Phil is one of the most popular ambassadors for acoustic roots music. A dazzling instrumentalist, he is perhaps best known as a top flight fiddler and plays in the all-star line-up, Feast of Fiddles. But his skills don’t stop there, he also plays slide, Spanish and tenor guitar, mandocello, viola, mandolin and South American cuatro, not to mention contributing rich vocals.
Born in Exminster, Devon, he started to play fiddle, guitar and mandolin while still at school in Teignmouth and habitually credits Davey Graham’s Folk, Blues & Beyond as his inspiration for acoustic music.
He played his first gig at 14 and started working as a duo with Paul Downes in 1974 (their re-union Live at Nettlebed CD was released four years ago on the Talking Elephant label). He was then in the Arizona Smoke Revue and a key member of Johnny Coppin’s band. His impressive track record also includes touring with Mike Oldfield and being a member of the feted Albion Band from 1984-1991. Show of Hands became a full-time partnership in the early 90s, a band that has gone on to sell out the Royal Albert Hall three times and who were voted Best Live Act, by the public, at the 2004 Folk Awards.
Phil, who also has his own Phil Beer Band, famously guested on the Rolling Stones Steel Wheels album and Steve Harley’s Poetic Justice.
As a composer, Phil has written many numbers including the stunning instrumental The Falmouth Packet for SoH’s album Witness.
As a solo artist he released Rhythm Methodist in 2004, a double album of songs and instrumentals (re-released on the Talking Elephant label this year) He ran the Show of Hands Riverside studio until 2011 when he moved to a residential setting in order to concentrate on editing a series of solo and band albums for release later in 2014. The first of which being a double live album.
Phil is also in demand as a producer, co-producing (with Steve Knightley) Jez Lowe’s Jack Commons Anthem among others. Six years ago Phil created a label, Chudleigh Roots, producing Jackie Oates’ highly acclaimed second album, The Violet Hour and an album by Singer Songwriter Tom Palmer. He is now once again building a new studio in a very wild and beautiful devon setting in anticipation of a large amount of commissioned recording work next year including film and TV.
In the meantime, Show of Hands go from strength to strength and the current album ‘Wake the Union’ has received huge critical acclaim this year. The imminent DVD release contains an unique insight into how they work and features aspects of the recording of each track on the album.
Phil continues to work on new projects and will be running a series of sailing trips combined with informal music workshops next summer (2014)