Green Rock River Band play Graffham

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Matt Markwick returns to his home county when the Green Rock River Band open a mini-series of pre-Christmas concerts at the Empire Hall, Graffham.

Matt grew up in Lancing and was educated at the then Boundstone Community College: “It was where I got my musical grounding. It was good. At the time I was there, the music was fantastic. I live in London now. I moved a long time ago to study at Roehampton University. I did a music and biology degree.”

He now works as an acoustic consultant – but one day the hope is to give up the day job as the music takes over completely: “I met Jeremy, the banjo player, about ten years ago. Me and him started the band as a little duo playing in the pubs and clubs in London, playing old-timey Americana music, but over the years, we have built up more members, guitar player, drummer, bass player and eventually a brass section as well. It has grown into quite a large thing.”

Right from the start, as Matt says, it was a mission: to prove you didn’t need drum machines, auto tune and a microkorg to have a rocking time: “Musically we cover all genres from bluegrass to country, tinged with jazz and everything in between, like music hall and vaudeville. It is quite old-fashioned music, but hopefully in a modern, interesting way. But clearly musically it works!

“We do recording as well. We recorded our first album last year, called Rhinoceros. Rhinoceros is a strong statement and a strong animal. We thought it summed up what it was all about, power and majesty combined with a bit of humour! We have done a couple of EPs before that over the last five years or so. We are looking to record our second album at some point. As I say, we dabbled in smaller recordings. We have done the three EPs, but this was the first full album to showcase the full line-up with the brass as well.”

Now they will be looking to refine things a little for the second album when it comes.

“For the second album, we are looking to be more focussed. The last album was very, very eclectic. We were interested in experimenting with lots of different styles. For the next one, we are looking to focus it down a bit and to make it all a bit more coherent. Maybe it will just be a concentration on the good stuff. You have always got to think that there is always room for improvement.”

Ultimately, the aim is to go full-time.

“That would be great. For the moment, we are doing our best to get as many people to listen to us possible.”

Their date in West Sussex comes through a hook-up with Applause Rural Touring: “We have been touring around London pretty much constantly for the last ten years. We have built up a pretty solid following. We just thought it would be good to take the music outside London to places where they really listen to folk!”

The band play the Empire Hall, Graffham on Saturday, September 19, 8pm; tickets from jimkirke@hotmail.com or 01798 867026. hen come Los Pacaminos on Saturday, October 17, offering Border, Tex-Mex and Americana. Doors and bar open 7.30pm; performance 8pm; tickets £17 from www.rootsaroundtheworld.com.

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