British Blues Awards Hall of Fame inductee, guitarist, singer, songwriter and bandleader, he is Fab, with a heart of gold.
You have achieved so much in the music industry. Has it changed who you are?
I don’t think so, but it’s hard to say! I am certain without my successes I would have carried on doing what I’ve done. I’m not super ambitious, really, so I was never chasing fame and fortune, luckily for me!
Among many of your awards, you have won an early industries British Blues Hall of Fame award. Can you describe what it meant to you?
A great honour, of course, although I don’t take it too seriously. If I am honest, the UK Blues scene has deteriorated hugely in quality in recent years. I’ll leave it there!
What motivated you to move from England to Holland?
Property prices! I was living in London, so you’ll understand! Also I worked so much in the Netherlands and already had a Dutch band. It’s been five years now and I love it here, although a move to the Caribbean is on the horizon.
Who has personally supported your creativity along your path?
Almost too many to mention. In fact, I won’t, in case I miss someone!
Did you choose Blues or did the Blues choose you?
Difficult, but I always say I can’t remember a time in my life when I was not somehow aware of Blues as a genre.
How would you describe your passion for Blues? What are the Blues?
I think of it as the purest form of expression of the human condition. My passion for it is as a fan. I don’t ever call myself “Bluesman” since, for one thing, I play many different forms of music and secondly, I do not possess the DNA to use that term. Blues is black music. I pay tribute to it as a huge fan, with love and respect.
Can you share with our FAB viewers some of the Blues legends that you admire most?
Wow-this could take all day! Charley Patton, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Taj Mahal, Albert Collins, BB King, Etta James, Koko Taylor, Memphis Minnie, RL Burnside, Juior Kimbrough, Corey Harris, Lightning Hopkins, Joe Louis Walker, Robert Cray, Alvin Youngblood Hart….it goes on forever…
How do you combine your many talents as a guitarist, songwriter, singer and band leader and still find a balance?
Well, for me they all go hand in hand and balance each other naturally. The truth is I don’t really think about it!
How has the Corona crisis affected your creative process and how creative have you been? How did you use this time to your future advantage?
I have been fortunate to get involved with some talented friends to create some new music, whilst socially distancing. Between the eight of us we created a new album and we may do more. The project is called “Lockdown Loaded” and we are know as Birdmens.
It was an interesting experience creating remotely but I believe we got a great result. I’ve also been learning more about home recording technology, of which my knowledge was ‘poor’ at best, and playing live performances via Facebook. So, some positives for sure.
How does it feel to play solo as opposed to with a band? Do you feel a creative difference?
I enjoy both equally. But solo, I actually feel a more direct contact with my audience. It’s more intimate. There’s nowhere to hide and it also requires more quiet and intent listening, so it’s pretty raw and open. Creatively, not so much difference. It’s all about putting emotion over and telling a story no matter what the format.
What is your favourite song to perform which you have written and why?
That can change daily! I try to be ‘inside’ whatever song I am performing. I like touches of humour too. Can’t answer that, sorry!
Which gig was one of your favourite experiences?
So many, but playing a solo set once in Norway and ex-members of The Muddy Waters Band joined me on stage. I had no idea this was going to happen! We all played together. I could have died happy right there. It was an amazing experience and one I’ll never forget.
You do perform at festivals. Can you tell us a bit about the Mustique Blues festival and how you became involved?
I was invited by my friend and Blues singer Dana Gillespie who has been going to Mustique since the early ’70s. She started the festival with Basil Charles who owns or owned one of the most successful bar/restaurants in the Caribbean. The festival raises money for local children’s charities and has put many, many kids through schools that otherwise would not have had the same opportunities. We have seen children growing and graduating through this and have seen some become doctors and lawyers, all sorts! So, very rewarding, especially now after 25 years and we can really witness the results. There is a different line-up each year but I have been lucky enough to be involved with most of them. My friend Joe Louis Walker runs it these days. We, of course, do not get paid but it’s such a wonderful place and we are treated so well that we are all more than happy to do it.
How do you switch off at the end of the day?
I like to cook, watch a movie, and hang out with my wife. My job is a privilege for the most part, except for the admin that comes with being self-employed, so switching off is not a huge issue!
Are you a family man? Just me and my wife but as soon as we move to the Caribbean we plan on adding …dogs!
If you were a super hero, what would your super powers be and what would you do with them?
Time travel and I’d do everything in my power to stop Trump from being elected.
Are you a pint or a cocktail (James Bond Martini, stirred not shaken) kinda guy?
Cocktails, I guess. I like a good beer. But, I love a Martini, or a Negroni, a nice GnT, mostly wine though to be honest.
FAB heard rumours that you cook? What do you enjoy most about cooking?
I find it very relaxing. It’s my meditation.
What is your favourite cuisine and would you share a recipe with our readers?
Italian cuisine, for sure, although I like to dip into them all! I guess my signature dish is Thai fish soup. So simple. Fry up some garlic, chilli, ginger and add some spices – cumin and turmeric, usually. Add fish sauce, a little soy, some chicken or fish stock, then add in some chunks of fish fillet – salmon is good, maybe shrimp. Add some broccoli florets and heat through for 5 minutes, then add coconut milk, maybe some fresh chilli and coriander. Meanwhile, cook some egg noodles to add in right at then end. It takes no time and you can adjust according to what you have in the pantry!
FAB likes to bring everything back around to fashion, what is your favourite accessory, and what can’t you live without?
Easy! A bandana. It has a multitude of purposes, especially now as a face mask. Always have a bandana on you!
What do you think of fashion sustainability or sustainability in general?
Of course, it is essential and the more awareness, the better. We all have a responsibility, in whatever field we are, to do our best and keep learning how to leave less and less of a carbon footprint and promote the health of our planet.
What is your best advice, that you could give to up-coming artists?
Speak, write, sing, and play from the heart. Respect tradition, but try and move it into the present and the future. Have your own voice whilst respecting those who came before you. And get a good accountant!
Thank you so much, we at FAB feel so inspired by you.