Interviewing bands and musicians may sound like a glamorous caper but believe me, beer soaked chats in backstage stairwells, narky musos and jealous groupies are not a pretty part of the press package.
Sometimes however, a gem of an artist crosses your path and makes it all worthwhile. Ruarri Joseph is one of them. The Scottish born – Cornish based musician is a quiet-spoken, gent of a man with music and family in his heart and flip-flops on his feet. I first met Ruarri before his gig supporting Cake at the Indigo2 in London. We chatted about lime green walls, his little daughter and of course, the music that he is best recognised for. The interview and gig were a pleasure so it was with anticipation that I head to the London leg of his debut solo mini-tour of the UK.
The gig is at the Spitz – a venue now closed and silent… a topic best left for another day. Maybe the crowd is agitated, maybe they feel the need to talk about the closure over what is certainly not background music – or maybe they are just plain rude. The mix of an intimate venue and a well-stocked bar sometimes has the wrong effect on funky East Londoners.
Ruarri pulls in quite a crowd. The ‘home-grown’ followers are obvious – they sing along to every tune and glare at the chatters. They’re fiercely proud of their local gem and have every reason to be so. Ruarri smiles throughout… his band complement his laid-back nature and it’s refreshing to see a frontman minus the attitude.
With his messy hair, low slung jeans and ever-present flip-flops, Ruarri looks every bit the surfer muso. Funnily enough, he’s not. We’re treated to a number of tracks from his recently released album ‘Tales Of Grime and Grit’… ‘Won’t Work’ is a highlight, as is my personal favourite ‘Baby Finn’ – written for his daughter when she was in the womb. Most songs are accompanied by a short and personal explanation – a small insight into the world of Ruarri and an invaluable insight into the stories behind his lyrics. Joseph sings about life, simple things woven into intricate and foot-tappingly good rythms. He speaks to us through his voice and his guitar and we lap it up like children before bedtime.
‘Tales Of Grime and Grit’ echoes through the venue with beats echoing tribal times of old; this must be the tune the drummer waits for. At times, the singer’s voice rings loud and clear, backed only by the sounds of the crowd. It’s a good thing he’s blessed with a great set of vocal chords. This is the way music is meant to be.
As much as I hate to sideswipe The Spitz during its final chapter, this venue doesn’t do Ruarri justice. There’s a reason why this singer plays so many festivals… his music suits the open air and sun-filled days. Next time I vow to see Ruarri when there’s a patch of grass and a cold beer involved.
On his MySpace, Ruarri invites people to say “Hi” after a gig – “Even if it’s to tell me you think I’m shit!” On our way out we pass the musician and intend to tell him the opposite but he’s deep in conversation on his mobile. I’d like to think he was on the phone to his daughter…
This artist has talent, integrity and a genuine nature that will see him go far. Catch him when he supports the fantastic David Ford at The Shepherd’s Bush Empire in October – just keep your bloody voice down this time!