The Real Si-B is the monicker of Simon F Baker, a UK Swamp Country-Roots Singer Songwriter & One Man Band, who mixes traditional influences with a love of the quirky & unexpected.
Originally from the rougher side of Croydon and brought up on a commune in Suffolk, Si is now based in Brighton and Hove. In ‘Lost in the Hug’ he’s produced a surprising and enjoyable album, mixing a strong musicality with some gutsy, heart-felt rhythm and blues, be-fitting a man who claims one of his favourite smells is the inside of an acoustic guitar.
The album was mainly recorded in Si’s small home studio in Hove with some parts recorded live in Alfriston Chapel and then sent to Finnish producer Jerry Icon, formerly of Brighton but now in Italy, who played & recorded bass for the songs & mixed & mastered the album. Keith Osborne of Hastings also added a gorgeous lapstring steel part to ‘Dear Sam’.
The album is refreshing and while rooted in old music still sounds fresh and new. Particular favourites to our ears are the upbeat ‘Alabama Mambo Blues’, the strangely psychedelic rootsy spiritual sound of ‘Pigskin Shoestring Song’ and the beautifully gentle, memory-filled ‘Dear Sam’ which seems to oose sunshine and personal stories. But there’s not a weak song on the whole album. Give it a listen at the link below.
Si says many of the songs on the album were written about people he knew “like ‘Elephant’ which popped out after a conversation with my brother. Or ‘Rings of Gypsy Gold’ which is a true story about Eastern European gypsies who flagged me down on a motorway flyover & scammed me out of whatever cash I had on me in exchange for some fake ‘gold’ rings. I got hoodwinked – but I got a song out of it!”
Si says he grew up listening to “a lot of Jamaican Ska, as well as punk bands like The Clash and The Slits and all the weird eclectic stuff John Peel used to play” which left a lasting impression. But as he grew older he found himself “more & more drawn to types of music which have a simple timeless beauty & penetrating honesty about them”. He became attracted to Apalachian folk & hillbilly Country music as well as the early 20s and 30s blues singers which inspired the American Folk music revival in the 1960’s, and which comes through loud and clear in the album ‘Lost in the Hug’.
“Really though I wanted to try & do it in the way that came most natural to me rather than trying to apply any kind of formula or style of someone elses,” Si says.
That certainly worked. While the album has elements of the raw warmth of Seasick Steve or the quirky pop sensibility of the Talking Heads, it is much more rootsy, reminisicent a bit of the Louisiana swamp music as well as a touch of Chas & Dave and the pub rock of the late 1970s. However, it’s very much Si’s own sound, aided by his excellent grasp of his instrumentation also shown to good effect in his one-man-band live shows.
Si is currently working on new material for his next album, as well as looking for interesting small venues in the South East to play at and other sympathetic artists to work with. He says that anyone interested should not hesitate to get in touch.
Listen to and/or download ‘Lost in the Hug’ from The Real Si-B’s website here
and catch Si next on Friday 1st September at The Bugle Inn (24 St Martins St, Brighton BN2 3HJ) 8.30pm – free entry
or Saturday 4th November at The Dover Castle Pub (Southover St, Hanover BN2 9UE) also a free entry gig
Words by Jon Southcoasting
Photo (1) by Jon Southcoasting and (2) by Graham O’Connor-Laurence