Steve Yarrington brings his jazzy sound to town
Having played the guitar during his childhood in London, Steve Yarrington turned civil engineer in 1973, apprenticed with a local builder, and did a long stint in Doha, Qatar, carrying his music everywhere he went. “Along with my calculator and pencil, I always took my guitar along. It was actually something people recognised me by,” Yarrington tells us, talking about various small bands he joined in the Middle East, including an outfit from Kerala. Today, well into his sixties, Yarrington dedicates himself to the foot-tapping jazz of pre-War America, Swing.
Strumming with legends
“I returned to the UK after Doha to learn music professionally and moved to the Shetland Isles in Scotland, where I worked as an engineer and studied jazz, more specifically, Swing, under Peerie Willie Johnson,” he shares. Yarrington spent 11 years in Shetland under the influential Scottish folk guitarist, who helped him ‘develop his style and sound’. He even helped found a Celtic band called Fiddlers’ Bid, that toured around the world and still continues to make music.
Yarrington has also performed and collaborated with jazz legends of the 60s like Ricky Valance, Craig Douglas, Tommy Bruce, Lee Curtis and Wee Willie Harris in their tours of the 70s, but cites Charlie Christian as the inspiration behind his style of Swing. “Charlie Christian was one of the pioneers of the genre and was hugely responsible for bringing the guitar out of the background and making it a lead instrument,” he enthuses about the legendary musician who, he says, would have been his dream collaboration.
Yarrington, who has successfully launched five solo albums on iTunes and Amazon, earning recognition in Swing revival circles especially in America, is in Bangalore for his first solo tour and says he is ‘thrilled, amazed and humbled’ by the talent and enthusiasm here. “It’s almost like coming to another universe and yet it is so similar because of the standard of musicians I have been privileged to team up with for my shows here,” he concludes, citing his gig with Ricky Valance in Gloucester as one of the best of his career, one he would love to recreate in Bangalore.
June 27 and 28. 9.30 pm. At Windmills Craftworks, Whitefield. Tickets (Rs. 500 upwards) at bookmyshow.com