The inspirational melding of musical chameleon Miranda Sykes (Show of Hands) and mandolin maestro Rex Preston has produced one of the most unexpected and exciting new pairings on the acoustic roots scene.
With an enviable pedigree, Miranda is known as the stand-out bass player and spine-tingling vocalist who has brilliantly enriched the Show of Hands sound for the past decade while former Scoville Units band member Rex is recognised as one of the finest young mandolin players in the UK.
Following on from the release of their acclaimed second album Sing A Full Song the increasingly assured duo have been honing their talents with numerous appearances throughout the UK and Germany and on Friday 15 May will head to Wiltshire’s Highworth United Reformed Church, near Swindon. Tickets for the 7.45pm show, price £10, are available on (01793) 762070. www.highworthurc.org.uk
Their special guest will be Oregon-born, New York-based guitarist Grant Gordy who also plays on the Sing a Full Song CD. Widely recognised for his consistent excellence and diversity, Grant has featured on the front cover of publications from Flatpicking Guitar Magazine to Japan’s premier bluegrass magazine, Moonshiner.
Miranda and Rex will be showcasing their latest album Sing a Full Song as well as material from their next album The Watchmaker’s Wife, due out later this year. Together with Grant they will perform a slick mix of new arrangements of traditional songs, inventive covers of contemporary singer songwriter material and songs written especially for them by the acclaimed Boo Hewerdine.
Unhindered by genre boundaries they weave a magical mix from folk to bluegrass, trad to Americana and jazz tinged numbers with sensitive and skilful instrumentation, warm, engaging vocals and a totally enveloping sound.
A bit about Miranda Sykes….
One of the few female double bass players in England, Devon- based Miranda has become well known through her touring with Steve Knightley and Phil’s Beer’s hugely popular and BBC award winning Show of Hands.
Lincolnshire-born Miranda has been playing bass since she was nine and started out with a college country rock band but was lured back to her folk music roots and went on to tour Europe and America with folk-rock band, Pressgang. She has since worked with Kirsty McGee, Robb Johnson, Firebrand, Stefan Hannigan, Leon Rosselson, Bill Jones, Roger Wilson, Alan Burke, Jennifer Crook, Little Johnny England and Reg Meuross.
Miranda also released an acclaimed solo album Bliss (2006) and the EP Sweet Pea which left listeners in no doubt that she has what it takes to seamlessly genre-hop.
A bit about Rex Preston…
Rex Preston, who has been dubbed “the best mandolin player in the UK”, moved to Bath in 2008 to study for a music degree. At the same time, banjo player Leon Hunt was putting a band together for a high profile concert alongside Bela Fleck and the much-feted Celtic/bluegrass band The Scoville Units was born.
In 2009 Rex flew to Winfield, Kansas to take part in the coveted Walnut Valley Mandolin Championships, with past champions including Chris Thile and Matt Flinner, winning a Weber mandolin for his efforts. He co-produced The Scoville Units debut album, has featured in a Cara Dillon session for BBC Radio 2 and guests on The Ravishing Genius of Bones – the solo album from Ireland’s Brian Finnegan.
“Pushing the boundaries of what can be achieved with just a double bass and mandolin”- Acoustic Magazine
“Miranda’s a fantastic bass player and Rex is a fine mandolin player” –
“A winning combination of vocals, mandolin and bass – Iain Anderson
BBC Radio Scotland
“The gorgeous voice of Miranda Sykes – the babe with a bass”- Sue Marchant, BBC East
“Spine-tingling voice, versatility and double bass skills”- The Independent
“Rex Preston is one of the new generation of brilliant virtuoso instrumentalists raising the bar. A tremendous player” – Phil Beer, Show of Hands