Chris Ricketts and Mark Willshire
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Chris Ricketts and Mark Willshire


Band Folk Acoustic


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"John Tams About Chris Ricketts"

"Youth is not wasted on the young when it comes to Chris Ricketts, He has the heart the size of a concert hall and the generous spirit to match. Chris has the drive and dtermination to do well... which he will" - John Tams

"Martyn Joseph About Chris Ricketts"

"Heartfelt and Poignant" - Martyn Joseph

"'Simple Folk' Review"

Full Review Available at :

Simple Folk

Chris Ricketts is one the rising stars of the folk world. Currently studying folk and traditional music at Newcastle University, a long way from his native Portsmouth. He is working with bassist Mark Willshire.
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When I was a lad in the sixties and friends wanted to form a band, the bass was played by the worst guitarist or the lad who could not play anything and picked up the bass just to gat into the band. Today we have a new breed of bassist. Mark sounds like a good guitarist who specialises on the bass. His playing sometimes drives along the rhythm on the track and sometimes almost imperceptibly balances the tenor voice of Chris. However he plays it, it works.
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There is a strong trans Atlantic influence to Chris’s music but he equally at home with American songs like ‘Chasing the Buffalo’ and good old English songs like ‘Tilbury Town’ and ‘Drunken Maidens.’ He even ventured into song writing with ‘Take me as your Own’, a song from the point of view of an abandoned child. An unusual subject but well written and sung in a way evokes a crying child.
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The gem for me is ‘Which Side are you On?’ Florence Reece’s song about a miner’s strike in the U.S in the 30’s. As a daughter of and wife of miner’s she knew the woe of living through that time. Chris manages to transmit that woe through his treatment of the song.

Chris accompanies himself excellently on the guitar and with Mark’s bass we get a well balanced sound to a well chosen collection of songs.

Many people have commented on Chris’s potential. I think Chris, with Mark’s backing, could develop to the status of a Kris Drever or Seth Lakeman.

Web Site

Ken Miller

- Ken Miller's Folk Page

"Simple Folk Review"

Chris Ricketts and Mark Willshire
Simple Folk

Chris Ricketts is the sort of artist who can hold a whole room spellbound with the sound of his voice alone. In this debut album, with collaborator and bassist Mark Willshire, he has successfully captured the energy and enthusiasm that makes going to his live shows such a joy.

Despite the sparse arrangement of the songs (mostly just vocals, guitar and bass) the album has a warmth and intensity to it that is incredibly satisfying.

The majority of songs on this album are interpretations of traditional tunes. But, it is Chris’ version of Which Side Are You On? that most shows his skill in making older songs relevant to a modern audience. His own songs are rooted in storytelling and thoughtful observation on life. It will be interesting to see how he builds on these later.

The album only has eight songs on it, but I wanted to hear more.


Kate Steaggles.

- Kate Steaggles (ACOUSTIC MAGAZINE)

"Bright Young Folk Review"

The title and album cover of this debut album by Chris Ricketts and Mark Willshire is rather self-deprecating. Whilst the combination of guitar, bass and voicebmay be sparse, the arrangements and performance are certainly not.

This unassuming-looking album contains eight traditional tracks that switch between the narrative and the more meditative. The arrangements are never over the top, allowing Chris’ voice to come to the fore, supporting the lyrics and tone of each song well.

Some of the tracks have an American influence, like ’Chase the Buffalo’, and at times I am reminded of Martin Simpson and Steve Tilston in the style of guitar delivery, which is never a bad thing.

I was particularly interested to hear ’Briery Bush’, a song known by myriad similar titles and intimately by me as Spiers and Boden’s ’Prickle-Eye Bush’. The plot remains the same, but Chris and Mark’s subtle instrumentation gives the song a slightly contemplative feel, and I can picture the protagonist sat with a guitar awaiting his fate.

On the up tempo side of ’Simple Folk’ I enjoyed ’Sally Brown’ and Nobody’s Fault But Mine’, both of which I found myself wiggling along to. But the song that stuck in my mind most was ’Which Side Are You On?’. The almost hypnotic chant style of the refrain rooted itself firmly in my brain and for days.

The guitar playing and vocal stylings of Chris and Mark are thoroughly enjoyable, and it’s very easy to put this CD on repeat. As am album ’Simple Folk’ showcases some promising new talent in guitar-based folk, and looks a good launching pad for these two young performers. In fact, so much so that they have recently signed to Hobgoblin, and an extended edition of the album will be released later in the year. -


Please find the full review of Simple Folk at

Here is an extract - "These songs combine the groundwork of tradition with nonconformist modernity. If there is such a genre as 'earthy acoustic pop' or 'funk-folk' these guys are the first rate exponents. If not they've just forged their own style" - Tim Carroll

"Guide Awards"

Young folk singer Chris Ricketts was named best folk singer at this year's Guide Awards - and you can see him perform in our video.
The singer, just 18 years old, is already making a name for himself on the folk circuit.

One of his songs is called Mudlarks, and is a tribute to the children who used to frolic in the mud at The Hard for the entertainment of tourists.

Chris performed Mudlarks at the ceremony at the Kings Theatre, Southsea, after accepting his award.
- The News (Portsmouth)

"Festival / Gig Review"

A refreshing sound, which captures the spirit of traditional folk, but has a broader, alsmost pop appeal. - Steve Pitt (Booking Agent / Promoter)

"ACOUSTIC Magazine Interview"

You’re a self-confessed gigging veteran, having been on the circuit since you were 15. What inspired you to start songwriting and performing?

My first guitar teacher Nick Evans was a massive influence on me and converting me from the electric guitar to the acoustic. He introduced me to great songwriters and guitarists like Bob Dylan and Davy Graham. What really turned me onto folk music though was a visit to Fairport's Cropredy Convention when I was 16 and I saw some fantastically influential performers such as Show Of Hands, Oysterband and Fairport Convention.

You were a semi finalist at the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Awards last year. Can you tell us a bit about that?

The Radio 2 Young Folk awards was a fantastic opportunity and a truly amazing experience. I met many fantastic musicians and made many new friends. It was nice being around like-minded people that had the same views and thoughts on folk and traditional music. It was overall a fantastic weekend where everybody got involved and shared some fantastic music.

You’re studying Folk and Traditional Music at Newcastle University. How do you juggle your studies with gigging commitments and family?

The University runs a really fantastic course that is very flexible, we get a lot of time off and it's about how you use the time. I tend to try and get bookings whenever I am available and i am forever sending out emails. I enjoy coming home to see the family.

You have performed solo, but you’ve also worked in a trio with Dogan Mehmet and Sarah Danby. Now you’re gigging with Mark Willshire. Do you have a preference for group versus solo, or does it depend on the music?

I performed 3 gigs with Dogan and Sarah, they were very good fun and i hope we can put together some more stuff in the future. I am concentrating working with Mark at the moment because we seem to really gel when putting together material and performing. We are planning a visit to America during the summer. I still enjoy playing solo and look to put together some solo shows soon but working with other people is a lot of fun.

What is your most memorable gig (either as performer or spectator, or both) and why?

Chris: There have been many fantastic gigs but I will never forget being asked to compere and play at the Southsea bandstand in the summer on the 'folk' day. There was a great turnout with roughly 4000 people sitting in the sun listening to the music.

What are your aspirations?

Chris: One of my biggest dreams is to play Cropredy festival because it introduced me to folk music. I would also love to travel the world playing and meeting new people. I am a big believer in traditional music and feel that it should be kept alive through many generations to come, I fear that it is being lost and may not have a part in the music scene in the near future.

What’s next for you? What are you working on at the moment?

Chris: I am working hard on promoting the new album that me and Mark have recently released called 'Simple Folk'. We have many dates to follow the release of the album coincided with a short tour of America. When we return we hope to put together a tour based around the UK. 'Simple Folk' is built up of mainly traditional songs, we look to record another album in the next 2-3 months.

What gear do you use? (ie make of guitars, other instruments you play etc)

Chris: I play a K Yairi WY1 guitar, I absolutely love it! The guitar plays really well and at the moment I wouldn't gig with any other guitar. I also have a 1970's yamaha F-1 guitar hanging around the house which I enjoy playing, its a beaten old thing but I guess thats the beauty of it. I also own a great little D.I box made by Orchid Electronics that i wouldn't gig without.

Any effects or other stuff?

Chris: I do not use any effects other than what is going through the PA so i guess a little reverb and compression.

What strings do you use?

Chris: Elixir Nanoweb (13's)

Any preferred altered tunings?

Chris: I play predominantly in DADGAD but sometimes stray into other open tunings, i am a big fan of the open string sounds.

Fingerstyle or pick? (or both?)

Chris: I suppose this depends on the mood of the song. I tend to go with the fingerstyle though and I do enjoy using a thumb pick.

- ACOUSTIC Magazine

"Festival / Gig Review"

"The music produced by these two guys captures the direction that all acoustic musicians should aspire to. Their performances are well played, with confidence and authority, whilst original compositions are strong, and don't resort to cliched re-workings. Support slots to top performers such as Martin Carthy and Country Joe McDonald have already ensured the word is being spread by the greats of the genre too. Definately worth watching!" John Roberts (Barking Spider Promotions) - John Roberts (Barking Spider Promotions)


"Mudlarks" 2007 (Studio Album Chris Solo)

"Simple Folk" (2010) Chris Ricketts and Mark Willshire (Hobgoblin Records)



Chris Ricketts is a talented singer/songwriter from Portsmouth currently studying folk and traditional music at Newcastle University. Having been 'on the scene' from around the age of 15 and having received rave reviews from a host of musicians/journalists, Chris is already somewhat of a gigging veteran and decided to team up with bassist Mark Willshire in the summer of 2009. The pair complement each other in a somewhat unorthodox manner- Chris's traditional guitar and vocal structures being interspersed with Mark's big, almost funk-like basslines. The combination creating a fresh take on a genre often written off before it has been given the chance it deserves.

With their album 'Simple Folk' due out early 2010 and dates to support it following it should be a good year for the duo.

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