We are so sorry that last night’s performance by Rick with Jo Jukes at the Hermon Arts Centre had to be cancelled. With so many local roads closed and flood conditions in the area it became the only sensible response. We have now fixed a replacement date of Friday 1 December. All ticket holders will be contacted by the Hermon Arts Centre box office.
Rick’s upcoming album ‘Observer – Participant’ is currently in the manufacturing stage and should be ready for release in October. There will be a limited release of 50 CDs, and the album will be available to listen to and download at bandcamp.
Follow this link to access the site: rickwilson.bandcamp.com
The 14 songs on the album are all originals and Rick is accompanied here and there by close and inspired collaborators.
Hot news for 2024! ‘When Mountains Meet’, the Scottish / Pakistani project very successfully premiered in Edinburgh and Glasgow over the past year has resurfaced with a strong likelihood of a Scottish tour in Spring 2024 as well as a recorded work and, hopefully, a presence at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival next August. Watch this space for more details…
“Beautiful”, “Ethereal”, “Uplifting”, “Earthy”. Just a few of the responses to “Weaving the World”, Rick’s latest album made in collaboration with the multi talented Jo Jukes. This is Jo’s first musical recording: Rick’s part in it started out with help and advice but grew to a share in arrangements, mixing, instrumental performance and even vocals. There are still just a few copies of the CD available at £10, but the album is also available to stream and download from Bandcamp for £7 here.
The songs from the album had their first public performance in the welcoming and relaxed setting of “In Good Hands” in Frankwell, Shrewsbury on May 26th. The cafe was packed with old friends and regulars, many of whom had heard some of the songs in development while others were hearing them for the first time.
Rick and Jo seemed completely at home in performance together: Jo introducing the songs with snippets of the stories behind them and sharing the significance of the places that gave her inspiration.
The audience sat spellbound and there really was a magical quality to the atmosphere, with some songs drawing listeners into their stories and others setting heads nodding and feet tapping. Someone commented afterwards that it seemed incredible that there was such variety of sound and style from just two musicians and a limited range of acoustic instruments. Jo has been learning drumming from Rick and the two played together both on hand drums and, in a grand finale, on a home made set of tuned slates. Mostly though, Jo led with voice and guitar with Rick providing accompaniment on varied percussion instruments and zither.
Not only did the audience get to hear all the tracks from the new album but there were new songs too: clearly this is just the beginning! There are plans for more performances too, including Hermon Chapel in Oswestry on 20 October – watch this space, or follow suitablyrick.wilson or jukes.jo on Instagram, or either Rick or Jo on Facebook, for details.
Many thanks to Jason Smalley who contributed most of the photographs for this post.
When Mountains Meet – Jub Milain Pahaar
Rick is this week and next intensely absorbed in rehearsal and preparations for the first full work-in-progress performances of When Mountains Meet/ Jub Milain Pahaar. Featured as part of “Keeping it Lit”, the 2022 Scottish International Storytelling Festival, the performances will take place in Edinburgh at Assembly Roxy on 27 and 28 October. Booking details are on our Events pages.
Gig theatre, storytelling, Scottish/South Asian influenced music and striking visual images combine to recount the adventures of Anne Wood as she leaves Edinburgh for an unforgettable voyage through Pakistan.
“My mother is Scottish. My father was Pakistani. In my early twenties I found the father I had never met … but I was taboo in a culture to which I longed to belong.”
Inspired by Anne’s true story and 75 years after the creation of Pakistan, a live band plus storytellers and singers celebrate cultural diversity and difference in this tender, surprising and heart-opening show, summoning majestic mountains, mesmerising sounds and mouth-watering tastes.
The atmosphere will be relaxed and accessible, with performances either audio described or with BSL interpretation. The team will be hosting a short, facilitated feedback session after both performances to which all are welcome.
The production is funded by Creative Scotland. For more information about the project, click here.
Part 10: Under the Influence?
The tenth in an occasional series from Rick about his life as a musician – where it all started and what it has come to now.
Making lists of preferred drummers inevitably seems like name-dropping to an extent but it gives me some rationalisation about what gets through to me and what REALLY gets through to me.
Some players who have made the difference and why…….
Ginger Baker (in Cream) and Mitch Mitchell (with Jimi Hendrix) have been referred to in a previous blog as very early inspirations so I’ll skip past them here.
Amongst classifiable genres, there are many players of funk, reggae, rock, jazz, free improvisation, African and Latin music and beyond that have touched me at different times, but, if I had to name my special seven, they would be, in no particular order…..
Tony Williams – a once in a lifetime talent. Always exciting, always innovative, never obvious, fast hands – a powerhouse.
Elvin Jones – highly polyrhythmic, sometimes hard to fathom, intense and driving – supercharged.
Jack DeJohnette – an ingenious ability to circumnavigate and imply a rhythm and swing it simultaneously.
Mike Clark – Pioneered a way of shifting rhythmic emphasis – rhythmic displacement – whilst keeping totally in the pocket.
Christian Vander – Apart from his visionary concepts and singular compositional sense, he can always up the ante but, equally, can use very slight touches to similar dramatic effect. Dynamically, second to none. He can find corners of rhythm like no other. Plays each beat like it might be his last – ecstatic. Has kept his band Magma creatively on task for over 50 years.
Han Bennink – Original, supremely innovative, inspired, unpredictable, highly entertaining. Arguably, he has done more than any other to inspire free playing. Funky as hell playing a matchbox or sitting on the stage playing his shoes. When required, he can swing with the best of them.
Mattanur Shankaran Marar – a master of the south Indian chenda drum.
Can turn any rhythm upside down and inside out. Has untold reserves of creativity and power but can gently purr like no other. My teacher – a man of huge stature but great humility.
Amongst the many players who come from a rock background, five stand out for me who were active before and during my formative years.
Robert Wyatt – was, perhaps, the first drummer I saw who confounded conventional ways of playing a kit. Whilst never the greatest technician, he taught me that any part of the kit could be a starting point and that a singular vision was, at least, as important as technique.
John Bonham – a powerhouse drummer. Within the confines of a fairly straight ahead rock composition, he usually created deceptively simple/complex syncopations with nothing wasted. Very clear, almost architectural player.
Levon Helm – showed me that less is more. He never played anything that wasn’t essential. Always served the song in full. He could sing a bit too !
Bill Bruford – had a wonderful and immediately recognisable snare drum sound. Always distinctive, he could navigate complex music with a great balance and light and shade. Sometimes used to feature rickety bits of percussion but really made them swing.
Ritchie Hayward – blended rock and funk with a subtle touch when necessary and with a full-blooded roar at other times. Never an obvious player, he was always bubbling just below the line.
And to the many that ought to be mentioned………….that will have to be another list.
The seventh in an occasional series from Rick about his life as a musician – where it all started and what it has come to now
Learning styles and serving the story
My recent associations with Indian musicians happened in a sequence of visits I had made to India to continue my earlier study of the chenda drum. I had certainly made some progress and had moved to be under the masterful tutorage of Mattanur Shankaran Marar. He was generally recognised to be the top man in his field. Indeed, after a collaboration on an Indian film, Zakir Hussain, himself rated as the best tabla player of his generation, called Shankaran ‘a master of rhythm’. Clearly, to be studying with Shankaran was the chance of a lifetime.
I spent a lot of time, living in his house, travelling with him to performances and studying in the early morning. His masterful grasp of rhythm was more than impressive and he was also a very patient and humble individual who never tired of demonstrating and trying to share the intricacies of his art to me. Musicians take for granted the notions of doubling the speed of something, doubling again and maybe even again. It takes a sideways train of thought though to think what it might be to increase speeds by 1 ½ and 2 ½ times ! Rhythm becomes more of a science, or at least applied mathematics, in the Indian classical and related models. I was able to put my own new found knowledge directly to task in the workshop and performance projects I undertook with the Academy of Indian Dance in London. This solidified basic groundwork although I never aspired to be a great chenda player. My purpose in study was to enlarge both my concept of rhythm and my ability to incorporate new elements into my own music making.
Over the next couple of years in the UK (2006 /7), I became involved in various outdoor, site-specific events. They were always unique. The one that sticks in my mind was at Hambledon Hill in Dorset. It was the work of the Red Earth Company and involved horn players, drummers, a Butoh dancer and a lot of fire. An audience numbering many hundreds were guided up the hillside of an iron age hill fort, encountering little events on the way, until they came above the low clouds to witness a rhythmic ritual drama of movement culminating in the passing through a fire gate. I remember being very wet at the end of a rainy day but also very uplifted by the magic of the spectacle.
Throughout all these various experiences, I was regularly working with Helen in our day to day business of storytelling and music. Whether working in education or otherwise, with both children and adults, we had developed a very instinctive style of rapport. This enabled me to, musically, almost pre-empt dramatic shifts in the story as well as solidify the current narrative.
I had expanded my instrumentation in this context to include a couple of zithers that could be tuned to reflect an almost-global range of scales, modes and sounds. We famously undertook a 9 week tour of schools and educational establishments in 5 south American countries which stretched both our working repertory and our physical endurance !
I had also started to work with storyteller Hugh Lupton on his telling of the epic Beowulf. Originally, he asked me to use just metallic instruments but very quickly came around to the benefits of using a much wider range of tone colours. Although very much a fixed show, I still had room for innovative inspirations as well as a solo feature. The previously mentioned idea of almost pre-empting the narrative continues to be a dynamic feature of this performance as it can subtly guide the listener ahead of the spoken word.
I will always be trying to develop this particular skill further and further as I believe it gives a narrative another special dimension.
Spending much more time on the borders of Shropshire and the Welsh Marches, I joined The Street Band, based locally. Originally conceived as a more of a large outdoor and celebratory ensemble, it encompassed mostly dance style music from Latin America, south and west Africa and the Caribbean. I had to learn a variety of different drumming styles and lock into the other rhythmic parts played by the other two percussionists. I fashioned a set up around the bass tones of the large Brazilian surdo drum with some extra bits and pieces. It was the first time that I had been in a band that, on a good gig, got the whole room dancing. That certainly felt good.
Rick’s latest album, ‘Voices from Off-Centre’ has now been released on Third Force Records and is available for download from Bandcamp. It’s also available in hard copy on CD.
Voices From Off-Centre casts a wide view of voice:- songs, intonations, the calls of traders and of birds, captured voices recontextualised, playground rhymes and electronic manipulations. Some run on rhythm, some more mysteriously. All instruments are played or persuaded by Rick but considerable contributions are also made by Roxane Smith, who sings on nine songs, by Niall Ross, soprano saxophone on two and by Viv Corringham, a voice presence on one.
There’s already been some really lovely feedback, with the album being described as “haunting”, “beautiful – fresh and clear” and even “symphonic” in places.
You can hear ‘Voices from Off-Centre’ by clicking the link to Rick’s Bandcamp site here, where you can also download the album or give it as a gift.
Rick’s monthly Drumming Circle at Hermon Arts, Oswestry will be on Saturday March 9th between 3-5pm. No experience needed – come and try your hand. All ages welcome.