Bath based singer song writer Ali George is touring and promoting his latest eagerly awaited album The Snow Ballad, launched last November, to great critical aclaim at The Chapel Arts Centre in Bath.
Ali got his first guitar at six years old and started his first band at ten. By 16 he was performing solo gigs in pubs and venues around Bath and Frome; playing acoustic guitar and developing his skills as a song writer. In 2003 Ali was interviewed for the first time by Decode magazine. In the review, his first e.p. Songs, was described as “ingenious”.
Over the next few years Ali gigged extensively. He took his guitar to the west coast of Ireland, making several more recordings (notably the album Danish Eyes). In 2006, in collaboration with Jack George, he created a music video for the song Danish Eyes, which was televised and won a young film-makers competition.
Ali has been in several bands including The Clap, a very original folk/rap fusion band and The Little Musgraves, an experimental, up tempo folk band featuring dynamic three part vocal harmonies. Both bands performed at Glastonbury festival.
In 2011 Ali released the lyrical and very beautiful, You Always Burn Your Feathers in which he established his current sound. Over the next few years he performed at Schtuum, Trowbridge Villiage Pump Festival and Glastonbury festival (with his backing band). Ali has been a regular performer at the Bath Folk Festival.
Recently Ali has been playing his songs with a three piece band, and is getting material together for a new e.p.
I was born in London but my parents headed for the hills so I was brought up in the Cotswolds, at that time an isolated rural paradise. I am very grateful. Later the big city called so I read for a degree in English Literature and Language at Manchester. After that I had no idea. An old friend called me up one snowy northern day and asked me to help pay the rent on a big scruffy flat in Bath in the West of England. When I got there it was April and there was blossom on the trees and those buildings.That was it really and where ever else I have had to be, like a homesick pigeon, I have always returned here. There were a few years spent in the west of Wales where I qualified a teacher before returning to Bath and a career teaching English in secondary schools.
I have always written and played music and don’t remember a time when I couldn’t sing. I got into roots and folk music in Manchester when I shared digs with two girls from Newry. Mary and Dara took me to mass and they took me to pubs where Irish music was played. So that I’d know what it was all about!
Later, during the Wales days I frequented a session held at a pub in Llanarthne, run by a guy called Terry. He played English folk on a squeeze box and taught me so many songs. Happy days! All this time I’d write and play my own stuff, picking up songs and techniques from the musicians I met.
The first time I ever went to a proper folk club was at around this time. I sang Franklin’s Lament very slowly and nearly fell off my stool with joy and surprise when the whole room sang the harmonies back at me. It was Wales.
My parents bought me a guitar for my 14th birthday after suffering my piano playing for a few years. They were not a musical family and thought that if you didn’t get it spot on the first time, then practising for hours until you did was plain bad manners. My dad said that as far as he knew it wasn’t possible to make a nasty, annoying noise on the guitar. His experience of these matters was pretty limited!
That guitar was smashed by an angry boyfriend. I don’t think he minded my playing …he just minded me and destroyed something I valued. I didn’t play for a few years until my first husband discovered that I could, and replaced the guitar. I think that like a lot of women, I have waited politely to be asked and it has taken a long time and the internet.. for me to just get on with it.
My first real recording was as a guest singer on Tony Doddery (Carter)’s utterly beautiful album, ‘Rolling Hills and Running Water’ 2007 Toned Records. I sang The Silver Dagger because Tony reckoned it was a girl’s song. It is Henry Sears playing the stunning fiddle to the track and Mike Vince on Percussion.
Over the last ten years I have created a body of work that is now ready to be recorded and developed. I have also stepped up as a performer, through my association with Lou Baxter, a fabulous singer and songwriter in her own right and my partner in the duo Angel Ridge.
The Angel Ridge project began when the two of us realised how much we liked the same sort of thing, that we could support each other as musicians and song writers to develop something fresh and new. We decided to start with country blues and wrote accordingly.
More recently,I have been playing solo gigs, supported on guitar by the wonderful Mr Ali George also a great singer and song writer with several aclaimed albums to his name. I feel very lucky to have him playing with me because his imput allows me to develop a more polished sound and am looking forward to recording with him.
The sessions held on a Sunday evening in the Star Inn are my favourite. My friend Tim Graham started it all about two or three years ago: a singers’ session to balance out all the crazy tune players. For a whole year Tim ran a blog called ‘A Sunday Song’, where he put our songs, sneakily recorded from those sessions and recordings.
So that’s it really. My musical journey. I still live in the West Country and still teach for some of the time. I have just returned from a year in the United Arab Emirates and some of those experiences are reflected in my new songs. I am ready now to record that album, set up that web site, play those gigs and get on with a life more musical.