Some years ago folk guitarist and singer Mick Bisiker was asked to put an electric band together to play at a Midlands folk festival. At the time a fan of acoustic folk said as a joke: “Seems like Mick Bisiker has gone to Rack and Ruin” – and somehow the name stuck.
These days Rack and Ruin are just as comfortable headlining a large music festival or performing at a wedding, birthday, house concert or other private party.
The current line up of West Midlands based Rack and Ruin is Mick Bisker on electric and acoustic guitars, mandola and vocals, Jen Martin on fiddle, Deb Gomme on saxophones, whistles, vocals and acoustic guitar, Chris Radley on bass and vocals, and Alex Stott on drums.
The Midlands based band draw on the folk tradition but deliver the music with a rock feel and energy. The band members all have many years experience performing lively celtic, roots, folk rock music and specialise in bringing up tempo jigs and reels and comtemporary folk-rock songs to a new audience.
You can also see Mick, Jen, Deb and Chris performing acoustically as Rack and Ruin (acoustic)
Vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, mandola & bouzouki
Mick has been an active part of the Midlands folk scene for many years. He first received critical acclaim for his album ‘Bisiker & Romanov’ (1989), with gypsy fiddle player Al Romanov which won the Music Retailers Award for best folk album.
He subsequently recorded:
• Home Again (1991), a solo venture
• One More Curtain Call (1994) with Davey Slater
• Ball & Chain (1996), Both Ends of the Street (1999), Hard Times (2000), Gone To… (2005) and On The Road To… (2019), all performed with Rack and Ruin.
Fiddle, backing vocals.
Originally a classically trained violinist Jen has played in a folk fiddle style for many years with Warwickshire based folk rock trio Firedaze.
She joined Rack and Ruin in November 2021 and brought her distinctive playing style to the band's music.
Alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, vocals, whistles, acoustic guitar
Before joining Rack and Ruin Deb was a member of Napton-based singing group Soul Sisters.
Although she has played various instruments since she was a child, Deb decided at 40 that she really wanted to play saxophone. Some years (and a few saxophones) later, she joined Rack and Ruin.
Deb hasn't yet mastered singing and blowing at the same time but if we are playing songs, she can usually be found doing one or the other.
Electric bass, acoustic bass, vocals, recording engineer
Chris first played with Rack and Ruin in 2001 to "help out" when the previous bass player suddenly left and has remained an integral part of the band ever since. When not playing bass with Rack and Ruin Chris also plays bass in folk rock duo Firedaze alongside singer/guitarist Steff Hutchinson.
After music his other main love is recording - he engineered, produced and mastered both the Gone To... album and the recent On The Road To... album for Rack and Ruin in his Dmusic recording studio in Leamington Spa.
His studio is available for local singers and musicians to hire for recording projects.
Before joining Rack and Ruin Alex played in a number of Coventry rock bands. He also has experience playing drums in pit bands for local theatrical shows.
His first gig with us was for a ceilidh a few years ago. We were playing on the back of a quite small lorry parked in the corner in a freezing-cold, massive, hangar-sized building used for horse show and show jumping rehearsals. Our audience was a load of drunk showjumpers and horse riders for a ceilidh at a national equestrian centre in the middle of the darkened, rainswept countryside.
Not your typical gig - actually not your typical ceilidh either!
Undeterred by this initial experience he has continued to provide us with his drumming skills ever since.