|"Although not a spanish national, this western european has developed a strong feel for the Flamenco art." If there is one thing I've learned from my years as a gigging musician it is that newspapers will print anything.
There is some truth in the hype however. From a very young age this strange and often ugly music has intrigued and mystified me. A copy of a vinyl EP called "Bailes Flamencos" was in the family collection and I played it over and over until the etched in sounds had all but worn away.
Music is in my blood, both my father and grandfather were jazz musicians, my father in particular had a promising career as a military bandsman cut short by a near fatal dose of tuberculosis.
My introduction to the guitar was entirely out of neccesity, an imminent music exam at school left this painfully shy child with two choices, either play something on an instrument or sing. Fortunately the family had a cheap 3/4 size guitar stowed away in a forgotten corner of an overcrowded cupboard. This was a portentious moment for the 12 year old me, for my own insecurity about my singing voice would come back to haunt me many years later and also because the very first piece of music I learnt was a basic "Malaguena" a flamenco form that had sounded incredibly complicated to my untrained ears. Somehow the next 22 years would be spent playing every kind of music but the one that had drawn me to the guitar in the first place.
My late teens and twenties saw me focussing less on music and more on establishing a career, earning a living and raising a family. Music did exert a strong influence on my life, however and much of my spare time was taken up with being what I like to term an "audition junkie". I don't know for sure how many potential bands turned down or were turned down by this self confessed "mediocre guitarist". All that I can recall is many wasted years trying to get bands out of the rehearsal room and into pubs and clubs. I wrote and demoed many songs with a close friend named Chris Welch and received much positive feedback from friends and fellow musicians, but several attempts to recruit band members ended in failure.
It wasn't until 1997 that my potential as a musician of any note was fully realised. But it required a change of attitude and of instrument. A chance meeting with a seventeen year old guitar genius named Alex Hall led to the formation of an excellent blues rock hybrid band called "Red White and Bluesy". Despite their name many fans and promoters thought this band were going to be the next big thing on the blues circuit. Sadly after recording their only professionally produced cd the band dismissed their singer and attempted to carry on as a three peice. At the time I acquired the nickname of "Smurf" as a comment on my diminutive stature, it became an alter ego for me, but the Smurf earned a lot of respect as one of the best bassists on his circuit. Unfortunately, the Smurf's ego began to control my actions to the increasing dissatisfaction of the rest of the band. Having taken over the role of singer, I became increasingly isolated from the band and ignored all warnings that they were unhappy with both my singing and my stage persona. When they finally informed me that they were considering another singer I quit the band, refusing to accept their point of view. A decision which I now acknowledge was a major mistake and was very damaging for all concerned..