Monday, June 1, 2020

DJ Interviews: Bluesman Mike Francis

Hey there everyone its your old pal DJ Dizzy here & I had the opportunity to sit down with a talented blues musician who had a lot to say regarding his musical beginnings & success. So ladies & gents I present to you Bluesman Mike Francis!

How'd you get started in music?

Can remember being in a cinema as a child when a then little known UK band called ‘The Kinks’ came to play there. Volume was deafening but that buzz has stayed with me for life. I started out playing with school friends in village halls then moved on to holiday resorts. Eventually I turned pro playing guitar for a US rock, blues and soul show touring Europe a couple of years later.

Who are your inspirations or influences?

Probably impossible to summarise easily Dizzy, but can highlight some notable references. Was very young during original British Blues boom but you never forget the first time you see and hear Cream on television. Clapton, Baker and Bruce were some serious act. Used to go to a small local Midlands club on a Sunday evening where a very early Judas Priest were regulars. A guy called Dai Shell was playing lead for the Welsh band Sassafras there one night. He changed the way I thought about and approached the guitar. Also in 2018 I recorded a US podcast about influence the legendary Tony McPhee of the Groundhogs has had on me over the years.

About 15 years ago I took a break from live performance. However during that period had been working with the late great Greg Lake. His influence along with an offer to open for Canada’s very own Matt Andersen on live shows inspired me back out there again in the duo Sisters in Grease with my nephew Andy C in 2008.

What advice would offer aspiring performers?

Unfortunately as this interview is during peak of Corona Virus that’s very simple for me to answer. To attack things head on rehearsing, writing and recording as much and however you can. Those that make hay when in the rain have plenty when the sun comes out. Covid19 will test us all but we will get through it for sure… You can only win a race if you stay in the field.

How do you set yourselves apart from other bands or singers?

In more recent years I seem to have developed a fairly unique vocal style. I’ve also been lucky enough to work with some amazing engineers that have crafted my art in a very pleasing way. Guitar wise like many a classic 1930’s Bluesmen I’ve almost totally reverted back to my childhood favourite 12 string instruments and use them for open tunings, bottleneck, slide the lot!

Back in the day I helped launch US guitar brand Charvel Jackson in Europe. This year I will be taking on a consultancy role and hopefully performing with a wonderful new UK custom built model called 12 Man by Winyard Guitars. It really does answer a whole load of questions about electric 12 string guitars and will create many exciting new tonal possibilities for me.

Any new gigs or albums in the future?

Ironically at the start of the Covid19 outbreak I was about to record my first collection in 2 years. However in this lockdown period I’ve been able to sit back and take time out to create some of my finest material ever. Naturally I cannot wait to get back into the studio and put the tracks down. On my last ‘What Side of the Cactus’ EP I worked with iconic Tears for Fears guitarist Neil Taylor and would be great to have him on board again.
Regretfully all my UK/European festivals and tour dates have been cancelled for 2020. However as it stands there are some live dates being organised right now from 2nd June 2021. God willing if I’m still around so look forward to seeing you all again then.

Special thanks to him for doing this interview & best of luck in his music so until then I'll be on my way & leaving you with a song that he did with The Rolling Stones that I hope you all enjoy so until then I'll catch you on the flipside! Stay awesome & rock n roll!

Mike Francis- Back of my hand

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