STEVE CUNNINGHAM REPLIES TO YOUR QUESTIONS..and how!
He's provided us with a wealth of in-depth answers. Thanks, Steve!
Good morning all - thank you for this opportunity to answer some of your questions, of which I have read over the past few days and now weeks.
Just to say it’s been a great joy recalling some of the memories related to your questions. It’s currently 7.04 am Washington DC time as I’m up and about; waking around 4am. Don’t know why must be a body clock thing. I will continue throughout the weeks. Ok so here goes Barry first and see how it goes.
OK, Steve, I'll go first.
1. Did you feel any pressure to replace Rod on bass in the band, especially in concert?
A little back ground...
I had been playing in lots of local Newcastle based bands from around the age of 14 mainly in working men’s clubs with country and western outfits (literally!!) Several pop outfits a folk rock band called Badger in the Bag the list goes on. The years from 14-21 I started to get right into all styles of music; exploring bass players like Jaco Pastorious, Donald (duck) Dunn, Mark King, Pino Palidino to name a few and there styles were extremely varied. At around the age of 24 I got the gig with Lindisfarne (of which I will elaborate on in a later question).
Q1. In the early beginnings yes without a doubt, I was very excited at getting this gig, being younger and quite shy really I had lots to learn very quickly, most of the band had 20 years or so on me experience wise and were very tight knit in all aspects of the band. Rod had a very distinctive sound and solid style that locked with Ray like a well oiled machine and had played for a lot of years together. It did take some time to settle but I had played as part of a rhythm section numerous times with ray before so that part was the easy bit and he kept me right. When listening to the albums to learn the parts, I spent most of my time just figuring the notes out in time for the rehearsals, anything I hadn’t heard before Rod would show me and I would mimic. I learnt very early on not to try anything adventurous as the odd glare from Alan who was still coming to terms with this arrangement and the odd word from Rod addressed that. I remember in one of the early Maggie bank rehearsal Rod saying to me “This is not a country and western song play the notes longer” the song was Meet me on the corner.
. 2. You seem to travel all around the globe, to some very exotic places. I've noticed a few trips to Israel. Is this all for session work and/or concerts? Can you elaborate on some of the experiences? How often does your family get to accompany you?
Q2. Most of my work these days involves me recording audio whether it be in a documenty or music production for TV. I have had lots of great times doing this work and to be fair I feel I currently have the best job in the whole world for me.
As “Bob from the sooth” states I work for God.tv a global Christian Broadcast ministry of which my title is Sound and Production outside Broadcast Supervisor. God.tv’s Broadcast HQ are based in Jerusalem, I travel to Israel around 3-4 times a year to record and mix live TV production, we have done several big concerts there; last year we held a concert for 1800 people at the Davidson centre right next to the western wall..(Wailing Wall) a great night with a solo violinist an opera act and a band from Australian Reuben Morgan. Most of the work we do is a logistical nightmare but it gives me something to get me out of bed in the morning. I travel to Africa quite regularly as we have several transmitter sites there and various Humanitarian relief programs that we document including Water drilling projects, hospice and orphanages.
I was out in the bush last year in Tanzania recording and the massai tribe that we were documenting when they started one of their tribal performances, I could hear this blues harp in the background of the chants and shouting and jumping.......funny Jacka did come to mind. The groove they were generating was mind blowing; but where is this blue harp coming from? I seen two of the young men of the tribe as they are leaping in sync around 2 feet of the floor and they both had these huge chromatic harmonicas in their mouths sucking and blowing while creating that tribal chant amazing it was the real deal. I will take the audio from that recording someday soon and build a big dance track from it.
My family doesn’t travel as much as I would like; I have taken my sons to work on several occasions the youngest Zak really enjoys the work and he spent most of the summer with me last year.
3. Do any CD-R's exist for Cunningham, Proud & Denholm, and if so, who would one go about getting one?
Q3. We recorded around 12 tracks that Dave was involved in; I have all of the recordings on DAT and CD-R. Lee and I wrote around 40 tunes in the 4 years we worked together of which all arrangements and demos exist. I was thinking recently about putting together a compilation album. So yes you can get a copy. It has been several years since I last listened to them.
From Craig Johnson:
Hi Steve, cheers for doing this
1: Do you still gig or record today, and if so, who with?
Q1. Sadly I gig once in a blue moon; due to my work schedule I do find it hard to commit to a regular band. I occasionally do the odd gig when either Ray or Billy invites me. I did the launch gig of Devils Ground for Billy and the Hull Story for Ray, I also Played on the Happy cats Take my hand album. A few years ago I did some demos with Beverly Marty’s daughter that was a good project to work on. I do miss playing live and look forward to the next opportunity.
2: Did you follow the band after Hully's passing, and what were your thoughts on it?
Q.2 I didn’t follow the band at all to be honest although It must have been very hard for the guys and well done to them for keeping it going as long as they could. At that time I was putting in all my efforts in to The Proud ones and I didn’t speak to any of the guys after the funeral. Alan’s passing was a big shock. Over the few years I was around I did build a good relationship with Alan especially when setting up his home studio; Sea view studios and introducing him to the new digital technology much to my frustration when receiving calls all hours of day and night asking “what do I need to do to record or hear my instruments/tape play back” as he had an idea that he needed to start or be complete. That was lots of fun and a really good time.
That whole period was an odd one for me I had been away from the band for 2 years or so, I did however keep in touch with Kenny Craddock, the next time I seen Ray Jacka and Billy was at Kenny’s funeral a very sad day for me.
3: What was your favourite Lindisfarne album?
Q3. Nicely out of Tune good songs with a raw straight forward production. Love it!
4: I've always enjoyed your bass playing since I started listening to the band, particularly on All Fall Down at the Hull Story. Sort of similar to Barry's question, but did you want to stick to the same sort of bass playing Rod had made his own for the two decades previous, or were you keen to put your own slant on particular songs?
Q4. Hey thanks greatly appreciated. Yes I did love playing that tune as well; it had a great lilt to the 6/8 time signature. I think my understated solid style (so I’m told) was developed by just needing to keep it simple. Rods bass choice of notes and sound was a huge contributing factor to the overall Lindisfarne sound, I just wanted to get as close as I could to the original. There was plenty going on with Rod now adding his slide and 12 string sounds. The reality was the wheel didn’t need to be reinvented.
From Bob of the Sooth:
Steve, got various questions- All short ones !
1. Do you still work for the God channel. Would that mean you have a Christian faith? Did working with
Lindisfarne ever cause a problem with any expression of your faith?
Q1a. Yes I do still work for God tv I did take a year away from it 05-06 to teach music technology at Middleborough College. I needed the break desperately.
Q1b. Yes I do have a Christian faith and that has grown in strength over the years as I have got older and travelled the globe. I have witness a lot of what I feel to be true Miracles in Africa especially as most the areas I visit have very little other than faith
Q1c. No not at all it never came into it, however I do remember some late night conversations with Alan and Kenny, I was brought up in a Church of England environment, I left the church around the age of 15 due to the hypocrisy of that particular church and to be fair at 15 you know all the answers....right!? I didn’t really start to get back to my faith until the end of The Proud Ones.
2. Do you have a favorite track from the Dance your life away album?
Q2. If I had to choose one it would have to be Love on the run
3. I think the happy cats album excellent- what were your experiences from playing on it?
Q3. The Happy cats session; Well it was great fun the Happy cats really are “Happy cats” the session was effortless lots of laughter and expensive coffee from Tony’s machine which was just as well because I had been called away re Godtv on a 10day tour of Africa starting in Johannesburg then heading to, Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya, Zambia.
When I arrived home Pauline my wife said Marty called and you have a session at the Cluny studios tomorrow 9am, what!!!!? I was wrecked as you could imagine. I asked her to try and delay by a day or so but the studio was scheduled and really I needed to just turn up and get it sorted. Well I really wanted to play on the session so sleep would have to wait.
I did have a copy of the demos prior so had a feel of what was required. When I arrived at the studio all the tracks were chord charted and Marty and Les guided me through to what they wanted to hear. I did 2 or 3 takes per song and moved on to the next tune, half the album before lunch second half after lunch, how civilized.
The surprise for me was Brian’s tune a lovely theme of which I wasn’t expecting to play on. We had some time and he asked if I would have a go “for sure” it sounds like an opportunity to dust down the fretless. This instrument had not been out of the case for 10years “hope the strings are ok?” A quick tune up and off we go; a few takes later and a few drop in’s all cushty.
Tony would do his magic at the mix as I later heard on the CD. We finished the day with a pint or 2 in the Cumberland Arms. Days like that just can’t get any better. Great Music, Great Friends Great Beer.........
From Chris Groom:
Can you tell us more about the Cunningham, Proud & Denholm recordings.
How did the three of you meet up? Did the trio play any live dates?
When I was working at Ray’s Hi Level studios around 92-93 ish a singer called Janie Mackenzie would pop into sing on some commercials and Lee was her friend who turned up a few time then eventually he would also sing on these 29” clips for Greggs, Metro centre and Ford the list goes on.
Janie and Lee would always be laughing and just singing great everywhere in the building and they brought a really great spirit to the place, around the same time I was Producing a band called Candleman Summer a Rock group with very interesting vocals.
I asked Janie and Lee to sing background vocals (BV’s) on a track called “Happy Hunting Baby” over a coffee lee expressed he would like to do more by himself as lead vocals, Lee was already established as a West End performer and was back home in the north east for a while singing in the notorious working men’s clubs.
We worked together on lots of different session then I created some tracks written by songwriter Paul Campbell in a dance style for both Janie and lee separately. We plugged them in London with little success.
I suggested to Lee how I would like to do some modern country music he said “yes that sounds great let’s try that I can write some Lyrics” so he sang me a few of his ideas and I started the music beds and arrangements.
At around the same time Paul Campbell and I had worked together on a album project encourage by Ray for a well known north east singer, Mick Whittaker, Janie and lee played a big part singing BV’s on the entire album. We then showcased that album a few times; the band was huge around 10-12 players. We needed a large van, Lee suggested Dave as he knew him having a van and from playing in his brother-in-laws band. Dave helped out a few times and we talked and got on really well.
I told Dave about the songs lee and I were putting together and how I was looking for a guitarist; from the conversation about music and instruments I felt confident Dave would be really good and bring something to the recordings. I asked Dave to pop down to the studio and try putting some guitar sounds on to the songs it worked out well and we continued. Dave had some good ideas and we explored them too. When working at the studio I had access to lots of good musicians and I brought in Stuart Hardy on Violin. We then started to look for gigs; we never played as a trio but we did a few dates as opening act for Lindisfarne ; Ray played drums and a friend of Dave’s Caroline (surname escapes me) Strummed out on an acoustic guitar.
Dave also started doing Backline around that time for Lindisfarne, we ran as CPD for a short time after those Lindisfarne dates then Dave decided he needed to move on. Lee and I continued writing and performing for around 4 years after that under the name The Proud ones.
Can you tell us how the gig with Lindisfarne came about? How did you get onto the band's radar? As part of that, do you know if Rod just woke up one day and decided to switch full-time to guitar, or was it more gradual?
The connection to Lindisfarne was through my English teacher at school Jed Grimes, he tried in vain I’m sure to educate me but I was a poor scholar, we ended up talking about 50’s Rock’n’Rock grooves and riffs, most of my teachers would send me to the music room as they seen I had a talent in that department and not much else going on.... Great for me my music teacher Dave Blackwell set me up with a sound on sound tape deck then later followed with a 4 track tape deck, I was in Heaven. I explored with the instruments around me; maan! I had a mini moog.
Any way I digress, Dave suggested one night that I go and see a band at the Park Hotel in Tynemouth called the Pacamax; a band that Jed played guitar in. I was very young and needed permission from the folks as the gig would finish late and I would need to stop out at another teacher’s home. They readily gave it as any encouragement to the only thing I had going was a bonus.
I got to the gig although I had done the clubs at this stage for a year or so this was well above the next few levels up some members of Lindisfarne the north east finest were playing. I was blown away “maan! What is that bass thing the bass players playing (Rod Clements on bass) I didn’t really know any of their names as I was more into Blondie and the pop punk scene at that time but still appreciated there musical style. I later find out years down the line that it was an Ampeg boy what a sound; it was thunderous. The gig was fantastic I was completely sold on the idea I need to be doing that, I wanted to play bass at that level I love the songs and tunes and the little guy at the front was very funny too.(Billy Mitchell).
Some years later Jed and I played in a trio Rockola doing 50’s, 60’s and 70’s classics like “little queenie, Willin, Willie and the hand jive etc. Jed asked if I’d fancied turning up for a rehearsal for the Pacamax as rod was going to play guitar in that band now and they were looking for a bass player...... I couldn’t get there quick enough we had a few sessions and I really love it. I never seen people having so much fun, the laughter was infectious and the music complemented it well. This was a whole new learning curve for me a much greater level than I had ever played at before and I needed to get my “chops and my shit! Together.
After a short while I settled in well and enjoying the gigs and festivals we played at especially the Rockingham Arms in Wentworth hosted by Rob Shaw. The whole travelling thing was a life for me.
So there was Ray Laidlaw Rod Clements and Marty Craggs from Lindisfarne who played in the Pacamax and around October /November time each year they would go into Rehearsals for the big shows. I was in the Maggie bank one day while they were rehearsing up stairs and Alan was on the bandit/quiz machine as he usually was must have been a lunch break,,,,
I wasn’t working at the time and thought hey I would like to go on tour maybe I could get a Job as a back liner or something with them so I went to Alan who I had met many time before at the Pacamax gigs he had also sang in the Pacamax on occasion notably his rendition of “Woolly Bully” (watch me now watch me now!!!) fantastic.
Ehhrrrr Alan like! I was wondering like! If there was any chance like! Of coming on tour with yers like? Maybe deein ya guitars or someink!” (Needs to be read with a Geordie accent) Waiting for a rejection of some kind, he responded “I son has Ray not spoken to you yet like I think we might what you to play bass!” What!!!!! No way that wasn’t the answer I was expecting.
Ray came behind Alan and got wind of the conversation looking a bit miffed and wondering what Alan may be saying, I got the impression the conversation about finding a bass player to allow Rod to move to guitar may have taken place but nothing was carved in stone and really were they going to consider this young kid to fill in the boots of Rod.
Ray asked me and I agreed obviously I had loads to learn for the 1989 tour. There was lots of pressure from my point of view not really knows how well I was doing and if I really fitted in I know it took a bit of getting used for Si Alan and Jacka but Rod was going to Play guitar, the tour came and went and I was the bass player until 94.
I know you heard 'The Cropredy Concert' CD for the first time very recently. How did that feel? What are your memories of that day?
Yes and thanks for that Michael it was really wonderful to hear that recording, I must have played it around 3 time until 2 am and the Road to Kingdome come around ten times back to back, Rods slide tone and notes were filled with fire. My bass sound was well raspy. All in all a rocking gig the sound quality and the energy was brilliant.
The things that was good for me that day was meeting and being introduced by double bass extraordinaire Danny Thompson, Gus Dudgeon was on my side of the stage for the whole show, It was great to meet Gus after all the stories I had heard over the years. Stosh the monitor engineer had organized an 18” monitor wedge for me as I never used backline that was great everything was really clear.
The same question I've asked the others: If you had to form a dream band consisting of guitar, bass, drums, keyboards and vocals, who would you choose? (You're not allowed to choose people you've played with before!). What would be your opening song and encore? (And no, you can't choose Big Bottom by Spinal Tap, even though there'd be two bass players...)
Hahahaha that’s quite a tough one but here goes
Guitar#1 BB king
Guitar#2 Carlos Alomar
Drums Tony Thompson (chic)
Keys Quincy Jones
Vocal(s) Blind boys of Alabama
Horns Tower of Power
Song #1 Lucille
Encore Amazing Grace with House of the rising sun arrangement
From Derek Walmsley:
I've a question about your role as producer/engineer for Lindisfarne from 1990-1995.
Several post-Amigos and pre-Elvis tracks have surfaced on the "Buried Treasures" compilations, "On Tap" and a B-side. These are the Hull songs "Running Man" and
"(Never Been) So Lonely", the Hull/Craggs "The One And Only" and the Clements/Craggs "Rock'n'Roll Town", all recorded around 1990/91.
Rod's "Black Rain" (later revived for "Stamping Ground") and early versions of Elvis songs "Keeping The Rage", "Old Peculiar Feeling" and "Mother Russia" were also
recorded, according to the Christmas concerts newspaper in December 1991.
The same paper also said producer Nick Tauber and remixer Walter Turbett were working on the tracks, although in the end those which were released credit yourself -
either as producer, or as engineer with Kenny Craddock producing.
(as well as remixing some "Sleepless Nights"-era tracks for "Buried Treasures") .
Hi Derek, The dates you have are probably right I can’t quite remember dates so good. I will break this down a little with the recollection I have, all of the above is correct as you state song wise. I was engineering for the band and or Kenny or engineering/ producing the recordings above. I also had the opportunity to play bass on the majority of the tracks unless Rod felt he would like too for instance the gorgeous fretless tone on Soho Square (Elvis lives on the moon) for Michael’s benefit it was Overwater.
In the 90’s the term re-mix had became very popular, Ray had asked me and Paul Campbell to have a go at remixing some of the Steve Lipson sessions, we listened to the 2” multi track masters and chose Golden Apples and another tune that escapes me for the moment we experimented with the Bell flanger on the cymbals and sparkly stuff and an Eventide Harmonizer on the vocals; in a hippy way I think it worked. They were the mixes that ended up on Buried Treasure; although Ray did state we did upset a cutting room engineer due to how we place the instrument within the stereo image but hey it wasn’t the first time or the last time that technique would been used.
Around this time the Band was involved with an old associate from the Charisma record label call Steve Weltman who assisted Ray on the management side. Steve W was encouraging the band to come up with some new and fresh material something that will still be clearly Lindisfarne but maybe address the regular production techniques’. I remember sitting in Hi-level listening to the conversations of how this new album was going to happen and demos were being presented. The guys were playing some of their home demo ideas, I had done a demo recording of the song “Day of the Jackal” at my home setup I love to experiment with good songs and rhythms basically taking a song and creating a dance track to it; reworking tempos and using selected musical phrases from the original. I think that recording will exists somewhere in a box deep in the loft.
The atmosphere was starting to become a little tense so I though hey maybe this would be a good time to play this tune.....Hahahaha the bands faces when I stuck the cassette on “what’s this “grumbles moans and general view were expressed no of which were positive I’ll leave the Geordie expression to fill in for yourself. Obviously you can’t teach old dogs new tricks. I stopped the cassette before the second verse and Steve W stepped in and said “no this is right this is what we should be doing and looking at” from a marketing point of view it would have alienated any loyal Lindisfarne fan but the point he was trying to make was right the band needed a fresh approach in the recording process.
Do you recall Nick Tauber and whether any of his production work with the band survives ?
Some weeks later I was booked to engineer the session that Nick Tauber had agreed to do. The brief was simple try and get 2 tracks recorded for master in the week and see where it goes from there. I spent a day setting up the midi and samplers with a programmer of Nick’s, we started getting drum loops and sample sounds together and building the tracks that I recorded at Sea view studios Alan’s home studio. Nick arrived and we spoke about the schedule and what he expected, the band all came in to meet him to discuss the game plan.
Setting the scene of a studio enviroment...
Now the recording studio can be the most wonderful creative beautiful places to be in the world, the days and months flyby and you think wow where did that time go (I know this well because after working 18 and even 24hour a day session for months on end for most of my early years I can verify this). On the very odd occasion it can be hostile uncomfortable and none productive environment and emotions get high. What dictates the mood? In my opinion; People.
Well I just wondered what this week was going to bring, excited by the fact I was going to be working with a named industry professional that had produced massive hits with the like of Thin Lizzy, Toyah Wilcox and Marillon. Well it should be just great right? Eh no!
For a combination of issues it was quite clear from the outset this session was not going to be a breeze in the park, the communication wasn’t great to be fair. I was quite disillusioned about the whole experience of that week and it seemed to just drag like pulling teeth. The communication between the glass of the control room and the studio floor is vitally important, when you’re sitting/standing in there for hours on end doing take after take; you as a musician/singer need guidance.
My understanding about the role of a record producer was to get to know the musicians and what they were about, at the recording stage to encourage and guide through; extract if needed the performances of which they may be many they may be few. But ultimately working as a team, have the same goal to create something the fans would like to hear. This just didn’t happen on this occasion. Nick sat at the back corner of the studio not adding too much to the session after day 3 communications between Nick and Alan was limited. I became the go between and vioce in the control room I just worked to the brief; a couple of songs on tape that could be mixed and mastered.
The mastered CD’s came back to the studio and I remember sitting in Ray’s office looking at the cover, wow a production credit, Marty made some comment later in the Maggie with regards to the credit but I though hey credit where credit is due. I went far beyond the calls of an engineer that week and if I hadn’t that recording would be somewhere within the ether. The reality maybe Nick didn’t want to put his name to it and I got it by default, however points on a record didn’t make prizes for me on this occasion. The session just went into my experience file as bad but the recording that came out of it was very good.
Have you memories of these sessions and do you have a list of the songs you recorded/produced over this period please?
Sadly I don’t have a list but I think you have listed most of them above. The memories tie in below.
Were any of the 1991 takes of "Elvis" songs significantly different from those which ended up on the Kenny Craddock produced album two years later?
The overall quality was better; sound and performances, Kenny was very good at getting great performances out of the guys he had a great way obviously there was history there Alan and Kenny had a brother like bond.
I remember travelling with Alan to Kenny’s studio in Crowhurst around 92ish I think.
This was the first time I met Kenny and I remember the meeting, he had a great sense of humor and he was an outstanding musician. The studio was in a long thin green house type arrangement and the views surrounding were fantastic, it must have been stunning to create music there all year round. Kenny and Alan had been working on some songs Alan recorded a vocal on one of the tunes. We headed back to sea view to record more songs as demos then used Rays Hi-Level to complete a bunch of songs Running man was one of the tunes that stood out.
It didn’t seem too much longer after these sessions that Kenny was approached to produce the next album “Elvis lives on the moon”. Although looking at your dates it must have been around 18 months. The album was going to be recorded in Ray’s Hi-level studios. I was booked to engineer these sessions and we had a month to complete.
Unlike the Nick Tauber session this period flew the atmosphere was great and to be expected. The studio had got some new microphones and equipment upgrading adding Dolby A to the 2” machine, Ray purchased a Hammond Organ from the Park Hotel I think; the venue where I seen some of the guys for the first time in Pacamax. We rented a baby grand and we used lots of acoustic instruments that were enhanced with use of technology from the samples and loops department. The sounds were stunning Kenny brought lots of great musical Phrases and hooks from around the world to add to the production.
All of the songs on that album for me worked exceptionally well as the music set the scene for the lyrics, the mood on the intro of Mother Russia for instance that set the scene I could have been back in Russia quite easily, the song came to Alan after we performed in Russia at the Minsk Dynamo stadium to thousands of Russians as part of the “Children of Chernobyl” benefit concert. I do remember this period as my oldest son Jake was born 2 days before we travelled to Russia. It was all a bit touch and go as he was 16 days late, few! Just made it, I think Ray was a little concerned. It was a relief for all concerned when he arrived.
You also produced "We Can Make It", Alan's last single with the band from 1994
Yes the Shipbuilding song. This song was written and recorded around the time Swans shipyards on the Tyne was coming to an inevitable closure with most of the their work being sent to the far east as it was so much cheaper to facilitate there. The song was in my mind a reminder to the blood sweat and tears that made wallsend very much what it was; the chorus was a positive and uplifting to let people know we are still here and we can make it....we still have the tools and skills etc.
We recorded the tracks at the studio in layers replacing from the guide demo recording. Ray and I put the rhythm section down together; that was always best for me then added the guitars from Rod followed by Alan’s acoustic followed by Alan and Marty’s vocals. I really wanted Stuart Hardy to play on the record as I had been working with him for a while. I really liked Stuart’s tone and choice of notes although it was a little different to the usual Lindisfarne fiddle sound produced by Rod.
I got 2 days to do the mix and travelled down to Park Gates Studios in the Crowhurst area. Very nice 128 channel SSL6000 along with all the audio processing known to man.
There have been two previous questions about Cunningham-Proud-Denholm. In addition to a CD "The Proud Ones" which appears to post-date Dave Denholm's involvement, I have the "Cunningham-Proud-Denholm" cassette which I bought in October 1994 from Gary Carverhill at Lindisfarne's Workington Carnegie gig. At that same concert, a band "Campfire" provided the support. If I remember rightly, it was yourself on bass, Ray Laidlaw on drums, Dave Denholm on acoustic guitar, a fiddle player (can't remember his name) and Lee (or Leigh) Proud on vocals. The songs performed were largely from the aforementioned cassette.
That was indeed the early days of Cunningham Proud Denholm. The songs were the demos we recorded and the cassette was in fact a demo tape we were punting. Ray gave us an opportunity to perform and we did a few days as opening act. The fiddle player was Stuart Hardy who played on “We can make it”.
I really like these country-flavoured albums. How did the partnership of yourself and Lee Proud come about and how/by who were the songs composed please ?
As motioned at the beginning my background was in country band and I enjoyed working with the instrumentation.
The songs usually came together in various forms initially with Lee singing a lyric and me putting music to it or vice versa music the n lyric . Dave brought some ideas to the pot that we would then turn in to songs.
Do you know what became of Lee ?
Lee is now a choreographer on the Billy Elliot show.
During your time with Lindisfarne did you consider yourself a 'full' member or were you always just passing through?
Hi Mick it was never really discussed or did I think about it, I always felt part of the family without a doubt and I enjoyed it while it lasted as I do with all the things I do in life, I think I was always a session musician if that makes sense. I’m not sure how many years or gig/studio sessions tokens you need to collect to reach full member status.. Should I ever get a call from Ray asking to do some more Lindisfarne gigs I would do everything possible to take part.
From Otley Bob:
1) What would you say are your favourite three tracks (any era, any artist)?
1. Amazing Grace performed by The Blind Boys of Alabama as they use the chord progression of the Animals House of the rising sun. The vocal performance is quite spine chilling
2. Try a little tenderness Otis Reading
3. Tainted Love Gloria Jones original
2) Which part of your career to date (musical or otherwise) have you enjoyed most of all, and why?
That is quite a hard one to answer as I have had a great life and widely mixed and varied career. If I was to name one thing that stood out it would have been spending weeks with Kenny Craddock working on the Elvis lives on the Moon project. That was truly a fantastic period of my life he was an amazing bloke, stunning musician. I learnt so much being around him.
3) What instruments do you currently own?
1. 1 x Cimar 4 string P bass copy
2. 1 x Ibanez Fretless
3. 1 x Telecaster bass made by Howard Sataley
4. 1 x Seagull acoustic 12 string wired as 5 or 6 string tuned various
5. 1 x Fenix telecaster 6 string guitar
6. Set of three Tablas from Mumbai
8. Rain stick from Peru
9. Roland w30 sample sequence station
10. All the rest were pawned to pay some bills lol life goes on……
4) How difficult/easy was it to leave Lindisfarne, and was it (as I understand) to spend more time with your family?
Ok Bob thanks an opportunity to rectify what’s currently on the Lindisfarne website; actually when I left it was probably to spend less time with the family as Lee and I worked very hard for the following 4 years trying to establish The Proud ones, sadly spending more time with the family wasn’t the case. Maybe people were unaware of what I was doing and that may have been an easy thing to say. Moving on from Lindisfarne seemed quite the natural progression for all of us the time was right and I need to peruse my own projects.
5) Any future plans you can share with us?
Last year I started to record my own Album project in a hotel room in Washington over a few weeks while I was working there. I had a run of lyrics that all just came to me in a week and I’m hoping to complete some time later this year. The music style is wide and varied I am not looking to pigeon hole this project it is what it is. I will post when completed on my space site. Currently I have posted some of my music for TV up there check it out: www.myspace.com/boomchangrecords.
Steve Cunningham, June 2009
Wow, what a fantastic, in depth, set of answers!
Many thanks for taking part Steve, a fascinating read. Many thanks too to artyfewnote for setting this up.
Wow! What a great set of answers!!
Many thanks to Steve for both a detailed and true set of answers. Great to know his opinions on his role in the band once Rod had moved to guitars, "The reality was the wheel didn’t need to be reinvented" seems to be the perfect summary. Particularly enjoyed the story of how he was asked to become the bass player!
Excellent answers Steve and all the best for the future both in music and elsewhere
Cheers Steve- fantastically detailed responses there which give a fascinating insight into your work within and outside Lindisfarne. A great thought-provoking read!
Enjoyed listening to your evocative clips on Myspace and I look forward to purchasing any future compilation of Cunningham-Proud-Denholm tracks (including my favourite track"Whirlpool" which I have on that well-worn promo cassette)!