The Van Years
When Pressgang lost their bassist between recording an album and the promotional tour, I stepped in and started four years of professional, international touring taking powerful, melodic, groove based English folk to our continental cousins and warming up the crowds for such luminaries as the Oysterband and Fairport Convention.
When not wearing out vans on Euroroute 42, I worked with Southampton musicians collective Melting Pot on the Klezmer and world music project that became the astonishingly danceable Souls of Fire.
Time was found throughout all of this to provide groove for multicultural community work with Traditional Arts Projects, a floating, improvisational line up led by Roger Watson that has called on members of Afro-Celt Sound System and Black Umfalosi to fill out its ranks.
It all started when my older brother, Phil, bought a £10 wreck of a bass guitar, a guitarist friend heard of it's existance and asked me to bring it round for a jam. I had no idea what I was doing with it but, suffice to say, Phil never got his bass back. A couple of years saw the usual formation and dissolution of various loud and lumpy line ups until the exceedingly fine heavy blues outfit Freedom coalessed out of the fog. This talented three piece gave me my formative experiences of pouring persperation in pubs packed with eager punters.
Whilst working for the local sixth form college I played bass for several theatre shows.
At that point I had no particular interest in folk music so it's a bit odd that I've been playing it ever since. Musical influences in my 'yoof' were primarily classic rock acts like Deep Purple and The Who but in my teens I gravitated towards the harmonic and rhythmic complexity of Yes, King Crimson and Jethro Tull. This paved the way for Pywacket, the Oysterband and the like a couple of years later. Of course the biggest influence on my playing is always the musicians I am working with; it's all about listening, afterall.