When British roots and blues singer and guitarist Martin Harley was first given the offer of working with bass player Daniel Kimbro, he wasn’t taken with the idea.
Martin, who has released five albums solo and with his band, first heard about Daniel from a friend, Nashville-based musician Sam Lewis, who suggested they work together.
‘I had just finished with the band and was taking a little hiatus from the band work so I wasn’t really that keen,’ says Martin.
‘But Daniel came over to me before I was about go on stage at this festival in Tennessee called Hippie Jack’s. He came up to me and asked if I wanted him to play bass with me in my set, and I was thinking, “But we’ve only just met and I’m on stage in five minutes, I think this is one of the worst ideas I’ve ever heard”, but I said: “I’ll play a couple of my songs, and if you can keep up, maybe you can jump in for one or two.”
‘Within a minute or so, it became frighteningly apparent that Daniel knew my songs better than me.
‘He was keeping up and overtaking me, it was really fun.
We had a couple of large whiskys and a couple of beers and treated recording the record like a gigMartin Harley
‘We played another three festivals together and decided it would be crazy not to try and capture it on record.’
The resulting album, Live at Southern Ground, was recorded in the eponymous Nashville studio in four hours flat.
‘It’s largely unrehearsed, which I don’t think was being lazy, I think it was braver than that, it was trying to capture that raw energy of people who’ve just met and like to improvise.
‘We had a couple of large whiskys and a couple of beers and treated it like a gig.’
And Martin is full of praise for his latest musical sparring partner: ‘Considering I’d been playing some of those songs for 10 years and would improvise in the gaps, Daniel really didn’t know them, so it’s testimony to his ability, not mine.
‘He’s a very broadly-skilled double bass player, with a background in jazz and classical. He can bow, he can play rockabilly, he can pick up harmonies and sing.’
The pair have now taken properly to the road with a 16-date UK tour. And Martin’s already planning to record his next album with Daniel and a few of his other new friends in Nashville later this year.
‘I felt it ignited something in me that was probably more evident when I started playing music. By that, I don’t mean that playing with the band destroyed music for me, it’s about this kind of record being an entirely different beast.
‘You don’t know where these jams are going to end up, you’re just playing with music for music’s sake, and it felt like that.’
Ashcroft Arts Centre, Fareham
Saturday, March 19