The joyous return of two of Colchester's favourite music-makers is taking place at the Colchester Arts Centre next month.

That's Matt Simpkins and Dan Merrill who make-up the fiery fiddle-playing duo that is Sons of Joy.

The pair return to Colchester to play their first gig in their hometown in seven years and it’s been quite a journey for the both of them.

At that point, Dan Merrill and Matt Simpkins ran a music course at the Colchester Institute and were well known on the Colchester music scene, Dan as a member of free folk pioneers the Dead Rat Orchestra, and Matt for his raucous antics with FuzzFace and Rev Simpkins and the Phantom Notes.

Since then, Dan left the UK to live and work in Cairo, Egypt, while Matt was ordained priest in the Church of England and is now in charge at St Leonard’s, Lexden.

It has been a suitably unpredictable and unconventional journey for an unpredictable and unconventional group.

Sons of Joy formed in 2010, playing pre-war gospel and folk music (and the occasional Gregorian chant) on fiddles amplified through battery-powered amps. Their break-neck fiddle thrashings accompany Matt's sanctified blues hollerings.

After their first gig – on a light ship – Sons of Joy were signed to indie label Antigen Records. They promptly recorded their first album, Songs of Joy, on an iPhone in a shed on the Mile End Road. A charity Christmas album – rehearsed, recorded, and released as a digital download in six hours soon followed.

Now the duo returns to Colchester with a new album, Death & Glory, recorded in an unheated Essex church one January, which as Matt tells me resulted in an energetic and creative album, but left Dan with a nasty chest infection.

He says: "It's been a project Dan and I have been passionate about for many years but one which circumstances, and life, has meant has been on hold for a while.

"This gig at the wonderful arts centre is very exciting for the both of us and we can't wait to get back on that stage and perform again."

It will be a bit like buses for Dan, who despite not playing at the arts centre for a while, will be doing two in as many weeks, because later on in August he'll be performing with his wife, Egyptian flautist Fayrouz Kaddal in an exploration of a shared joy in ideas of folk and heritage, exploring the couple's unique roots.

Sons of Joy play Colchester Arts Centre on August 5 with support from the ethereal baroque folk of MacGillivray, and Australian singer/songwriter, Michael Platers.

Doors open at 7.30pm. Tickets, priced £7 and £6 concessions are available now on 01206 500900 or at