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Steve Somers - The Player

Steve Somers - The Player

Roger Moss profiles one of the region’s busiest and most popular live performers: Steve Somers...





If you follow live music around the region, you’ll know the name Steve Somers. Steve is one of the most-travelled performers around, in the tourist season keeping up the kind of schedule which others would think twice about attempting, while remaining busy through the leaner months when many players are taking it easy. So how (and why) does he do it?

To Steve it’s a way of life: “I grew up in a military family, moving home frequently. So the one constant thing was music – I started learning piano when I was six, and was soon reading music and starting to play brass instruments, as everyone expected me to follow in my Dad’s footsteps and join the army. Growing up in the mid-60s meant that there were lots of other things happening, though, so when he said I should play safe and go into the army, I told him I’d only do it if I could be a musician. So at the age of fifteen, I left school, signed-up and went away to be trained as a trumpet-player.” He stuck with it for a couple of years, but when faced with signing-up for a much longer-term, Steve decided instead to try his luck in the outside world and hit the road. “It was the time of the folk/blues boom, and I played in clubs and small theatres all over the UK, both solo or in various duos and groups. Then in 1975, I was spotted by a guy who went scouting for acts to appear on ‘New Faces’, a weekly talent show on national TV. It went well, and I came second in the studio vote so, to celebrate, my wife Pat and I took off to Italy for a break, not knowing that when viewers’ votes were counted I’d end up winning outright. The TV company wanted to put me on the big Sunday Night at The London Palladium show, but before the days of mobile phones
no-one could get in touch!”

Happily, Steve eventually played not only the Palladium but countless other prestigious venues (not to mention cruise-liners) in a career which found him joining folk group The Settlers, playing bass for Joe Brown and skiffle legend Lonnie Donnegan, and as a multi-instrumentalist for American singer Diane Solomon. He also toured with Glen Campbell. “I cut down the touring when my three kids came along....”, recalls Steve, who became a senior producer for BBC, with his own radio show. “I interviewed lots of big names, and played with some of them on TV, including singing Phil Everly’s part alongside Don Everly.” Somehow he also managed to keep writing songs and doing live dates, fronting various line-ups from blues to swing. Not a man who likes to be idle, then.

So when he and Pat settled some years ago amid the rural tranquillity of Northern Charente, he lost no time exploring new avenues for his music in France. “I knew it would be difficult at first finding other musicians, so I started playing solo again which I hadn’t done for years. For bigger gigs I then added other French players.” Doing it all himself, though, highlighted the richness and power of Steve’s vocals along with his formidable prowess on guitar, and he soon found himself in demand as a solo act around the region. “I love playing, and people seem to like my original songs when I slip them in among the country, blues and swing numbers they already know.”

Deep down, though, he missed working with other players in a regular line-up, so you’ll now also find him fronting The Endless Trail, a four-piece band playing country-rock and new-country to very different audiences. “We play around the region, but also have the European country festival circuit firmly in our sights, as the French audiences in particular are really into country, line-dancing and the whole Americana thing.” So, it’s back on the road again, for the eternal pro.