Some years ago folk guitarist and singer Mick Bisiker was asked to put an electric band together to play at a Midlands folk festival. Someone said as a joke: “Mick Bisiker has gone to Rack and Ruin” – and 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 Warwickshire based Rack and Ruin is Mick Bisker on electric and acoustic guitars, mandola and vocals, Nigel Ward on fiddle and mandolin, Chris Radley on bass and vocals, Deb Gomme on saxophones, whistles and vocals and Alex Stott (or sometimes Phil Aris) 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, Nigel, Chris and Deb performing acoustically as Rack and Ruin (acoustic)
Vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, mandola & bouzouki
Mick has been a 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:
• One More Curtain Call (1994) with Davey Slater
• Home Again (1991), a solo venture
• 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, acoustic guitar, vocals
Nigel was the original fiddle player in the trad band Tom Tiddler and has also played in various Midlands based ceilidh bands. He played in the excellent duo Bailey and Ward, which released Sign of the Times (2001). Now in Rack and Ruin he plays a fusion of English and Celtic fiddle styles.
The band provides an ideal platform for his tasteful fiddle playing - in jigs and reels and also in Mick's songs.
In 2014 Nigel recorded a collection of original songs and tunes on his solo album Fiddlers Tales (2014). He also plays with The Boys From Ball Hill.
Bass guitar, vocals, recording engineer
When not playing bass with Rack and Ruin Chris is half of a songwriting partnership with singer/guitarist Steff Hutchinson in the original folk-rock band Firedaze where he plays bass and drum samples and loops alongside Steff and fiddle player Jen.
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.
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, she decided at 40 that she really wanted to play saxophone. Some years (and a few saxophones) later, she recently 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.
Before joining Rack and Ruin Alex Stott played in a number of Coventry rock bands. He also has experience playing in pit bands for local theatrical shows.
His first gig with us was a few years ago. We were playing on the back of a lorry in a freezing cold, massive, hangar-sized building used for horse show rehearsals to a load of drunk showjumpers and horse riders for a ceilidh at a national equestrian centre in the middle of the 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.