‘Norfolk is where my heart is’ - Blues singer and guitarist Oli Brown on his career and Norwich show
Supplied by Graham Brown
We caught up with former Norfolk singer and guitarist Oli Brown who will be playing at The Maddermarket on March 27.
Born and raised in Norfolk, Oli Brown is a blues guitarist and singer-songwriter who has already had many notable achievements since the start of his career in 2005.
He won Best Band and Best Album at the British Blues Awards in 2011, supported John Mayall on a 25-date UK tour and opened for Joe Satriani in 2013 to name just a few.
“Working alongside John Mayall was an amazing experience! He was such a fantastic showman, but also the nicest guy to be around too. He’d stand side stage and check out the shows before he hit the stage, he’d always take the time to talk to me and the band.”
“One of the most memorable moments was actually being his guitarist for a festival show in Indonesia. His main guitarist at the time couldn’t make the show, so I was invited to back Mr. Mayall at a gig. It was equally terrifying as it was exciting!”
“Watching Joe Satriani play guitar every night was mind blowing! The band were monstrous players and were so tight.”
“Joe was so kind to us and really helped me reach a bigger audience, I’m so grateful for what he did for my career and having me back on the road with him for a second tour. It was an honour to work with such a kind and generous artist.”
Brown’s passion for music is evident in the hours that he’s spent learning to play guitar to such a high standard.
“The passion came from Hendrix, he’s the reason I picked up guitar.”
“Don’t just stick to theory - in fact I don’t know any. Find players you love and learn their solos by ear, teach yourself to trust you ears, don’t make math out of your instrument, give yourself that creative freedom.”
“Work hard, stay humble and most importantly, LEARN TO SING! Singers are a nightmare, so it’s always good if you can combine them, worse case it means you’re capable of singing harmonies.”
“The more facility you have as an artist, the more desirable you are to work with. Just push hard, put the games down, pick the guitar up and get inside the music.”
When asked what his favourite places in his home county of Norfolk are he said: “The broads without a doubt.”
“There’s nothing like being away from the traffic and engulfed in nature in the sun. There’s nothing else like it whatsoever.”
“I miss Norfolk a lot but for touring it’s easier to live in Milton Keynes being central and close to airports, but Norfolk is where my heart is.”
Norwich’s music scene is definitely on the rise with so many venues and opportunities for local musicians to perform and play at.
“Norwich is very supportive of it’s own artists. The fact that there are so many venues people can play at means there’s so much more in terms of opportunities to get out and play shows.”
With a show in Norwich on March 27, fans can expect a 3-piece show of rock blues that will be taken to a whole new level than heard previously.
“My voice has developed a lot since then, so where it would be more guitar-focused I now have more ability to push my voice as hard as I would my lead guitar.”
“Wayne Proctor and Aaron Spiers are a powerhouse rhythm section and also good friends, so on stage for me it’s a whole other wave of energy. I can’t wait to come back to the Maddermarket, it’s a really unique venue but it’s also like coming home for me, so these shows are always more poignant to me.”
Alongside The Oli Brown band he also formed rock trio RavenEye back in 2014.
“I wanted to start something home grown with guys who have the same passion as me but also a drive to work hard in the business too.”
“I felt stale as an artist just writing in one genre of music, the songs I started writing had a heavier edge (a lot heavier) and I knew I wouldn’t be able to play that in the blues scene so I committed myself to making RavenEye happen.”
Brown has also achieved success with RavenEye having supported some of the greatest rock bands such as KISS, Slash, Myles Kennedy, The Darkness and Aerosmith.
“We ran everything ourselves for quite some time. We were heavy on social media and reaching out to people all the time, whether it was agents, venues, bands, anything we could use to grow.”
“From there we built a team of people we trusted, who understood our vision and goals for the band. Most of the time for those it’s from someone sending our music over and seeing if it would be a fit for them.”
“We’ve had some incredible opportunities with it, some of the shows were absolutely mind blowing. The KISS tour was arenas all through Europe, playing to 25,000 people is an amazing feeling.”
Once the upcoming tour is complete, Oli Brown has lots of plans for both of his musical projects.
“In RavenEye, we’re getting ready to release our second album which is a big step for us. With this band we never wanted to keep repeating an album formula of recording something you can already hear on a previous record so it’s exciting!”
“For the blues, I’m looking at going back into the studio in April to start work on the new album. There are a lot of songs that I’ve written which still haven’t been recorded yet - I’d love to get that music out there and start touring the blues more.”
“People often come up and ask, which I prefer and I don’t think life has to be as binary as that. I love both for completely different reasons, it’s music that I have a passion for - all kinds.”
“I’ve also been working in the studio producing an epic rock band called Riders to Ruin along side John Cornfield (who has engineered MUSE, Robert Plant, Supergrass and many more). I’m currently mixing the record now as we’ve finished all the recording so it’s busy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
• Tickets to see Oli Brown on March 27 are available for £14 advance from Maddermarket Theatre’s website