Classic Cumbrian Ceilidh Band
Having played over 1000 shows spanning 23 years, Striding Edge have proved themselves to be a classic ceilidh band of North West England.
This is Our Story:
Striding Edge were formed in the winter of 1995. Five like-minded musicians from Kendal, Windermere and Dalton came together with the idea of exploring Lakeland music and taking it in exciting new directions.
Early rehearsals took place in Mike Willoughby’s barn up on the remote Kirsktone pass in Ambleside: As this was a few miles from the iconic Lakeland mountain ridge on Helvellyn, they named the new band Striding Edge.
The emerging music took the long-neglected music of Lakeland from the archives and gave it new life: The skirl of bagpipes and fiddle propelled by dub bass grooves and fiercely funky electric guitar created a brand new sound.
Striding Edge’s reputation for throwing thrilling ceilidhs grew, and 1996 onwards saw the band on a roll, gathering gigs around the Cumbria, North Lancashire with forays to the Midlands and the South. In those days you could see Striding Edge play at regional centers such as The Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal, and The Platform in Morecambe plus a host of starred hotels for private clients.
In 1998 veteran radio producer Mike Harding invited the band to record at this personal studio in Dent: These sessions became Striding Edge’s first mini-album ‘Unleash The Dance.’ By this time Carolyn Francis, one of the North West’s strongest fiddlers, was on board: Her driving playing underpins the album, along with Mike Willoughby’s firey melodeon and Ben McCabe’s world-beat infused drums.
Also taking an interest in the band were promoters of rural community shows: On the eve of a tour of North Pennine village halls in February 2000, bassist Rick Middleton joined the band. Rick’s stalwart presence in the rhythm section was the final element needed to complete the current classic lineup: Striding Edge went on to great success on the tour, playing to a range of packed halls on remote moors.
Reflecting their mood of optimism and musical adventure, Striding Edge took to the studio in 2001 with Rick at the helm as a producer. The resulting album, ‘Striding Edge’, is a varied collection from the band at their inventive best, featuring Lakeland dance tunes, original songs, haunting ballads and big brass breaks.
Striding Edge’s reputation amongst the outdoor fraternity was forged in this era: Bookings flowed from well-known mountaineer Doug Scott’s charity Community Action Nepal, while elite fell runners The Bob Graham Round Club chose Striding Edge to round off their bi-annual season with a no-holds-barred ceilidh: Bookings with both organisations continue to this day.
2007-2008 saw Striding Edge launch their new album ‘Borrowdale Johnny’ with 21 shows touring community halls in Cumbria, North Pennines and Dorset. Their most ambitious album yet, ‘Borrowdale Johnny’ is a musical narrative in which a young man leaves his rural home to seek his fortune in the big city. Re-interpretations of classic Lakeland material sit alongside new songs bristling with social commentary: Rock and Reel magazine called it “accomplished, considered and satisfyingly different" and gave it 4 stars.
The next decade of playing saw Striding Edge consolidate their standing in the Cumbrian and North Lancashire regions: Performances ranged across numerous community halls, hotels, hostels and houses. Notable festival appearances and re-bookings were at Fylde Folk Festival, Furness Traditions and Solfest. In April 2015, It was fitting that this people’s band were invited to the Reghed Heritage Centre, Penrith to play music welcoming HRH Prince Charles to the Cumbrian region.
Driven by the demand to play from an appreciative people, Striding Edge continue to stay their course: With an undiminished appetite for playing and innovating, they will undoubtedly remain a musical force in the North West for many years to come!