When world-renowned Northumbrian piping virtuoso Kathryn Tickell decided to put a new band together, she wasn’t going to let a mere 600 mile round trip for rehearsals stand in her way (Ruth, the harpist, lives in Cornwall, the rest of the band are in Northumberland) nor was she daunted by the fact that cellist Louisa already had a full-time job with Royal Northern Sinfonia. “These are the musicians I wanted to work with” she says “and the best things in life are not always the easiest!” Eighteen months later, that determination and focus has paid dividends with the release of the ensemble’s eponymous debut album ‘Kathryn Tickell & The Side’ which will be released on 29th September, followed by a UK tour in October / November.
You may be tempted to think that this is a band of two halves – the folk (Kathryn and Amy) and the classical (Louisa and Ruth). However, when you experience the music you realise that Kathryn Tickell has created a beautifully integrated ensemble. Coming from very different musical backgrounds, these four strong-willed women each bring different influences to bear on the music, exploring new sounds and musical territories, resulting in an album that positively celebrates the cross-fertilisation of ideas and musical genres, whilst still sounding entirely natural. This is also, quite possibly, the only folk album with over 35 BBC Proms appearances between the four band members!
‘Kathryn Tickell & The Side’ comprises eleven original pieces by Kathryn Tickell, one by Amy Thatcher, two classical pieces and two traditional folk tunes. The music – as you would imagine – is deeply rooted in the landscape and history of Northumbria. Dark Skies Waltz celebrates the area between Hadrian’s Wall and the Scottish border being awarded ‘Dark Sky status’ making it the largest area of protected night sky in Europe. Bonny Breezes takes its inspiration from the Northumbrian song Blow the Wind Southerly. Ad Gefrin was inspired by the royal palace of the Kings of Northumbria and brings together the ancient and modern, combining the sound of Ruth Wall’s buzzing Gothic bray harp with occasional echoes from guest Dominic Miller’s electric guitar. Although primarily an instrumental ensemble, The Side include one song on the CD, the intriguing Queen of Pleasure (based on a poem by Charles Algernon Swinburne).
‘Kathryn Tickell & The Side’ is a tour de force of lush soundscapes, stark lines and rich textures and, of course, stunning musicianship. The album also showcases Kathryn’s skill as a composer: she’s always been able to write a great tune, but here she truly raises the bar.
Kathryn Tickell & The Side also features two special guests from the Royal Northern Sinfonia – percussionist Marney O’Sullivan and violinist (and leader of the orchestra) Bradley Creswick, as well as some tasty guitar work from Sting’s long-time guitarist Dominic Miller.
KATHRYN TICKELL &THE SIDE TOUR DATES
Oct 01 – BRISTOL St George’s
Oct 02 – SOUTH PETHERTON The David Hall
Oct 03 – FARNHAM Farnham Maltings
Oct 04 – POOLE Lighthouse
Oct 05 – TAVISTOCK The Wharf
Oct 28 – SHEFFIELD Sheffield University
Oct 29 – SOUTHPORT – The Atkinson
Oct 30 – LONDON – Cecil Sharp House
Oct 31 – SALISBURY City Hall
Nov 01 – KENDAL The Brewery
Nov 02 – HEBDEN BRIDGE The Trades Club
Nov 04 – STOCKTON ON TEES Stockton Arts Centre
Nov 05 – GATESHEAD The Sage