Over the last three years the Oxford based Knights of Mentis have been a firm favourite throughout the festival circuit; last year chosen by BBC 6 Music’s Steve Lamacq Show as the ‘Highlight of Cornbury Festival’.
The acoustic nine piece have come up, refining their style and songs as much on the stage as in late night jams and open sessions, often inviting other acts to sit in with them. One rare 3am unscheduled opportunity at Cornbury saw The Knights and several members of Squeeze jigging along into the small hours. Their enthusiasm for performance is reflected in their recordings, choosing to record much of the album live in the studio in order to capture the energy and dynamism of their live show.
From a mixture of musical backgrounds, this group of multi-instrumentalists found themselves thrown together in a way musicians often do, linking via many varied musical connections that range from improv jam sessions to heavy metal gigs and late night parties at Oxford infamous May Day celebrations. The unifying catalyst for The Knights of Mentis was a shared interest in folk, roots, American string band music and rhythm & blues.
The band comprises:
Peter Graham: Guitar, vocals
Jed Dale: Dobro, Weissenborn, vocals
Keith Birnie: Banjo, vocals
Francis Leneghan: Mandolin, Pedal Steel
Jeremy Bourgein: Keyboards, Accordion, Cello
Malachy O’Neill: Double Bass
Adam Dale: Drums, vocals
Sally Baden: Fiddle
Simon Baker: Harmonica
Hamish Wall: Bouzouki
The virtuoso line up delivers a distinct and flavoursome brew of Americana, country, folk, and roots music, taking inspiration from artists such as Gillian Welch, Old Crow Medicine Show and The Band; however you can also hear influences from other great British bands such as Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin.
Peter Graham, Jed Dale, Adam Dale and Keith Birnie’s vocals deliver homespun lyrics inspired by “Things we’ve felt and seen, places and people we know”, in rich three part harmonies.
2016 will see a packed live schedule.