Tell me about yourself?
Which part of myself, now that’s a huge question?…I’ll stick to the professional role. In short, I’m an astrobard, a maker of music and stories…’A purveyor of Anthems, Anecdotes & Absurdities‘
What Instrument(s) do you play, if any? And how long have you been playing your respective instruments(s)?
My voice, the Bouzouki, Ukulele, mandolin ,Guitar, Melodica and a little piano…stringed instruments have always been my favoured way of creating to accompany.
The guitar was my first instrument at ten years old…Many years later I still adore unique tunings and textures that it provokes.
Who are your biggest influences?
Life…people, extraordinary stories.
What song(s) do you remember most from your childhood?
Cat Stevens ‘Tea from the Tillerman’ album that my uncle handed me down. The tonal quality and deep timbres of his voice, married to a truly connected songwriting gift…‘Where Do the Children Play?’, ‘Sad Lisa’ and ‘Father & son’ still gives me goosebumps.
Growing up with my Grandparents I remember my Grans country records being on around the clock, usually to accompany her endless chores or the execution of ironing piles and piles of clothes…it was often Glen Campbell, Don Williams and John Denver, alongside her love of ABBA, coupling that with My Uncles Motown collection, The Eagles, 10cc & Queen…my overwhelming memory is of how much melodic music I tended to be immersed in…curiously I’ve continued that affinity to this day.
Do you perform covers and if so what’s your go to?
Not as a rule, as the Captain, but I’ve been known occasionally to interpret songs that I feel have that essence, a real palpable, special quality…‘Grandma’s hands’ by Bill Withers and ‘The Logical Song’ by Supertramp are two that come to mind.
I’ve done much work in the prison/mental health sector and children’s wards in hospitals, playing a range of standards and classic tunes. Everything from the Beach Boys to Radiohead
What genre of music do you consider your work to be?
It doesn’t strictly fit into any genre…I’m almost genre intolerant : it’s like food.. I might adore halloumi cheese, but I don’t want to eat it every day. Music is the same to me, I love the variety of ingredients sounds and sonic adventures.
I morph from left field Folk to synth infused offerings, covering, as a recent reviewer of ‘ Hidden gems, chapter two’ implied: ‘Chanson to cabaret, world to songwriter, Folk to vaudevillian and traversing via electro pop to a classical tea dance’.
I actually describe my music making as ‘ nu vaudevillian/ Folk speciality’.
Do you have a process for writing your songs?
No strict process exists here…I only ever follow that which calls. It might be a melody line spinning around my head, then a lyric appears…or working off a line or two of interesting juxtapositions/vocabulary, which informs the mood a song starts to take. At other times the whole song arrives, complete, from the nothingness, like it was meant to be. Those moments are pure unbridled alchemy.
Have you released any music yet, and if so how has it been received?
I’ve released three Captain albums, and been blessed to say, mostly to wonderful critical acclaim…Hidden gems chapter 1 & 2 ( just out) sandwich ‘synthesis’, which also appears on vinyl.
Are you planning any music releases for the near future?
Chapter 2 just out… it’s not across digital platforms yet as I’m about to sign a distribution deal with a promising group.
If you have released music, where can fans to be find it?
Usually on Itunes, amazon etc…but my catalogue is currently being moved to a new platform as mentioned above. Hopefully just a few weeks to get all in place. Currently physical copies and downloads are always available at my site.
Where have you performed? What are your favourite and least favourite venues?
I’ve played in all kinds of weird, wild , wonderful & not so wonderful places…I generally do venues that are bespoke or intriguing spaces (I do have a thing for churches and chapels) as it lends itself to the Captains model. I’m fuelled by the true connection with an audience, so the venue becomes key if it has that to begin with (some places house a distinct atmosphere, magic, electricity & some places not so.)
I adore theatres (usually the older the better)
My highlights along the way have been:
‘The Blue room’ In Lincoln (pure electricity)
‘The Grove’ in Leeds (gorgeously intimate and the oldest hostlery In the City)
‘The Delius chapel’ in Bradford (enchanting space)
But there are so many more…
Least favourite…any venue where you have to work at the height of your powers to cut through the drunkenness or distinct apathy…mmm, I’ve known a few of those.
Do you have any gigs in the near future, and if so where and when?
Shows are happening all the time…as a professional Musician, it’s my sole income…see the website for specific dates.
How do you balance your music with other obligations?
Balancing is always tricky, as you are weighed down in the modern age with so much to do as an Artist, you have to play promoter, Secretary, producer, driver, tea boy…as a truly independent musician this is what it entails.
I’m lucky in the sense that when on the road I travel with my nearest and dearest in the shape of my wife and son…that helps massively as we enjoy the undulating trips we inevitably find ourselves on.
Following on from that question, what has been your biggest challenge as a performer and have you been able to overcome that challenge? If so then how?
Money…and health challenges.
As an Artist who propels all that I do without an established label, agent or manager etc, then you have to be at least averagely good at most tasks and to carry out tons of admin too (not easy for the general Artist as a rule) in order to maintain a steady income.
In an age of dwindling pay days for so many innovative and interesting Artists, it’s always the bigger Acts who tend to be programmed across the festival scene.
Names that punters know is one thing: though it’s now resembling the ‘tribute act’…the usual suspects…in that they are easy to sell, we know what they do and married to the general lack of curiosity in the average gig goer, so so much brilliant Artistry doesn’t ever get the support or exposure it truly deserves.
it’s more challenging than ever to maintain being paid well as a ‘ specialised Act’ if you like, in a generic, beige musical landscape.
I also came through a horrendous time back in 2011 with glandular fever…I didn’t gig for nearly two years.
The Captain was born out of my ‘sick bed’…and to this day I have to still manage aspects of such a debilitating illness…as the virus often remains within the body. With keen attention to schedules and lifestyle choices (no more than four shows in a day!!!) it’s possible to maintain the balance needed to manage the rigours of such a vocation.
What advice do you have for beginners?
Enjoy what you can, endure what you must…work at it every day, even if it’s fifteen minutes & especially when you’re not in the mood. When you can do that as a discipline, you’ll find it easier to ‘meet yourself’ in the real challenges to come.
And let’s end with something a little different…Which famous person, living or dead, would you have dinner with and why?
Oh…now if it’s a fun dinner, I’d go for Groucho Marx (another wondrous influence inherited from My dear Uncle Rod). If I wanted something truly profound/life altering then Jesus Christ. If the story is true, then I have no greater respect for Such humility shown in the worst possible circumstances.
First Published on: https://offtherecordblog.org/