For those of you who prefer to buy products from digital download stores, we now have an agreement with digital distributor Zimbalam:
(hover cursor over images for captions)
Variously described as one of the UK's most unique and versatile guitarists, Steve Payne is also feted as a talented and non-predictable singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, wordsmith and story-teller whose compositions cross the musical boundaries from Blues to Folk to Contemporary Roots.
He first stepped onto the stage in 1972, appearing in various college folk clubs. His first paid performance - for the princely sum of £10 - was in the inauspicious surroundings of the Printers Devil pub in Slough in 1974.
But his emerging talents were soon in demand and he began to play guitar with Joanna Carling, who had signed to Dick James. He played on Fancy That, produced by Hugh Murphy (of Gerry Rafferty fame) and went on to play with Gerry Donaghue, Gary Herd, Dave Mattacks (Fairport Convention) and Gary Taylor (Peter Frampton).
By 1976, he was touring Europe with Loudon Wainwright III, and also found time to team up with comedian Jasper Carrott on his memorable Funky Moped tour. He featured with various other artists of the time, recording with Rosie Hardman on the Eagle Over Blue Mountain album in 1978, which was produced by Steeleye Span's Nigel Pegrum.
As punk swept the nation, Payne briefly followed suit, his new band Brent Ford and the Nylons swerving from R'n'B to punk and back again. The early eighties saw the birth of the Paynekillers, a band which evolved into the longstanding regional rock & blues favourite, The Parole Brothers. Their debut album, "When's your album coming out?" found favourable reviews. During this time Payne continued to work with other artists, most notably Dr John and blues legend B.B. King.
In 1986, he moved to L.A. and played on the West Coast scene for three years, before returning to the U.K. to form The Candy Run. The band's debut album of the same name took three years to complete, punctuated by Payne's return visit to L.A.
Back in the UK in 1989, he teamed up with well-known musician Steve Tilston and together they played Glastonbury Festival and recorded the album, "In For a Penny, In For a Pound". Candy Run toured for a year or so, before Steve began working with harmonica afficionado Keith Warmington.
They played Glastonbury Festival in 1993 and a new band - Payne and Friends - took shape soon afterwards, touring Europe through 1994. This year also saw Steve begin to move more heavily into slide guitar and jazz styles, teaming up with fellow (unrelated!) guitarist Rick Payne. The two played together regularly over the next couple of years, a period that also saw Steve's first collaborations with blues singer/songwriter Maggie Thomas.
They recorded one acoustic album at the Hope Centre in Bristol - aptly named "Hope", and carried out a successful, televised tour of America's East Coast in 1998. During this period, Payne returned to Toronto where he built a following, appearing with Paul Brady in 1997.
Steve began to focus more on his Roots leanings in the late nineties, leaving the electric side of his music alone, and releasing a succession of acoustic albums. "Six" was released in 2000, followed by "The Kiss" a year later, and "Outlines" in October 2002.
With a long list of festival and club appearances not only in the UK, but also regularly in mainland Europe and North America, a musical life's worth of troubadour globe-trotting has resulted in Steve perfecting his particular succinct, and at times very tongue-in-cheek, live in concert' experience.
Keith Clark : Bristol Evening Post : 12 January 2009
In the 1980s The Parole Brothers were one of the most popular bands on the Bristol / UK , Blues / music scene. They broke up shortly after making their first album and the individual members went on to make their names in other musical fields.
Since 2003 they have been given "parole" every three years to play a reunion gig. And proving that the memory of this great band continues to live on just as strongly as ever, this was a sell-out almost as soon as tickets went on sale. Even the early start of 4pm (the pub has a Sunday music curfew) didnt put people off.
Right from opening songs, St Louis Jimmys blues standard Goin Down Slow rapidly followed by Leadbellys Bourgois Blues, it was obvious that we were in for a night of hard driving, raw, rocking 12-bars with lots of space for extended solos.
Steve Payne seemed to be enjoying the opportunity of playing once again the sort of stuff on which he cut his teeth and some of his guitar solos were simply outrageous. It must be a long time since he has sung with such animation, and with such obvious enjoyment.
Keith Warmington demonstrated that he is still a very mean harmonica player, especially on Train Blues, and has lost none of his ability to growl out a song. Jerry Blythes piano player was superb, whether rolling out boogie woogies or rocking it up.
All the while bass player Lyndon Parry and drummer Tony Heyes kept up a rock solid rhythm for the others to build on. The musicianship was of the highest quality and, despite not having played together for three years they were amazingly tight as a band.
More important perhaps, the music was infectious and it was all great fun, both for the audience and, obviously, for the five people on stage as well.
See you in three years time, lads....
Blues in Britain : September 2005
(On "Noche de Blues" in Marbella, Spain 29/7/05)
As the long, hot Spanish evening drew to a close, and the skies darkened, Steve Payne took to the stage. From the planning stages of the concert, concerns had been expressed as to how well Steve's particular brand of blues/roots music would go down with a Spanish audience. These doubts proved totally unfounded - from the opening bars of "Cocaine 'Lil" to the closing notes of "Little Red Rooster" Steve had them in the palm of his hand. Spanish audiences are notoriously difficult - talking and walking and generally doing anything but concentrate on the music - but when Steve played they really listened; the lack of background noise was almost audible. Steve was accompanied by the skilled and sympathetic harp playing of John Fenlon.
Having created a mood, and nicely warmed the audience up, they handed the spotlight to the Vargas Blues Band. Vargas and his new band, driven by the rhythm section of Esteban "Spiro" Cabezos and Gustavo Segura, augmented by the keyboards of Lucia del Campo, with the vocals of Jorge Fontecha ably replacing the much loved Chicago blues voice of Bobby Alexander, played with a high level of energy from start to finish. Towards the end of his set Vargas asked Steve Payne to join him on stage. This was an unexpected bonus, with Vargas holding back on the power chords to let the artistry and finesse of the Payne slide work shine through. It was a real joy to listen to two such talented guitarists playing together unselfishly and with such obvious mutual respect.
If the Vargas Blues Band finally get their UK tour off the ground don't miss them. And if Steve Payne or John Fenlon are ever in your area make sure you go and see them !
Steve's Album Reviews
Terry Clear : Blues Bytes : May 2009
(On the album No Commercial Value)
Well, heres the latest offering from British folk/blues artist Steve Payne, and it by far eclipses anything that hes done in the past. Hes written a lot of new material, ramped up the production, and invited a lot of guest artists to play on the CD. Incidentally, I was fortunate enough to see Steve Payne live when he played the prestigious Coin Acoustic Blues Festival in Spain, and hes just as good live as he is on studio produced albums - maybe even better! So....... the new CD. Eleven tracks, ten of which he wrote himself, all packed with great guitar picking, a little humour, and Steve Paynes inimitable style of British folk/blues. Whoever chose the running order of the tracks on this CD should be congratulated, because track one "Pedestrian Jesus" just gets hold of you and leaves you wanting more. Unlike some albums where you have to really stick to it to get through to the nitty gritty. This track is a Steve Payne original and it features some absolutely beautiful violin playing from Stuart Gordon. The violin adds a really haunting atmosphere to the song, and turns it into something special alongside Paynes guitar and vocals. Track 2, "Not Afraid Anymore", is a bluesier track than the first one, with Payne playing his distinctive slide guitar over a nicely understated rhythm section on a song about losing the fear of the devil. It leads into "Animal Farm" which starts with a few bars on banjo and then switches to guitar, with the banjo in the background - a song about problems in life around the USA, from the South where men still wear the sheets, across to Hollywood. Track 4 is a Dylanesque, folky track, "Little Misunderstood" - a girl who is about to be left on her own when her man departs without regrets - just Payne with his vocals and guitar picking. Shades of Woodie Guthrie. Tracks 5 and 6 are more folksie numbers, but track 6 "Detroit" starts as a slow blues ballad about the town being on fire, then picks up tempo at about the halfway point. The tempo curiously alternates from there to the end, but somehow it works. Its very difficult, and probably unfair too, to try and pigeonhole this artist - he has so many different styles and influences to put him as a blues artist, or a folk artist, or a country artist, is impossible. Hes all of those, and more, rolled into one. Suffice it to say, for this review, that when he writes and sings the blues he does it well enough that this CD is worth adding to any collection.
John Valenteyn : Maple Blues Magazine : February 2008
(On the album No Commercial Value)
English acoustic bluesman Payne's frequent visits are partially explained by his having family here. This is certainly a good thing for us as he is a talented but much under-rated performer. He's here for Winterfolk with a new CD, its title reflecting a perhaps realistic view of blues versus pop music sales but it is not at all a reflection of its content. That content is a series of perceptively drawn vignettes from a long life on the road. "Pedestrian Jesus" is a dramatic depiction of the 'real' Los Angeles, with Stuart Gordon underlining the stark lyrics with his violin, moving it several notches above what has become a cliche, however true. The theme continues with "Not Afraid Anymore", with accordion, banjo & drums helping out his slide guitar. "Detroit", several songs later, moves the location of urban decay but not its seriousness. "Animal Farm" and "Funny Tasting Chicken" widen the focus to all of American culture and I can see them being quite humorous live. "She Walks In Dreams" and "When Rita Leaves" are tender ballads leaning more to his singer/songwriter mode but "Little Miss-Understood" brings out more of his caustic wit. Recording an acoustic guitarist always presents issues of how to fill out the sound. Payne has created an attractive listening experience while not giving himself impossible songs to perform solo. Well worth acquiring.....
Greg Quill : Toronto Star : September 9 2004
(On the album Outlines)
British guitarist and songwriter Payne, who has been working the Ontario market every summer for the past few years and finishes this year's round of dates at The Rivoli Tuesday night accompanied by local bluesman Michael Pickett, is a veteran of the folk and rock business in his homeland, having performed and recorded in a variety of settings blues, punk, folk-rock and pop since the mid-1970s.
This solo recording of blues-tinged country folk pieces, some original, some traditional, showcases a remarkable acoustic guitarist, capable of considerable rhythmic power and sweet slide work on the blues side and understated elegance in the finger-picking that distinguishes the folk and country elements of his repertoire. Payne's easy low-timbre mumble, not unlike Gerry Rafferty's or Mark Knopfler's, sits well in this gentle mix, and while the original songs follow very basic progressions, they exhibit a lyrical wit and cunning sense of humour.
You might like to explore some of the other sites featuring Steve: