Pioneering spirit of rootsy American band

The Wilders
The Wilders

TRAVELLING troubadours, flaming fiddle players and a rootsy repertoire – The Wilders are America’s midwestern home-grown masters of jigs, ballads and string-drenched ditties.

The band, which has been together for more than 14 years, comes to Sheffield this month as part of a UK tour.

And there’s a pioneering spirit about the band themselves, as fiddle player Betse Ellis points out.

“We’re from Kansas City – which where the pioneers set up the first highways. And there’s a real pioneering spirit about the city and you can hear that spirit in our music.

“In a way we are pioneers of our own kind.”

In the UK, The Wilders have always been popular, a fact Ellis believes is down to the similarities between traditional British ballads and traditional American music. But despite this likeness, The Wilders remain true to their own roots.

“A lot of our music has its roots in the British Isles but not exclusively.

“The jiggy sound that we have is a style of music called ‘ozarks,’” she explains.

“It’s a musical style from Kansas - I didn’t listen to it so much as a kid but later realised how amazing it is.

“The jigging is good fun - we often have people dancing and I like to kick my heels.”

Despite Ellis’ down-to-earth midwestern drawl she is, at least in the UK, considered ‘exotic’ – “It’s great, I feel exotic here.”

The Wilders play at the Green Room on January 28