DOORSTEP INTERVIEW: AULD MAN’S BACCIE | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Welcome to Doorstep Interview, where we find out more about the amazing bands and artists that we have right here in the north east. Today, acoustic blues duo Auld Man’s Baccie tell us more about themselves.

Tell us a bit about yourself. Who are you, where are you from?
Auld Man’s Baccie from Seaham. Davie Curtis on vocals and guitar and Nick Phillips on slide guitar.
Davey: When I was a kid, I was looking through my older brother’s album collection.
I pulled out what looked like a Monty Python LP. On the front cover was a heavily pregnant nun holding an enormous albatross! So I stuck it on the turn table and second song in, I heard something that blew me away. It was a tune called Coming Home and featured what I later found out was a slide guitar. The album was Pious Bird of Good Omen and the name of the band was Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac. Well, that was it for me, I was hooked!
Because this was the days before the Internet, a trip to the library and a little detective work revealed that this song was a cover version of a tune by a man called Elmore James. This, in turn, led to trips to The Spinning Disk record shop in Sunderland to spend my saved up pocket money on albums found in the blues section. It was a musical journey that led me to Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, Lead Belly and later Jimi Hendrix and Rory Gallagher.
Nick: My first influences were rock ‘n’ roll; Elvis, Eddie Cochran and Jerry Lee Lewis. All of these I heard from my sister’s record collection. Johnny Cash, Oscar Peterson and Count Basie from my mother’s. Growing up in rural Buckinghamshire there wasn’t a lot of live music about but I remember buying a BB King double LP – BB King and Bobby Bland live, it never left the turntable for months. This chance purchase led me to Muddy Waters, Elmore James and Lightning Hopkins who remain favourites of mine. On moving to the North East, mainly because there were so many good blues bands and venues at the time, I decided to advertise for a band which led me to Jeff Morland, wherein Barkin Billy and the Rhythm Dogs were born, later renamed as Barkin Billy and the Scrap Yard Dogs.
I stayed with the band on and off for over 27 years, but found myself drawn to the less complicated format of acoustic music. As a lover of slide guitar I took the plunge and bought a resonator and hid away practising for a few months before meeting up with Davey who I had known through various bands for some time. Davey said all the good names were gone I replied we should go out as Auld Man’s Baccie, and that was it, here we are.

What inspired you to first start making music?
Davey: When I was a young boy my older sister took me to Newcastle City Hall to see a band called Barclay James Harvest and it was the first time I ever saw people play instruments live. I was awe struck and had to get a guitar! My parents were kind enough to get me one and here I am, decades later with Nick doing what I love, playing The Blues.
Nick: As a youngster I used to go to the local youth club and one of the youth leader played acoustic guitar I was knocked out by the sound and new then that I had to get a guitar. Like most guitar players it becomes a total obsession. The more musicians you listen to the more styles you absorb and eventually you will find your own style. I had always loved the sound of slide guitar and now have the perfect set up playing with Davey to indulge my passion.

Who would you say are your biggest influences?
Muddy Waters, Lightning Hopkins, Elmore James, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Peter Green, Rory Gallagher, Memphis Minnie, Skip James, Tampa Red, Son House, Ry Cooder

How would you describe your sound?
Acoustic country blues tinged with ragtime rhythms or as we like to say ‘100% old timey mojo music!’

Where do you see yourselves fitting into the local music scene?
We’ll slot in somewhere. I don’t think there is anybody else doing exactly what we do!

Tell us a bit about your live performances. What can we expect from a gig by you?
We try to bring a bit of the old Juke Joint atmosphere to our gigs, a lot of fun. Many folks think the blues is all doom and gloom but it isn’t, if you take a look on the internet at some of the old footage of juke joints you will see that although people worked all week when they went to the Juke Joints, they went to dance and have a good time, that’s what we want to recreate.

Can you tell us what gigs you have planned in the region in the near future?
We’re playing on Saturday 6th February at Pop Recs in Sunderland with The Heavenly Thrillbillies, Marc Playle & Phil Wynn Jazz Duo and Jim Bullock (12.30pm start). Also at The Cluny in Newcastle on Friday 18th March supporting Poplar Jake and the Electric Delta Review. There’s loads more regional gigs on our website too.

What do you think has been your biggest achievement so far as a band?
Recording an album, having our own songs played on the radio all over the world, and performing at blues festivals all in the space of 12 months! We have also been nominated for the Blues n Soul award for Innovation.

Have there been any major challenges so far in your musical career?
The major challenge has been breaking into the local blues scene, as a new act offering something which is a bit different and might indeed challenge the perceptions of some of the audience as to what they consider to be good blues music. However we are now making inroads and are looking forward to see what this year brings.

What else have you got planned for the future?
More festivals, more radio shows and a new album in the pipeline. Although we love to record we are predominately a live act, and the act is evolving constantly and we are always seeking new places to play.

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