes from the collection of folk songs by the Reverend Sabine Baring-Gould. We have combined the words of James Parsons with Sam Fone's melody and added our own interpretation to the mix...
2 Regent's Fete / Take a Dance / Darby Kelly / Cock of the North
A set of traditional jigs. Regent's Fete is from the John Clare collection from 19th Century Northamptonshire. We initially arranged it for a fiddle workshop and enjoyed playing it so much we recorded it! Take a Dance is from John Offord's wonderful tune book "John of the Green, the Cheshire Way". Darby Kelly is a bit of a nod to Status Quo as they used this traditional tune in "Burning Bridges". Cock of the North is very well known with various rude words that go with it - we'll leave you to fill these in!
3 A Handful of Sky
Nick Wyke & Becki Driscoll
This piece was composed for a tour we did with The Angel Brothers, a percussion driven band that mixed roots music from all over the world and Doncaster. We wanted to write something that would contrast with the big line-up of the whole band but that would also compliment the rhythmic elements. The name was chosen by Richard Masters - a wonderful singer and songwriter who supported one of the gigs
4 The Cornwall Apprentice
This traditional song, also known as the Sheffield Apprentice, caught Nick's ear when he heard a version by American singer and banjo player Hedy West. It is a cautionary tale of the perils of moving to "that London!"
5 The Bridgwater Hornpipe / The Dorchester Hornpipe
Two fantastic hornpipes from the South West in wonderful keys of F and Bb. (Sorry melodeon players!) Becki finally gets to air the bassoon in this track. (Apologies also to all proper bassoonists!)
6 The Cruel Mother
This version of The Cruel Mother comes from Sydling St. Nicholas in Dorset. Sung by Mrs. Case, it was collected by Hammond and Gardiner and published in "Marrow Bones" in 1965
7 Terra da Lua / John of Paris, The New Way
Becki Driscoll / Traditional
Becki wrote Terra da Lua after visiting her family in Brazil and being taken to a Bahian beach where the huge silvery sand dunes stretch for miles and look eerily like a lunar landscape. John of Paris is a slightly adapted version of a tune from the Joshua Gibbons manuscript from Lincolnshire.
8 Bridge House
Becki wrote this tune whilst living in Bridge House, an amazing dilapidated mansion on the edge of Sefton Park in Liverpool. The house was freezing in winter, most definitely haunted but had a timeless feel to it. Some good parties had there too!
9 The Torrington Ringers
Words - Traditional, adapted Wyke/Driscoll Melody - Becki Driscoll
The words for this song came to us from the ex captain of the Torrington Bell Ringers but he couldn't remember the tune. We found a version of the same song in the Baring-Gould collection so blended the two together. Becki wrote the melody based on a six bell peal.
10 Dance with Ease / The Dressed Ship
Both of these tunes are from the 18th Century "Thomsons Compleat Collection of Country Dance tunes"
11 Mrs Lovetts Pies / The Prince of Arabia
Nick Wyke / Traditional, adapted Wyke/Driscoll
Nick wrote the first tune after watching the TV movie "Sweeney Todd". The Prince of Arabia was originally a cheerful major tune from the William Winters collection in Somerset but we have slightly altered it!
12 The Exmoor Ram
The Exmoor version of this well known song was collected by Paul Wilson from Wren Music in the 1970s. A jolly sing-alongy chorus song to end the album!