I’m an enormous Francis Dunnery fan – and he definitely retains us rock journos on our toes together with his large and epic vary of music and dwell gigs. Over the previous forty years, Francis has written, produced and carried out with a number of the biggest artists of our technology. And this yr, we shall be getting double Frankie as he travels over from his HQ within the USA together with his Tombstone Blues Undertaking. Then there’s the It Bites tour, already promoting out for January. Extra about that later, because it’s time to get our Blues on.
Interview: Sara Harding
Dunnery isn’t any stranger to the blues, having performed guitar with the legendary Led Zep frontman Robert Plant. “I mainly received my blues training from Robert Plant,” Francis says. “He was all the time telling me ‘take heed to this artist or that from Howlin Wolf, Muddy Waters, Lightnin’ Hopkins to BB King. There may be nothing Plant doesn’t know concerning the Blues.”
Francis continues, “We had been sitting round. I used to be sporting an enormous black hat, and we got here up with the identify Tombstone Dunnery. What a fuckin’ good identify for an act. I can’t wait to simply play with this band and play conventional blues. I can sit again and simply be the musician. I’ve teamed up with some wonderful musicians for the tour and the album. I simply love BB King, and his guitar taking part in is emotive, and from one word, a narrative will be instructed.”
This newest chapter in Dunnery’s lengthy and numerous profession will see him convey his trademark songwriting and guitar expertise to the forefront of the blues style. I’ve already received my ticket on the iconic Nells in London for The Tombstone Dunnery tour, which kicks off subsequent month within the UK and shall be adopted by an album. Francis has been working arduous on the setlist and shall be debuting his slide guitar chops. “It’s actually fucking tough to play slide,” he laughs. However grasp it, he’ll.
Dunnery performs in every kind of venues, from stadiums to arenas, to iconic native halls and even our homes. My first expertise of one among these home gigs was at my late, nice good friend Geoff Banks”s suburban pad, and it was really in a kitchen. There have been 30 of us packed into his gaff, and I used to be leaning on the fridge to get a greater view.
These gigs are so intense and intimate, with a mixture of sensible phrases, wonderful anecdotes and songs from Dunnery spanning his profession. It’s music and mentorship. It was a novel expertise for me to see one among my prog heroes taking part in a stellar setlist in such a small area. “I really like taking part in these home gigs,” he says. “There may be nothing extra intimate, and I do totally different units from astrology to Tall Blonde Helicopter.”
The subsequent home gig I went to was in a really posh front room hosted by my pricey good friend Stewart Savage. I really like astrology, and this was the present for me. As Francis went by way of the star indicators, all of us took away one thing private. He related with us all by way of music, and as a Gemini, he gave me some life-changing recommendation. I can suggest it in the event you ever need to go to at least one and even host a home live performance. Plus, you get to have a look at different folks’s cribs! I’d like to host one myself, however I don’t assume my flat would match us bodacious rock journo’s.
And soooooo to It Bites. They’re nonetheless a tour de pressure and as related now as again within the ’80s after we used to stalk them as youngsters in Studying. “We solely get three days to rehearse for this It Bites tour,” Francis says. “These songs are so fucking arduous to play,” he laughs, “however I like to carry out these songs, and after we play them dwell, the entire viewers does the backing vocals.”
The variety of instances I’ve seen It Bites and sang alongside on the prime of my voice with John Beck (in addition to taking part in air keyboard). The opposite night time as I used to be prepping for this interview, I listened to the It Bites again catalogue, having fun with it a lot I used to be up just about all night time, and people songs are nonetheless my earworms 40 years later.
“All of us lived collectively, performed collectively, wrote these songs and had no fucking cash,” Francis says. This will properly have been the case, however the legacy this band left has by no means been stuffed. “I name this tour a celebration of It Bites,” Francis provides.
The London gig is already offered out, so loads of us will soar on a prepare and head to the Midlands. Possibly my boss Sir Lenny Henry can get me an affordable deal on the Premier inn?
So what”s within the stars for Francis Dunnery, I ask? “I’m simply going to proceed being me and taking part in music. I’m practically fucking 60, and I simply need to be a musician in a band.”
In order the interview attracts to a detailed, we talked a lot we didn’t even get to talk about footy. I really like Frankie’s philosophies – I may simply take heed to him all day. And I really like Frankie’s music. I may take heed to him play all night time.
Get your tickets now, and in the event you host a home gig, please invite me – I’ll even make the tea.
For Tombstone Dunnery tickets for November 2022 dates, go to https://francisdunnery.com/concert events/
Tombstone Dunnery options Francis Dunnery on guitar and vocals, Paul Brown on Bass, Quint Starkie on guitar and Phil Beaumont on drums. “We shall be taking part in eight gigs earlier than recording the album to get the songs settled in,” Francis says. “I hope you come assist us at a blues venue close to you.”
Wednesday sixteenth November – The Previous Hearth Station – Carlisle
Thursday seventeenth November – The Flowerpot – Derby
Friday 18th November – Brownie’s Bar – Bolton
Saturday nineteenth November – Buying and selling Boundaries – Fletching, East Sussex
Sunday twentieth November – The Lowther Pavillion – Lytham St Annes
Monday twenty first November – Nell’s, London
Tuesday twenty second November – Barnoldswick Music and Arts Centre
Wednesday twenty third November – Hermon Arts – Oswestry