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Shakin’ Stevens: Echoes of our times in Essex

PUBLISHED: 12:22 27 March 2017

EXG APR 17 Art Interview

EXG APR 17 Art Interview

GRAHAM FLACK 07747 015131

A platinum-selling household name with 33 hit singles and four number ones to his name, Shakin’ Stevens has a musical career spanning five decades. Here he talks to Kate Everett about his latest tour

EXG APR 17 Art Interview  EXG APR 17 Art Interview

As one of the biggest selling artists of the 1980s, few people will be unaware of the work of Shakin’ Stevens, including hits such as This Ole House, Green Door and Merry Christmas Everyone. In the ensuing years, he has continued to tour, write and record new material, and in 2016 he released his 12th studio album, a personal narrative inspired by his own family history, and arguably the most intimate and poignant piece of work in his career so far.

‘I got to a time in my life when I realised I didn’t know much about my family,’ says Shaky. ‘I’m the youngest of 13 children and I grew up at a time when you didn’t ask questions, you didn’t talk about the past and children were seen and not heard. It was only when I started researching my family history that I uncovered these stories that were so fascinating and touching that I felt moved to put them into words and music.’

The new album, Echoes of Our Times, is a narrative of many of those stories, blending blues, roots, Americana and classic rock, and chronicling his great-grandfather’s gruelling work in Cornish copper mines from the age of ten, his grandmother Florence’s inspiring work with the Salvation Army and the tragic impact of World War I on his father and uncle.

‘It’s a fabulous piece of history,’ says Shaky. ‘We went back more than 150 years and physically explored many of the locations, so it’s been an incredibly personal experience. It felt right to give it a blues feel, and I’m very proud of the album and the story it tells.’

Now, aged 68, the singer has embarked on his biggest tour to date, including a visit to Essex this month, and he promises something for fans old and new. He explains: ‘It’s an incredible show. The tour set includes tracks from Echoes of Our Times, a few of the hits but as you’ve never heard them before, and a few surprises along the way.

‘We have the most amazing live band on the tour, including two female backing singers, guitars, a banjo, squeeze box, saxophone, mandolin, harmonica and trumpet. The sound is exceptional and as well as lifelong fans it’s bringing in a new audience who can relate to the instrumentation, lyrics and style. I’ve spent my whole life doing something I love, and to still be writing, touring and sharing something I’m so proud of is an honour.’

See the show

See Echoes of Our Times at the Cliffs Pavilion, Southend on Sea on Tuesday, April 18.

Visit www.southendtheatres.org.uk or call the box office on 01702 351135.

Buy the album

The Echoes of Our Times ten-track album is available as a digipack or collector’s special edition, including a 24-page book with images and words describing the tracks.

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