Home Page

Charlie Patton painting  Copyright 2004 Loz Arkle
Painting 2004 Loz Arkle

Website Copyright 2000-2011 Alan White - All Rights Reserved

Site optimised for Microsoft Internet Explorer




Home
Up
Credentials
What is the Blues?
Background to Blues
Chronology of Blues
Artists & Bands Index
Featured Article
Blues Essays
Blues Memories
Blues Festivals UK/E10
Blues Festivals (UK) 09
Blues Festivals (UK) 08
Blues Festivals (UK) 07
Blues Festival Photos
NewsStand
Blues Movies
Blues DVDs
Masked Marvel CDs
Blues Internet Mags
Blues Video Clips
Streaming The Blues
Blues Masters
Blues Guitar
Blues Anthology
Blues Paintings
Blues Pilgrimage
Blues Courses
Best of British Blues
Top Twenty Blues
Contributors
Blues Books
Blues Mall
Old Blues Adverts
Our Blues Links
Visitor Links
References
Blues Researchers
Cumbria Blues
Lancashire Blues
Lancashire Bands
Lancashire Links
North East England
The Midlands
Southern England
Scotland
Hall of Fame
Resting Places
Blues Recipies
Messages
Guest Book
Blues Forum
What's New
Coming Soon
Search Me!
Search Google




Hero. Legend. Good Bloke.
John Peel OBE, 1939 - 2004

Red Lick Records



 

 

Early Blues Interview
Dale Storr - New Orleans Style pianist

_________________________________________________________________________

  'Dale is one of the best New Orleans players I've ever seen' - Richard Hawley

   .........'I've seen Mac's (Dr. John's) Shadow' - David Barard, Bass player for Dr. John
_________________________________________________________________________

 Copyright 2009 Paul Cantrell. All Rights Reserved.Alan:  What are your first musical memories growing up in rural Lincolnshire? 

Dale:  I always grew up around music, it seemed like the whole family was musical in some way. My parents were always playing their vinyl records which was all Country, Rock n' Roll music, Early Elvis, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Chet Atkins, Floyd Cramer etc. But I also recall there always being Irish folk music played and sang a great deal, that would become an influence on some of my later self penned material. My parents can both sing and my Mother could play piano/organ a little. She initially taught me to read music. My cousin was also in a band as early as I can remember. He  plays guitar and he used to play me all sorts of music and took me to see loads of bands later on. Without a doubt though it was my parents record collection of Rock n' Roll that had me buzzing as a kid. 

Alan:  Did you always want to become a musician? 

Dale:  Yes. I honestly think I did. My cousin was a good guitar player and was probably a big influence on me wanting to play live. I was never content to play air guitar in front of the mirror for long, I had to learn what the people on the records were actually doing. 

Alan:  How did you get started in music? 

Dale:  Well my earliest memory is learning some old piece on the piano at my Gran's house. She had a beautiful upright piano in her front (best) room and she showed me this tune which I played to death. I also started playing my brother's drums while he was out of the house. He had a spell as a drummer and I remember my cousin again, saying how my timing was spot on. My cousin also tried teaching me guitar at some point but I never took to it even though I loved listening to guitar based songs. Then when I was about 5 or 6 my Mother bought an electric organ, with the bass pedals etc and it was me that was never off it. My Gran's early piano schooling was rekindled and my parents realised I had a natural ability on the keys to just listen to their records and learn them by ear quite quickly. It really went from there. I became pretty obsessed with the piano. I did have a few years of lessons but it never really did anything for me, so to this day I've pretty much taught myself everything. 

 Copyright 2009 Paul Cantrell. All Rights Reserved.

Alan:  Was the piano your first instrument? 

Dale:  I think I've pretty much answered that in the previous question....But yes going back to when I was able to reach the keys on my Gran's piano, then going through drums, guitar and eventually staying with the Piano from the age of six, I'd say the Piano was always my first instrument. 

Alan:  What kind of material were you playing in the early days? 

Dale:  I always remember copying the 12 bar Rock n' Roll riffs from my parents records, e.g. Chuck Berry's guitar riffs which I later learnt came from Johnnie Johnson's piano riffs, but I also was quite open to lots of other music as a kid. When I was playing the organ a lot I used to play old standards, waltzes, old time dance tunes. I never really dug any of that though. My parents have a video of me playing in the local WMC when I was about 8 or 9, covering Spanish Eyes, Tennessee Waltz etc. Very embarrassing indeed!! However, it was always the infectious rockin' piano of Jerry Lee and Co that I always tried to copy early on. 

Alan:  Your emerging talent grew during your schooldays, tell me a little about your journey. 

Dale:  It was a little difficult at school because it was certainly not considered 'cool' to play an instrument, let alone play the kind of music that I was really into. I was kind of forced into the school house music competitions which was mainly based around classical music. I entered in the solo instrumental playing an electric keyboard which was frowned upon. I played pop songs like Erasure purely because all the kids were into them at the time, and I won 1st prize both years I entered on 'natural music ability'. I never entered after that or took music at school. I just decided to carry on my own musical learnings/journey at home away from my peers. 

Alan:  What first attracted you to New Orleans music? 

Dale:  That credit has to go to Jools Holland. I saw The Tube when I was quite young and heard Jools playing a style of piano I'd never heard before but it excited the hell out of me. I then sought out Jools Holland recordings and discovered that he kept mentioning a character called Dr. John, a New Orleans pianist/singer/songwriter who had influenced him. It was only when I looked into Dr. John and heard his playing that it hit me like a ton of bricks. I have never looked back since first hearing Mac (Dr. John) . New Orleans music has from that day forth been my absolute passion. It makes me truly happy. 

Alan:  Who are your favourite artists (both old and new)? 

Dale:  The list is endless but my favourite Pianists include James Carroll Booker III, Dr. John, Allen Toussaint, Professor Longhair, Fats Domino, Tuts Washington, Huey Smith, Amos Milburn, Albert Ammons, Oscar Peterson etc and newer ones like Jools Holland, Harry Connick Jr, Henry Butler and Jon Cleary. I also love Jimmy McGriff, Jimmy Smith, Booker T Jones for Hammond Organ stuff. Guitar players Jimmy Vaughan, Duke Robillard, Ronnie earl, Freddie King and newer ones I have the great pleasure of working with include Alan Nimmo and Frank White. 

Alan:  Who has influenced you the most in your music writing and playing? 

Dale:  Dr.John I guess shaped most of my playing from my teens and was and still is a massive influence but through Dr.John I discovered James Booker. When I first heard his playing it was like an epiphany feeling, Like everything I'd always wanted to hear from the Piano but never had. All my playing is now heavily influenced by Booker and when I write anything or rearrange a popular tune , I always think how would Booker do this? 

Alan:  You have played with many blues performers, you must have some fond memories, tell me a little about them. 

Dale:  I have some great funny stories from when I toured Europe extensively with Eugene Hideaway Bridges, however they must remain firmly under wraps. Fond memories with Eugene include supporting Duke Robillard in Belgium at a huge festival. The Trumpet player, Sax player and myself  managed to get on stage next to the drummer during his whole set jiving away with the Duke. Another great night with Eugene was at a blues festival in Bremen where we were joined on stage by Phil Guy and we rocked the place all night. The band were on fire that night. I have many fond memories playing with Alan Nimmo, Rocky Athas, Frank White, Earl Thomas,  etc. I feel very lucky that I have had the opportunity to play with these great musicians and singers. 

 Copyright 2009 Paul Cantrell. All Rights Reserved.
King King featuring Alan Nimmo

Alan:  When did you decide to go solo? 

Dale:  I've wanted to go solo playing New Orleans Rn'B for about 15 years but I have never had the confidence to do it. Nearly 2 years ago my good friend Bob Swift phoned me up while I was in the pub to say he had was fed up of me talking about it and that he had booked me a night at a venue in Sheffield. I had about 2 months notice and was terrified. I learnt enough material to just cover 2 sets. It was all instrumental. I was thinking no one would turn up. We went for a beer to calm my nerves and when we arrived back at the venue for the first set the place was packed. I was awe struck and very humbled. It was a great night and a personal achievement . I've never looked back since then and am now on a massive learning curve. Fronting is a whole different ball game to being a side man. 

Alan:  You recently added another dimension to your music by adding vocals, how are you doing? 

Dale:  The vocals was something I was forced into. I couldn't sustain the solo thing by just playing instrumentals so I had to bring in vocals. I've been having lessons with a great vocal coach in Sheffield called Ali Cook, but I also know a lot of it is down to experience so I have along way to go on the vocals front yet. I've had loads of encouragement from musicians and fans alike and I do know that it is getting better slowly but surely. I just wish I'd have started singing earlier. The one thing it has definitely done though is completely transform the show from being a 'piano player in the corner' to being a full on New Orleans blues review. It's much more of a 'show' now. I have a great Trumpet player, Ian Sanderson, from Sheffield who really makes that New Orleans sound and I'm also adding a rhythm section very soon so watch this space. 

 Copyright 2009 Paul Cantrell. All Rights Reserved.
Dale with Ian Sanderson

Alan:  Are there any particular songs that you play that have special meaning to you? 

Dale:  Yes. 'A Taste Of Honey'. I went through a bit of a bad patch about seven years ago and when I listened to James Booker's version of that song it honestly helped me through that time. It was a big deal the night I first got to play Booker's version of Taste of Honey and it was and still is a big crowd pleaser. It's a very emotional tune. There is a video on YouTube of me playing it early on when I first started playing solo. 

Click here for the YouTube video of Dale playing A Taste of Honey

Alan:  You are now based in Sheffield, what is the blues scene like there? 

Dale:  I have been in Sheffield for 17 years now, all my adult life, and it's a great place to live and play. There's always been a good blues scene here and there are a great many musicians who play blues in the city. Frank White has been a major influence on most of them and he still continues to play and sing his heart out around steel city venues. It's a shame there is not a dedicated Blues/Jazz club in a city of it's size. The Boardwalk puts on the biggest names in blues but most nights you can find some gems playing in back street boozers, people like Billy Martin Jr , a great blues style singer/songwriter/guitarist and story teller , who are not really known out of Sheffield. 

Alan:  Tell me about the making of your solo EP album 'Qualified'. 

Dale:  'Qualified' was really an experiment. A first attempt at a professional solo recording. My vocals was very much in it's infancy when I recorded the EP but I suppose there is a never a perfect time to record so I went ahead with it because I needed a product that represented me. It's a five track EP, 3 covers and 2 originals. It's just myself on Piano/Vocals and Ian Sanderson on Trumpet. Kevin Thorpe from the very successful 'Out Of The Blue' recorded it for me at his Swanyard Studio in Retford, Notts so I had a wealth of experience on my side with Kev. The title track Qualified is a Dr.John funk number I've messed with for years. A local journalist pointed out the connotations of the title meaning I felt I was ready or qualified to make the solo leap. I released it under my own label Junco Records and all in all it was a great learning experience making it. 

Alan:  Some music styles may be fads but the blues is always with us. Why do you think that is? 

Dale:  I think because it's probably the earliest popular style of music (aside from classical) and it's the music that most other styles of music came from. You can pretty much take any music these days and trace it back like a family tree and you will arrive back at the blues. It is an infectious style that can make you cry, laugh, dance etc. I think you can really express how you are feeling more with the Blues than any other form of music, which obviously in turn connects better with an audience. 

Alan:  How do you see the future of New Orleans style of music? 

Dale:  I'm not sure really. I would dare say New Orleans music has never really been main stream but you do hear it in all walks of life. A lot of Allen Toussaint's music has been covered recently by Pop bands and adverts etc. which is encouraging. Everyone I've met who has been to New Orleans has come back loving the place and the music. It is a very infectious style and you can't help but smile and tap your feet to it. I see it a lot on my solo gigs, people who have never heard the music before are becoming ardent fans. I would like to spread the word more in the UK with a hot band and keep New Orleans music very much up there where it belongs. 

Alan:  What are your future plans / gigs / tours / albums? 

Dale:  Basically to keep improving the show and my vocals is paramount. My plans at the moment involve putting a full band together and taking it to a new level. The nucleus will still be myself and Ian but I'm hoping to add drums/bass and possibly a second horn. I think it would be a breath of fresh air on the blues/jazz scene and would be something different to see from all the excellent guitar based bands out there. I'm very excited about how I know it could sound but at the moment it's in my head. Finding the right musicians to pull the New Orleans style off is the tricky part. As soon as the right line up is together I want to go back to the studio and record a new EP with a full band and if that works I would look at recording a full album in the not to distant future. Besides all that I am still touring with the great KingKing feat. Alan Nimmo and gigging with my old mentor Frank White in and around Sheffield. 

Alan:  Thank you so much Dale, I really appreciate your time. 

Alan White
www.earlyblues.com

 

 

www.myspace.com/dalestorr

YouTube video of Dale playing Radiatin' the 88's

YouTube video of King King (featuring Alan Nimmo) playing 'Wait on Time'
with Dale on keyboards

Thanks to Paul Cantrell for the use of the photos
Click here to view Paul's website

Return to Blues Interviews List

Website, Photos Copyright 2000-2010 Alan White. All Rights Reserved.
Text (this page) Copyright 2010 Alan White & Dale Storr. All Rights Reserved.
Photos (this page) Copyright 2010 Paul Cantrell. All Rights Reserved.
For further information please email:
alan.white@earlyblues.com

Home Page