I was born in London, a child of the sixties and although you would never know it from my name I am in fact half Spanish. My Father was from Jerez de la Fronterra in southern Spain and my Mother, although English, was a professional Flamenco Dancer. So Spain, it's music and it's culture has therefore always been a very important part of my life although for most of my life I have lived in England, however, I do try a get back to Spain as often as I can.
I started playing in rock bands while still at school. I remember my first band was called "Plus Support" and at the time I thought this was a great name for a band. Another school band I was in was called "Sinnombre" which in Spanish means ' without a name'.
I became interested in English/British folk music in the early seventies after hearing "Now We Are Six" by Steeleye Span and "The History of Fairport Convention". These albums were a whole new world to me and soon, I had bought every Fairport and Steeleye LP. It wasn't long before the rot had set in and I became a regular visitor to Folk Clubs and Folk Festivals. It was at the local 'Orange Tree Folk Club' in Frien Barnet, Hertfordshire that I became friends with Bryan & Carolyn.
I soon gave up playing in rock bands in favour of a ceilidh band. This band started out as 'Kraken's Wait' but after several changes in name finally settled for 'Barnet Fair'. Barnet fair played together for nearly 20 years and had more line up changes than Fairport. I'd love to mention all the members but I fear I would take forever.
One of the first 'proper' folk rock bands I was involved in was 'Aardvark & no Money' with Bryan and Carolyn and fronted by a unique chap called 'Fang', I never did know his real name. Prior to Aardvark I also was in a duo which started life as a trio called 'GMT'. Many of my first achievements were with GMT, including first paid folk club booking, first residency and first radio performance which was 'The Richard Digence Show' on London's Capital Radio. It was also with GMT that on one occation we travelled down to a folk club near Trafalger Square for a gig only to find that the club had closed 6 weeks earlier. To make matters worse, on returning to where the car had been parked, we discovered that it had been towed away. We then made our way across London to the pound only to discover we did not have enough money to pay the fine and had to travel back home by Underground to get some money.
The biggest part of my musical career and certainly the most successful was plying in 'Shave the Monkey'. I played with 'Shave' for over 15 years until its demise in 2003. Playing with such talented musicians I achieved many of my musical ambitions, we recorded four albums, one of which became Radio Suffolk's folk album of the year, we played at some great folk festivals both in this country and abroad including Cropredy, Cambridge, Dranouter, Deerlijk and Skagen. We were also lucky enough to perform on Radio and TV.
From 1987 to about 2007 I was also been a member 'Albion Morris Men'. Not only did I dance with Albion but I was asked to join the band and played with such great luminaries such as John Watcham (concertina), Jon Davie (bass guitar), Simon Nicol (guitar), Ian Curler, (violin), Tom Leary (violin), Val Cutler (violin), Graeme Taylor (guitar), Michael Gregory (drums) and a host of other fine musicians. Unfortunately and prematurely, Albion decided to hang up their collective bells which is a real shame as I still think we had/have a lot to offer. We last got together in 2014 to play at a festival in Dranouter, Belgium to celebrate 40 years of Dranouter Folk Festival. As always it was great fun. I hope it's not last.
In 2000 I was asked to go to Belgium to be the produce an album for a young Belgian band called "Et Encore" I had terrific fun doing this and really appreciated the trust they put in me. Since then they have all become great friends. Et Encore have grown from strength to strength and have built up a good reputation and strong following. I am very proud to have, in some small part, helped them along the way. They have all become very good friends and we make a point of meeting up at least once a year.
For a few years around 2003 I was part of Ian Cutler's Slaughterhouse. We only ever manage to put on a couple of gigs a year which is a real shame but we did manage to put out a live album which I was very proud to be a part of. Along with Ian, the band also included Colin Reece and Val Cutler.
More recently, Bryan Causton I have been involved in a ceilidh bands called Dangerous Circles, originally a 4 piece acoustic band it often expands to a full blown 6/7 piece folk rock ceilidh band which also features Kevin Neaves on drums and Steve Collins on melodeon both who were also in 'Shave'. It's been great fun playing ceilidhs with these guys especially our trips to Belgium.
Dangerous Circles later formed the basis of a 6 piece concert folk rock band called CarnaC. We have recently recorded the album "Attention All Shipping" at my home studio.
I have learnt over the years to grab any opportunity that comes my way and needless to say I am very proud and lucky to have had the opportunity to play with such a talented and varied musicians many of whom I can count as friends.
I'm often asked what are my major musical influences and as I believe you can tell a lot about people from the music they listen to, here are some of my musical influences.
I listen to all kinds of music. My favorite folk/folk-rock artists are too numerous to mention them all but some of the most influential are:
Fairport Convention - One of my all time favourite bands and a nice bunch of guys. Simon Nicol, a much under rated guitarist, has probably influenced my playing more than any other.
Steeleye Span - another of my all time favourite bands and have left a lasting impression. My very first live concert was the "Chrystal Palace Garden Party" in 1975 with Steeleye Span, Cockney Rebel, Billy Cobham, John Cale and the Jack Bruce Band. It was a great day but without doubt Steeleye stole the show. When ever I see them I always wish I was up there playing with them.
Gryphon - I was first introduced to Gryphon while still at school, I was always impressed with the musicianship and originality. I am so chuffed that in recent years they have reformed and I make point of going to as many of their concerts as I possibly can.
The Albion Band, - especially the albums "Prospect Before Us" and "Rise Up Like The Sun" but over the years I've liked most of Ashley Hutchins' projects.
Pywackett, - Bill Martin's keyboard playing was the reason I took up keyboard playing. I only wish I had a afraction of his skill and ability. The sooner their entire back catalogue is available on CD the better.
Home Service, - For me this is a band that could do no wrong. I love everything they ever recorded. Another band that has reformed and I make a point of seeing live whenever they tour.
In more recent years I've been listening to and very influenced by folk music from all over Europe. Especially from France such as Tri Yann, Alan Stivell, Dan Ar Braz, Denez Prigent and Sonerion Du. From Belgium bands like Kadril, Anveld, Urban Trad and Embrun. From Spain, the celtic music from the North bands like Luar Na Lubre, Hevia, Carlos Núñez, Jose Ángel Hevia and Burregetto and from the south Rocio Márquez, Chambao, Paco de Lucia, Paco Peña to name but few.
I do listen to all kinds of music and have always been very keen on prog rock too. Some of the many bands I enjoy are:
Big Big Train, Kompeniumm, Spok's Beard, are Bare Naked Ladies, Genesis, Pink Floyd, Mostly Autumn, Jethro Tull, Yes, and REM.
Some of the classical and early music I enjoy includes:
Concierto De Aranjuez by Joaquin Rodrigo; so typically Spanish, La Mamma Morta from the Opera Andrea Chénier by Umberto Giordano and sung by Maria Callas, Elgar's Cello Concerto especially the performance by Jacqueline Du Pre, Paco Peña's Misa Flamenca,
Bizet's Carmen and Samuel Barber Adagio for Strings.
Anyway, that's enough about me. Tell me about you.