Martin Stephenson is a gifted, entertaining and much-loved performer. A natural raconteur, his repartee and audience rapport create a convivial and intimate atmosphere whatever the setting. His virtuoso fingerpicking blends seamlessly with John Perry’s melodic and considered solos and subtle fills, altogether making for a very entertaining show.
Born in Durham and brought up in nearby mining village Washington, Tyne & Wear, he has a self-deprecating humour and humility that belie his considerable talents.
Never pandering to a particular scene, his dexterity and ease with a varied mix of musical styles were immediately apparent. His path was destined to be a lifelong journey through the music he loved: folk, ragtime, jazz, rockabilly, punk-pop, country blues and more.
He formed his band, The Daintees, in his teens in 1982 and went on to release a number of successful and critically acclaimed albums including Boat to Bolivia, Gladsome, Humour & Blue, Salutation Road, A Boy’s Heart. He has honed his skills over the years but his lightness of touch and engaging spontaneity remain. For him, music is a vocation, not a career and his restless troubadour spirit has amassed an extraordinary catalogue of over 40 albums.
Martin has headlined Glastonbury, and toured with John Martyn, Roy Buchanan, Aztec Camera, Microdisney, The Go-Betweens, Hothouse Flowers, Bob Geldof, Del Amitri, Janis Ian, Indigo Girls and Melissa Etheridge, but remains endearingly modest and unaffected.
Legendary Scottish comedian and musician, Billy Connolly recently dedicated a section of a forthcoming BBC Scotland tv documentary to Martin Stephenson. Requesting a live performance of his hauntingly beautiful ‘Rain’ from the Bolivia album, and despite frail health, Connolly chose to stay and pass the time with a kindred spirit and fellow creative soul. Stephenson humbly responded with the gift of Billy’s Banjo, a freshly composed song to his brother in spirit.
He really is a spiritual traveller with a style all his own. For him, the highest level of achievement is kindness, the greatest currency goodwill.
Perhaps best known for his guitar work on The Only Ones’ hit single ‘Another Girl Another Planet’, heard nightly by everyone of a certain age in Ireland who tuned in to Dave Fanning’s seminal rock show through the late ‘70s and ‘80s, John Perry has worked with a variety of artists over the years including Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter, Robert Palmer, Marianne Faithful, The Lemonheads, Alejandro Escovedo, Mick Green, Wayne Kramer of MC5, the Stooges’ James Williamson (Stooges), Johnny Thunders, The Sisters of Mercy, The Members, Martin Stephenson and the Daintees, and Michael Nyman. John released three critically acclaimed albums with The Only Ones. Among those who cite the band as a major influence are The Stone Roses, The Go-Betweens, while Smith’s guitarist, Johnny Marr, cited him as a major influence on his music.
John has written a number of books of musicology – ‘Meaty, Beaty, Big and Bouncy’ on The Who, an account of the making of the Rolling Stones album ‘Exile on Main Street’, and a book on Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Electric Ladyland’, all of which were translated into Spanish, Portuguese and Chinese editions. Last year his new work on the influential guitarist Bert Jansch was published by Bloomsbury.
In recent years John has played live with Alejandro Escovedo in America, the UK, and really enjoyed their show at Kilkenny Roots last year.