Martin Stephenson Biography

27 July 1961, County Durham, England. This singer-songwriter’s reputation has been bolstered by virtue of countless searing live performances throughout the UK. His early love of literature and music led to the formation of the first Daintees line-up in his early teens. With a regular turnover of staff and lack of proper gigs, the band nevertheless became something of a busking sensation, on the evidence of which Newcastle record label Kitchenware sent them into the studio. After two singles, notable among which was 1982’s intoxicating ‘Roll On Summertime’, a debut album was embarked upon. The Daintees line-up at this time comprised Stephenson (guitar, vocals), Anthony Dunn (bass, acoustic guitar, vocals), John Steel (keyboards, harmonica, bass, vocals) and Paul Smith (drums, percussion). Boat To Bolivia, released in 1986, was praised by the New Musical Express because it ‘builds bridges between love and hate, between cradle and grave, between folk and pop, between the past and present’. The candidness and honesty of Stephenson’s lyrics were best portrayed on ‘Caroline’ and ‘Crocodile Cryer’. He also revealed his appreciation of the folk/blues rag guitar style with ‘Tribute To The Late Reverend Gary Davis’ as well as regular live performances of Van Dyke Parks’ ‘High Coin’.

A lengthy hiatus delayed the arrival of the follow-up until 1988. Gladsome, Humour & Blue contained the superb ‘Wholly Humble Heart’. Once again, reviews were excellent, and Stephenson enhanced an already impressive reputation for hearty live shows. Salutation Road proved to be the songwriter’s most politicized work, prefaced by the single ‘Left Us To Burn’, which directly attacked Margaret Thatcher. Two further albums with the Daintees were released by the Kitchenware label, before Stephenson embarked on a solo career with a series of acclaimed releases for Demon Records. In the new millennium, he released a series of mail-order only acoustic projects. He also records and tours with his swing outfit the Toe-Rags and, from time to time, a new line-up of the Daintees.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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