"One of the great blues men of our time"
Jools Holland, BBC
“Bloater is a phenomenal guitarist!”
Mark Lamarr, BBC Radio 2
“I love this guy ..... he has a voice that sounds like it's been soaked in turpentine for the last decade!"
Craig Charles, BBC 6 Music
“I’m a massive fan of Big Boy Bloater, he’s a charismatic boy with a big voice”
2011 sees acclaimed guitarist, singer and songwriter Big Boy Bloater launch his solo career with an album full of catchy and clever self-penned material and some impressive showcase gigs.
2011 has already seen him as a guest on Jools Holland’s BBC Radio 2 show and found him as a special guest of Imelda May at two of her big UK concerts (Roundhouse, March 2011 and Somerset House, July 2011). Imelda has also invited Bloater to be the chosen support for her UK tour in November and he will be following this up with his own tour in Jan/Feb 2012.
The album, ‘Big Boy Bloater and the Limits’, released in March, features special guest appearances from Imelda May and jazz-funk legend Snowboy and has attracted much critical acclaim. The self-penned numbers show not only great musicianship but a maturity in style. “I am so pleased with the album, I used the name ‘the Limits’ in a tongue-in-cheek way really because I felt I had been limited before and didn’t want any musical limits going forward, I just wrote whatever song came out and didn’t worry about the ‘style’ of the song. The overall style has been dubbed ‘swamp soul, dark blues and twang’ which kind of sums it up! I think this album reflects me fully, every influence but with my own unique stamp on it. I had a great time recording it!”
Born in Farnham, Surrey in 1971 Bloater took up the guitar aged 11, influenced heavily by his father’s great love of music. “Our house was always filled with rock & roll, 60’s hits and basically anything and everything. My Dad still loves music to this day and he has no boundaries, it’s just good or bad music to him which has been a great lesson in life.” Playing in bands at school from the age of 13 Bloater soon realised he could earn pocket money playing in local pubs and clubs. “They didn’t care how old you were then, not sure a 14 year old would get away with it now!”
Fronting his own bands from a young age Bloater quickly became a stalwart of the retro R&B and Blues scenes bringing him to the attention of many, including Mark Lamarr who put his own money behind a limited-edition vinyl release of one of Bloater’s tracks in 2008 (giving away 100 copies on the 100th edition of his award winning BBC Radio 2 show ‘Shake Rattle and Roll’).
As 2009 dawned Bloater was feeling restless, he wanted a change of direction and the chance to write more and have more control over his career. “Mark Lamarr asked me why I was finishing my band and all I could say was that I felt trapped by the success of the band, when I looked in my diary all I saw was gigs, but they were gigs that weren’t getting to new audiences or testing me musically or creatively. He laughed at me for being annoyed about having a problem most musicians could only dream of, but for me it was important to take a step back and think about where I wanted to be in 10 years, I was really creatively frustrated and I just couldn’t see myself still carrying on without a big change.” Bloater did indeed take a step back, finishing his bands and spending 2010 writing and recording and enjoying just being a musician again. “It was a lot of fun to have the opportunity to work for other people for a while, knowing it was temporary, it was great and it gave me the space I needed.”
Bloater has seen the best and the worst that being a professional musician has to offer. “As with all jobbing musicians I have seen the ups and downs that go with the lifestyle. I've been flown to Dubai first class, but have also spent all night on the side of the road with a broken down transit van. Clubs can treat you like a special guest or can treat you like the hired help that is inconveniencing them. I've performed in front of 20,000 people one night and then in front of 20 people the next night, and I'm just as happy to do both. All musicians have these experiences but they are what make you, years of travelling and gigging are how you learn your craft, but you have to be strong to survive!”
Being a consummate professional, delivering hard-hitting vocals, having enviable guitar skills and the ability to write very catchy songs with clever lyrics as well as the talent to mesmerise an audience are what has brought Big Boy Bloater to where he is today. But he wants to take it further. “I'm old enough and ugly enough to know my trade well, I love what I do and I hope that shows on stage. I am very excited to have the chance now to break through and show the world what I can really do”
With fans like Jools Holland, Imelda May and Mark Lamarr already singing his praises you know that Big Boy Bloater’s star is on the ascent.