Singing a mixture of self-penned and traditional songs like Spancill Hill, The January Man and Leadbelly’s Bourgeois Blues, Steven began playing in the folk clubs of Northern England when he was seventeen, two years after picking up a guitar on hearing Bob Dylan’s ‘Mr Tambourine Man’. His second ever public performance was supporting Isaac Guillory, a brilliant guitar player from New York, in the Poynton Folk Centre.
Around this time he started playing guitar for British Harmonica Champion Dave Aston. Armed with his uncle’s harmonica Steven began learning tunes by Sonny Terry, Sonny Boy Williamson and Rory McLeod, who he met at the World Harmonica Championships in Germany. How did they whoop, holler, sing and play at the same time?
After touring as support with The Beautiful South, Steven formed a band with bodhran player John Joe Kelly (from Flook) and Andrew Dinan on fiddle. Together they recorded the album ‘Before the flood’ on Small World Records in 1999 and went on a tour encompassing Ireland, the UK, America and Hong Kong.
In 2003 Steven moved to London and began playing guitar for Emiliana Torrini (Rough Trade). They toured Europe, America, Australia and the Middle East. Amongst the highlights of this time was playing support for Elvis Costello at the Montreaux Jazz festival, playing to a packed Guardian tent at Glastonbury and performing to thousands in an old boat shed in remotest Iceland with Belle & Sebastian.
As a solo performer Steven has supported Martin Carthy, Rory McLeod, Paul Brady, Ian Parker, Labi Siffre, Oli Brown, Ian Siegal, Kathryn Tickell, Lunasa, Capercaille and the Beautiful South. His recent gigs have included the Troubadour, Bush Hall, The Green Note, Shepherd’s Bush Empire, Forum (the Old Town & Country Club), Bristol Folk House, the Boom Boom Club and the Union Chapel.
Spring 2008 was spent recording his debut solo album ‘Houdini’s Blues’, sung and played live, influenced by the early field recordings he listens to made by Alan Lomax and Shirley Collins.
‘Houdini’s Blues’ was released by Herding Cats in the Summer of 2008. ‘All come to reap the goldrush’ from the album went straight into the Top 20 in the Folk Radio charts.
Edited by AmyKS on 14 Feb 2010, 13:40
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