A LITTLE BIT ABOUT ME
I've been described as many things, but 'the bastard son of Tom Waites and Howlin' Wolf' has got to be my favourite. I've got Rob Clarke to thank for that, eclectic impresario at the Arch 1 in East London - one of my favourite places to play.
I'm a Blues and Roots and Folk man, from Brighton, UK, and I've been been around, doing this thing I love, for a long time. I split my time between Wellington (New Zealand), Brighton (England), and Edinburgh (Scotland). I'm a singer- songwriter, and I share that writing process with my partner, Sameena Zehra, a storyteller in her own right.
Over the years, I've played guitar and harmonica, and sung solo, as well as with a lot of different musicians and a few different bands. I've been writing Roots and Folk songs all my life, and I started writing Blues as well. It came naturally; I love telling the stories and they love telling me.
I've been singing and playing since my father put a guitar in my hands at the age of 4. It's been a long and varied road: from joining my classmates to record an album with The Spinners at EMI studios in Hyde Park in the 60's, to playing guitar with a folk group in the 70's, to setting up a country and rock duo in the 80's, with Dave 'Guitar' Piggott.
Dave and I went on to play the circuit as a duo for over 10 years. Eventually we formed a band, 'Dr Blue & The Prescription', and spent a further 10 years together, playing a variety of venues, including a residency at the iconic 'Ain't nothing But...' in London's West End, where the band also recorded a live album, in 2004. Together, The Prescription toured a variety of venues and festivals in the UK and Ireland, including Castlebar Blues, Blues Bar Dublin, Charlotte St. Blues, Round Midnight, and supporting Nine Below Zero a couple of times at Wanstead Music in the Park.
In 2010, I wrote my first solo album, 'Heaven Bound'. Featuring all original songs, the album was written together with Sameena, over a summer spent in Kashmir (India) with the sound of birdsong and gunfire all around. The album was released at Arch 1 in 2011, and for the next couple of years, I toured it in the UK and Australia.
Playing solo has its advantages. Always travelling with at least one guitar, I was able to easily play at places like the Silver Dollar in Toronto, and the One Way Club in Paris. In 2014, I knocked another gig off my bucket list when I played the iconic 100 Club on Oxford Street, with my new support band, The Crossroad Kings. I opened the International night of the Dundee Blues Festival; I've played at Maryport, Upton and Kerry; I've played harp for Jimmy C. I've played the Edinburgh, Camden, Brighton and Adelaide Fringes. I've busked on the streets. I've been invited to chat and play with the rather wonderful Gary Grainger, at Bishop FM.
I'm lucky enough to be working on a wide variety of projects, and I love it all. I am the Musical Director for Fiery Tongues, composing and performing the music that backs Heathcote Williams' epic spoken celebration of rhyme, rhythm, and revolution. I belong to the Brighton Muse Collective, working with poets and setting their poems as well as my own to music. I wrote my first solo storytelling show along with Sameena. We called it 'Irish Jimmy'- songs about stories and stories about songs, I toured in 2017, starting at New Zealand Fringe in Wellington. I also write a blog for the British Blues Archive, called 'Diary of a Bluesman'.
Sameena and I then worked on a new album, 'Silent Man'. The eponymous title song has a video out on YouTube. This new album is a mix of solo and band tracks, building on the Blues influences that informed 'Heaven Bound', along with more Folk and Roots-inspired songs, including 'Birds In Song', an anti-war song written in the 80's but unfortunately still relevant today, and the beautiful, anthemic 'Moving On', written 20 years ago and a favourite with audiences whenever it has been played.
I'm not sure one person should be having this much fun.