Indie icon ‘who went on a little journey’ in music

Martin Stephenson at this year's Glastonbury festival
Martin Stephenson at this year's Glastonbury festival

Martin Stephenson & the Daintees combined rockabilly, show tunes, rootsy pop and punk to critical acclaim in the 1980s and beyond. Frontman Martin is still on the road, and bound for Lancashire

Much travelled, much loved British singer-songwriter Martin Stephenson is to play Ribchester Village Hall on the October 25.

Martin is touring to promote his latest album ‘California Star’ which is being heralded as his finest since ‘Boat to Bolivia’ was released with the Daintees almost 30 years ago.

That 1986 debut launched one of the most perceptive songwriters of the day, with a thoughtful, layered sound in an age of excess.

The NME said of Stephenson’s song craft that he “builds bridges between love and hate, cradle and grave, folk and pop, past and present.”

Stephenson’s restless troubadour spirit has now amassed an extraordinary catalogue of 40 albums, and the latest stands as delightful proof that a fifty-something artist can go on getting better and better.

‘California Star’ shines with all of Martin’s amassed influences, from folk and country to Americana to rock ‘n’ roll, but with plenty of the style that’s pure Stephenson and no one else.

“I just went on a little journey with it,” he says.

“I don’t have huge budgets now, but I like that, it makes you resourceful. Rock ‘n’ roll wasn’t built on huge budgets, so it’s good to have a little bit of pressure. Sometimes if you’ve got huge budgets,” he adds with his trademark understated humour, “you end up sitting in the jacuzzi when you should be playing.”

There’s lots of different dimensions in music,” muses the Durham native, who now lives in Invergordon in the Scottish Highlands, where he also runs his own small label for young artists he admires, Barbaraville.

“Sometimes, no matter how open rock ‘n’ roll people think they are, they can have a blinkered view of how the scene and the universe shift,” he says.

“You’ve got to redefine yourself. It just depends whether you’re connected to it or not.”

In the summer, he played to 5,000 admirers in the acoustic tent at Glastonbury and yet a few weeks later was playing to around 100 people in a small theatre in Sheffield.

These days, wherever it is, “the love and respect flows to and from the stage”. says the engaging and spontaneous live performer.

Ribchester will certainly be in for a treat when Martin arrives as his stage show is a positive tour de force combining influences from his lifelong musical journey through the music he loved: folk, ragtime, jazz, rockabilly, show tunes, punk-pop and country.

The show is promoted by Carl Barrow and his Hollow Horse Events company who recently brought Lisbee Stainton to the same venue.

The motto of the company is to bring national names to local venues.

This certainly holds true for the Ribchester show where local singer songwriter Peter Aldridge is the special guest performing songs from his latest album Mythology of Storms.

Tickets, £10, are available from ticketweb.co.uk