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Danilo Blazer
Ged Bird
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Captain Dazzle
Stu Dunn
Hal Eaton
Nigel Parry
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Tyree Robertson
Tracey Haskell
Al Witham
Craig Talbot
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PROFILE ON ...

APRIL 2005 - Al Witham

AL WITHAM

Introducing
I spent years playing acoustic guitar in a kind of bluesy country swing vein - ragtime picking, flatpicking, vamping it on a beatbox - and on the side I always wrote songs - not very well. But for some reason, just when I thought I was getting too old for it all, the songs started to get good, I had an opportunity to record them at Breaker Bay Studio, and in a very short time I learnt how to use my voice, make a record, play electric guitar, and front a band. Whew!
Description of music
It always comes from life. I always liked the old folk stuff because it was just that - songs people used to sing to each other about their lives. This is just a modern version. Some of the songs are about my life, some are about other people, but written in the first person. Even when it's autobiography, I try to leave room for the listener in the song. I want them to feel that it's about them. There's a touch of country, jazz, and soul in my music, and a whole lot of blues. As I get older I keep coming back to the blues more and more. I've got enough scars to know what I'm singing about now. If the songs are real and you mean what you're singing, people respond. Nine times out of ten it's the same old crap we've all been through, stuff they've been singing about for centuries.

Who/What have been your main musical influences ?

Bob Dylan, Mississippi John Hurt, Johnny Cash, Muddy Waters, Charlie Christian, The Band, Billie Holiday, Ry Cooder, Bob Marley, Toots and the Maytals, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Lucinda Williams, Tony Joe White, Bob Wills, Carribean and African music, just about anything from Austin or New Orleans, and an awful lot of lost nights, over an awful lot of years, spent in smokey bars watching an incredible array of Wellington live bands in their natural habitat.
Your greatest musical moment?
The launch of my debut CD, Just Is, at the Bristol,
in February last year. It wasn't necessarily my best performance musically, but it was the most intense, and the biggest step up. The fiercest February storms in recent history were brewing, my songs and CD were being launched on the world for the first time, I had never fronted an electric band before, and I had been fighting off a bad cold for days and seriously doubted whether, physically, I'd be able to sing. It was pure sink or swim. There was a big crowd, lots of friends, a lot of people working hard for me, and the whole night rushed along in a supercharged, adrenaline fuelled blur.
We got a huge response and I was so wound up I did a wee jig after I got off stage - just from sheer nervous energy. I didn't stop spinning for days.

Your musical dream? To make a second CD, keep getting better, and write at least one unforgettable song.
Your best recent listen?
Live music: Harry Manx at the 2004 Byron Bay Blues Festival, and Steve Earle at the same festival. In fact, the whole darn festival!

Recorded music:
Jolie Holland's Escondido, and an early mix from a work in progress - Tyree Robertson's Mr Lucifer, a passionate song driven by some monster guitar work from Dougal Speir.

Your thoughts about the Kapiti Live Music Club?
It has a nice cruisy Kiwi feel. It's a chance to mix with some really nice people, some good musicians, and I always enjoy it. I like the open minded, down to earth attitude. It can be hard making the journey from Wellington mid-week, but I'm about to move to Pauatahanui, so I'll be a lot closer now and hope to come along more often.
Contact Details.
021 108 9264

email: al.witham@xtra.co.nz