A tale of everyday folk

In which we talk to local singer Sam Draisey.

Sam Draisey is a Wolverhampton-based singer-songwriter, musician and promoter. We spoke to him about his music and his upcoming gig at the Robin 2 on September 5th.

First off, explain to someone who knows nothing to the point of ignorance what the British folk scene is like now.

“It might be underground, but we’re still here. There’s plenty of us doing it, we’re just not in the spotlight like we were back in the sixties and seventies.”

Is there much new music coming through, and who should we be looking out for?

“There’s always new artists coming through, pushing boundaries. There’s still the traditional scene but there are people trying new things. Britain’s got a long tradition of folk music and I do think that there’s a lot of new homegrown artists around.”

Is there much conflict between the old guard and the newer folk musicians?

“There can be, there’s the stereotypes of the old folk clubs with blokes in anoraks only listening to certain types of folk and still moaning about Dylan going electric. You still get a bit of a sense of that in some of the club scene but in terms of the places where we play for each other there’s a more open attitude.”

“I think there’s a lot of stopping off points for people getting into folk, maybe it’s music that gets recommended by a friend or yu might not be looking for something in particular, it might not even be music but you can come across something you can relate to.”

Protest music, for example. It’s often said that there’s mo new protest sings.

“I think it’s still there, it just doesn’t have the spotlight like it used to. It doesn’t get the coverage, the industry is going for the biggest audience possible. And you can understand that. Folk artists in the old days played together, they perfomed each others songs, they had huge back catalogues to draw on and the’s not that sort of material anymore. Even the biggest stars, such as Dylan to name the most obvious, their early albums didn’t catch on and they were able to carry on until they became big names.”

I suppose Billy Bragg’s the closest we’ve had in more modern times, as someone who came from that background to achieve mainstream success.

“Definitely. He’s done all sorts of things and upsets the folk purists along the way.”

I don’t think he’s ever been all that bothered about upsetting purists in any field. It’s also said that the new generation still protest, but in different ways apart from music while others have said that the youth of today are too concerned with buying new trainers to get involved. As someone who’s closer to that age group than I am, which would you say is the more accurate?

“There will always be materialistic people, but it’s a bit disingenuous to say that they’re all just interested in the price of their trainers. We do care about things and this is a generation that has found new ways of doing things. It doesn’t have to be on the streets and marching – signing an online petition or sending a tweet is a lot easier.”

It’s an obvious question, but what do you write about?

“All sorts. My politics are out there and I don’t think they’re too radial in terms of inequality, disillusionment with the gap between rich and poor, that sort of stuff. I think it comes across in my work. I don’t just write loads of stuff about politics, at the heart of it there’s an honest portrayal about who I am but it’s not all of what I write. I also wrote about things that happen to me; it’s easy to write about one thing, one area, but I don’t want to be pigeon-holed like that.”

Although protesting is part of life. If you’re protesting about something it’s a part of what you’re doing and it all belongs to the same strand.

“Protesting can be the small stuff. I can write a song about someone I’ve lost respect for and it’s all part of that same idea.”

And points of reference do change. Folk music moves on otherwise you’d still be writing songs about leaving Liverpool on a tramp steamer headed for the New World.

“I think that as a musician and as a consumer, the music that I write and listen to has to be about me, has to relate to me. It doesn’t have to be angry, it can be about anything, but if it’s real that’s what appeals to me.”

You have the upcoming gig at the Robin, where you’ve played a few times.

“Yes, Mike Hamblett the owner has been great for me. I’ve done a few support gigs there because I didn’t live too far away so I was always available if an artist couldn’t make it. It’s a lovely venue because while you can get 700-odd in there it doesn’t need a big audience. The way it’s laid out, with the bar areas to the sides and round the corner means it can still look a decent crowd when it’s not full.

“Black Country audiences are really good. They’re very proud of their big names but they also like to get out and support local talent.”

Sam Draisey plays the Robin 2, Bilston, on Wednesday 5th September. Tickets