Our Song of the Day is from Dave Sudbury. Some of you may recall the feature and interview I ran on Dave back in 2012 (read it here). It came about when his daughter contacted me not long after The Unthanks performed ‘The King of Rome’ at the BBC Folk Awards. The album she sent me was something of a revelation as all the songs were brilliant stories that he had personally penned. It seemed wrong, to me at least, that a song like ‘The King of Rome’ should not lead to its author having some limelight so we asked for an interview and he obliged which I’ve included again below.
But before that here is a track you may not have heard, it’s the title track of his album ‘Remembering Jack Johnson’…as you can hear, he’s a great storyteller:
Dave Sudbury in his own words
I was born in Derby in 1943 ( the first line of ‘ Dave Sudbury’s Blues’) into a warm working class family. Early memories of Christmas, get togethers at my Grandma’s and listening to old 78′s of Jimmy Rogers on a wind up gramaphone. Singing around the piano and stories about the war from my Dad and Uncles.
I had a happy ‘backstreet’ childhood, secondary modern school and then a factory apprenticeship at 16. After serving my time I went working on the North Sea gas pipelines. I was married young and soon had a family to support. The music that inspired me was usually American rooted, Blues, Country and early Rock n Roll. Bob Dylan, who seemed to channel all this stuff, has always been an inspiration. I bought a cheap guitar in my early thirties and learned three chords. I wrote a few, easy to play songs, and nervously sang them in local folk clubs. People said they liked them.
The music I’d always loved seemed to have come out of authentic, personal experience, so I tried to keep mine the same. While still working on pipelines and powerstations, a friend told me about the ‘Northern Arts Council’ songsearch contest. I sent off a couple and the ‘King of Rome‘ made it through to the final. I sang it in front of an audience and panel of judges (a bit like X factor). I didn’t win but June Tabor, who was one of the judges, asked to record it. Since then it’s flown around the world.
Growing up working class in the 1940,50,60′s left me with a desire to express something inside. Writing those songs, especially the ‘King’, was my way of doing that. I recorded the CD in Andrew Cronshaws frontroom. I’d listened to so much ‘Americana’ he had to keep reminding me to drop the accent and ‘keep it Derby’.
So here I am nearly 70, happily married for the second time, loads of grandkids, and still listening to old recordings of Jimmy Rogers.
You can get Dave Sudbury’s albums here: