LOCAL INTERVIEW: Joe Solo | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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If for some reason you have never seen Joe Solo perform live, then get it on your bucket list now. Joe’s unforgettable live performances combine energetic guitar, harmonica and the odd tambourine or drum beater strapped to his legs, all culminating in an engaging set that is thought-provoking, honest and uplifting, with a dash of humour thrown in at just the right time. Oh, and expect to participate! Whether you grab one of Joe’s various rice-filled containers to accompany him on percussion or join in a ‘punk voice sing off’, I guarantee you will have an unforgettable experience.

Having played for many years on the national scene, opening for artists such as the acclaimed Chris Wood, Otis Gibbs, BBC 2 Folk Awards Winner Emily Portman, The Blockheads and Pete Wylie, Scarborough-based Joe loves to be on stage and his spirited sets are pretty legendary. I asked where that energy, passion and drive comes from: “I don’t see a gig as being a passive thing. More so because my songs are trying to tell you something, either relate a story or an episode from history, or to switch on an emotion – sometimes anger, sadness or laughter too. So I make sure if you are in a room with me, then you leave knowing EXACTLY what the last 45 minutes was about.”

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“There is nothing wrong with being who you are and having your roots in the friends, family and history around us”

Some of Joe’s earlier releases have been favoured by John Peel and by Mike Harding and there’s nothing to suggest that his new album, Left Turn On Liberty Lane, won’t enjoy similar success. Expertly combining folk and blues with an edge that is reminiscent of punk, it is a record about who we are and what makes us tick, as Joe explains. “There’s this whole political debate about social mobility and the idea that we should all be striving to better ourselves. I hate that. There is nothing wrong with being who you are and having your roots in the friends, family and history around us. The album is a bunch of songs which hopefully combine to give that sense of belonging to not only places, but to people, ideas and to history too.”

The album gets a proper launch on Saturday 7th February at Westgarth Social Club in Middlesbrough, where he’ll be joined by Rebekah Findlay who put some violin on a few tracks on the album. There’s also support from Ribbon Road, whose album No Redemption Songs was Joe’s favourite record from last year.

There’s no sign of Joe slowing down in 2015; he’s got countless gigs planned and has even started writing his next album. Joe also curates and presents a Monday night radio show on Radio Scarborough, and is also planning his second children’s book, which he sells to raise money for local charities.

Joe Solo, Ribbon Road and Rebekah Findlay play Westgarth, Middlesbrough on Saturday 7th February.

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