Gary Fletcher with Tom Leary: Blues Band bassist brings more than the blues + Malcolm MacWatt

Date/Time Sun 05 Mar 2023 8:00 PM

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Gary Fletcher got the job in his first band on the basis of knowing no more than the riff to Willie Dixon’s Spoonful. He’s best known as the bass player of The Blues Band, who he says “finally parked the van” at the end of 2022.  Meanwhile, his parallel solo work has been closer to folk and Americana.

Growing up in South London it all started when Gary started to play around with his sister’s humble Spanish guitar. Though left handed and unaware that guitars were ‘handed’ he didn’t let the fact that the instrument was a right handed one stand in his way, and to this day plays a guitar strung for normal right hand use – left handed, i.e. upside down. Trivia fans will be able to list other guitarists who took a similar path.

Gary met Dave Kelly (who’s played for us a couple of times) when they both played in a band put together by Wilgar Campbell, the ex-Rory Gallagher drummer, called The Wildcats.  He then played bass on a track on Dave’s Willing album and was suggested by Dave for the bass job when, together with Paul Jones & Tom McGuinesss (ex of Manfred Mann), plus ex John Mayall/Eric Clapton drummer Hughie Flint, The Blues Band first got together.  The success of The Blues Band was almost instantaneous and they were soon playing to packed houses, releasing their first album, appearing on TV and radio regularly, including the celebrated Euro-wide Rockpalast, and headlining at Glastonbury.

Concurrent with The Blues Band Gary has continued to write and record his own material and has contributed songs to records by other artists. His ‘pop’ side project The Relatives released the enigmatic ‘Feud of Love’ album in 1997 although the record had been in the making since the early ‘90s! He has also performed with and written for The Dave Kelly Band and Christine Collister, Dave Kelly & The Travelling Gentlemen.  A couple of songs sung by Gary are a regular feature of The Blues Band’s shows and led to Gary being asked to play solo, duo (with Tom Leary from Lindisfarne and Feast of Fiddles) and GF Band sets at festivals and clubs.

Malcolm MacWatt was raised listening to the folklore and music of Scotland. His love for the outdoors saw him spending much of his life as a keen hillwalker, snowboarder and surfer; learning first hand that the Highlands are beautiful and uplifting but unforgivingly harsh if taken for granted.

Hailing from Morayshire with the Highlands and North Sea as a constant backdrop, the songwriter and multi-instrumentalist is a unique voice in British Folk/Americana with the likes of Gretchen Peters, Laura Cantrell, Jaimee Harris, Eliza Carthy and Kris Drever lending their names and voices to his recent work.

Like many other young men from the area he worked on the offshore oil rigs where the power of the North Sea was a constant reminder to remain humble in the face of nature. Later, as a newspaper journalist he reported on local topics including the criminal courts and social issues. As such there’s sensitivity, compassion and humanity in his songwriting with a rugged simplicity and directness in how they are delivered.

A multi-instrumentalist, MacWatt has been releasing music since late 2018 with four albums and three EPs to date.

“I’ve had a lifelong love of American music and culture. At the same time as those US influences were coming through the TV and radio I was also being steeped in Scottish folk tales and traditional music. So I’ve always been fascinated by music with Trans-Atlantic connections.”