Renowned fiddle players to perform in Exeter

Caitlin Clark
Authored by Caitlin Clark
Posted Sunday, March 30, 2014 - 8:31am

Some of the most legendary names in folk will be joining forces for Feast of Fiddles landmark 21st birthday tour, with a performance even lined up on Wednesday 9th April at Exeter's Corn Exchange.

The celebrated 11-piece collective founded and led by accordionist/frontman Hugh Crabtree are marking their milestone 21st year with a 14-date tour between April 7-20. Hugh said:

“What started as a somewhat daft idea for a folk club night has grown into a folk-rock institution with six CDs to its name, several key festival appearances and sell-out shows the length and breadth of the UK.”

The uplifting annual musical extravaganza that is the Feast of Fiddles tour has blossomed into a full-blooded two and a half hour life-affirming show with an appeal that has grown far beyond a folk audience. A true family show, it appeals equally to young people learning fiddle and their foot-tapping grandparents.

The logistics of getting so many fiddlers together for the same dates has often proved challenging but this birthday year it will be all hands on deck combining the colossal talents of some of Britain’s top drawer fiddlers, not least Show of Hands’ Phil Beer (right). Phil has only been able to play selected dates on previous FoF tours but with SoH not touring until the autumn he is free to appear for the first time at every gig including a home town gig at Exeter’s Corn Exchange on Wedesday, April 9. Tickets for the 7.30pm gig, price £16, are available from the box office on (01392) 665938 or online at

Also in the dynamic core fiddle section will be Fairport Convention’s Chris Leslie, Steeleye Span and Gigspanner’s brilliant bowman Peter Knight, Bully Wee Band’s Ian Cutler, ex Battlefield Band’s Brian McNeill, Garry Blakeley (Band of Two) and Tom Leary (John B Spencer Trio/Albion Morris/Zeus).

The sizzling “backing band” is led by band founder Hugh Crabtree on accordion and iconic folk-rock drummer Dave Mattacks, who has played with Fairport, Steeleye and Richard Thompson as well as the likes of Paul McCartney, Elton John and Chris Rea. Now living in the USA, the master drummer has played on a staggering number of diverse recordings.

Also in the engine room are John Underwood and Martin Vincent on acoustic and electric guitars and Dave Harding on bass – virtuosos all. Last year’s “new kid on the block”, bringing the sound of sax and keyboards to the Feast of Fiddles mix for the first time, is Alan Whetton (right), who has played with everyone that is anyone from Dexy’s Midnight Runners to Pete Waterman, The Manfreds, Vin Garbutt, Shakin’ Stevens and Cliff Richard.

The band will be showcasing their sixth album Rise Above It to coincide with the tour, recorded in both the UK and USA. A special souvenir book telling the story of Feast of Fiddles (warts and all!) will also be on sale.

What the Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain have done for the uke, Feast of Fiddles have undoubtedly done for the violin with key appearances at festivals from Cropredy to Broadstairs, Gosport & Fareham Easter Festival to The Great British Beer Festival and The Great British Folk Festival at Skegness.

The genre-hopping feats of the fiddlers know no bounds and audiences should be prepared for anything – from trad numbers to Deep Purple; Fairport standards to The Shadows and theme music from James Bond to the Magnificent Seven! Original tunes by Crabtree, Leary, Blakeley and McNeil from their fifth CD Walk Before You Fly are also likely to feature.

A Feast of Fiddles performance will take place at Exeter’s Corn Exchange on Wedesday, April 9. Tickets for the 7.30pm gig, are priced at £16, and are available from the box office on (01392) 665938 or online at

For more tour dates please visit


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