Bandersnatch – The musical styles of the band are as diverse as the line-up suggests. The band has the ability to move effortlessly from traditional ballads to contemporary songs as well some impressive instrumentals. And, of course, there are the self-penned songs of Becky Raw plus Clive Leyland, a former member of the band.
The band has no lead performer. Roles change to meet the needs of the music. Complex musical and vocal arrangements are delivered with an understated ease that allows the richness of the sound to engage the audience. The flexibility that results from the instrumental versatility allows the band to adapt its performance to the venue. In fact, the band is equally at home in a small club as well as the concert stage.
“A repertory that's rich in diversity; this is a band at its creative peak. Loved 'em. Quite simply, they hit the spot.”
(Clive Pownceby, The Bothy Folk Club)
“Bandersnatch encapsulated quite simply the very best of all the ingredients that promote this kind of music. Their performance was professionally entertaining yet wonderfully warm.”
(Peter Hardman, review in Folk North West magazine)
“They turned in a wonderful performance of songs old and new… we'll be having these guys back.”
(Anthony John Clarke)
“The arrangements were great and the singing was fantastic; they all seem to have voices strong enough to take lead vocals and the harmonies were spot on.”
(Gavin Robertson, Bacup Folk Club)
“Class boys, total class. Really really enjoyable, great musicianship and a superb range of songs played without stress, without ego.”
“If you are lover of music then catch one of their gigs. If you are a club organiser then book ‘em.”
(Ron Callow, The Howcroft, Bolton)
“The playing skills are obvious, the close harmonies blend together seamlessly, affection for the music goes without saying - the ease with which they perform lets you concentrate on the song.”
(Leighton Thomas, Wigan Folk Club)
Profile of the Band
It’s been nearly 40 years since my then brother-in-law to-be introduced me to Bob Dylan. The album was Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. I was instantly hooked and the Fender Strat copy was swapped for an acoustic guitar. The protest songs followed, sung in the obligatory gruff Bob Dylanesque voice. But it was Dylan’s use (or abuse!) of traditional material that eventually pushed me in the direction of traditional song, mostly from the British Isles. These days my musical preferences are a little more eclectic.
My early solo career soon developed into working with others. My first major band was called Nevis – 1970 to 1975. Based in the Lancashire, Nevis played many of the local folk clubs of the day but were mainly residents at Clitheroe Folk Club. When Nevis split up I joined forces with Nick Caffery (who later went on to sing with The Wassaillers and Th’Antiques Roadshow). The duo, called Litany, became a quartet, when we joined up with Pete Lewis (fiddle) and John Hemmingway (bass). Alas, Litany didn’t last long enough to make the impact it deserved.
In 1978, I joined up again with Pete Lewis in the Manchester-based ceilidh band – The Riot Band. I am still playing with The Riot Band though we do far less travelling than we used to do.
In more recent years I returned to folk singing in local sessions. It was there that I met Clive Leyland who in 2000, decided to form a group eventually to be called Bandersnatch. Already knowing most of the band members, I was keen to get involved. Although we have had one or two changes to the line-up, I am passionately committed to the bands style and direction although I still enjoy the occasional foray into solo performances.
I play guitar, cittern, mandolin and whistles and lead vocals on a number of the bands repertoire.
Recordings include: “It’s The Riot Band” by The Riot Band, “Round and Round” by Bandersnatch, “Pipe Dreams” by Roisin Isaacs and “Long Looked For, Come At Last” by Nick Caffery.
My earliest “folk” memories are of frequent visits to the “Park Hotel” on the old market square in Wigan, Lancashire to hear live performances. On the first occasion I heard Davy Graham’s “Anji” played by one of the regular tunesmith’s I was hooked. This I had to learn!
The first album of any description that I ever bought was “How To Play Guitar” by Stephan Grossman & Aurora Block (I still have it!). That was the beginning…
I stated playing in the local clubs in the early 1970’s, mainly ragtime instrumentals. I also joined up with Brian O’Dwyer to form a duo called “Fahrenheit”. We toured the folk clubs in Lancashire. Unfortunately, completion of my doctorate led to a move away from Lancashire and that was the end of “Fahrenheit”.
It was not until the late 1990’s that I returned to performing. I met up with Clive Leyland, which resulted in some gigs as a duo. This formed the springboard for the creation of Bandersnatch.
I play guitar, mandolin, fiddle, tenor banjo, bodhran and harmonica and lead on some vocals.
I was introduced to performing music in the 1960’s when asked to play the “tea chest bass” in a skiffle group. From these simple beginnings I became involved in blues, rock and roll and later progressive R & B. I also spent several years in a successful cabaret band that explored theatrical effects, light shows and costume. I also did session work, sometimes with some very strange artist’s but always enjoyed the challenge of developing new musical skills.
It was a mutual friend, another bass player that I had known for many years, who introduced me to Bandersnatch. Not convinced about playing folk music, a completely unfamiliar genre, I decided to explore the opportunity. I’m glad I stayed with it. Playing with the band has allowed me to develop new techniques and express my interpretations of our music from a different perspective. The ability to combine good musical content with stunning vocal arrangements sets the band apart from mainstream modern folk/rock bands.
I play bass guitar and provide backing vocals.
“Give me thirty bob and it’s yours” was the offer (£1.50 in to-days money) and at 14 I became the proud owner of a rather battered acoustic guitar. After much practice and a change to electric guitar, a local group whet my appetite for more by asking me to join them. This led to a move to another local band called The Moonstones when my long-standing friendship with Clive Leyland began. Various other groups followed taking us to venues across the UK over a period of twenty years.
In 2000, when Clive told me he was going to form a new band I was immediately interested. Bandersnatch was the outcome and after many months of rehearsal the band was on the road. I realised how much I had missed performing in front of an audience. Like others in the band, folk music was new to me but I was converted by the sound we created and the scope for creativity. Although Clive has now left the band, the unique sound of Bandersnatch goes on. This has to be the best band of my career.
I play rhythm guitar and provide backing vocals.
I’m one of the “new boy’s” in the band. Like Al and Norman, I do not have a folk pedigree having spent my early musical career in pop and progressive rock bands. So the transition from Cream and Jethro Tull has come as a surprise.
I have known Norman since the 1960’s when we played together in a progressive rock band. So, last year, when he approached me to join Bandersnatch I couldn’t resist the offer. Replacing Clive Leyland on lead guitar and keyboard is a daunting task but one that I am enjoying. The ability to be creative, to share old and new ideas and explore the fusion of styles within the folk/acoustic genre is very rewarding and exciting.
I play lead guitar and keyboard and lead on some vocals.
Yes, I’m Norman’s daughter, another “new Girl” in the band and have never played folk music before but I really like the sound and style of music created by Bandersnatch.
I am a classically trained viola player but have only just started playing live music. I currently play in a modern progressive rock band as well as Bandersnatch and enjoy bringing to both groups a different set of skills that seem to enhance and expand the styles of both bands.
I play viola/fiddle and take lead vocals on some of the songs.