Steve Wickham

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Steve Wickham
The Waterboys - Festival du Bout du Monde 2012 - 040.jpg
Steve Wickham, 2012.
Background information
Birth nameSteve Wickham
Born Dublin, Republic of Ireland
GenresRock, folk, folk rock, country
Occupation(s)Singer-songwriter, musician
InstrumentsVocals, Fiddle
Tin Whistle
Associated acts The Waterboys

Steve Wickham is an Irish musician. Originally from Marino, Dublin, but calling Sligo home, [1] Wickham was a founding member of In Tua Nua (left in 1985 replaced by Aingeala de Burca) and played violin on the classic U2 song "Sunday Bloody Sunday", as well as recordings by Elvis Costello, the Hothouse Flowers, Sinéad O'Connor, and World Party. He is a long-standing member of The Waterboys. Wickham plays both rock and roll and traditional Irish music, and has developed a rock music technique for violin he calls the "fuzz fiddle". [2]


Wickham is also accomplished with the mandolin, tin whistle, concertina, saxophone, piano, guitar and bones. He identifies Lou Reed, Van Morrison, Toni Marcus, and Mozart as musical influences, amongst others, [3] and Mick Ronson. [2] He is described by Mike Scott as "the world's greatest rock fiddle player" [4] and by New Musical Express as a "fiddling legend." [5]

Career with Waterboys

Scott invited Wickham to participate in The Waterboys after hearing his work on an O'Connor demo tape at Wallinger's studio. [6] Wickham contributed his fiddle to the song "The Pan Within" on The Waterboys' This Is the Sea . After the album was released, Wallinger left The Waterboys and Wickham joined the group officially. Wickham invited Scott to move The Waterboys to Dublin, Ireland in 1986. Wickham's influence and the new environment resulted in the traditional Irish music and traditional Scottish music sound of Fisherman's Blues (1988). In 1990, Wickham, preferring an acoustic sound over rock, disagreed with Scott and Anthony Thistlethwaite over the direction of The Waterboys, [7] and the group disbanded. Scott reformed the band seven years later. Wickham appeared as a guest at some Waterboys concerts in Dublin in 2000, and, according to Scott "it felt so good he re-joined the band". [8] The Waterboys now continue to record music and tour, with Wickham as a prominent member. While some of the band's recent releases have been dominated by a rock sound, such as the album A Rock in the Weary Land , Wickham's musical preferences can be seen in Universal Hall and in his own side-projects. Wickham also regularly performs with the Sligo Early Music Ensemble.

Fuzz Fiddle

Wickham has experimented with a technique he calls "fuzz fiddle", partially inspired by rock fiddler Warren Ellis and the genre of grunge music. Wickham's first attempt at a distorted rock fiddle sound was with a band named Juggler, which existed between 1978 and 1981. Wickham fed his fiddle through a guitar distortion pedal, but disliked the amount of feedback and the fact that it "was very difficult to control". While attending a Nick Cave concert with Scott, Wickham observed Ellis use a fiddle with a fuzz pedal successfully. Wickham, after experimenting with some combinations, settled upon an amplifier, fiddle and pedal combination he was pleased with, "and the fuzz-fiddle was reborn". Wickham has used the technique for The Waterboys song "Is She Conscious?", a cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Independence Day" and, in a nod to Jimi Hendrix's version of "The Star-Spangled Banner", has also used it in a performance of "Amhrán na bhFiann". [2]

Selected discography

Wickham has performed on numerous albums as a guest or band member. His first solo album, Geronimo was released in 2004 (see 2004 in music). The album is named after Wickham's name for his "beloved" violin. [9]

Geronimo track list

  1. "Lazy Days"
  2. "Mouth of the Shannon"
  3. "Fado"
  4. "The Hunter"
  5. "One of these Days"
  6. "A Snow Year"
  7. "Midnight Boy"
  8. "Lament for Pearl"
  9. "The Livestock Polka"
  10. "Polka Art O Leary"
  11. "Point to Point"
  12. "The Eclipse"

Notes and references

  1. Tour Diaries – Bulletins Archived 20 August 2006 at the Wayback Machine . URL accessed 9 June 2006.
  2. 1 2 3 "Karma Notes". mikescottwaterboys. Archived from the original on 11 April 2008. Retrieved 25 October 2005.
  3. "An interview with Steve Wickham". Archived from the original on 15 February 2005. Retrieved 22 October 2005.
  4. Wickham agrees. "An interview with Steve Wickham". Archived from the original on 15 February 2005. Retrieved 22 October 2005.
  5. "NME Waterboys concert review" . Retrieved 22 October 2005.
  6. Peter Anderson. "Mike Scott/Waterboys biography". Record Collector magazine. Archived from the original on 3 May 2005. Retrieved 22 October 2005.
  7. "FAQ". mikescottwaterboys. Archived from the original on 11 April 2008. Retrieved 23 October 2005.
  8. "Mike Scott, March 2003". Archived from the original on 23 October 2004. Retrieved 30 October 2005.CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  9. "Steve Wickham: Geronimo" . Retrieved 29 March 2006.

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