SINGER Elkie Brooks is kick-starting four days of live music in Shepley.
The artist – formerly vocalist with 70s band Vinegar Joe, opens the Shepley Spring Festival with a headlining show on Thursday, May 24.
Speaking to the Examiner’s WoW, ahead of the gig, Elkie talked of her love of performing, working with family and a venture into the world of literature.
“I’ve never been to Shepley before so this is new for me,” she said. “But I’ve performed around that area before and have enjoyed it.
“If you were to ask most musicians they’d say performing live was what it all means to them, but it’s pretty hard sometimes going from place to place.
“Unlike how it used to be, now it’s different because I get there a little earlier and get a feel of the area.
“I don’t want to be doing 50 shows in 50 nights. I’d rather do two or three a weekend and have the week off.”
For a singer who has stayed true to her roots throughout her career, Elkie knows a thing or two about touring.
She tours Europe but her dedicated fan base means many of her gigs are in her home country.
And her appearance on TV show Reborn in the USA several years ago introduced a new audience to her work – and it’s led to younger faces in the crowd at her gigs.
“The positive from Reborn was that younger people came along to see me and have been coming ever since,’’ she said.
“As long as I can entertain and give 100% and I get 100% from the audience it doesn’t matter if they’re 10 or 90, but Reborn did make me known among the younger audience.”
Elkie began her career as a teenage soloist before joining Vinegar Joe and touring with bandmates Pete Gage and Robert Palmer.
She later went solo once more but has firmly found her feet in the music business with 20 albums in her long career – and that’s just her solo work. There are also collaborations, live albums and Best Ofs.
“I’ve never been unhappy in my career,’’ Elkie said. “I wouldn’t do it otherwise. In the early days I was in my late teens and early 20s before I got involved with Vinegar Joe and I didn’t like what I was doing.
“I had enjoyed PE and athletics and thought about doing something with that, but I met the great Humphrey Lyttelton and he gave me the confidence to carry on.
“You’ve got to enjoy what you do and I enjoyed working with him.”
After working together in the early 1960s they reformed their working relationship in 2000 with a series of concerts and the critically acclaimed album Trouble in Mind in 2003.
Her last three albums have been a family affair. Her son, Jay, has worked with her on them as well as Lyttelton.
“In eight or nine years I’ve only done three albums,’’ Elkie added. “I find now I want to take time to gather the material and I’m in no hurry to rush it out.
“My last album, Powerless, has been out since 2010 and I’m working on the next which could take another couple of years but I want it to feel right.
“Working with Jay has been great. Music came naturally to him anyway. He learned to play guitar when he was six and Tim Mills, who was in my band, helped him enormously.
“He’s a great bass player and it’s a joy to work with him.”
Inspiration continues to come, but her writing reaches further than the songs on her album.
In July Elkie releases an autobiography – and it’s a genre she really enjoys.
“I love Paul O’Grady’s autobiography,’’ she said. “His is what I hope to publish – a lifetime of stories with humour.
“I’m hoping when people read my book they will feel the same way I felt when I read other people’s. They’ll feel like they’ve learned something about me and with humour.”
l See Elkie Brooks live at Shepley Spring Festival, main stage, Shepley Cricket Ground. Tickets from 023 8071 1818, www.shepleyspringfestival.com or www.ticketsouth.co.uk/event