After leaving the brilliant and loud Breabach, Patsy Reid has become the most in-demand traditional fiddle player in the UK. She hasn’t stopped working.
She performed alongside Dougie Maclean and Kylie Minogue at the 2014 Commonwealth Games Closing Ceremony, with Zakir Hussain at the London 2012 Olympic Festival followed by an extensive tour of North America, and since 2013 she has visited India five times, collaborating with Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and fellow British musicians. In the studio Patsy is a one woman string quartet, contributing violin, viola and cello to albums by Donald Shaw, Duncan Chisholm, Bella Hardy, Treacherous Orchestra, Tim Edey and many more.
But after all that collaboration it’s time for Patsy herself to take centre stage. Some might say it’s not before time. But not Patsy.
“I’ve never wanted to have a Patsy Reid band, but I reached a stage where I could see myself only working on other people’s projects and never having enough time to do something of my own. So I’m taking the risk that I might have to say no to something exciting, and I’m investing in my own music. I wouldn’t want to regret not giving myself the chance to do that.”
Asked to describe what makes her such a unique and admired musician and composer, Patsy shrugs and says: “I just play like Patsy.”
But just playing like Patsy means combining skills and techniques from both traditional and classical backgrounds. As a child she first learnt to play tunes by ear at the Alasdair Fraser fiddle camp on Skye. As a teen she made the trip to Alasdair’s sister camp in California, where she learned her trademark percussive chopping style. On top of that she has a Post Grad Diploma in Classical Violin Performance from the Royal Northern College of Music. And it’s these disciplines that give Patsy ultimate control over the bow – allowing her to virtually sing through the instrument.
Fellow fiddle player Aidan O’Rourke from the band Lau says: “She has an accuracy and tone that many fiddlers only dream of. She has truly mastered her instrument and has developed a unique style which seems to grow in depth and maturity each time I hear her.”
English folk singer Jim Moray reckons: “Patsy transcends simply being a folk musician. She has an understanding of what to play and when and how to play it that rivals the best of any genre.”
And the celebrated Northumbrian piper Kathryn Tickell says of Patsy: “She’s a fantastic musician, a lovely fiddle player and a joy to be with. No wonder everybody wants to work with her.”
In February 2014 she released her third solo album, The Brightest Path, which received sparking reviews and was recently named among Songlines’ Top 10 Scottish Albums.
2017 will see the release of Patsy’s 4th solo album, The Other Side, which will be the first to feature self-penned songs.