Wind of change for harmonica
WHEN it comes to playing the humble harmonica, there's not a lot that Steve Lockwood doesn't know.
It was an instrument he loved so much that he studied it to degree level at APU (now Anglia Ruskin University) in Cambridge and was even the subject of a question on University Challengeabout well known harmonica players.
With such a rare skill he's in constant demand and has been called on to play on everything from Sainsbury's advertisments, music for the 2002 World Cup, the musical Rent, TV and radio across the globe and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
But after playing regularly across Europe he's now settling down to a less globetrotting lifestyle following the arrival of his son, Benjamin, now six months old.
Luckily for local music lovers this means we'll be seeing a lot more of him in the pubs and clubs of Cambridge where he's got a busy schedule booked up in the coming weeks.
He started out on the local scene as a vocalist in ska-rock outfit The Stormed - "Imagine The Police but with a bit more energy" - and then spent eight years with a band touring Europe.
"I had played in front of thousands of people - the English musician is regarded very highly over in Europe.
"I was always frontman, singing the songs and engaging with the audience so harmonica fitted in with that.
"In Europe we had to perform for five hours a night in some of those places and we had nothing to do all day except rehearse so I would be playing for eight hours a day. After years and years of touring I became reasonably good."
Now he is in demand as a teacher and is planning a masterclass at the Ken Stevens music shop in Cambridge later this year.
Although it's rare to find someone who can play everything from classical and jazz to reggae and avante garde rock on the harmonica, Steve says it's an instrument which will always be popular.
"People want an instrument to move them emotionally and the harmonica is one of those instruments that really does touch people.
"It's an instrument which is easy to get started on and reasonably cheap and I think that's why it's the bestselling instrument in the world - millions are sold every year."
He also regularly records at his own studio in Willingham. His new album, Boomerang, will be coming out in April but he is often to be found recording pieces requested by bands, orchestras and filmmakers from around the globe.
"I get contacted by all sorts of people who want me to play everything from classical to film music, blues and the stranger forms of dance music," he says.
"My favourite thing is always the next thing to come along, I never know what is going to come through the door next."
Plans include setting up a harmonica school in Cambridge, but in the meantime Steve will be playing folk, blues and jazz with guitarist Chris Newman on Sunday at The Cricketers, in Melbourne Place, on Thursday, February 8 at The Box Tree in Napier Street and on February 21 at the Elm Tree, in Orchard Street.
For a full gig list and to find out more, follow this link.
First appeared in the Cambridge Evening News
01 February 2007