Becky Dellow is a fiddle player and tune researcher from Gloucestershire who comes from a paternal line of English fiddle players going back at least to her great-great-Grandfather, Thomas Hampton, (b1844), whose handwritten fiddle tunebook inspires Becky’s research and repertoire.
She has played in many bands, appearing nationally at festivals, folk-clubs and pubs, recording with Ed Boyd from Flook and supporting Eliza Carthy, Steve Tilston and Ric Sanders. Sensitivity is a real strength in Becky’s playing and this has been invaluable in the shows she has created in conjunction with poet, Adam Horovitz. Their recent productions have been sell-out successes. ‘The Apple’s Rounded World’ featured solo fiddle tunes interspersed with poetry by Laurie Lee, (with whom Becky’s grandfather Charles Hampton played fiddle) and other acclaimed writers from the Slad valley. Adam’s 2017 book of poetry, ‘The Soil Never Sleeps’ which was commissioned by the Pasture for Life campaign was the basis for the most recent show. During the 2020 pandemic, Becky and Adam collaborated online, producing a monthly podcast based on the poet and fiddler John Clare. The podcast, called ‘The Thunder Mutters’ featured Adam reading each month of Clare’s poem ‘The Shepherd’s Calendar’ and was interspersed with tunes played by Becky, taken from Clare’s tune manuscripts.
Most recent musical collaborations have been with guitarist and double bass player, Lukas Drinkwater who accompanied Becky for her 2021 debut solo album which she recorded at Polyphonic Studios in Stroud. Previous musical collaborations include Mischief Afoot (Jeff Gillett (guitar) and John Davis (recorder and bodhran)) whose 2018 album received good reviews; with daughter Milly Dellow (vocals & fiddle) with guitarist Matthias Weston and with Taeppeda, ( a four-piece festival band playing both traditional and self-penned tunes with both Celtic and European influences).
Despite her fiddling heritage, six year old Becky only took up the violin because Father Christmas gave her a red plastic trumpet rather than the shiny silver one she was hoping for. Instead, her Grandfather gave her a violin which she began learning playing both folk (Cotswold Fiddle Association) and classical. She continued to study violin achieving ABRSM Grade 8 with Distinction and piano Grade 7 (pass (just!)). It was during these school years that her interest and love of English and Celtic folk music developed as a member of the school barndance and ceilidh band, led by Pete Hendy and Jeff Gillett. During this time she also played with folk song collector, Peter Kennedy in his ‘Hooley Band’.
She furthered her musical study at Nottingham University, graduating with a BA (Hons) in Music, specialising in Performance and Early Musical Notation. During her days at university, Becky played with the University Orchestra and the University String Quartet, attending masterclasses with The Allegri String Quartet. It was during the night times however, that her real love of music and skill as a fiddle player developed as she spent many hours playing in pubs and clubs around Nottinghamshire in various bands .
On leaving University, she moved briefly to Hertfordshire where she spent a few years teaching violin in schools as well as playing with John Hammond and Michael Davidson (Gas Mark 5 and Chalktown) .Becky moved back to her home town, Stroud in Gloucestershire in 1996, and has continued to teach, play music and research music whilst bringing up a family. In 2013 Becky was awarded an MA (Merit) in Musicology from Bristol University, where she researched the origins of the tunes in John Playford’s 1651 ‘English Dancing Master’.
In 2018 she was awarded with a PhD in Musicology from the University of Sheffield, under the supervision of Dr Fay Hield. Her thesis, ”Fiddlers’ Tunebooks’ – Vernacular Instrumental Manuscript Sources 1860-c1880: Paradigmatic of Folk Music Tradition?’, which was inspired by her great great grandfather’s own tune manuscript book, was examined by Dr Vic Gammon and Dr Julia Bishop.
Becky continues her research and has had several articles published in academic journals, continues to contribute papers at conferences and helped to organise the 2019 and 2020 ‘Traditional Tunes and Popular Airs’ conferences. She has also contributed a chapter entitled Past Performances on Paper’ – A Case Study of The Manuscript Tunebook of Thomas Hampton in ‘The Routledge Companion to English Folk Performance’ edited by Steve Roud and Peter Harrop, due for publication in the summer of 2021.