Folk star to make a memorable January in St Neots

Phil Beer.

Phil Beer. - Credit: Archant

It may be tricky to see past opening gifts, hosting relatives and tucking into a turkey dinner at Christmas lunch, but the new year is really not so far away.

Once the fireworks have gone off at New Year’s Eve and the final notes of Auld Lang Syne have faded away, it will be almost time to think about diving back into the St Neots music scene.

The town’s folk club is to host its very own night to remember when Phil Beer - half of English acoustic roots and folk duo Show of Hands - takes to the stage on Tuesday, January 13.

Aficionados will know him by name alone, but for those who are unfamiliar with his talents, Phil is a dazzling instrumentalist with impressive credentials.

He is perhaps best-known as a top flight fiddler who 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.

As one of the most popular ambassadors for acoustic roots music, Beer has performed many times in St Neots, both solo and as part of a duo.

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.

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He played his first gig at 14 and started working as a duo with Paul Downes in 1974. 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.

As a composer, Phil has written many numbers including the stunning instrumental The Falmouth Packet for Show of Hand’s CD Witness, and was also involved in the superb instrumental CD The Path.

As a solo artist he released Rhythm Methodist in 2004, a double album of songs and instrumentals (re-released on the Talking Elephant label in 2010) while his versatility is shown in the imminent Hard Works compilation of two earlier albums and a long-awaited five-disc boxed set of archive, new and live music and video.

Guests can be sure of an evening of tunes and wit, accompanied by a skilful showcase of his excellent musicianship.

INFORMATION: The show will run from 8pm-10.30pm at The Guest Hall, The Priory Centre. Tickets cost £12 for non-members and £10 for members which can be booked by calling 01234 376278. Alternatively, they can be bought at the door. For more, visit