2017 – The Year of The Blacktop’s ?
Interview with a Blacktop
Well 2016 has been a pretty amazing year for The Blacktop’s.
Over an ‘Americano’ or two, I caught up with Keith and we took some time to chat over the past years events.
“Well I started January, looking at a Band Line up, just containing me” Keith said.
He remembered reluctantly having to phone and cancel all the year’s early gigs (many at short notice) while he pondered what to do next, even considering closing the Blacktop’s down altogether.
“Fortunately I had some great support and advice from many people to continue the Band” he added “and that resulted in me meeting up for a coffee with long-time friend and fellow player GB” and the rest, as they say is history.
The pair of them swiftly decided to work together towards a new four piece ‘Blacktop Deluxe’ and were delighted to quickly add Dean Kennedy on Bass.
After auditions in Feb/March, the three became four with Jamie Fyffe completing this new ‘Band of Brothers’ and so the new line up was born.
Auditions commenced straight away with the guys not only working on the material from the EP ‘Dark Horses’ and the two Album releases ‘Turn Up, Be Nice, Play Hard’ and ‘Presence & Gain’, but new material too.
So in early April the Band went into the famed ‘Cube Studio’s’ with legendary producer, Gareth Young.
“I wouldn’t go anywhere else to record” said Keith, “I’ve had great results working with Gareth and Cube both with The Blacktops’ & ‘Blue On Black’ ( Keith’s previous outfit) so it was a natural choice, to lay down the new ‘Single’ “Robinson’s Shaft” there”.
The Song, ostensibly about the hardships of mining, has universal connotations but had particularly relevance to their homeland of Cornwall, so it was not surprising that the video for the song was shot underground, at a training Mine in Cornwall.
“We were incredibly lucky to work with by the very talented Mark Guthrie and ‘Longdog Productions’ for the Video Shoot” Keith added “it was just fortunate that he had a window between his Film and TV commitments, we couldn’t have asked for better”.
The finished package (Song and Video) was released as a prelude to a new Album by the ‘Four Tops’ (destined for 2017) on October 6th and was featured as a ‘Free Download’ via the Bands Website.
Meanwhile the Guys went about the business of ‘Gigging’ with the New Line Up’s debut gig on May 6th at ‘The Union’.
“So, the rest of the year panned out incredibly well” remembered Keith, “With:-
Some wonderful and memorable gigs for the Band including appearances at :-
Chacewater Music in The Park Festival
Dereham Blues Festival
Abertillery Blues Festival. Headline the Sunday Night
Maryport Blues Festival (Four gigs on the 2016 Blues Trail)
Cambridge Rock & Blues Festival (Blues Stage)
Borough Blues Club, Cwmbran
2016 Blues/Rock Fest, Gravesend. A great line up including Stevie Nimmo
The Horn, Watford with both The Rainbreakers & The Mentulls
The Wharf, Tavistock. A double header with The Kriss Barras Band
Pete Feenstra’s Beaverwood Club. A double Header with The Marcus Malone Band.
The Limelight Theatre, Aylesbury. This resulted in a fabulous review in January’s edition of Blues In Britain.
Bottle Neck Blues Bar, Leighton Buzzard.
The culmination of talks with ‘Hamstead’ Soundworks’ team resulting in an ‘Artist’ deal for both Keith & GB involving their ‘Artist II’ amplifiers. September seeing the Guys take delivery of two Combo’s specially made of them.
The Band working very closely with a local company ‘Dash Drive’ who arranged custom transport for the new line up to all their ‘away gigs’.
And towards the end of the year, working with Rick Palin and Skyfire PR to help promote the Band”.
Phew, so quite a busy first 7 months for the new, Four Piece, Blacktop Deluxe!
As we finished our last Coffee of the day, Keith told me how much the Guys are looking forward to 2017.
“Firstly, we will be working on a new Album for release late Spring/Early Summer, but it’s just as important to try and secure many more Festival and Club dates for the year too, allowing us to bring our music to as many Friends, Old and New, as possible, so our diaries still open”.
He told me that 2017 European Festival dates are already in place (with more being negotiated via their agent Jay at BluesFarm Music Agency) and he emphasise his hopes that the Band might secure some new Festival spots in the UK this year too.
Finally, he asked me to make sure that I gave the Band’s sincere thanks to all their Friends, Supporters, Agents, Promoters and Family for helping them realise and share the ‘Blacktop’ dream in 2016 and to wish everyone, a Happy, Healthy New Year.
So from Keith, GB, Dean, Jamie and myself:
“Happy New Year and let’s make 2017 The Year of The Blacktop’s”.
Jon Gower – Hip Shot Management.