Saturday, July 5, 2008

Fiddlesticks: From Sea to Shining Sea

Maybe you’re one of the unlucky people who’ve never heard of FiddleSticks. The amazing Award winning family Celtic band who’s performed all over the world, including the 2002 Olympics, and put out eight albums since 1998. Well let me tell you what…once you’ve seen them perform live you will never forget them!

You can catch a small sampling of their Award winning Celtic Style on the yourLDSNeighborhood Jukebox, in the country/folk and inspirational sections, or buy their albums online at (for the best deal) or at,, and

From their website we learn a little more about their background:
FiddleSticks is the Davis family folk group that performs folk songs and traditional tunes from the Celtic lands, from England, and from America. Our band is made up of three sisters, Rebecca, Kathryn, and Elizabeth, and their dad Marco Davis. Marco's wife is Andi. Featured instruments include fiddle, flutes, cello, bodhran (Irish drum), guitar, and vocals.

We've made eight recordings, "A FiddleSticks Sampler" (1998), "Playing Favorites" (1999) and a Christmas CD called "Cold Fusion" (2000), "Time and Again" (2001), "Cat and the Fiddle" (2002), "Return to Nauvoo" (2004), "Ampersand" (2006), and "Farewell to Nauvoo" (2006). Our music is a mix of traditional dance music, together with original pieces by the group's young composer (Kate), as well as plenty of "storytelling" songs of life, love, and laughter. A typical performance also includes a few set of Klezmer (Jewish), continental European, and Mormon Pioneer music.

We got our start playing at the Maryland Renaissance Fair in Annapolis under the direction of the girls' mother, Kira. We have performed for various festivals, concert series, civic organizations and private parties throughout throughout the Mountain West, California, Maryland and New England. We did a vacation/concert tour in Holland and Italy in summer 2000. In 2003 we did a reverse pioneer trek concert tour from Utah back across Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas and Iowa, ending with a week long engagement in Nauvoo, Illinois. 2004 took us to Japan for concerts around Toyko and Nagoya, and to the Pacific Northwest. In spite of school and work we still manage to do over fifty public performances a year, including concerts and school programs for the 1998, 2000, and 2002 Utah Performing Arts Tour.

~ Fiddlesticks

FiddleSticks is the combined talents of Mark Davis (guitar and “Bodhran” (or Irish drum) and his three daughters Liz (cello), Katie (fiddle and vocals) and Rebecca (flute, whistle, recorder and vocals). From time to time the talents of Mark’s wife Andi, who plays the hammer dulcimer, and any one of the instrumental talents of Mark’s three son-in-laws can also be seen joining in when they perform.

It can be hard to catch them live anymore, since the four of them are living from “Sea to Shining Sea” quite literally, from Hawaii to Boston and in between. Their live shows are limited to one or two annual “reunion concerts” nowadays. But their recorded music remains as popular as ever, and they’re even planning some new records. Currently they are working on two very cool album concepts.

First though, it helps to know that since Liz is currently enrolled at the “Berklee (yes that’s spelled right) College of Music in Boston” she will be mixing the separate tracks submitted by each family member sent to her all recorded wherever they are currently living. I just love modern music making.

The group’s current recording project, being spearheaded by Liz, is to collect pioneer lullabies and other storytelling poems, and write and arrange music in FiddleSticks old-time and Celtic Style. Becca is collecting (or writing) the lyrics, Liz will write the tunes, and Katie’s in charge of arrangements… though they’ll probably all do some of each. They’re interested in any old favorite pioneer era poems or lullabies people might have – if you have any ideas, let them know!

Rebecca meanwhile has been talking about producing a FiddleSticks album that fuses their classic Celtic style with many of the traditional musical sounds reflecting where in the world they have lived including Hawaii, where Becca now lives, South Africa, where Katie recently served an LDS mission, Netherlands, where Liz was born, and possibly Appalachia, since Katie’s now living in Tennessee. I can’t wait for those albums to be made!

I remember the first time I ever heard them play live. It was at their home the day after Christmas for their annual “Boxing Day”. No, we didn’t spend the evening watching a boxing match between the likes of Tyson and Holyfield. “Boxing Day”, Mark taught me, is traditionally the day after Christmas when the English would “box up” the food from the night before and give to their servants along with the servant gifts. However, at the Davis home it’s when FiddleSticks shares their gift of music with their guests and where the guests can share their musical gifts as well. My favorite part of the evening was Katie singing “Devil Went Down to Georgia” in between her screamin’ Fiddle licks…AWESOME! Maybe not your traditional Holiday song but I’ve never had more fun the day after Christmas in my whole life. It sure beat fighting the crowds at the after Christmas sales.

I also remember when FiddleSticks, received their Pearl Award for “Best Contemporary Instrumental Recording” because I was a fan in the audience screaming with excitement. However, Mark remembers it, not just for the excitement of winning but since he hadn’t really planned on taking home an award…he wore flip flops with his Tuxedo! That meant of course a slightly embarrassing walk for him to the stage, but no worries…I didn’t notice and I seriously doubt he started a new grunge fashion trend.

So, make sure to check out their wonderful Celtic sound and consider adding their music to your growing collection. Do as Mark’s daughters do as soon as they get a new album…rip it onto I-Tunes, or do as Mark does and enjoy looking at the album cover to cover, but either way you won’t be disappointed.

Till next time,
Julie Keyser

No comments: