Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Johannesburg in South Africa during the apartheid years. We moved there from England when I was 7 years old.
At what age did you start to notice you wanted to be in music?
I have always loved music and my dad and sister were both very musical. I saw a bagpiper at a wedding near our house when I was 11 years old and just knew I had to do that. I think the uniform and big knives could have had something todo with it. I started playing guitar when I was in the Air Force in South Africa.
What made you move to Cincinnati?
My wife works for Procter & Gamble. We are here temporarily. I have a daughter who is a high schooler so we would like her to finish her schooling here before moving back to Europe.
What is the indie music scene like in Cincinnati?
I live in the same block as Bryan Devendorf, drummer with “The National,” so there are big indie bands here. There are also some fantastic singer songwriters too, and I belong to the Queen City Balladeers - a local folk club that started in 1963! We get some great acts each week from in and around Cincinnati, but also further afield. Being an active songwriter and trying to establish myself in pubs and clubs, I sadly don’t get that much time to get out to see other artists. Is this a common problem for singer songwriters?
What is your songwriting process?
I have started recording my songs on my phone now, as loads of ideas have been lost over the years. Some, I get a melody idea, sometimes a lyric or a line. Some songs take forever others a few days. My latest idea from a friend on Facebook - “If it doesn’t open, it ain’t your door!”
How did you get the nickname "Hedgehog?"
I wrote a song years ago about hangovers, the club scene, picking up girls - perhaps not totally PC in this day and age. I worked in a bank and had two colleagues - Kim and Mary Ann - and in the city I worked, the clubs did “Ladies Nights” on a Tuesday. Needless to say, aforementioned colleagues often appeared rather under the weather Wednesday mornings. I knew, having experienced a couple of hangovers myself, that it was good subject matter but how to put it into a song. So I used some animal imagery and came up with a song called, “Hedgehogs.....and other animals of the night!” Not the best song I ever wrote, to my mind, but people love it. Hence I used to get called “Hedgehog”... also, someone else is already using Dave Mason...I’m going to write a “Dave Mason Blues” song about that too.
How difficult is it to learn to play bagpipes?
The pipes are easy to start as you start on what they call the practice chanter. Similar to a reeder recorder, 1 octave, quite simple. Many people learn to play the pipes but few learn to play them well. Piping takes stamina, dexterity, accurate finger work, huge memory (everything is memorized in piping) and mostly they take time. I play in the lower rungs of the highest solo level of piping - the “ professional” or “open” level. To compete seriously, I need to set aside 1-2 hours per day just to stay at an acceptable level fitness wise and music wise. A huge commitment. It’s much easier to play guitar 2 hours a day ( for me AND my neighbors!)
Do you perform live often?
I try to perform live 1-3 times per week. Doesn’t always work as my wife travels with work so I have responsibilities getting meals and transportation organized for my daughter. It’s getting easier now. I do farmers markets and open mics when I can. I hope to get a few regular gigs in the new year.
Tell us about your latest project.
My latest project “Extraordinary Love” inspired by a young singer songwriter, Josiah Whitley, out of Portsmouth, Ohio. He recently launched an album “Moonsongs” with his Artist friend, Charlie Haskins. Charlie gave Josiah 6 paintings and asked him to write songs about them. Josiah gave Charlie 6 songs and Charlie had to paint about them. This got me thinking on why we write, why I write. Why we sing, perform, put ourselves at the mercy of others while we try our best to deliver what we can facing ridicule, indifference, being ignored. My conclusion was “LOVE.” Love for music, love for performing, love for our friends, families, fans love of the challenge. So much love but not puppy love or soppy teenage love. Much bigger than that. Extraordinary love.
What can we expect from you in 2019?
Who knows. I love doing this and hope in the next three years to give my best and see what gives. The industry is such a fickle one. I’m reminded of Pat Donohue’s “Would You Like To Play The Guitar” which is so true it’s scary. However, lots of opportunities if we are willing to try. Let’s see what we can do.