How many instruments can Barry Wickens play? How many line-ups has he played them in? He’ll shrug that off with his ravishing grin. Oh, Barry. He so personifies modesty, I’ve wanted to strangle him for it at times. I hold back. When I first danced to his fiddle, back in the Eighties, he was gilding an average white band called Short Stories, lifting blunt instrumentalism and so-what songs with his hovering, insane violin. Via assignments with John Martyn, Thrashing Doves and Howard Jones, he ducked in and out of Immaculate Fools before joining the Cockney Rebel cause. He has played guitar, violin and mandolin and sung BVs for our Steve ever since.
‘Virtuoso’ seems too inadequate a word for his breathtaking talent. Call me biased. We’ve been friends a long time. Feast your ears on his music anyway. Experience his brilliance on the road right now, as part of Steve Harley’s acoustic trio, through to December. Buy his debut solo album from his label Observation Records, ‘Where Birdsong Meets Aeroplane’.
What kind of a title is that? A magically musical one. It’s a message. And I think that it’s this: that a blackbird’s song at dead of night rings clear over the roar of a 747; that the smallest voice has the most enduring resonance. All we have to do is hear. This music is contemplative, stealthy and shimmeringly sublime. You’ll never play it when your friends come for dinner. You’ll flick the satnav off and drive the long way round. You’ll park further away and you will sit outside, willing it not to end. You will indulge in this album again and again. You will have learned how to listen.