When I was a tousle haired 15yr old, I listened to a guy I had never heard of play a song I did not know. He inspired me. It got me started. His name was Bert Jansch. The song was called 'Anji.' I started out as a bass player but had aspirations to play the acoustic guitar as well as Bert - my first guitar hero and an inspiration for many.
By the 80s I already had two songs (Ad Mad and Billy Boy) recorded by other artists, released by MCA as singles, the beginning of my love of songwriting.
I tell stories - work created over years of performing and writing. Thematically this can include anything from the Mary Celeste mystery, Northern Soul Music, Alien Invasions, castaways, the life of photographer, David Bailey - anything goes.
I don't make a conscious effort to blur the boundaries between style/genre, this just happens, probably as a result of purposefully feeding myself on a performance diet of rock, folk, world, blues, cajun, reggae, New Orleans jazz, experimental and showband. Result: I am a music cataloguers nightmare!
My influences include Bert Jansch, Paul Simon, John Martyn, Fleet Foxes, The Blue Nile, Peter Tosh and on and ... So much great stuff out there.
Since 2018 I have worked as principal songwriter for an arts/English language group in Chengdu, China.
I am currently (2020) collaborating with musicians in New York including Peter Scherr, Tony Scherr (Norah Jones, Iron & Wine, Todd Caldwell (Crosby Stills Nash/James Taylor, Jackson Browne)UK violin player, Jamie Parkes, Gillie Nicholls, (Albion Band) Canadian percussionist, Robbin Harris and Richard Bamping, (Hong Kong Philharmonic) cello.
A new album, How to Smile Upside Down, was released at the end of September 2020.
Free spirits - new thinking - countless horizons
I write songs because, hell that's what I like doing, but in these times of corporate music influence, independent music making is often the only way to go. You get the freedom but ...
My blog articles are an update on what goes on in my own musical microcosm but also contains reviews, features about musicians that I enjoy listening to/have worked with, been influenced by/ aspire to or simply enjoy.
Music has given me great times and got me through some troubled ones. I am pretty sure this is the same for many of us. But every life is different. They don't have to have the same musical backdrop. Do they?
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THE ZEN KICK:
My solo album, The Zen Kick, was released in May 2012. It was recorded and produced at The Studio in Sai Kung (Hong Kong) by Peter Scherr, and mastered in New York at Masterdisc by Scott Hull. The heartbeat at the beginning of the Zen Kick, was recorded at the Women and Childrens Hospital in Shenzhen China, prior to my daughter (Zen) being born.
The album includes contributions from a number of fine musicians including Peter Scherr (electric and double bass), Bob Mocarsky (piano/keyboards) and the Mongolian horse head fiddle player, Hugejiletu.
I enjoy working with musicians from different cultures. My collaborations include a television appearance with Cai Yayi (Cai Yayi won the first prize in the Folk Song Solo Category in the Llangollen Internationa Musical Eisteddfod 2010), and appearances with Song Yuzhe (Dawanngang), Li Daiguo, Wang Xiao, FM3 and the talented Mongolian musician, Hugejiletu (Ajinai).
In addition, I have worked with tribal musicians in Mindanao, Philippines - notably Waway Linsashay Saway and members of the Talaandig Tribe (July 2010) as well as working with my own bands, The Sound Hoodlums and Smiling Knives. I have trodden the boards with rock musicians, jazz bands, folk groups, Cajun groups and just about everything in between. My passion though, has always been for folk/world/and crossover.
My band, Smiling Knives toured China in 2012 where we additionally performed at the Heibei (Grasslands Inmusic Festival). In 2014 I made an appearance at the MIDI Music Festival (The Glastonbury of China) did a guest spot at the WOMAD Festival and started 2015 by performing at the sell out, 10,000 capacity, Zhuhai Beach Music Festival.
In a varied and colourful career, I have also busked on the Chinese underground, been banned from playing festivals by the PRC Communist Party, sang at the opening of a Kitchen Appliance Shop and appeared second on the bill to a singing dog!