Rick Wilson


Born and educated in London, Rick started messing around with drums in his mid-teens whilst recouperating from the fall-out of inadequate secondary music teaching. Listening to a wide selection of musics developed a can-do attitude that grew quickly after meeting other like-minded souls.

Having spent a large part of the 1970s playing drum kit in numerous musical combinations, he spent an intense period at the beginning of the 1980s creating music and touring Europe with avant rock group The Work. Initially self-taught on kit, he later studied Chenda temple drumming with Shankaran Marar and V.D.Nair in Kerala, south India; Berber rhythms in the Atlas mountains of Morocco and Brazilian carnival music with Sheda Baba in London. "a drummer of rare split-second sensibility " (Sud Deutch Zeitung).As accompanist for education and performance dance projects, he has worked with Shobana Jeyasingh, T. Oonikrishnan and P.Jayachandran.He has also been a tutor for WOMAD and Glyndebourne and spent many years working throughout the UK with Common Lore Storytellers and Musicians, as both performer and teacher.


In 1999 he completed a degree (2:1) in Music Studies at SOAS in London.With regular collaborator Helen East, he has visited schools at all levels, teachers' centres, theatres, conferences and festivals in the Uk as well as work in Australia, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Singapore and Portugal, often under the aegis of the British Council.


His recording and touring with The Work enjoyed a spell of activity in the 1990s but now, he is concentrating more on his own compositions. In 1997 he released his first solo cd - Suitable Language- and in 1999 composed, played and recorded the music for White Horse Hill, a play for BBC Radio 4, written by storyteller / writer Sally Pomme Clayton. With singer Viv Corringham, he released the cd 'Glimpses of Recognition' in 2002 - "expect goose bumps of a high quality" - Tone Clusters magazine. In this period, he was the musician in - I Become Part Of It - a cycle of Creation Myths, with storytellers Ben Haggarty and Hugh Lupton, as well as in One Helluva Day, a multi-media story based commissioned work for Festival at the Edge 2000.


Over the next couple of years, Rick undertook three educational residencies in London schools - two in Primary and one in a Secondary school. He was also the drummer in 'The Trodden Path', a mixed media theatre piece telling true and mythical stories of family journeys from the Indian sub-continent to the UK. In 2003, he was both Sound Designer and Performer in Theatre Rites site specific production 'Finders Keepers'. In its transformed version, this piece became an exhibition at the Livesey Museum, London. Rick's re-edited music accompanied this.


In the second half of 2004, Rick was Musical Director, Composer and Performer in the Unicorn Theatre's production of 'Rama and Sita - Path of Flames' which featured musicians from India and the storytelling of Sally Pomme Clayton. In 2005 he toured South America extensively with Helen, working largely in English medium schools. Following this, he was part of an artistic team residency at Severndale Special school in Shrewsbury. In 2006 he recorded for the A & C Black publication 'The Singing Storycloth' (compiled by Helen) and created an audio installation of 3 Amazonian stories currently running at Mythstories Museum,Wem, Shropshire (NESTA commission). He was also an education outreach artist for the Birmingham Repertory Company and a consultation artist for the River Severn Project.


In 2007 he worked with Red Earth (Brighton) on the Jeskyns Country Park event in Kent - which included workshopping 40 14/15 year olds to contribute drumming, song and movement along a procession ringed with fire sculptures. He was also part of Red Earth's large scale 'Enclosure' event at the site of the Iron age fort at Hambledon Hill in Dorset. Rick also contributed his rhythmic skills during the 'Festival of Words',(Creative Partnerships) with SLD children at Oaklands school Leicester and with Helen on both their 'Under the Cloak' programme that toured rural Cheshire and a version of the Ramayana for Coalport Museum, Shropshire. During the summer,he played solo, both by and on the River Severn as part of the rolling 3 year Severn Project. He was also part of 'Unbridled', a large endeavour including storytellers Shonaleigh Cumbers and Helen East, together with musician Hassan Erraji, which grew out of a research project and became a working performance piece.


In 2008,the Unbridled and Severn Projects continued. Rick also featured in the South Liverpool and Plas Madoc Arts days as a workshop leader and with Arty Party's (Telford) Adult Special Needs group. He appeared with Helen at both the Solfest and Big Chill festivals as well as at schools and public events in Powys, Shropshire,Notts, Oxford and at the British Museum.

2009 saw residential work,again with Helen,at Maesydre school (Powys) at William Martin school (Essex) and as a CP project at Dingle school (Dudley).Rick ran further workshops for South Liverpool and for the Artists in Prison network as well as at the SfS Conference (Cumbria)and F.A.T.E.(Shropshire).He also worked in a number of schools, parks and libraries in the W.Midlands and Cheshire and was featured musician in The Rememberance Path installation in Shrewsbury.He started performance work,with Helen,on The Woodcutter's Wife,a storytelling/music piece for adults.


In 2010,again with Helen,he instigated 'Whizz', a Creative Partnership scheme,inspired by skipping, at Trefonen school Shropshire. Together they appeared at the Exeter children's festival and solo,Rick led a day for Powys Arts Forum in Llandinam. He later originated music for the animation Kahanikar before committing to the 2 year-long 'After Offa- Living Life Along the Border' community project as recordist,archivist and editor for this Heritage Lottery funded project. Schools work in Birmingham and London featured in 2011 as well as a music and textile day 'The Fabric of Sound' for DASh. In 2012 he contributed to a story/book-making/music project at Maesydre school, Powys, played drums for guitarist Mike Walker's jazz weekends and started hosting his own Drum Circle. He continues to accompany Hugh Lupton's telling of the epic Beowulf and can also be found amongst the Oswestry based Street Band.


In the first half of 2013, Rick led drumming workshops with clients at 2 wards at the psychiatric unit of The Redllands Centre,Shrewsbury. Work with Helen included two stints at the Kensington Palace Project and visits to schools in Kent. Rick also started collaborating with guitarist / composer Barry Edwards, and others,on a poetry and musical interpretation of Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner epic.


In 2014, Rick and Helen started working regularly in 4 London schools through Everyday Magic. Independently, they worked at VTEC Shropshire and Teddington secondary school as well as a performance at the Millennium Centre, Cardiff. Together, they also devised the commissioned works 'Na Chllcied Na Chlo' (30 performances) for Literature Wales and 'City Fables', a collage of poetry and sound for radio, for Apples and Snakes. As kit drummer, Rick anchored a jazz weekend for pianist Nikki Iles.

Throughout 2015,Rick has accompanied Helen on performances in London, Newcastle, Shropshire and elsewhere - particularly the Museum of London commission Sounds of the City and also at the Hakaya festival in Jordan. From behind the drum kit, he again played for the jazz weekends of Mike Walker and Nikki Iles. He continues to host a regular Drum Circle.

2016 saw gigs with Helen in London, Derby, Manchester, Cardiff, Shropshire, Powys and Gwynedd and the beginning of an ongoing series of drumming workshops at the Hermon Chapel, Oswestry, which is also the base of the Improetry Collective, of which he became a part. Once again, he anchored a jazz weekend with Nikki Iles.

Rick's work with Helen took him to London, Newcastle, Derbyshire, Cumbria, cardiff and Powys in 2017. He also led a workshop for a men's dementia group in Telford and then started regular music making sessions in 3 psychiatric wards at the Redwoods Centre in Shrewsbury. He was also a commissioned artist for Wilding the Senses, where he constructed an installation of 2 slate marimbas in the gardens of the Workhouse Arts Centre, Llanffylin, Powys. Once again he occupied the chair for the Nikki Iles weekend course at Barmouth and for a workshop in Oswestry by saxophonist Alan Barnes. He continues to host a monthly Drum Circle, run workshops at the Hermon and performs with both The Street Band and the Improetry Collective.

In early 2018, he begins a school residency near Wrexham with Helen as part of the Creative Partnerships Wales scheme.



Wenffrwd, Llansilin, nr. Oswestry SY10 7PZ
or 56 Westgate road, London SE25 4LZ
Phone: 01691 791333 or 0208 662 0736
e-mail: suitablelanguage@gmail.com