Part of the reason to write a blog, and also to read one, is that you get the opportunity to get to know the writer a little better. Blogs are a great place to share those more personal thoughts as well as more philosophical ones. Today I thought I would let you a little deeper into my world.

Now those who have read my About page will know I was taught acoustic guitar by an Irish folk musician. There is no doubt that this early encounter with folk helped to direct my later playing and writing, but at the same time I was also heavily into heavy rock and metal.

It all started when I was about 7 years old. At the time compilations of original music like the current NOW! series we very rare, but back then there were a couple of regular LP compilations, one called 12 Tops, the other Top of the Pops. They were cover versions of chart music, and to be honest they were pretty bad, but I was so into music that my parents occasionally bought me one. I remember the day I got this LP, popped it on, and this amazing music suddenly filled my ears. The opening riff felt like it was something from the Gods to me back then. I listened, then picked up the needle and played it again. I was in love. What kind of music was this?? The song was Paper Plane and the band was Status Quo, a song I still love to this day. The album it came from, Piledriver, was the first album I ever owned. Quo changed a lot over the years, but this early Quo had teeth. St Francis of Rossi had it right, the Universe resounds to the sound of a 12 bar boogie shuffle.

Quo were added to by a love of Thin Lizzy, AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Rainbow, Deep Purple, Pink Floyd, Yes, UFO, Rush, then later came Dio, Iron Maiden, Saxon, Def Leppard – the list goes on. In the 80s ‘hair metal’ arrived, and although my friends were into bands like Poison, Ratt, Dokken, Bon Jovi, and I went along with the ride, I couldn’t help but feel that some of the teeth I’d felt listening to that early Quo sound, had been pulled out, and that the huge music money-machine had really put the music I loved through a great big bucket of bleach. Then one day a friend played me a song by a new band, and all was well again – the teeth had regrown, and this time they had fangs… The song was from the debut album from a new band on the scene called Metallica and was called Whiplash. I’d been listening to Motorhead for a few years and they had some fast songs, but this was the first song from a new genre that would become known as Thrash Metal that I’d ever heard, and I loved it.

Metallica arrived with other bands like Anthrax, Megadeth and Slayer, now known as the Big 4, but back then it was new and amazing. I still liked my more melodic rock music, but this loud and fast music just took me to places I’d never known before. I joined a few bands one of which, Targa, actually began to do pretty well. I played the drums in these Metal bands. My guitar playing, influenced as it was by my teacher, just wasn’t up to the speed and aggression demanded by Metal music, but once Targa split I really gave up the Metal band thing.

Years passed by. I had two sons, had huge life-changes, found my spiritual home in Druidry and Paganism, and after a long period of absence, I once more picked up my guitar, but this time playing acoustic music. I went back to my roots, and it’s here that many of you met me, and some I’m sure will have no idea how much rock and metal influenced my growing up, and even my music now.

A couple of weekends past I had the opportunity to go to Download Festival in Donington Park. I used to go there when I was a teenager when it was called Monsters of Rock and this was my first visit in many, many years. When I went before it was one stage, one day, maybe 7 or 8 bands, and 30,000 people. This time there were 4 stages, a vast number of bands and 90,000 people. I was there with my friend and my two sons who are also rockers (very proud Dad!). It was also my birthday on the Sunday of the festival. So I was back at Donington Park, on my birthday weekend, with my two sons. I have to say that alone was amazing. I saw some wonderful bands that weekend, and one was a band I’d followed since they arrived on the scene. I’d always loved the music of Lynyrd Skynyrd, and to me their flame has been continued by Black Stone Cherry.

It was a band called Bullet for my Valentine that first shouted “Scream for me Donington!!!”, and I was back at Monsters of Rock, aged 17, 1981, watching AC/DC perform songs from their new album Back in Black. It happened again on Saturday morning. I first saw UFO when I was in my teens at the Brighton Dome, and there they were again, all a lot older admittedly, but still rocking out. They were followed by Black Star Riders whose heritage is Thin Lizzy (Scott Gorrham is the guitar player) and they played Jailbreak, Boys are Back in Town and Rosalie, amazing. I have to say I had tears in my eyes. Rock music is eternal, and here around me were generations of music lovers all here to honour the God that is Rock music. To many it is almost a religion, and I’m proud to have been a follower for 41 years.

I love folk music, and I love rock music too. I’m a Gemini and if any of you know a Gemini well, you will know we always have two sides to our natures.

I think Folk and Metal sum my two sides up pretty well.