Interview – Dale Storr

May 15, 2012 in Uncategorized

Here's a letter we received from keyboard player and singer Dale Storr, originally featured in Issue 120. After twenty years of playing New Orleans style music, he has gone through a period of transition, from bandleader to soloist and has now emerged in a duo with Kim Mayhew, the saxophonist, to whom he is engaged.

I’ve been gigging since 1992 and yet 2011 has been a real learning curve for me. After playing with various bands on the blues scene for the last twenty years I decided, with a helping hand from my mate Bob Swift, to go out solo playing the music from the city that’s at my heart, New Orleans. My biggest influences have always been Dr.John, James Booker, Allen Toussaint, Huey Smith, Professor Longhair, Fats Domino etc and in 1998 Bob booked me a solo gig in my home city of Sheffield. I played two hours of New Orleans piano instrumentals to a packed house and it went down a storm! Following that gig I decided to concentrate my efforts on my New Orleans show. 2009 saw me introduce vocals and also Ian Sanderson on trumpet. An EP, Qualified, followed recorded by the late great Kevin Thorpe and we ended up playing various festivals and gigs across the country.

During 2010 I wanted a band to deliver the New Orleans sound I had in my head. My long time friend Dave Raeburn was my first choice for drummers. On bass I initially used Jeremy Meek from the amazing Paul Carrack’s band and then later Chris Chapman. Joining Ian in the horn section was outstanding saxophonist Kim Mayhew, which really added to the sound I wanted. The band kind of defaulted onto the blues circuit and we played our first official band gig at Carlisle blues festival 2010. At the same time we brought out a band EP, Movin’ On.

New Orleans music is a diverse melting pot of different styles incorporating Blues, Jazz, Funk, Latin and even Classical whilst always underpinned with the New Orleans street beat, the Second Line. For musicians who are not used to the music of the Big Easy it can be a little disconcerting and difficult to get your head around. For me, the band went onto the scene without enough preparation and my main fear was that it would quickly turn into just another blues and rock ‘n’ roll band. As time has gone on the band has definitely improved and grown and members have tried hard to get to grips with the style.

However, it was still leaning towards more straight-ahead blues and I felt it was taking me away from the New Orleans piano shows I’d set out to do.

Consequently I’ve had to have a rethink on the band and coupled with other members commitments to other projects, I’ve decided to once again concentrate my efforts on my solo or duo show. I won’t be shelving the band altogether. At some point soon I’ll be looking at the line up and how we can create more of an authentic New Orleans sound. For the time being though and the immediate future, I’m booking out my duo which consists of myself on piano and vocals and my now fiancée Kim Mayhew on saxophone (we’re due to wed in 2012). Kim has a great understanding of New Orleans music and is into a lot of the same artists as I am. We went to see Allen Toussaint solo recently at Camden’s Jazz Café and it reconfirmed to me that I should be concentrating on the solo show. I‘ve always known that ‘solo showcases piano best’ and to be honest I get most musical satisfaction out of playing solo or as a duo. So all that said, what can you expect from us? Well, there is still plenty of blues in there, but New Orleans music for me is so diverse that playing solo enables us to throw in loads that people wouldn’t normally expect. I often start off a show with some old style Latin or Classically influenced tunes. That might be followed up with some 50’s R’n’B à la Fats Domino, Huey Smith, Lee Dorsey or Ernie K. Doe. There are boogie instrumentals like Swanee River as well as my own compositions. Other more famous tunes like The Godfather theme or A Taste Of Honey played in the style of James Booker are also really popular on the solo shows. Whatever the set is on the night, I always try to make it different and interesting to the listener usually by the end culminating in some up tempo Big Joe Turner or Robert Parker foot tappers. We are currently in the process of recording a full album, which may be released with a little luck before the year is out. It will be a mixture of covers and self-penned material but should really showcase what we do. So that’s it, Kim and I are on the road bringing a slice of authentic New Orleans Piano Blues with us. Hope to see y’all at a gig soon.

All the best!

Dale

Check out Dale's web site for more info and tour dates.

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Comments (3)

 

  1. Tim Aves says:

    Nicely put Dale. As you know, I’ve always admired what you are doing and where you are going with the N’Awlins thing.
    It’s so heartening to hear a musician who not only knows exactly what he wants, but has the talent and the single-mindedness to stick to his guns.
    Good luck to you and Kim, in both your musical and personal lives!

  2. Geoff Johnson says:

    I have to agree with Tim. I loved your playing (and singing) when you did a gig for us a while back at the Beat Roots club that we used to run in Maldon. Looking forward to seeing you again when you get back to our neck of the woods. All the best for the future.

    Geoff Johnson (The Swamp Cats).

  3. Dom Pipkin says:

    I am right behind what Dale is about, and respect his decisions regarding his band. Dale – I was at that Toussaint gig too! My good friend DJ Lil’ Koko reviewed it for this very magazine. We were hollering at the front.

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