Bob Meyer (Bob’s Folk Show) talks to Eyeplug

01. How did you get started in music?

That’s a hard one!!! Playing music? I was in a band with some friends when I was about 13, I played the drums we were called the Streatham Commoners we never gigged in fact! I can’t remember ever playing any songs! We must have been just one of those mid 70’s experimental garage bands that never made it.

Before that I did have two guitar lessons at school but like most of my school days I properly bunked off the third lesson and being left handed was always a problem as they wanted me to play right handed! The fascist swine’s!!! My older brother has been playing guitar since he was very young so I did play about with his guitar a bit and that’s when I started to play upside down!

Then about ten years later in the mid 80’s I started playing the Blues Harp. But that didn’t last long and I gave up.

Thinking about it I did hang round a rehearsal room and recording studio in Streatham in the late 70’s early 80’s! The Orchestra Pit was under Streatham railway station and my mate’s punk band Dead Clergy rehearsed there most Friday nights so I would go and watch. They were very loud and very punk and that had a big affect on a young me, growing up in dark, dank Thatcher’s London.

Dead Clergy’s guitar player was Les (Fruit Bat) Carter who went on to form Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine so I was hanging round with some real talent at the tender age of 14.

It wasn’t till I was about 33 that I picked up a guitar again when I was round my friend’s house and as usual I picked it up upside down, I played about a bit with it and thought, yes Sir I must buy me a guitar! So the next day I went to Cash Converters on Streatham Hill and bought an old Marlin Classical guitar for £43.00. Then I got a book on “How to play a guitar” turned the book upside down and taught my self some chords! I got bored of that very quickly so I just started messing about with different tunings etc and made the rest up! I still don’t know any chords I still don’t know what notes I’m playing and still can’t play anyone else’s music so as a musician I’m a fraud (laughs).

It must have been with in a few months I had made up enough songs to go and do an open mic in Clapham, Seven years later I had a record deal.

02. Where did your Folk direction stem from?

I don’t think I have any direction at all! I have always been too Blues for the “folk” music fans and to folk for the Blues fans, I just think of what I do as music, if you like it good ,if you don’t there is nothing I can do to make you like it. Too much is made of putting labels on Art and I’m to old to care anymore. (Laughs out loud)

03. Who were your major influences and inspirations?

Bowie, Son House, Blind Willie Johnson, Bjork, Al Bowlly, Kurt Vonnegut, Marcel Duchamp, Dennis Wilson, William Blake, Butthole Surfers and life, love, death and hate.

04. What inspires you to create your current type of songs and you general sound?

To tell you the truth I have had a writers block for about five years, so I’m just punting my old songs around and the fact that I have hardly gigged in the last three years, means it’s like starting over again for me in a way!

05. What can someone who has never seen you live before expect from your shows?

A fat old middle-aged man singing and playing the guitar very badly! (laughs to himself) Well I have never really done songs! I much prefer to play straight through without stopping! I have never liked talking to the audiences and this is not some kind of me being cool, I’m just very nervous when I’m playing, I get very bad stage fright and since I stopped getting drunk and doing drugs, it’s worse than ever! So I just like to get on stage play for twenty-five minuets or so say thanks and leave! But when I play and it goes well and I get lost in what I’m doing and I may go to that place where some Artists go when they hit the spot and an audience are getting it and enjoying it, they are the good times. Joe Cushley the renounced music writer, promoter, manager and DJ once said my “playing is like a stream of consciousness”  – I say it’s very well rehearsed improvisation.

06. How do you begin writing your songs? What types of themes and subjects do you deal with?

Not written anything for years and I never had a formula for song writing, it was just sit around have a drink and a smoke and tinker about. Some tunes and lyrics just pop in to my brain and I record them there and then and go back years later and try to remember how to play them.

07. How has your music evolved since you first began playing?

After I started playing the guitar and singing I started playing about with old keyboards and multi-track recorders and any other old junky type of old skool sound making stuff I could get my hands on, my friend described it as ‘soundscapes’. I did a home-made album of this stuff and had one of the tracks was put on a compilation album too. But I soon got bored and went back to just doing gigs with my guitar and my songs.

08. What has been your biggest challenge? How were you able to overcome this?

Not a clue! I don’t look at life like that, if I want to do something I put my heart and soul in to it, if it works I’m happy if it fails I move on.

09. If you could pick any song, what would you like to cover most and why?

I can’t play anyone else music so covering is a bit hard!

10. Tell us about your Radio work?

I did Bob’s Folk Show live on Radio Wey for about three years and after eighteen months it was repeated on Folk Radio UK.

I have been told that the show was one of the best Folk, Roots and Acoustic radio shows in the UK and I certainly had some great live sessions and discovered some great music and some artists (I could now make a list of the great artists who I played first or who played live on my show first, but they know who they are) I only stopped doing the show due to illness in my family and it was getting on my tits being ignored by other “Folk DJ’s”. And I think the straw that broke my back was being ignored by Richard Digance.

I would have gone back to Radio Wey but they would only have me back on their terms and what they wanted from me, I could never do!

I have recently done a pilot show for an FM station in London and I hope to get back on air very soon with Bob Meyer’s Old Time Radio Show playing music mainly from the 1920’s and 30’s, pre-war blues and mountain music, you know the kind of thing. Thinking about if I ever write my life story I could call it “Being Ignored by Richard Digance (ho ho ho).

11. You also are involved in various Events and Promotions?

Yes, I have put on a few gigs and they have been great all of them sold out and everyone said they had a good old time and I put on The London Folk and Roots Festival in 2012 with some good friends and I’m putting it on again this year (2014). In 2012 we put on about thirty acts with Michele from The Magic Numbers heading the bill it was a great day/night. This year there will only be half the acts, but it will be a who’s who of great talent and I really can’t wait.

12. Where do you envisage being in five years time?

Doing my same day job (driving a pickup truck) trying to get a paid job as a radio broadcaster, doing a few gigs here and there and just glad to be alive.

13. Who would you most like to record with?


14. What should we be expecting from you in the near future?

The unexpected (boom! boom!)

Web links

London Folk & Roots Festival 2012

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