Phil Beer is one of the most popular ambassadors for acoustic roots music. A dazzling instrumentalist, Phil was nominated for the coveted Musician of the Year title at the 2009 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. Perhaps best known as a top-flight fiddler, he plays in the all-star line-up Feast of Fiddles, but his skills don’t stop there. He also plays slide, Spanish and tenor guitar, mandocello, viola, mandolin and South American cuatro, not to mention contributing rich vocals.
Born in Exminster, Devon, he started to play fiddle, guitar and mandolin while still at school in Teignmouth and habitually credits the late Davey Graham’s Folk, Blues & Beyond as his inspiration for acoustic music.
He played his first gig at 14 and started working as a duo with Paul Downes in 1974 (their Live at Nettlebed CD has recently been released). He was then in the Arizona Smoke Revue and a key member of Johnny Coppin’s band. His impressive track record also includes touring with Mike Oldfield and being a member of the feted Albion Band from 1984-1991. Show of Hands became a full-time partnership in the early 90s – a band that has gone on to sell out the Royal Albert Hall three times and who were voted Best Live Act, by the public, at the 2004 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.
Phil, who also has his own Phil Beer Band, famously guested on the Rolling Stones Steel Wheels album and Steve Harley’s Poetic Justice.
As a composer, Phil has written many numbers including the stunning instrumental The Falmouth Packet for SoH’s penultimate CD, Witness.
As a solo artist he released Rhythm Methodist in 2004 – a double album of songs and instrumentals (re-released on the Talking Elephant label this year) while his enviable versatility is shown in the Hard Works compilation of two earlier albums and a long-awaited five disc boxed set of archive, new and live music and video.
Phil achieved a life time ambition at the Trowbridge Festival this year by introducing and appearing with legendary American band Little Feat. This encounter led to him being invited to join Paul Barrere and Fred Tackett on several of their acoustic shows in December 08.
After a hugely enjoyable 2014 playing solo shows and running the Folk Boat cruises during the summer, Phil Beer returned to Show of Hands for the major winter tour. This will be followed, once again, by a full programme of solo shows and a few Band shows during the first five months of 2015 together with making appearances both with the Bully Wee Band and Feast of Fiddles. Show of Hands will then embark upon a full summer festival schedule with another series of Folkboat cruises woven around it. This years Folk Boat schedule will differ in that there will be a series of three day mid week events as well as the regular one week cruises. We hope to obtain the use of a beautiful and historic Cornish Lugger for the short cruises. See www.philbeer.co.uk/sailing for more information.
For up to date gig information see: www.philbeer.co.uk