Stick in the Wheel

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Stick in the Wheel
OriginLondon, England
Years active2012–present
  • From Here Records
Associated acts
  • Nicola Kearey
  • Ian Carter
Past members
  • Rachel Thomas Davies
  • Fran Foote
  • Simon Foote
  • Ellie Wilson

Stick in the Wheel are an English band with its origins in East London. It is led by vocalist and artist Nicola Kearey and Ian Carter, their producer, arranger and Dobro player. They bring a contemporary approach to folk music with raw minimalism, setting vocals to simple accompaniments and handclaps.[1] They sing both their own compositions and traditional songs, which hold a strong relationship to each other through their subject matter. They were praised by Eliza Carthy for bringing important new songs to the repertoire.[2]


Stick in the Wheel was formed by Ian Carter, Nicola Kearey and Rachel Thomas Davies, who had previously worked together on other projects[3] including the dubstep group Various.


This was recorded partly in their kitchens; Nicola Kearey plays autoharp.[4] In 2013, Rachel Thomas Davies moved to Wales, at which point Nicola Kearey took on all the main vocals and was joined by Fran Morter.[5]


Their second EP, Cuts, contained four traditional tunes, originally recorded for Radio 2, FATEA and other folk radio shows/compilations. 'Barbara Allen' was recorded for the Radio 2 Folk Show’s Cecil Sharp Collection,[6] 'The Cruel Ship’s Captain' was recorded for the Folk and Friends show on Radio Warwickshire, 'Champions at Keeping them Rolling' was recorded for the Winter 2013 FATEA Brushstrokes Sessions and 'Marrabones' was recorded for the Loughton Folk Club 2013 charity CD.


The third EP, Bones, was released a few weeks later and featured Ian Carter, Nicola Kearey and Fran Morter with Joolie Wood on violin and additional vocals from Rachel Davies. Bones was recorded in a kitchen and above a North London tube station. Described by fROOTS as startling for the way familiar folk songs "are served back to us as urban field hollers".[7] The CD won fROOTS Editor’s Choice Of 2014 for Album of the year and was described as "2014’s breath of fresh air".[8]

Towards the end of the year the band recorded live sessions for Xfm and BBC6 Music, and at the beginning of 2015 they were nominated for the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards in two categories: the Horizon Award for Best Emerging Act, and for Best Traditional Song (Bedlam).[9]

From Here[edit]

Their debut album, From Here, was released in September 2015 on their own record label, From Here Records. It features Ewan MacColl’s song 'Champion at Keeping Them Rolling', the traditional song The Blacksmith, and Copper Family’s Hard Times of Old England alongside new song Me N Becky, a story of the 2011 London riots, looting, remorse and jail. The Guardian Newspaper described it as 'A powerful and original debut'.[10]. Bright Young Folk concluded its review with the following "From Here collects songs of and for the downtrodden, with honest, caustic yet poetic lyrics of everyday life that take no prisoners, combined with often sparse but mesmerising music. By positioning traditional selections alongside new material, Stick in the Wheel show that for most people, little has changed over the last few hundred years".[11] The album won the 2015 fRoots Critics Poll For Albums Of The Year for new albums.[12] In 2016 they were nominated for the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards in two categories: the Horizon Award for Best Group, and for Best Traditional Track (Seven Gypsies).[13]

Stick In The Wheel Presents From Here: English Folk Field Recordings[edit]

As a way of giving something back to the scene that had, if not completely accepted them, at least accommodated them, the group set out to make a collection of live recordings of other musicians immersed in traditional music; what they call a snapshot of English folk music right now.[14] They wanted to capture performances that were immediate and intimate. They recorded across the country in private and personal spaces, in down-time, and between gigs. Often recorded in less than an hour in locations as diverse as a stone cottage in Edale, a London bank vault, a Bristol back room, to a Robin Hood's Bay garden at dusk and a Bedford kitchen. The theme of the project was From Here and each artist's contribution was their response to that theme. They were recorded live, with two stereo mics and no overdubs. Artists involved included Martin Carthy, Eliza Carthy, John Kirkpatrick, Jon Boden and Spiro (band). Caught By The River[15] said: "The idea behind this bountiful record... is so ingenuously ambitious and artfully executed, it feels both like the beginning of a major project of contemporary musicology and plays like a dream open-mic session at the perfect folk club". The project was supported by funding from Arts Council England.

Follow Them True[edit]

Stick in the Wheel's 2017 album was a return to a group format with a thematic album, described by the Guardian as "precision folk with anger, lust and blood ".[16] Nicola Kearey said in an interview that they had the picture for the cover early on, and she wanted to write songs based on the picture.[17] The album is about rituals and cycles, how people are condemned to make the same mistakes of the past.[18] It was recorded over a number of weekends in a warehouse in Basildon, where Simon Foote works. They recorded in the open plan office and used various rooms as booths and the stairwell for percussion. The exception was As I Roved Out which was recorded later; Nicola Kearey sang the vocal into her phone and Ian Carter built the track around it.[19]

This and the Memory of This Mixtape[edit]

A collection of studio sketches and collaborations Ian Carter and Nicola Kearey recorded mid-2018, this limited cassette and CD was released in Autumn 2018. It features Anna Roberts-Gevalt, Lisa Knapp, Jack Sharp and Laura Smyth and Ted Kemp. The cover art was by David Bray, previous Various collaborator.

From Here: English Folk Field Recordings, Volume 2[edit]

The second set of field recordings was recorded towards the end of 2018. Including recordings of Nancy Kerr, Rachel Unthank, Grace Petrie, June Tabor, Will Pound, Cohen Braithwaite-Kilcoyne, Kathryn Tickell and Belinda Kempster on the main release and Bryony Griffith, Sandra Kerr, Frankie Armstrong on a bonus CD and download. Again recorded with simple equipment it was headlined by the Guardian newspaper as "unvarnished voices fire the form".[20]

Against The Loathsome Beyond Mixtape[edit]

A second mixtape of experiments and collaborations recorded mid 2019, on cassette and CD. It features Cinder Well, Jack Sharp and C Joynes.

Hold Fast[edit]

In July 2020 the band released an animated video on their new single Villon Song from the upcoming album Hold Fast. The lyrics of the song come from W E Henley's 1887 free translation of the 15th Century Francoise Villon's Tout aux tavernes et aux filles into thieves' cant.[21][22]


Singles & EPs[edit]

  • EP1 - (limited edition CDR EP, 29 April 2013)
  • Cuts - (limited edition CDR EP, 7 February 2014)
  • Bones EP - (download & limited edition of 200 CD, 5 May 2014)
  • Common Ground / Hasp VAN280 - (limited edition of 300 7" vinyl, 23 Feb 2015)
  • Live EP - (limited edition of 49, CDR EP) Recorded live at Squeezebox Folk in 2015. Rough Trade East instore special.
  • From Here: Then to Now - (Newspaper with limited edition digital download - split release with Lynched (now called Lankum), 17 June 2016)
  • Tales from St Jude's, Bethnal Green - (limited edition of 300, 7" vinyl + booklet, 2 September 2016)
  • From Here: English Folk Field Recordings Live at Café Oto - (limited download single, UK, 8 August 2017)
  • Lemady Arise feat. Jack Sharp - (limited edition of 300 7" vinyl, 21 June 2018)


  • From Here - (CD & vinyl album, 25 September 2015)
  • From Here: English Folk Field Recordings - (CD & vinyl album - Stick in the Wheel and featured artists, 7 March 2017)
  • Follow Them True - (CD & limited edition vinyl album, January 2018)
  • This and the Memory of This Mixtape - (CD & limited edition cassette, October 2018)
  • English Folk Field Recordings Volume 2 - (CD & vinyl album - various artists, 19 April 2019)
  • Against The Loathsome Beyond Mixtape - (CD, Nov 2019)
  • Hold Fast - (CD & vinyl album, August 2020)


  • Loughton Folk Club 2013 charity CD. track 'Marrabones' (CD, 24 October 2013)
  • fRoots 50 track 'Bedlam' - (download compilation with fR373/374 - Aug/Sept 2014)
  • BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2015 track 'Bedlam from Bones' - (CD, 22 April 2015)
  • fRoots 56 Track 'Roving Blade' (download compilation with fR389 (November 2015))
  • BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2016 track 'Seven Gypsies from From Here' - (CD, 22 April 2016)
  • fRoots 67 Track 'Roving Blade' (download compilation with fR415/416 (Jan/Feb 2018))
  • Help The Witch Track 'Robot' (From Here Records compilation) (LP, Jun 2020)

Other Projects and Collaborations[edit]

  • Voiced Sound installation at Bethnal Green Nature Reserve - (7 May – 3 September 2016)
  • The Singing Bridge by Claudia Molitor[23] - Track Sweet Thames Flow Softly - (9-25 Sep 2016)
  • Musicity London track 'Drift into the Land of Fire' - (Geo-located App and limited 50 copies cassette, December 2017)


  1. ^ Stick in the Wheel: From Here review – urgent, tragic and triumphant. The Observer Newspaper, Sun 20 Sep 2015.
  2. ^ Ballads: Ancient and Modern - Uncut Magazine, March 2018.
  3. ^ Fintoni, Laurent (16 May 2013). "And this one time… The best Bandcamp releases of the month: May 2013". FACT Magazine. Retrieved 17 November 2019.
  4. ^ Stick In The Wheel - Stick in the Wheelbright young folk
  5. ^ Interview: Stick in the Wheel M Magazine.
  6. ^ Stick In The Wheel - Cuts the bright young folk review
  7. ^ Lets Go Outside - fROOTS Magazine No.376, October 2014
  8. ^ fRoots Critics Poll 2014 fROOTS
  9. ^ Radio 2 Folk Awards 2015 Radio 2 web site
  10. ^ Stick in the Wheel: From Here review – folk revivalists with punk attitude. Guardian Newspaper, Thu 24 Sep 2015
  11. ^ Stick In The Wheel - From Here the bright young folk review
  12. ^ New Albums Of 2015 fROOTS
  13. ^ Nominees: Radio 2 Folk Awards 2016 Radio 2 web site
  14. ^ From Here: English Folk Field Recordings review – 17 intimate performances Guardian Newspaper
  15. ^ [1] Caught By The River
  16. ^ Stick in the Wheel: Follow Them True review – precision folk with anger, lust and blood Guardian Newspaper, 11 January 2018
  17. ^ The 405 Meets: Stick In The Wheel The 405.
  18. ^ review - fROOTS Magazine Nos. 415/416, Jan/Feb 2018.
  19. ^ East Enders, Beat Enders - fROOTS Magazine No 417, March 2018.
  20. ^ From Here: English Folk Field Recordings Volume 2 review – unvarnished voices fire the form Guardian Newspaper
  21. ^ "Villon's Straight Tip To All Cross Coves (Canting Songs)". Retrieved 8 July 2019.
  22. ^ "Stick in the Wheel share video for new single Villon Song". 25 July 2020. Retrieved 19 August 2020.
  23. ^ Molitor: The Singing Bridge CD review – sensitive musical psychogeography . Guardian Newspaper Thu 22 Sep 2016.

External links[edit]