I’m nostalgic for a time I didn’t live through, a time when music was a pastime and a passion not a means to stardom and fortune. A time when musicians played to the local town and maybe sometimes the next town across and they sang about what was happening around them and what was relevant to them and their audience. These times were not necessarily the best to live through or the most comfortable to be alive in but the music was pure and came only from the heart.
This is obviously a very simplistic and rose tinted way to look at the past and a very cynical way to look at the present. I do however believe that there are many great musicians playing good music from their hearts and with nothing but honesty and a desire to play as their motives. There’s nothing more compelling than someone on a stage completely engrossed in a performance and totally convinced by it them selves. And this is what I’m aspiring towards with Bringing It All Back Home.
The name is obviously taken from a Bob Dylan Album and he himself most probably took it from the song Bring It On Home written by Willie Dixon and made famous by Sonny Boy Williamson. Folk and Blues musicians have always borrowed riffs and lyrics from each other but also from traditional songs the authors of which had long been forgotten or were never known outside of their small towns. The songs would be learned and taken across states, counties and countries mutating and evolving as they went.
Being a teenager in the 90’s wasn’t a particularly good time for music if you weren’t a Brit-pop or dance music fan, and I wasn’t. I was however a huge fan of 60’s and 70’s music. From Bob Dylan and The Doors to Led Zeppelin and The Who. The music of people like Bob Dylan led me to explore Folk music and Blues music and I discovered recordings and musicians from the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. And many of Jimmy Page’s riffs and sometimes whole songs were lifted from Bert Jansch and other such people and again discovering things like this led me to explore many other British Folk musicians I never knew about but who’s music has had an influence on so much that I liked.
The 2000’s, in my opinion, have been a very good time for music especially the last few years and especially for folk and blues music. In America for the last few years a so-called ‘Nu-Folk’ movement has been gathering strength and brought new fans to older music and also new innovations to the genre. Bands and artists such Devendra Banhart, Joanna Newsom, Bill Callahan, Vetiver and many others. Blues and Folk festivals are popping up all over the country and people like Neil Young, Bert Jansch and Bob Dylan continue to record interesting and important music.
Tell us a bit about yourself… how long have you been in Stokey, how did you get into music, how would you describe your music?
I’ve been in Stokey for a few years now, I can’t remember exactly how long. I got into music first of all as a singer in a band I started up called The Heimlich Manoeuvre. Around this time I started learning to play guitar which I very quickly became obsessed with and started writing acoustic guitar based songs. After a few failed attempts at starting other bands I pretty much resigned myself to playing solo although I do play with other people every now and again and I get various different people to play on recordings when I can.
Have you recorded or released anything yet?
I’ve been recording for years at home on a Yamaha AW1600 workstation that I’ve just sold on Ebay for slightly less than I wanted! I’m going to buy Pro-Tools for my Mac and gradually build up more and more equipment, although I’ve got loads of stuff and spent loads of money on it all it never seems enough. As for releasing anything, I haven’t ever recorded a set of songs in a set time, ie an album or an ep. I’d most probably be happy to give it away to anyone who’d want it anyway.
Do you use any of the rehearsal or recording studios here (Zen, Karma, Audio Underground, etc)?
I have nothing against the other studios but Karma is definitely my favorite. I’ve been using it for years and I’m very good friends with Phil and Pete who run it. They’re really good guys who care about music and always make you feel at home when you’re there.
What’s the ‘Stokey music scene’ like?
I think there’s a good ‘scene’ here and it certainly seems that Stokey attracts musicians, you’re bound to see loads of people carrying guitars and other instruments on any given day at any given time walking down Church Street. There are lots of good venues and there’s a lot of freedom to put on nights and get gigs.
What’s your favourite venue to play in Stoke Newington?
Well, Pangea Project obviously! I also like the room upstairs at The Lion. I like them both for the same reasons actually. They’re quite intimate venues with a comfortable atmosphere that lends itself to acoustic music. They both remind me of photos you see of the old New York and Soho Folk venues and cafes where hairy twenty years olds would be sitting around on the floor sipping pints of ale and such like ha ha!
How did you set up the night at the Pangea Project?
Rosy and Selim, who run Pangea Project, are really nice people and very friendly and I simply asked them if they had any nights free for me put something on and they were up for it. I was working for them every now and again as a sound engineer when they need a night off. I mainly set it up for me and my friend Jack Sandham to play. That was the idea for the first night anyway and it kind of grew from there.
Who’s played so far, who’s next, and who would you like to have there?
So far I’ve played, and Jack Sandham who used to sing with Great Bear has played. Rosy joined him for his first set and the next time he played I played a bit of lead guitar with him. Huw Evans has played with a makeshift band for the night and a band called The ‘A’ Train has played. So far that’s everyone and each night has been a lot of fun and really busy. Headlining the next night is a band called Scorpion Face who contrary to their weird name are a very good Country Blues band.
Any advice for people who are planning to set up a night?
My only advice would be only do it if you have a reason to do it. By that I mean if you want to play and have a good band or artist to support you or you have a good band in mind. There are always so many bulletins on Myspace from promoters saying things like, ‘Bands needed for Friday’ or ‘Acoustic slot needs to be filled for Saturday.’ And the same people post them every week like anyone will do and all they need is a full line-up. I only do Bringing It All Back Home every other month and when there’s a lineup of bands I like and am excited about.
Bringin It All Back Home is every other month at the Pangea Project, 72 Stamford Hill, London N16 6XS. The next one is on 9 May.
Listen to Down and Out by Daniel Chester (Karma Sessions)