Head to the Ritzy next Sunday 26 January for Princes Among Men, a free night of rock and roll with a London twist run by local writer and DJ Garth Cartwright and featuring the David Sinclair Trio. David Sinclair is a rock critic for The Times and has written several books. Arts co-editor Barney Evison caught up with him to find out what it’s like going from critic to musician.
Please describe the David Sinclair Trio in 5 words.
London rock & roll blues.
I hear you’re currently recording in Brixton? Is it for a new album?
We’ve nearly finished recording our fourth album at Livingstone Brown’s studio in Coldharbour Lane. Paul Jones (Radio 2 Blues Show DJ) came in to play harmonica on a couple of tracks this week. And we’re hoping to get Maxi Priest in to add some vocals to a song called “Down by the Canal” which has a reggae feel. We’ve got 10 tracks recorded. Livingstone is going out to Jamaica in a couple of weeks and he’ll be mixing the album at his Mango Walk Studio in Montego Bay. I may have to go out there and see how he’s getting on!
What do you think of Brixton’s music scene? Are we a good crowd?
You’ve got your own money, your own cuisine, a definite vibe. It’s more than a postcode – it’s the people’s republic of Brixtonia. We’ve played the Windmill in Blenheim Gardens and the Cavendish Arms down the road in Stockwell. Always a good night out. I’m really looking forward to playing Upstairs at The Ritzy on Sunday. It’s a cool place to hang. A lot of history. A lot of great music.
Do you apply your music critic’s ear to your own music?
I try to be kind to myself! The great thing about my job is that I get to see and hear so much amazing music. I’ve seen almost every great band since the Jimi Hendrix Experience (I missed the Beatles and Nirvana). So I’m always picking up ideas and moves from acts that I’d maybe never have checked out if I’d only followed my own tastes.
You and Garth, who runs the show, could be like a supergroup of music critics. What would your supergroup be?
Well, Garth Cartwright is big on Roma and Gypsy music from Eastern Europe and elsewhere. If you check out his book “Princes Amongst Men” you’ll find a supergroup of gypsy musicians in there. My own supergroup would include: Hendrix (guitar), Miles Davis (trumpet), Mick Jagger (vox), Don Was (bass), Vinnie Colaiuta (drums), and Paul Jones (harp) – of course!
What’s the worst thing that you’ve ever written about a band as a critic?
You try not to be too discouraging. But sometimes it’s hard to find the positives. Stern words were said about Westlife at Earls Court, I seem to remember. And I don’t suppose I’ll be on Donny & Marie Osmond’s Christmas list after my review of them (£) at the O2 Arena.
Which rock song do you wish you’d written?
“Waterloo Sunset”. Although the royalties from “Mull of Kintyre” would have been helpful!
Thanks for your time David. You can watch the David Sinclair Trio in action, with DJ sets from Garth Cartwright, from 8pm on Sunday 26 January.