Fairport Convention’s vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Chris Leslie tells us about his early musical influences in this week’s artist blog.
“From the earliest memories I have as a kid, lying in bed at home listening to the magic sounds of Chris Barber and his Jazz Band, the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, and Elvis Presley on a Dansette record player drifting from my sister’s room, music has always been the elixir of life which touches and nourishes me deep inside.
“I was given my first guitar aged 11. At this time, my older brother John discovered folk music and was playing guitar and singing round the local sessions. I remember one day he brought home a copy of Rags Airs And Reels by Dave Swarbrick. This was a life-changing moment for me. By the time I was 14 I was playing fiddle and was totally hooked, learning everything I could – spending countless hours at the record player dropping the needle back down on the same spots to work out the fingering and bowing of tunes. I also remember hearing Robin and Barry Dransfield’s album The Rout Of The Blues; this also had a huge effect on me. I heard so much in the sound they made, and their vocal harmonies were just wonderful. I started playing in a duo with my brother – nothing like having a few gigs to rehearse for! I began putting more and more time into playing, and most importantly – listening. I became like a sponge, soaking up everything I could.
“Seeing Fairport for the first time when I was about 18 was the final revelation for me, I knew then that I wanted to be up there on stage and to try and make it my way of life.
“All these years later music still totally absorbs me. I love the music scene I’m in and I and get such inspiration from fellow musicians across the board – I’m working harder now than ever at my playing – for me it is a way of life and life-affirming, and something that I want to do and share as much as possible.”
Thanks to Chris Leslie for the latest in our series of artist blogs. To celebrate their 45th anniversary, Fairport have released By Popular Request – a compilation of Fairport favourites from across the years as chosen by their fans – and next month sees the release of Babbacombe Lee Live – a recording of Fairport’s folk rock opera Babbacombe Lee made during their 40th anniversary tour. Catch Fairport and special guests performing at Fairport’s Cropredy Convention from 9th – 11th August 2012.