The Reckless Abandoners is an entertaining acoustic band specialising in bluegrass and Americana with a fresh and original twist. We like to mix things up with an eclectic repertoire that includes original songs and tunes, traditional (and not quite so traditional) standards and some creative covers. The band’s music is a refreshing mix of upbeat and mellow bluegrass and old time, with touches of honky tonk, Western Swing, acoustic country and blues. We love harmony singing too, and that has become an important part of what we do.
Maria Wallace brought the band together and is the lead singer, bandleader and songwriter, with a powerful alto voice. With a passion for bluegrass and Americana music, under the True North Music banner Maria is also a grassroots music promoter bringing some of the best American bluegrass and old time artists to Yorkshire, including Ron Block, Sierra Hull, Front Country, Foghorn Stringband, The Railsplitters and many others. She also writes and blogs about roots music.
Phil Stott (mandolin/guitar vocals) is a fine Yorkshire-based musician and singer who’s been active on the folk and bluegrass scene for over 30 years as a keen picker, festival organiser and musician in various bands, including Yorkshire quartet Cowbaby. Phil takes lead vocal and rhythm guitar duties on several songs as well as singing harmony vocals.
Guitar picker extraordinaire Mark Gibbons is an ace flatpicker. Originally from Shetland but now based in Southport, Mark has been playing guitar for most of his life and is well known on the UK festival scene for his picking skills and free-ranging style, as well as his beaming smile.
Eleanor Wilkie (fiddle/vocals) is a talented musician and music teacher from Cheshire well known on the bluegrass scene for her excellent fiddle and double bass playing in bands such as Chill Until Blue, The Rye Distraction and Midnight Skyracer. Eleanor is a phenomenal and versatile multi-instrumentalist and has been playing bluegrass and old time music since a very young age. She also writes some barnstorming fiddle tunes, and is co-organiser of Crossover Festival.
Julie Cross from Cheshire holds it all together for us with solid picking on the double bass. Julie used to dance and play guitar for Appalachian dance side Mind the Step, before taking up the bass in recent years. Matriarch of the Cross musical dynasty, she also happens to be Eleanor’s mum! Along with daughters Eleanor and Emily, Julie is the driving force behind the popular new Crossover festival in Cheshire, a big hit in its 2017 debut season.
Bruno Pichler (dobro) is based way down south in Sussex, a skilled and subtle musician known for his great work with the bands Lands End and Hot Rock Pilgrims. Bruno is one of the best resonator guitar players in the UK and has won prizes in the instrument contests at the massive Rockygrass festival in the USA several times. A real renaissance man with a day job designing high-end laser scanning microscopes for neuroscience research, Bruno is also the coolest dude that we know.
The band’s core line-up consists of Maria, Phil, Eleanor, Bruno, Mark and Julie, but we occasionally get other musicians and instruments involved when not all of the core members are available, or when we simply feel like adding another flavour to the mix. For example, we called on supersub Alistair Mcilroy to play some cracking bluegrass banjo for us at Coastline festival last year, and Emily Cross has stepped in to cover the double bass spot as well as joining us on stage occasionally as an Appalachian step dancer.
We made our debut on the main stage at Orwell Bluegrass Festival in Suffolk in May 2016, where the audience gave us a really great welcome. Further festival performances at Coastline, Tamworth and Cornish bluegrass festivals were all extremely well received and with four more festivals including Moniaive, Gower and Crossover under our belts in 2017 as well as the occasional Yorkshire gig, we’re looking forward to bringing our particular good-time blend of acoustic music to more audiences later this year and in 2018. See you down the road somewhere!