I've long been fascinated with the classical music world, every since I was poleaxed by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra under Simon Rattle. So it was always been an ambition of mine to sit down with a classical musician and get some perspective for the Lives in Music series. I owe a debt of gratitude to a great Birmingham muso, R. John Webb (aka Ryan Webb, late of Rhino and the Ranters), who suggested I talk to... Foxy. Foxy is a pal of his from Moseley, the proudly boho part of Brum.
'Foxy who?' I ask. 'Oh, I don't know his real name. But he's Classical' says Ryan. 'That can cover a lot of things. Which orchestra?' say I.
'Oh, the Rattle one' came the reply. That started my pursuit. In due course we met up in one of Moseley's nicer coffee joints and talked for hours. Clearly, I was being sized up. But in due course, Foxy, who will absolutely not tell me why he has that nickname, agreed to be interviewed. And the result is what you have here. Very precise detail is what Mark goes for. We covered an enormous range of topics. But as always in this series, if you put forty or fifty years into your craft, then you have the stories and experience.
The conversation gave me a chance to look at the life of a musician in a BIG outfit. Orchestras can run to 90 or more, so touring a band like that is a bit more than assembling a road crew. The logistics must be a nightmare. The Prince of Wales in Moseley, Birmingham has played a considerable part in this podcast episode. The Prince is a Moseley musicians' watering hole, with a long history of live music, and in whose snug we captured most of the conversation. Mark made mention of a benefit which took place in 2005. This was for the legendary Steve Ajao, who is still playing now, and whose podcast episode is here. I am indebted to Reed Alan, who filmed part of the benefit performance, and who has kindly allowed me to embed a video clip in the companion blog post for this podcast episode. Head here to watch the clip of Foxy, some 15 years ago, live in the beer garden, playing for Steve.
The Lives in Music podcasts celebrates people who have spent a lifetime in music. They may be famous; they may be people who have spent their lives working in the background for the love of it. But they all have stories.
The intro and outro music in this series comes from the great bass player Mike Hatton, who you can hear interviewed in series 1, here. 'Everything Changes' is included in his excellent 2019 album 'Bassic Salvation'.
Subscribe to the Podcast through your podcast host to automatically download each episode to your chosen device. These will then land with you first, before everyone else hears about it. If you would prefer email updates each time a podcast episode (or blog post) is published, you can subscribe to the mailing list. Head here and scroll down to the signup form.