"Voyage of the Bakolite" - Alan Hewitt talks to Dik Cadbury.
TWR: What were your earliest musical influences?
DC: My parents met in a choral society and singing was always a big part of my life. At the age of 5, I was the only boy in the school choir. I also started having piano lessons around then but didn’t take to it; probably because the piano teacher, a large-bosomed ‘matron’, was somewhat overbearing. My parents eventually allowed me to give up the lessons but gave me one year’s grace and said they’d like me to choose another instrument at the end of the year. Fortunately, I started at Prep School at that point and all the new boys had a compulsory violin class one night a week. I really enjoyed these sessions and told my parents I’d like to learn the violin. So began my association with the violin and stringed instruments in general. I ended up as leader of the school orchestra and treble soloist in the school choir. My father decided to buy a violin – he’d played until he was 14 – and started having lessons again so that we could play duets together. When I reached Leighton Park – aged 13 – I was a reasonably competent violinist and decided to add guitar to the list because a friend had one and was also learning. This was 1963 and with the Beatles ‘With The Beatles’ album released that Christmas (Santa obliged!) I became totally mesmerised by their music and the ‘60’s boom in general – Rolling Stones, Searchers, Merseybeats, Kinks, Manfred Mann, The Animals plus American bands like The Byrds. For me, songs and harmonies came first! My older sisters had already introduced me to Bill Hayley, Cliff and The Shadows, Elvis, The Everley Brothers etc. and I had been weaned on Uncle Mac’s Children’s Favourites on the BBC Light Programme. But the Beatles were a total inspiration and captured my soul. I spent more time learning Beatles songs than I did practicing my classical guitar pieces and eventually my teacher told me that if I didn’t practice I was wasting my parents’ money and his time; The Beatles won! By then I’d teamed up with another guitar-owning school mate and we started our first band. He soon returned from town with a bass guitar and asked me if I could show him how to play it, so I learned Paul MacCartney bass lines by ear and taught them to him. He had a friend who wanted to be our drummer, so he got a kit and I worked out how to play Ringo parts for him. Eventually I found two guitarists who were better than me and decided that they needed a solid bass player/rhythm section behind them, so I took on that role and found my niche. By then I was listening to Paul MacCartney, Chris Hillman (Byrds), Tamla and Stax bass lines and ‘getting in the groove’. Alongside that, I was in the first violins of the Reading Youth Orchestra and had started taking lessons in London from Geoffrey Mitchell as a Counter Tenor, with a view to getting a choral scholarship to Cambridge. I was learning the songs of John Dowland (recently recorded by Sting on his CD ??), Handel arias and Purcell songs, written for that voice. I was greatly impressed by James Bowman and Alfred Deller, two leading Counter Tenors of the time. I arranged my lessons where possible to coincide with good acts at the Marquee Club in London’s Wardour Street and got to see bands like Joe Cocker and The Grease Band, The Moody Blues, The Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation, Jon Hiseman’s Collosseum and Free (the resident Monday night band at the time, pre-‘Tons Of Sobs’!). I used to catch the last train back to Reading and my study- mate used to leave my study window open for me to climb in after ‘curfew’! By then the British blues scene was booming and John Mayall with Eric Clapton and later Peter Green, Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac (I was a great fan of John MacVie’s playing), Chicken Shack - then Hendrix and Cream - all inspired my playing.
TWR: Have you always been a musician or have you had other
occupations as well?
DC: At university I planned to get a degree in German Literature and become a teacher. But, alongside singing at weekends in Norwich Cathedral, I joined a band of fellow students called Totem (a sort of folk/jug band). I was so impressed with them that I went up at the end of the night I first saw them play and told them: ‘Great band but you really need a bass player!’ I passed the audition and started gigging with them in folk clubs and festivals on bass, fiddle, mandolin and vocals. At the end of my first year they graduated and wanted to continue so I took a sabbatical (year off from my studies) and went on the road. By the end of the year I knew that German wasn’t for me so I didn’t go back to study. Instead I continued playing and studied music with a view to going to music college. Just before I took the entrance exam, I got a call from a Cheltenham-based group called Decameron, asking me to join them. They’d just made their first LP ‘Say Hello To The Band’ and wanted to add bass and violin to 3 guitars and a cello already in the lineup. We’d already met and shared a stage at various festivals, including The Cambridge Folk Festival, so they knew what I could add to their sound. Needless to say, I was lamentably under-prepared for The Royal College of Music, failed to gain entrance and so joined Decameron and moved to Cheltenham in August 1973. Over the following 3 years we recorded 3 further albums (Mammoth Special (Mooncrest); Third Light (Transatlantic) and Tomorrow’s Pantomime (Transatlantic)) and played the college circuit, toured UK and Europe before splitting up in 1976. Our second album, ‘Mammoth `Special’ was recorded on the Mooncrest label, a subsidiary of B&C/Charisma so there was the first indirect link to Genesis! There was ‘A Day At The Races’, sponsored by Charisma (Tony Stratton-Smith was a great racing enthusiast I believe), where all bands signed to the label(s) were to play short sets between the races. I’m not sure whether or not members of Genesis attended. After that, I built Millstream Recording Studio in an old pottery studio in Cheltenham, having bought the cottage next door. I invited John Acock, an dear old friend, to be my engineer but he had a ‘small project’ to finish off in LA and London first; this was to become ‘Please Don’t Touch’. We played copy master tapes through my Tannoy studio monitors – wow!!!
TWR: Were you already aware of Steve and/or Genesis before
you became involved with Steve?
DC: As already mentioned, there was a tenuous link to Charisma through Mooncrest, plus we were booked out for gigs through the Charisma agency (I think). I was aware of Genesis – hard not to be – but hadn’t really focused on their music. Steve’s name wasn’t individually known to me; Peter Gabriel was getting all the attention for wearing flowers on his head! There was one lunchtime when I was staying with John in East Twickenham when he said he was meeting Steve for a drink and would I like to join him/them. We sat by the river in Richmond and that was where I first made Steve’s acquaintance. After that I remember popping into Kingsway Recorders where Steve was laying down the guitars for ‘Narnia’. Both he and John were working so I didn’t stay long – I’m not even sure Steve knew I was there!
TWR: How did you become involved with Steve?
DC: Having set the studio up, I didn’t think there was a full-time role for me, as I wasn’t a sound engineer, so I’d been looking for another gig post-Decameron and had just joined Pekoe Orange, a London/Kent-based band playing original Dire Strait-ish songs. I loved the Little Feat vibe that they had and there was a serious push to get a deal. I think I played the last pub gig (The Pegasus in London) during the earliest rehearsal period with the new Hackett lineup. I had my shiny new bass cabs and amps, I know that! Somewhere there’s a tape of that gig, if only I could track down Nick Brown…
Then one day, John Acock came into the studio (Millstream) and mentioned that he’d been asked by Steve if he could recommend any musicians for a band he was putting together and that he’d suggested me for the bass role. I got the call and got the job. At the audition, we started with a blues jam and then Steve asked me if there was anything I wanted to play? I’d always wondered how the riff in ‘Tower Struck Down’ went, so Steve showed me and within a couple of minutes we were happily playing it together. He then revealed that the bass player on the session took about an hour to learn the riff; I was IN!!!
TWR: What were your first impressions of Steve when working
DC: Terrified!! Working with such a legend was going to be very demanding and I’d learned what I could from the first two solo albums (Accolyte and Touch) but it was like the first day in a new school. It was probably nerve-wracking for him too! After my audition – our first musical encounter – he asked me to go round and listen to demos sent in by hopeful vocalists and I was privileged to be asked. I suppose I’d sold the vocal aspect of myself quite hard, especially the importance of harmonies in Decameron, which was my only other significant band to that point. I heard some really awful attempts, even one from a well known pop band’s singer of the time! He was looking to find someone with the ‘young, optimistic’ sound of a Steve Walsh and I think he chose well when he finally went for Pete Hicks. Steve is a consummate professional and a very technical and precise player. He obviously pushes the boundaries with his sound and structures and it was going to be hard to compliment that, especially with the likes of Rutherford and Tom Fowler to follow; I’d already become a fan of Fowler’s for his work with Frank Zappa. Steve came across as very reserved but clear in his mind about the direction he wanted the music to follow.
TWR: How much creative freedom did you have when working with
Steve, did he allow the musicians to have input into how pieces developed or
were they already formed by the time you got to the rehearsal room?
DC: On the whole, Steve came in with his guitar sketch and a vocal melody where there were lyrics. In rehearsal, he would usually start working with Nick (Magnus) to sort out the keyboard arrangements. The rest of us would quietly try things out or note things down so that by the time he and Nick had sorted themselves out, we’d have a pretty good idea of where we were going. With certain numbers, Steve had bass parts in his head which I’d be shown; otherwise we just started running the number and fine-tuning it as we went. In all honesty, with the new pieces I never really ‘nailed’ a bass part until we came to record, because then the drum part was fixed and I could lock into it more tightly. Obviously we had the opportunity to pitch in ideas but mostly, if Steve said nothing, we assumed we were on the right track. I was given the role of vocal arranger. Steve was very keen to achieve the tight block harmonies of CSN, Kansas etc. and that’s where my choral training and time with Decameron came in. In the studio, Pete would usually lay down the lead vocal first and I’d find a low part for Steve and a higher one for myself to work with his lines. In ‘The Virgin And The Gypsy’, I confess to getting carried away! Pete and Steve had their parts down and I got this ‘vision’ in my head, probably inspired by 10CC’s ‘I’m Not In Love’ where one chord fades across another. I recorded the first harmony and then every time John (Acock) said: “that’s good, come and listen” I’d say: “Just give me one more track – I’ve got an idea”. They let me run with it and what came out has to be my best vocal performance, I think. On ‘The Office Party’ I remember really struggling with the bass-pedal part. I was trying to replicate a steel drum in a calypso I’d heard on an album my parents brought back from Trinidad (‘Carnival In Trinidad’ I think). After a while I gave up and said I’d come back to it the next day. When the red light went on the next day, it came to me straight away!
TWR: Of the albums you were involved with, which is your favourite
DC: I love them both equally! Spectral Mornings has a freshness arising from the energy and excitement of a new band while Defector has a greater depth and maturity – a sign of what could have followed had we continued beyond.
TWR: Was touring with Steve your first experience of life
on the road or had you already experienced it with another band(s). If the latter,
how did touring with Steve differ from your previous bands?
DC: By the time I started touring with Steve I’d already been gigging with Totem and Decameron, but never on the same scale.
In Totem we all crowded into a small Bedford van, then a mini-bus. In Decameron there was the trusty Transit with extra aircraft seats and the bulkhead to protect us from equipment sliding forward; after the Fairport Convention tragedy, where someone got seriously injured/killed when the equipment slid forward, we were all very much aware of that risk! The Transit was traded in for a Mercedes thanks to a record company royalty advance and we happily toured round Europe and the UK in those.
Touring with Steve took the whole experience to another level – real ‘Rock and Roll’. I remember arriving at Oslo airport on the first tour to be met by a blue 8-door limousine (I even have a picture somewhere). We toured the UK in Ford Granadas (I think – very posh and powerful at the time!) and then Range Rovers and flew virtually everywhere in Europe and the States.
Decameron used to stay either in B&Bs or the club organiser’s flat. I recall one gig in Halifax where we were all laid out in the organiser’s bed-sitting room with him and his girlfriend in bed and her nudging him and saying: “Stop snoring – they’re all laughing at you!” Dave’s fantasy of the folkie’s version of ‘Keith Moon’ behaviour (The Rolls Royce in the swimming pool or throwing the television out of the hotel room window) was the band throwing the club organiser’s transistor radio out of the high-rise apartment window! I think the worst incident was when Geoff (our ‘cellist) leaned on a sink in a dressing room at Brunel University and it fell off – we had to pay for that repair! By contrast, the routine of landing at a foreign airport, checking into a hotel (rarely sharing a room!), sound-check, gig and then out to dinner before retiring, getting what sleep we could before the alarm call, breakfast (essential) and the ride back to the airport to move on to the next town was new to me but I soon adjusted! So many people think that playing all these romantic cities must be wonderful but in all honesty, mostly what you see is the airport, the hotel, the venue, the hotel and the airport with glimpses in between of the city you’re visiting. Only when you get days off do you get to explore and discover new cities. The time between checking into the hotel and the sound-check are usually taken up with finding a bite of lunch or catching up on sleep to recharge the batteries before the next show! It’s a fantastic job - doing what you love doing and getting paid for it – but it’s nowhere near as glamorous as people think! But, all said and done, it’s a job.
Whereas, with my previous bands, gigs tended to be in Student Union bars or pubs and we tended to drink a bit through the evening, with Steve there was a ‘no booze (or anything else…) until after the gig’ policy; understandable given the complexity of the music and strictly respected and adhered to! There was always beer and wine plus food on the rider, in the dressing room, and bottles were frequently taken back to the hotel after the gig or left for the crew but the gig itself was always ‘dry’.
TWR: Do you have any particular fond memories of gigs and/or
recording sessions that you can share with us (all names will be changed to
protect the guilty - oops innocent!)
DC: During the recording of ‘Spectral Mornings’, which we recorded at the Philips’ Wisseloort Studios in Hilversum, I bumped into one of Holland’s top session drummers, Louis Debij. He’d recorded and then toured with a Dutch band called Fungus in 1975, supporting Decameron and had stayed with me during that period. John (Shearer) had just recorded the drum solo at the end of Clocks and I invited Louis to come and hear it.
He asked John; “How many overdubs did you do?”
Louis: “What are you – some kind of f*****g octopus or something?”
Pete was notorious for his quick wit and especially in America he was stopped by passers-by. Passing through the airport terminal in Buffalo, wearing his Stetson and sounding a bit ‘estuarine’ (as he does), someone said to him:
Passer-by: “Hey – you’re English?”
Passer-by: “So how do you like f*****g Buffalo?”
Pete: “Never tried it!”
Passer-by, with puzzled expression walks away, confused! Anyone passing in a fur coat would be asked (not directly): “What’s the bear wearing?” Also, in a café when service was slow: “Who do I have to sleep with to get a coffee round here?” There were many occasions where Pete’s lightening responses to peoples comments had me in stitches! He also had very irreverent alternative titles for Steve’s albums; ‘The Voyage of the Bakolite’; ‘Squeeze Don’t Crush’; ‘Spittoon Drownings’; ‘Defecator’. On the last tour of Europe in November/December 1980, I took my acoustic guitar with me and Pete and I started writing songs together, some of which appear on ‘About Time’. It was the start of a very rewarding period of collaboration which I hope will endure.
When touring in Italy, Steve thought it’d be a laugh to combine Elvis’ ‘It’s Now or Never’ with the ‘Just One Cornetto’ jingle as an encore. ‘O Sole Mio’, which both of these are based on, is a Southern Italian folk song, hated in the north and sacred in the south! So we finish the gig on the first night and get riotous applause, come back on and do this number (Nick sings ‘Cornetto’ through the vocoder – tee hee great fun!!!) to be greeted with whistles and cat-calls – the magic utterly destroyed! Our promoter takes Steve aside and strongly advises us not to repeat the exercise. Next night, Steve doesn’t see the harm and we go back, a little uncertainly in my case and get the same reaction! Given my picture of Italy and the behaviour of dissatisfied audiences, I’m just waiting for the gunshot but we get away with it. This time the promoter backs Steve into a corner and makes it quite clear that we mustn’t do that again (which fortunately we didn’t!). After that, a few gigs later, our coach (yes, we were traveling by coach at that point) had all its windows smashed by dissident fans who couldn’t get in for nothing and, being a British coach, we couldn’t get replacement windows in Italy. So our poor driver had to cross high mountain passes (in November) in a windowless coach, freezing his nuts off, to meet up with a colleague bringing a replacement bus from England to meet him in Lyon. We continued by Italian coach and traveled to France by train! You see life on the road!! The Italian motorway restaurants were amazing! Fantastic carvery and SO cheap – one of the advantages of traveling by road!
TWR: How did you feel when Steve disbanded the line up of
which you were such an integral part?
DC: Very sad and at the time very upset. I consider the time I spent with this band to be the high point of my musical career! There was a meeting during the last UK tour in 1980 where we aired our views on where we felt the band should be going, mainly from the point of view of the band members having greater creative input. I felt that certain members, given their head, would strengthen the band and make it more of a band instead of a bunch of hired hands! Maybe that was unwelcome and, to be fair to Steve, the band existed because, as I see it, he left Genesis precisely to be able to promote his composition and talents. We should have known our place but I think we genuinely wanted to make things as good as we could, especially making the most of the astonishing talents of Nick’s playing (already much in evidence but I felt not acknowledged enough) and Pete’s lyric writing. I fear that encounter may have sealed our fate, although I believe Steve actually had a discussion with Bill Bruford about the cost of running a permanent band and possibly concluded that he couldn’t afford us! He tried to keep up the production standards of Genesis but we weren’t really putting the ‘bums on seats’ to cover the costs! However, Defector did make it to No 17(?) in the album charts!
TWR: Did you continue working in the music business after
the end of your time with Steve? If so, which bands were you involved with?
DC: After Steve Hackett, I did a few auditions and then decided to return to running my studio (Millstream) in Cheltenham. I started writing songs with Dave Bell (Decameron) and we formed a sort of ‘60’s ‘Retro’ band called The Teenage Idols, performing a mixture of original songs and covers. I played guitar and started taking lead vocals for the first time. Dave and I also set up a jingle company (Orijingles) writing jingles for our independent local radio station Severn Sound and then others.
Then, in 1983, former Manfred Mann singer Mike D’Abo moved back to UK from the USA and settled in Gloucestershire. The first thing he needed was a studio and I ended up playing guitar, bass plus harmony vocals on the first set of demos. 60’s revival was hot at the time and so he asked me to join him in a party band ‘celebrating the 60’s’ and we named it ‘Mike D’Abo’s Mighty Quintet’ after his big hit with Dylan’s ‘Mighty Quinn’. After a few years I semi-retired from that band (family life was suffering) and almost immediately was drafted into another party band Top Catz. Mike recalled me to fill in on occasions and in 2000 I was asked to tour with The Manfreds (Paul Jones, Mike D’Abo, Tom McGuiness and Mike Hugg from the 60’s lineup) in Australia and New Zealand; their bass player, Benny Gallagher, couldn’t do the tour and Mike suggested that, as I knew all the songs, I’d be a perfect stand-in. More recently we’ve started playing more intimate venues as The Mike D’Abo Trio, with Mike on keyboards, Steve Degutis (Mighty Quintet) on guitar and vocals and me on bass and vocals, presenting more of a musical history and playing songs by artistes who have inspired him – Ray Charles, Buddy Holly, Everley Brothers, Beatles and of course his own hit compositions ‘Handbags and Gladrags’ and ‘Build Me Up Buttercup’ plus his Manfred Mann hits and newer compositions.
I also resumed playing, gigging and recording with Steve Ashley, who had toured in 1975 with Decameron and formed The Steve Ashley Band after Decameron broke up. This led to appearances at the Cropredy and Cambridge festivals and numerous recording sessions in the intervening years up to now; we still play the occasional duo gig with me on guitar!
I currently play with all three bands as the opportunity arises.
There have even been a few Decameron reunions!
TWR: You finally released an album of your own: About Time
in 2000. What made you decide to record an album of your own?
DC: I had amassed quite a catalogue of original songs which no-one was hearing, some entirely my own but mainly co-written with Dave Bell (Decameron) and Pete Hicks (we started writing together on the last 1980 European tour and still exchange ideas). John Acock contacted me one day in 1999 asking me to arrange and perform on a song for a Christmas project which was to feature the vocal talents of Tony Burrows (Brotherhood of Man, White Plains and Edison Lighthouse i.a.). The record company boss Upi Nath (Choice of Music) asked me if I had any songs to contribute to the project. I said it could easily be arranged and Dave Bell and I wrote ‘The Star That Fell Too Earth’ for his ‘New Christmas Collection’ CD, originally for Tony to sing. But Upi was so impressed with my voice on the demo that it ended up with my voice on it, along with ‘Christmasses Gone By’, another Cadbury/Bell composition. Then he asked if I had any more songs and I said ‘Lots.’ He heard a collection of demos and asked me to record basically an acoustic album without a rhythm section but dressing up basic voice and guitar live performances with other instruments. Under the guidance of my dear friend Mr Acock, ‘About Time’ was the result.
TWR: Tell us a little about the tracks on the album and the
people who worked with you on it.
DC: We recorded the album at FFG studios in Bredon, Gloucestershire, as I’d sold my studio in 1989. As already mentioned, John Acock was at the controls and we started by laying down the songs as live recordings, settling for the best performance on the day for each one before moving on. Upi had mentioned sax on one or two of the songs he’d heard, so I called Pete Zorn, who’d recorded with The Arizona Smoke Review at Millstream and had worked/was working with Barbara Dixon and Richard Thompson and he added the most exquisite soprano sax plus a little bit of alto. Another friend and excellent keyboardist John Broomhall, who’d recorded music for corporate AVs with me at Millstream, came and added his magic. The backing singers include my daughters, Lucy and Holly plus Regine Candler, who worked with various artistes at Millstream and made jingles with us there, and her daughter Lauren; also contributions from Dave Bell, Steve Ashley (Harmonica and vocals) and Mike Edwards, with whom I’ve also played and recorded over recent years and who also played slide ‘Backpacker’ on a few songs. I play guitars, mandolin and fiddle plus one or two keyboard parts.
The song ‘About Time’ came about because, when I said to my friends that I was about to record a CD, they all responded ‘About bloody time too!’ I drafted some sleeve notes and gave them to Steve Ashley for comment, and he suggested ‘About Time’ would be a good title for the CD. So then I needed a title track. I told Dave what I’d decided to call the CD and he came up with the lyric, basically about me making my debut after all this time. My first recollection of wanting to be a pop star was me and a school friend miming air-guitar with rulers singing (Adam Faith’s?) ‘That’s What Love Will Do’ – “Now I’m learning ‘That’s What Love Will Do’” refers to that. The style is sort of Don Partridge ‘Rosie’ – the busker feel. ‘Bittersweet Mystery’ was inspired by being encouraged to write my thoughts and feelings down as a sort of therapy. This was one of those lyrics that just falls out – once you start it just flows. It’s the song that convinced me that actually I could write lyrics after all – I’d gone through a long period of believing I had ‘Nothing To Say’ (that’s what that track’s about more or less). ‘Paper Round’ started out as a Teenage Idols song, inspired by Yozzer Hughes (Jimmy Nail), from Alan Bleasdale’s ‘The Boys From The Black Stuff’ TV series, complaining to an old school mate: “I could have been a famous footballer but I had a paper round!” Dave’s wonderful lyric… Dave and I wrote ‘The Trick’ and ‘So Very Young’ while I was still working with Steve and I have demos stored away with Nick’s keyboards and Pete’s vocals on both of these songs. ‘Love and How To Cure It’ was also originally written for the Teenage Idols – Regine sings harmony on this. ‘More Than This’ and ‘Hitting the Ground Running’ are two of a set of country lyrics sent to me by Pete. He was convinced the English country scene was hot and so we wrote half a dozen songs. He was surprised with the way I turned ‘More Than This’ into a love song, because he’d written the lyric as a bit of a joke. Lucy sings a beautiful harmony – “Gram (Parsons) and Emmylou (Harris)” said Dave when he heard us…Mike Edwards plays amazing slide on this one! ‘Don’t Give Me Your Number’ and ‘I Have To Set It Down Again’ were both written with Pete on the last tour in 1980. ‘She Never Thinks…’ and ‘Closer To You’ were both started as very personal lyrics but I couldn’t finish them until I was able to ‘externalise’ them – apply the stories to third persons. Having agreed to make the CD these both fell into place and are two of my favourites, featuring the voices of both my daughters.
TWR: You are still very much a working musician, which bands
are you working with at present and do you. Any plans for a follow-up to About
DC: As already mentioned, I do still play on a semi-pro basis with ‘Mike D’Abo’s Mighty Quintet’ and ‘Top Catz’ which are both essentially party bands. ‘Top Catz’ is anything up to a ten-piece with 3 girl singers and a brass section, playing Blues Brothers, Abba – in fact anything that fills the dance floor. We’ve played numerous New Years Eve balls in the Middle East – 3 years running at The Burj al Arab in Dubai (the self-styled ‘World’s Only 7-Star Hotel’)! Sister Sledge, The Gypsy Kings and Gloria Gaynor have been the Cabarets on those occasions. I’m nominally the MD for TC, play guitar and sing harmonies as well as Mustang Sally, Wooly Bully, Easy, Angels etc. while the girls change costumes (see www.topcatz.co.uk for the video!)
The Mighty Quintet sees me on bass and vocals, ‘celebrating the ‘60s’ with Manfred Mann’s second vocalist Mike D’Abo, who replaced Paul Jones in the mid-60’s. We’ve done a lot of miles together and have become very good friends over the years. He’s just become the proud father of twins at the tender age of 63 – numbers four & five with his third wife! He has amazing energy and enthusiasm and is a joy to work with!
I’ve also recently formed a blues trio with a Cheltenham-based guitarist Dave Harper and the MQ drummer Owen Howell, reliving the glory days of Cream, Jimmy Hendrix as well as performing our rocky versions of blues classics such as ‘Hoochie Coochie Man’. It’s a return to my roots; the times I spent at the marquee in the 60’s watching the likes of Free in their formative period and all those John Mayall, Fleetwood Mac, Colosseum and Aynsley Dunbar albums. Great to have the freedom to improvise more on bass and stretch myself again.
I’ve also recently hooked up with a young art student and songwriter, Marcus Foster, initially playing on one or two songs in the studio and then answering the call when he has gigs to play my 5-string violin and add the odd harmony. There is a double-bass (Frey Smith), a guitarist, mandolin and banjo player (Sam Harley) Marcus on guitar and vocals and me. All pretty wild stuff but great fun to be part of!
Then there is the occasional but ongoing Steve Ashley relationship. I recorded
most of his guitar and vocal parts on his latest CD ‘Time And Tide’
in his dining room, using my trusty Neumann U87, ProLogic7 and an i-Mac. I added
a bit of bass and some harmonies, although his friends from Fairport Convention
played on a number of tracks and The Incredible String Band’s Robin Williamson
adds harp to at least one track (also in Steve’s dining room!). I didn’t
do the mix-down – that was entrusted to Martin Mitchell. There’s
one crazy track called ‘Pub Carpets’ which was programmed and arranged
by me! Steve and I have done a series of duo gigs to promote this CD and that
has stretched my acoustic guitar performance – that is until I fell off
a ladder in April 2008 and broke my wrist, since when he’s gone on solo!
I have written quite a lot of material since then which I hope to start recording again in 2009.
TWR: Have you followed Steve’s career since?
|DC: I haven’t really heard much of
what Steve has recorded since I left the band. I did go and see him at Gloucester
Leisure Centre about a year after we parted but it was a bit too soon after
the split and I got very nostalgic and jealous of the new bass player (Chas
Cronk?). I did go for a drink afterwards but it was very awkward. If Nick
hadn’t called and invited me I probably would have stayed away!
I did go to Huntingdon Hall just a few years ago with John Acock and then to the Shepherds Bush Empire more recently (it was John Hackett’s birthday and Pete called to say that he and Nick would be there as well as JH). The only former-member missing was John Shearer and Pete and I enjoyed singing along in the balcony to ‘Everyday’! It was good to see and hear Steve still rocking.
Then in May 2008, John Acock celebrated his 60th birthday and Steve and I both went to Herefordshire to pay our respects. Since then we’ve kept in touch and there’s even been a suggestion that we might play together again…watch this space! There’s a lot of new material to learn and it’ll be a good chance to catch up with him musically.
Dik Cadbury Photo Gallery
(Photos and scans courtesy of Dik Cadbury)
And now, a small plug for some of Dik's upcoming gigs...
Mike D'Abo Trio:
(Mike D'Abo (Keys/Vocals), Steve Degutis (Giutar/Vocals) and Dik Cadbury (Bass/Vocals)
Sat 7th – Darwin Suite, Assembly Rooms, Derby
Sun 8th – Robin 2, Bilston, Wolverhampton
Tue 10th – Stephen Joseph Theatre, Westborough, Scarborough
Wed 11th – Baby Blue, Albert Dock, Liverpool
Thu 12th – Boardwalk, Sheffield
Sat 14th – Arts Centre, Bridgwater
Sun 15th – The Mill Arts Centre, Spiceball Park, Banbury
Tue 24th – The Horns, Watford
January 25th - Solo at The Priory Inn, Tetbury
Feb 6th - Dave Harper Band at The Subtone, Cheltenham
Feb 13th - Dave Harper Band at The Brown Jug, Bath Road, Cheltenham
March 21st - Dave Harper Band at The Belle Vue, High Wycombe
For more information, please visit www.dikcadbury.com