Steve Lockwood - Harmonica player
ITV success for music alumnus
More than 60 albums as a performer, including collaborations with the Royal Philharmonic and Prague Philharmonic Orchestras, a recording success for the hit ITV1 show Honest and another album coming soon: Steve Lockwood (BA Hons Music, 2000) continues to lead the way with his creative and versatile harmonica playing.
Steve Lockwood's passion for the harmonica is clear from the moment he talks about himself; his life and work being so entwined with his musicianship. He has taken the time to record me an mp3 from his studio, answering my interview questions, and as I listen, I discover the energy that makes Steve's playing what it is. His enthusiasm is such that he interjects notes from his harmonica during his pauses. "That's given me a bit of time to think," he says.
In 1987 when he was a singer, Steve realised that it was the instrumental solos that produced the loudest howls from the fans. "I thought, they'll never do that for my singing, so I've got to pick up a musical instrument." Like Mick Jagger, Neil Young, Bob Dylan and Stevie Wonder, Steve started taking out the harmonica for the occasional solo. After learning by playing in various groups, Steve decided to see how far he could take the instrument by specialising in the harmonica at Anglia Ruskin.
In some ways music has saved me from having a mundane life. It's very exciting in music; I quite like to live on that edge of creativity.
"Doing my degree was a complete turning point for me." Steve says. "I was a reasonably good harmonica player before, but with help from Douglas Tate, Lee Oscar, Larry Adler and Paul Jackson, this took me in a completely new area. Now I'm known as a player that can do great versatility." As well as his degree, Steve is also proud of his early concerts. "Even though I wasn't brilliantly talented, I still went up there and gave it everything. My determination is something that even I have been surprised about." Since then Steve has gone on to achieve worldwide acclaim as a session musician and producer. He has recorded albums with the Royal Philharmonic and Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as playing and composing music for film, television and radio. Understandably Steve doesn't get nervous before performing. "No, I get hungry to get on stage... I get really excited!"
Steve's most recent project was the score for ITV1's Honest. Having sent 80 promo discs all over the world, Steve received a call from the Chamber Orchestra of London, offering him the six-part series.
Despite training to be a chef, Steve had always planned this career-path, and admits "I hadn't given myself much option other than to play - I had to earn money from music." With such versatility, Steve is in demand, working 6 or 7 days a week on various projects. "I love the challenge of playing music for film and media and it's the wide range of things that keeps me fresh. In some ways music has saved me from having a mundane life. It's very exciting in music; I quite like to live on that edge of creativity." Steve's average month consists of about 20 concerts, lecturing, private tutoring and recording a couple of studio sessions. He also holds workshops introducing the harmonica. When Steve was young it was hard to find harmonica teachers, so now he is redressing the balance. "I'm very passionate about teaching the instrument and allowing other people to access its charms."
So what is Steve's sound advice? "Don't give up. Follow your dreams. Anything is possible. If you've got the passion and you are prepared to just suffer for your art a little bit - I don't mean that in a terrible way, but I did practise 5-8 hours a day at one point - that's what you need."
Check out Steve's website www.steve.ms for the latest news, concerts and forthcoming album releases.
Ollie Salman, Alumni Relations Assistant
- Steve originally trained to be a chef
- The highlight of his degree was performing with Larry Adler at the Mumford Theatre
- It usually takes him a day to create an original composition
- Steve has appeared on countless TV and radio stations around the world
- He would most like to perform with Stevie Wonder
- He featured in a question on University Challenge in November 2002, which was "Steve Lockwood, a student from APU in Cambridge graduated with a music degree on which instrument influenced by Sonny Boy Williamson, Stevie Wonder and Bob Dylan?" Oxford answered correctly: The harmonica