tom bliss



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bands •••






John, Derek, Tom, Neil (Winter 2000)

Neil, John, Derek, Tom, Rod (Spring 2003)

Slide (uk) disbanded in May 2004.

Click here for the original website - or here to purchase albums

* not to be confused with The New Slide, or the Irish

Derek Magee Tunes, fiddle, whistles, mandolin, pipes, flute, guitar. Neil Whitaker Songs, vocal, guitar, 5-string banjo, percusssion. Tom Bliss Songs, tunes, vocal, guitar, mandocello, mandolin, five-string fiddle, fiddle, harmonica, duet concertina, piano accordion, whistle, flute, keyboards, percussion. John Layton Bass guitar, keyboard drones, bodhran. Rod Taylor Fiddle, mandolin, whistles, guitar, bodhran, percussion and vocal.

"a vital blend of folk, bluegrass, and acoustic rock... an infectious stage presence - they very obviously enjoy playing together... the songs could easily have been written by The Tannies or Battlefield Band... up-front but respectful and thoughtful... an invigorating collective drive tempered with an inviting mellowness of expression... an acute feel for what instrumental combinations work best... a commendable level of competence and accomplishment... the strengths are many, the playing uniformly good... a good time sound, with a relaxed aura... a command of Irish and Scots styles complete with a Swarbrick-like touch... expert folk fusion... an intriguing crossbreed of Irish, English and American folk styles... a lethal concoction... great stuff... well done indeed!!" (Traditional Music Maker, Folk Roots, Stirrings and Tykes News)

Derek and Tom first met at the Wednesday Irish session at the Beer Exchange in Leeds (where Tom had also met Rod Taylor, with whom he'd formed Belladonna with John some two years previously). Initially, they began playing round the kitchen table, just for fun, with another fiddler/guitarist/singer from the session, Dave Harland. But after a month or two, they decided they were making a nice enough noise to justify a few gigs. But something seemed lacking. So Tom invited John (with whom he'd played in more bands then either cares to remember) to help beef out the sound. It sounded great, but Dave began to feel that public performance was not really his thing, so a quick scan through Tom’s phone book for singing guitarists who also played another instrument turned up Neil. Tom had admired Neil in bands going back 20 years or more, and though Neil had never played with Tom, John or Derek before, it quickly emerged that this was an inspired grouping. Neil’s banjo added a uniqueness and completeness to the sound.

Voila! Slide was born.

The next milestone was the first studio album: “The Slippery Slope.” Recorded by Rod Holt in Otley and released in Spring 2001 it surprised everybody by being a major critical success and selling like hot cakes. Gigs at clubs, pubs and festivals further afield and even a tour of the Channel Islands in early 2002 followed, but it was clear that Slide was a live band first and foremost.So when the time came to think of a second album, the band decided to record it live. However, no overdubs would mean a thinner sound, which might not fully capture the experience of Slide in the flesh. So the first step was to re-recruit Rod Taylor - and again it was a perfect fit (well, he already knew most of the material)! Meanwhile Tom had also begun a separate duo with Tom Napper (mainly because he wanted to play further afield than Slide’s day-jobs would allow), and TN (together with TB’s other former collaborators Steve Fairholme and Johnny Hardcastle from Behind the Wall, of which John was also a member) provided the missing powerhouse. “Downhill All The Way” was recorded by Phil Snell at the Red Lion, again in Otley, in April 2004 and released to further critical acclaim.

More gigs and successes followed, but by the Spring of 2004 Tom was finding it harder and harder to make time to play with (and more importantly; find the energy to manage) Slide. Attempts to resign as band leader while remaining a member having failed, he finally admitted defeat, slipping sideways out of Slide after a difficult gig at the Grove in Leeds in May 2004.

One final commitment remained however: A private party for a major Slide fan on July the 9th 2004. It was a grand night, with most of Slide's 'occasional' guest musicians on stage throughout - a total of 9 in all: Pete Earle, Phil Snell, Steve Fairholme, Tom Napper, Rod Taylor, John Layton, Neil Whitaker, Derek Magee and Tom Bliss (and poor Rod Holt on the desk)!

At different times five sang, five mandolined, four fiddled, three guitared, two banjoed, two whistled, one octave mandolined, one mandocelloed, one squoze, one harmonicaed, one bassed, one bodhraned, one drummed and most people shook or hit things at one stage or another (some at the back were even flicking ink pellets), and the pick of four years songs and tunes flowed forth. Actually it was surprisingly together - and as ever, the last song was Waltzing's for Dreamers (yes, Bliss got all soppy-eyed as usual) followed by the usual waltz/strathspey set with four fiddles in action.

"and Mr Band Leader won't you play one more time..?"

Album Reviews

Tykes News Topic Folk Club 11th July 2002

I knew nothing of Slide prior to their visit to the Topic, but I was impressed before they started: nine instruments awaited their four masters on stage (and that was before they brought on the whistles and harmonica). This is a superb band who perform some excellent material, with songs and tunes traditional contemporary and original, thoughtfully arranged and presented in the band's relaxed style. A varied set allowed the individual band members to show their talents but focused on-the songs of Tom Bliss, and rightly so: here is a master craftsman, with a band tailored to suit. He has the gift of being able to write songs that sound as though they are rooted in the tradition, yet with the freshness that marks them out as original. Several of his songs are about the Channel Islands, Tom's adopted home, delightful and vivid pictures of the life and times of this distant and perhaps rather neglected comer of our homeland, all with a sensitive twist, personalised somehow to add depth to the images created. Highlights were "Boat to Burhou" and "The Casquets Light, "The Race", "The Grey Lady", and one of local interest about life on the canals "The Humber Horse Marine" Above all, though, "The Violin", a wonderful song about a fiddle, Tom's own fiddle in fact, the story of its life told by the fiddle itself. A masterpiece of a song that I am sure will be seized on by many good singers: it will make the next CD (planned for autumn) a bargain. Tom is more than ably supported by Derek Magee on fiddle, mandolin and whistle, sensitive when accompanying songs, exciting in his fiery solos (he also writes his own material), Neil Whitaker on 5-string banjo and guitar (also a songwriter) and John Layton on bass guitar, always enhancing, never intruding. There was nothing lacking, except more people to enjoy: As the MC so tellingly observed "All the people who aren't sitting on all those empty seats don't know what they've missed". Do these fine performers justice: buy the current CD - "The Slippery Slope" (SLIP 005), visit their website - - and catch them when they're near you.

Tony Charnock, Tykes News, Autumn 2002


Keltica (Feature - translated from the Italian by Babelfish software!)

In the first place one right precisazione, to scanso of misunderstandings: they exist, in the within of the folk music, two groups with the same name. To the Slide Irish an English group (of Leeds is placed side by side in fact omonimo), than in these last months it is quickly concentrating on himself the interest of the English public and the critic, and that in the spring of 2001 it has published its first CD, The Slippery Slope , from which the two brani presents on the CD of Keltika of this month are drawn.

The Slide "English" is composed from the polistrumentista Tom Bliss (voice, guitar, mandocello, mandolino, whistle , harmonica, fiddle and keyboards), from Derek Magee ( fiddle , low whistle , mandolino and uillean pipes ) Neil Russell Whitaker (voice, banjo and guitar) and John Layton (low). Draft therefore an acoustic quartet whose music is successful and balanced a mix of folk, bluegrass, acoustic rock and celtica music. All that is rispecchiato in The Slippery Slope , CD that introduces in obvious way the points of force of this group, riassumibili in one great cure of the sonorous particular, in the within however of the pleasant one and rilassata feeling of a recorded album nearly in taken directed. Nearly the entire disc is constituted from brani composed from several the members of the band and - what not much frequent one, still more if the young "age" of the band is considered - it is song that the tune they succeed nearly the always gradevoli and convincing. Particularly interesting there are seems to you the witnesses and the musical compositions of Tom Bliss, inspire to history and legends to you of sea of the Islands of the Channel. The sound of the Slide it finally turns out particularly "full" and rich, although the shown renunciation to a percussionista. We have asked Tom Bliss and Derek Magee to introduce theirs band to the readers of Keltika:

Yours band it is much young person: the Slide is forms to you in 2000. How you are arrives you to the decision to play together?

Tom: "Derek and I regularly attended the Irish session in a pub of called Leeds The White Stag already from four years, that is from when the same Derek had been moved here to Leeds from Cambridge. I came from one previous experience with an other band, "Belladonna". When the Belladonna has been melted, I and Derek have begun to think to play entirety, and were with we an other singer and violinista, Dave. After some weeks of tests we are rendered account that we were already ready to introduce us to the public. We called John, also former-Belladonna it, to make part of the group, but in the Dave meantime left the band. We are joints to puts into effect them formation with the income in the group of Neil, that we consider a Pō our "secret arm", in the sense that its banjo differentiates to us acisticamente from the English others band of folk rock ".

Which are your main musical infuences?

Tom: "I have begun to compose music sin from the end of years ' 60, for which me it seems just to cite large like Simon and Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, To the Stewart, Cat Stevens, James Taylor, and later on the Strawbs, the Fairport Convention, the Pentangle, and po' an all movement of the folk-rock of years ' 70. Towards the half of years ' 90 riscoperto the largeness of Richard Thompson and a called group Show Of Hands: they are they to have influenced my last compositions. Derek is instead our expert of folk: enciclopedica acquaintance of all has one Irish and Scottish music. Neil contributes to the group with its remarkable eclettismo: its music has in fact strong infuences bluegrass , country and old Time . John finally is just comfort with whichever type of music, purchč is valid. Its collection of CD spaces from the New Age to the rock, from the folk to music Indian "

Derek: "I am young than Tom than approximately twenty years, but my main artistic infuences are tied to traditional music: Solas, Nomos, the Bothy Band and the folk-rock English, with groups like The Oyster Band and the Pogues?si, the Pogues are from considering more English who Irish!".

Also in notes of cover not fairies emphasized the fact that use of a drummer: how never?

Tom: "Of it we have often discussed, and often we have been tries to you from the idea: some time our technician of the sound, Peter Earle, that it is also an optimal percussionista - Zydeco sound music with an other band of the Yorkshire, Bayou Gumbo - occasionally has joined we, but to the very fine we prefer the continuous challenge to succeed to create a good ritmico effect without to resort to the percussions. Personally then, after 25 years of rock band, it appeals to the feeling very to me to sing without all that paraphernalia of tamburi to the shoulders!".

Derek: "the fact is that all the drummers stretch to play too much strongly! And to part this, is beautiful to play also "around" to the rhythm, while for its mental constitution whichever drummer is accustomed to always think in terms of "1-2-3-4"!".

If you had to be defined?

Tom: "We are one band of folk-rock: we all come from several experiences in groups of music rock, our origin is that one, and often in the pub noisier and crowds to you must "push" more on the depositor rock in order to succeed makes to feel us. But naturally it appeals to to us also to explore musical materials to minor ritmica connotation, even with a careful public and that it is in Hush, even playing "unplugged"?

Derek: "We try to be we are one folk band that one folk-rock band: difficult enterprise! In folk the clubs we play for more without some amplification, and then we could be defined one folk band. In other occasions we use of an amplification system, and the low electrical worker succeeds in supplire to the lack of the battery about which we spoke before. The positive thing is that our music seems lend to both the situations enough well ".

But qual' it is currently the situation of the folk rock in Great Britain?

Tom: "E' one truly strange situation. To forehead of a good number of optimal band - the Oyster Band (of which between the other we have been supporter ), Little Johnny England, E2K, solo in order to cite of some - it seems that currently not there is a great market for this kind in Great Britain. One would say that the greater part of those who is taken care of folk the face with the typical spirit of the conservative of a museum: an ideal of the "purity in the tradition" is prepreferred, but second me it is not an attitude corrected in musical within, less than to want to preservare some particular musical entities for geographic reasons. The greater part of people moreover sees we " folkies " perhaps as types a po' strani?ma have reason!".

Derek: "a ten of years ago all wanted to play like the Levellers: there were tens of musical they "cloni". Hour they are all passings. Us they remain old band like the Oyster Band and a great number of young groups, that they push very on the depositor of the tradition. I would not know neanche perhaps if to define them folk rock?chissā, it could also dirsi that the folk rock it does not exist more ".

Like never this title it, The Slippery Slope ("the slippery reduction"):

Derek: "Perhaps because to play in the Slide it could constitute one come down towards something of dangerous, like as an example the morris dance , to play accordion?farsi to grow the beard! I still resist, but Tom has as soon as bought a accordion!".

Tom: "Jokes to part, are a slogan that we have put on ours poster, reconnecting us to our Slide name, nearly to mean that the folk music it could also be seducente and dangerous like the rock' n' roll. Having to give to a title it to the album us it has seemed the more natural choice: Slide could be the dance Irish, but it means also "to slip"...

In your witnesses there is nearly constantly a reference to the sea?

Derek: "E'" guilt "of Tom! It loves the sea and the boats in ossessivo way, and every time goes us that can, species in a called island Alderney: it is one of the four Islands of the Channel ( Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney and Sark - n.d.r. ), not a lot known, also in Great Britain, if not for the fact that in these islands motors vehicle do not circulate. The Islands of the Channel have instead one rich and romantica history to the stregua of the Shetland, the Arran, the Ebridi or Lindisfarne."

Tom: "music folk has need of valid storys, and the Islands of the Channel are for me one inexhaustible source of history and legends. To how much it seems we are the single ones to collect the tradition of these islands: that in bottom contributes to our oneness ".

Plans for the future?

Tom: "Many concerts in the north of England this spring, then to the beginning of the summer one tournč in the south. After the summer we will return in study for our according to album that, we hope, will open us the doors of the large ones festival in 2003. E' also previewed a tour in Holland ".

The CD The Slippery Slope has been received with large happening from several English specialistic radios, Americans and Australians, and has opened to the Slide the road for the participation to the festival of Otley, Saddleworth and Wath. On the compilation of Keltika we can listen to two brani drawn from The Slippery Slope : "Boat To Burhou/The Casquets Light" has been composed from Tom Bliss, and tells the sad history of love of a sailor who decides to direct the prow of its boat towards the desert, inospita them island of Burhou; for same admission of Tom, this piece it has been inspired from the brano "Columcille" of the Iona group. Medley the instrumental "The Cottage In Hayley Wood/Connemara Stockings/Swinging On The Gate" begins instead with one slow jig composed from Derek Magee, in order then to pass to two Irish traditional brani.

The CD The Slippery Slope can be ordered directly near the situated one web of the Slide: Near same the situated one ulterior information are available on the Slide and the witnesses of the songs of The Slippery Slope.

Interview of Alfredo De Stone (Alfredo De Pietra)

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