by Don Church and Tony Schillaci
Stringfever, four outrageously funny and brilliant British musicians, are returning to the Mohegan Sun’s Wolf Den on Sunday, February 21. They are like The Marx Brothers, the Three Stooges, virtuosos Joshua Bell and Itzak Perlman all rolled into one!
Three brothers and a cousin, all with the surname Broadbent, are older brother Giles, little brother Neal, cousin Graham, and middle brother Ralph, who acts as spokesman for this talented and entertaining family group.
Ralph told THE RESIDENT: “We often get asked what it’s like working all the time with so many members of your own family as I guess that scenario is un-imaginable for most people.
But to us it seems natural. We were taught to look after each other by our parents and it seemed the most normal thing in the world to form a group together. Life on the road as a performing artist is famously lonely at times; being away from your friends and family but the beauty of being in this group is you have both with you all the time!”
About a Royal Command Performance, Ralph commented, “We performed our show after a dinner held in Windsor Castle in 2008. The Queen was out that night but her youngest son, Edward was at home and thankfully, he enjoyed our performance. The four of us had a brief private meeting with His Royal Highness after the show and after the initial pleasantries; Giles asked him if he played any musical instruments himself. His good humored response was ‘I’ve got this thing I occasionally play at home…..called a CD player!’ “
Giles then asked Edward: “Doesn’t your eldest brother (Prince Charles) play the cello?” Not missing a chance to make a joke at his sibling’s expense, (a concept not un-familiar to us!) he replied, ‘Yes. I think that’s what put me off playing string instruments!’ “
The road to being booked at The Mohegan Sun was via their first performance in the United States at Las Vegas in 2007. Celebrity booker Julie Grant happened to be in the audience that night and she thought the Mohegan Sun would be a perfect venue for Stringfever.
Ralph muses on the future of Stringfever: “Having built up our show, which is very visual and based on existing music, our two main aims are to develop the stage show further, to make it even more of a spectacular, visual experience along with a set and lighting designer and possibly an illusionist.
“I grew up with classical music all around me, my dad, two uncles and older brother all playing the violin or viola so I went on to study at the Royal Academy of Music in London when I was 18. I had a strong urge to be involved with the more ‘show business’ side of music and along with Giles started using electric violins and arranging music that was more accessible to the general public. The show we’ve now put together has a nice balanced mix of our classical roots and a more contemporary show with unusual sounds and comedy thrown in as well.”
Graham chimed in: “People often ask me if the musical skills we have as a family are a thing of nature or of nurture and I guess it’s a bit of both. I feel more and more grateful for having had the opportunity to grow up surrounded by people playing music. My father, my teacher during my school years, had a surprisingly small collection of records tapes and compact discs so I never felt that music was being rammed down my throat. However, he was the best player and teacher in terms of inspiration that I ever had.
“He was a top notch violin and viola player and when teaching he seemed always to have several different ways of explaining the solution to any one particular problem. You might say that this is just a great teacher at work but I think there is a great advantage when the teacher knows the pupil (or in this case his son) so well and therefore knows better how their brain works.
“I was brought up with Chamber music all around and so it seemed natural to me to want to play quartets throughout school, throughout my time at the Royal College of Music and professionally. I always found it hard to juggle all the musical groups and interests I had but now concentrating solely on Stringfever I find it is a question of juggling time between traveling, performing, composing and recording. There is never a dull moment, there isn’t time!”
Asked about maintaining stamina on the road, Ralph said “I get immense energy from performing with Stringfever. It’s really pleasing to see audiences enjoy a show we’ve developed ourselves and that drives me on every night on tour.”
Little Brother Neal added, “From a very young age music was all around me. My father started me off playing the cello when I was six. I left school in 2003 and was faced with a decision….
go to music college for four years, spend all of my student loan on wine, women and loose living and not really practice enough, leaving college hoping to get work as a freelance cellist?
Or, join my brothers and cousin to form Stringfever, travel the world, perform to different nationalities and do what I love, play the cello .A tricky decision but I think I made the right choice!”
We saw Springfever’s first appearance at the Mohegan Sun last year and agreed it was not only tremendously exciting musically, but chock full of genuine belly-laughs delivered with great showmanship!
Catch this show stopping foursome at the Wolf Den on Sunday, February 21, at 7 p.m. You’ll love them!