Blackbeard's Tea Party have been playing together since the summer of 2009.
They began as a busking, function and ceilidh band, but quickly gained a reputation as a formidable live act and soon found themselves selling out venues in their home town of York.
Word quickly spread, and the band began to play gigs further afield, including a number of noteworthy festival concerts and ceilidh bookings throughout 2010 and 2011. These included Sidmouth, Shrewsbury and a headline slot at Galtres, amongst others.
Blackbeard's Tea Party released an eight track mini album (Heavens to Betsy, 2009) followed by their critically acclaimed debut album ‘Tomorrow We'll Be Sober’ (2011). Both were recorded in Kajunga Studios (a series of progressively bigger bedrooms) and were funded and distributed independently.
After the release of 'Heavens to Betsy' the band's distinct sound was picked up by Mike Harding, who played Blackbeard's Tea Party on BBC Radio 2's weekly folk show.
Since the release of Tomorrow We'll Be Sober - which R2 Magazine gave a five star rating - Blackbeard's Tea Party have gone from strength to strength. They were recognised as one of the best live bands in the UK in the 2011 FATEA Awards and 2012 saw a long run of festival bookings, including Cambridge and Whitby, and return visits to Sidmouth and Shrewsbury, amongst others.
2013 saw the band continue to grow with the release of their second album "Whip Jamboree" accompanied by their first UK headline tour. During the summer of 2013 they performed at numerous festivals, including a return to Sidmouth plus appearances at Beverley, another headline slot at Galtres, alongside first time visits to Broadstairs, Holmfirth and many more. In between all these shows, Blackbeard's Tea Party could still be found busking on the streets of York whilst performing at their own band gigs across the country.
Blackbeard's Tea Party have gone from strength to strength in 2014 with appearances at festivals such as Glastonbury, Cropredy, Costa Del Folk Festival in Spain and the Rainforest Festival in Borneo alongside numerous others such as Larmer Tree and Shrewsbury Folk Festival back home.
Blackbeard's Tea Party plan to release a new album alongside an extensive touring schedule of major festivals and shows in 2015. Details of all dates can be found on our Tour Dates page which is updated daily.
Stuart Giddens was born and bred in Darlington, County Durham before moving to Lancashire when he was 14. Both his parents were morris dancers, and so Stuart was introduced to the English folk dance scene at an early age. Stuart is still passionate about morris, and has recently been seen on stage dancing with the Demon Barber Roadshow and their spin-off theatre show The Lock Inn (formerly Time Gentlemen Please).
It was morris dancing that brought Stuart to folk song and the melodeon too, frequently finding himself bundled into a pub, post-dance, for some unaccompanied songs and a music session. Stuart’s father Keith has a reputation for singing rousing pub songs, and Stuart was soon stealing his dad’s repertoire and making the songs his own. When Stuart moved to York to study English literature he brought these songs with him, as well as a growing interest in English oral traditions and dance music. Stuart soon became a recognised face in York’s music sessions and folk clubs, known for his morris tunes and bawdy choruses.
"Stuart’s musical interests stretch well beyond folk, with a real love of contemporary pop and chart music. Indeed, these days you’re as likely to see Stuart dancing in a nightclub as singing in a folk club. Stuart brings this pop sensibility to his performance with Blackbeard’s Tea Party, helping to give the bands music an appeal to fans of all ages, way beyond the folk scene.
According to legend, Tim Yates was walking through the hood when he asked an old man for change. The man said "I ain't got no change, boy, but I sure 'nuff can show you how to groove". For years Tim studied the ways of the bass until one day he became so funky his hair turned ginger.
According to fact, having been dragged around the morris dancing scene in a knitted morris kit since the age of three weeks, Tim has developed a deep love of English traditional music as well as that from further afield.
He started playing cello when he was about six, then gave it up when he discovered the bass at 15. Quickly thrust into the low-end-lacking school concert band, his early bass training came in the form of whatever was in the band's folder; Stevie Wonder, Rose Royce and S Club 7 to name but a few.
A misguided introduction to the band Primus by his school band's drummer shaped Tim's approach to the bass in an unrecoverable way. Instantly besotted by the strummings, slappings and clonkings of his now idol Les Claypool, his bass style isn't always what you might call 'normal', therefore fitting right in to the outré sonic jigsaw that is the Blackbeard's wall o' sound. Further musical explorations led to a love of some fairly brutal metal, anything technical, the melodeon and a drunkenly purchased sousaphone.
Now a certified bass tart, Tim can be seen also be seen galavanting around with The Albion Band, The QP, Gavin Davenport, Nancy Kerr and anyone else who has a spare shilling to give or a good yarn to tell.
Martin Coumbe was born and raised in a small town in Cornwall where he inherited a love of 80s pop and classic rock from his parents. He first started playing music aged 16 after discovering an old classical guitar with only 5 strings in the attic. Connecting with the alternative rock scene that had emerged in the 1990s and 2000s, he swapped his classical guitar for an electric model and was soon forming cover bands and gigging around his home town. All his spare time out of school was spent practicing, trying to acquire new techniques and learn new songs. Martin received no formal musical training, finding more satisfaction in teaching himself and working out songs by ear. He remains completely self-taught to this day.
Martin continued to be musically active whilst studying Electronic Engineering at the University of York, meeting and playing with people from a wide variety of different musical backgrounds. This gave him an appreciation for a number of different techniques, playing styles and genres. Folk music became a new focus for Martin, but instead of adopting an acoustic style typical of the genre, he retained his electric guitar, trying to infuse the music with the ethos, energy and techniques prevalent in rock music. In his third year of studying, his band won the University’s annual Battle of the Bands competition, and they went on to headline the end of year music festival.
Martin has continued down this path with Blackbeard’s Tea Party, where his energetic playing, heavy sound and sometimes outrageous guitar solos help create the strong contemporary rhythm section that is the backbone of the band.
Dave specializes in djembe and conga drums. With a love of soloing and a high-energy maximum impact approach, Dave has earned the nickname 'El Animal' (given to him by Cuban Rumberos in Havana). Dave brings an infatuation with rhythm, a love of performance, the occasional machine gun fire solo and a VERY loud djembe to Blackbeard's Tea Party.' Dave has studied music abroad many times, visiting Guinea and Cuba on a number of occasions where he has gained a deep appreciation and understanding of African based music and culture. He plays in the Axis percussion trio which specializes in Afro-Cuban percussion.
Dave was soloist and co writer in the Nottingham based drumming band 'Bass Tone Slap' for 5 years between 2006 and 2011. During this time he gigged with the band all over the country as well as appearing on TV and Radio.
While at University Dave led drumming bands at both York St John University and the University of York as well as playing drum kit in numerous bands. Since graduating, Dave has been back to the University as guest lecturer on their drumming module.
After representing his home county of Nottinghamshire as a school boy in both chess and rugby, Dave Boston turned his focus to the drums. He studied drum kit, congas and djembe in Nottingham and then went on to study performance music at York St John University. It was here that he branched out into tuned and orchestral percussion, performing solo recitals.
Liam 'Yom' Hardy was born and grew up in Sheffield, South Yorkshire. Coming from a non musical family he began playing drums at the relatively late age of 17, fuelled by his growing interest in music, particularly Rock, Punk and Metal. He has received very little formal education in music, having just a handful of lessons before leaving for University in York.
Throughout University Liam spent the vast majority of his spare time playing in bands and attending live music events. In his second year he was co-chair of the University's Band Society and helped organise many events on the Campus including the Battle of the Bands and Woodstock, the University's annual music festival. He was the drummer in the band that won and headlined both of these events respectively in his third year. Despite all this he continued to receive no formal musical education, instead studying Economics and Economic History for his degree.
Playing in such a wide variety of bands throughout his time at University helped to broaden Liam's musical palette and as such he enjoys many genres of music. It is his love of Rock in particular however that continues to be his driving force and as such he helps to bring out the heavier element of Blackbeard's Tea Party's sound.
Laura is a proud northerner, born and bred in Teesside, only daring to move as far south as York for university and beyond. Her mum is a violin teacher and starting teaching her from the age of four. She spent all her childhood following a classical music pathway, eventually leading orchestras and performing concertos, before leaving to do an academic music degree at York University.
Things however changed and late teenage rebellion kicked in. Laura discovered folk music and found playing in pubs and bands was far more fun than the formalities of her degree. She discovered everything folk music has to offer, from traditional British tunes to American bluegrass, Gypsy Jazz to Klezmer. She enjoyed the new challenges that these brought to her playing, and now brings many of these influences into her playing with Blackbeard's Tea Party. Until she becomes a full-time folk-rock star, Laura continues to teach violin, piano, cello and saxophone to children and adults around York and North Yorkshire.