The untimely death of Newbury songwriter Des Simmons in January 2013 robbed us of a unique creative talent. His songwriting was in the vein of classic alternative rock with nods to Ray Davies, Ronnie Lane, Patti Smith and the Velvet Underground. Paul James of Blowzabella told me “It was because of Des’s encouragement of Colin Newman, when they were young, that Colin was able to form post punk legends Wire. More recently Des got all acoustic / folkie and I produced his last album a few months before he died.”
Many of his early band line-ups had a hard, fast indie rock edge from his punk/alternative rock beginnings in London and later this evolved into a folk rock acoustic sound inspired by the likes of Neil Young, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan and the Band. For this special concert the many musicians who played with Des over three decades come together – including members of Wire, 1000 Mexicans and Blowzabella (about 40 musicians in all) – to showcase as many of his remarkable songs as can be packed into three hours.
Des’s family are fundraising through this event for the Awards for Young Musicians charity who have set up the Des Simmons Award for Young Musicians. The charity provides financial support to exceptional young musicians from low income families to enable them to progress musically. They also encourage and help them build confidence by providing performance opportunities and mentoring. As Des was an exceptionally gifted acoustic and electric guitarist, the Award will support talented young people who are playing/studying acoustic or electric guitar.
I’ve personally really fallen for Blue Country which was his last album and I’ve included some tracks below and I’ll be adding tracks to our radio playlist very soon. In the meantime try and make this gig, it will be a fantastic event, a great tribute and a great cause.
Details: Ridgeway Fire – a celebration of the songwriting of Des Simmons
Arlington Arts Centre, Newbury, Berkshire
Saturday 25 January, Doors open 6:30pm. Starts 7:30pm
Tickets £10 in advance, £12.50 door. Students £7.50. Under 16s £5.