Bringing it all back home as Fareham bluesman Ian Siegal returns to Hampshire

Ian Siegal and band
Ian Siegal and band
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It’s been a long road that has taken world-renowned blues guitarist Ian Siegal from his home town of Fareham to the pinnacle of his profession.

But on Sunday he returns to Hampshire with his new band, including the marvellously-named guitarist Dusty Ciggar, when he plays a gig at Talking Heads in Southampton.

Siegal recently released his first live album with a full-throttle electric band, One Night Live in Amsterdam. Since releasing his debut in 2002, he has chalked up seven British Blues Awards, and become the first Brit to receive two nominations at the US Blues Music Awards.

And since leaving Fareham he’s rarely looked back: ‘I left in 1990, it’s been a while, and my parents moved to Lee-on-the-Solent, so I don’t go back there much. I’ve no great desire to go back, no offence to the people of Fareham, but it doesn’t have a great deal to offer. I had a great gig at the Ashcroft a couple of years back though – so they do have something.’

It was an older cousin, playing on the Portsmouth pub circuit in the late ’80s that introduced him to live music.

But he says: ‘At school there was a bunch of us into soul music, Motown and Stax, and it was the ’80s mod revival, the Stones, The Who, The Small Faces, I guess I can see a kind of development.

I was playing in the street, busking, and that’s a great way to get better, fast

Ian Siegal

‘I was more into rock’n’roll, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, that sort of thing, and that wasn’t cool. And this is a time when youth culture had gangs, and it was important. These days it’s just one big mass.

‘It’s just the way culture’s gone, and I think that’s a sad thing.’

Self-taught on guitar, it was a move to Berlin after dropping out of Portsmouth Art College that made him take things more seriously.
‘I was playing in the street, busking, and that’s a great way to get better, fast. I was living hand-to-mouth in Berlin and I improved enormously in a very short period of time through necessity, and also having a great passion for it.

‘I had a cousin in Berlin, so that was my in, and the plan was to travel around Europe, but I stayed in Berlin, I loved it.

‘The wall had just come down two months before, it was a great place to be at the time, and I was 19, 20. It was an amazing time.’

Now living in Amsterdam, he says: ‘It’s just more convenient, I do more gigs in Europe – and I can afford to buy a house here. It’s a very easy city to live in. And I’m on the road most of the year anyway.’

Doors open 7.30pm. Tickets £12.

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