In this week’s artist blog, singer and guitarist Sam Carter shares some of the key moments that fired his passion for music.
“By the time I was 10 years old I’d heard a whole range of stuff in my parents’ record collection from Bach to the Beatles. They’d take me to church on a Sunday where I’d hear many old Methodist hymns, and I was taking weekly classical guitar lessons. During these lessons I developed my fingerstyle technique; many of the fundamental aspects of this remain unchanged in my playing today. My teacher Brett Culpin was encouraging and always allowed time at the end of lessons for a blues jam, the blues being something I was very into at the time. A company called Orbis Publishing were putting out a thing called The Blues Collection where you got a CD and a book about a particular blues artist each week, so I was collecting these and listening intently.
“During my teens the classical guitar lessons gave way to an avid interest in loud stuff. Suddenly bands like Nirvana, Rage Against The Machine and Pearl Jam were the big thing among my circle of friends, and I was learning as many riffs as I could. At the same time, classic rock and blues was tempting me towards Rory Gallagher, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix. I played in a couple of local bands that broke up when we all left the area to go to university. During this loud period, plenty of gentler singer-songwriters were still interesting me, people like Neil Young, Elliott Smith, Bob Dylan.
“In 2004 I graduated from York University with a Philosophy degree. Like many of my peers I was pretty clueless about where to go next. I moved back in with my parents in Rutland over that summer, and spent time listening to Low, John Martyn and Nick Drake whilst half-heartedly filling out applications for graduate training schemes that threatened to take me into careers I couldn’t care less about. One day I got a phone call from my friend Thom Atkinson, who had moved down to London a couple of years previously to try to make it as a photographer. He had a room going spare in his flat in Chalk Farm and wondered whether I wanted it. Not overly enamoured with my job prospects in sleepy Rutland, I decided I’d take my chances in the big smoke and took the train down, with my guitar, to give London a try.
“I got started on the open mic scene, playing covers and gradually introducing my own songs. One night I was playing at The Red Lion in Stoke Newington, at the time there was a regular acoustic night there. I heard a guy playing in an austere, medieval-sounding way, with almost lute-like chords and a percussive ‘thwack’ every now and again that I couldn’t fathom. It wasn’t a million miles from the playing on the Nick Drake and John Martyn records I was mainlining at the time, but it had an even more distinctly English accent. I asked the guy (Dave Benton) where the style came from and he said simply ‘Listen to Nic Jones, Chris Wood, and Martin Simpson’. And so I went off in search of recordings of each of these musicians. This was not only an introduction to what we might loosely term ‘English fingerstyle guitar’ but perhaps more importantly to the stories and songs of the English traditional folk canon. I’d never have foreseen the influence this chance meeting would have on my music, nor the fact that in a few short years I’d have met and be sharing stages with those three musicians, each of whom I’d count among my musical heroes.”
Thanks to Sam Carter for the latest in our series of artist blogs.
Sam’s new album The No Testament has its launch night on Wednesday 10th October 2012 at St Pancras Old Church in London featuring special guest Sam Sweeney. Carter has further gigs at the end of October through November – see full tour dates and listen to The One from Sam’s new album below.
No shows booked at the moment.