Roger Davies, variously known as The Bard of Brighouse or The Yorkshire Songwriter, has just completed a five-week, 30-date tour with one of the most famous folk rock bands of all time – Fairport Convention.
It was, he says, “an opportunity that couldn’t be missed” and took him to the sort of major venues - Birmingham Town Hall, Grand Opera House in York, City Varieties in Leeds - that he never had the chance to play before.
“It got me feeling comfortable on a bigger stage,” says the Brighouse-based musician, now 38, who took songs such as Huddersfield Town and Brighouse on Saturday Night to audiences all over the UK.
“I would suffer with stage fright at bigger venues but I think I’ve got over that now. My song Huddersfield Town was the song in my set that really turned heads. I think they were expecting a comedy song, but it is quite a serious song about where I live, and people appreciated that.”
Roger is now back home and preparing for a new season of gigs.
The fact that he will be playing ‘upstairs’ is important.
He explained: “I’ve been in concert in the Lawrence Batley cellar for a few years now and always done well, but for this concert I thought we could fill the main theatre upstairs.”
He’s also thrilled to be playing with one of Yorkshire’s premier brass bands and added: “I have always loved brass band music. It’s part of our local heritage. When I was growing up in Brighouse we could hear the Brighouse & Rastrick Band rehearsing. My song Brighouse On Saturday Night was recorded with Brighouse & Rastrick.
“Skelmanthorpe Band is also really well known and I’m looking forward to playing with them.”
Roger has won many accolades for songwriting and his song Wear Your Poppy With Pride (on the Local Radio album) has raised thousands of pounds for the Royal British Legion.
But achieving a national reputation and releasing several albums has taken time, considerable quantities of self belief and the ability to keep plugging away.
He explained: “I don’t come from a musical family or anything like that. I have just found my way as a self-taught musician. It’s been a slow process. I started to write my own songs and found an audience for my music. When I was younger I wanted to be a painter, but I couldn’t find an audience for my paintings. I guess I’ve always had that creative thing.”
He knew from an early age that he wanted to pursue music and because of that never followed a career path into anything else.
“I was always doing part-time things, supply teaching or working in shops and bars, that sort of thing, so I could concentrate on my music,” he said. “I knew that if I was eventually going to be doing it (become a musician) then I had to make space in my life for it. You need time to write songs.
“It’s always a work in progress and you never know what’s around the corner. I’m extremely grateful to my audience because without them it wouldn’t be happening at all.”
Such is Roger’s popularity, particularly with local audiences, that last winter he was asked to play his first international gig entertaining 50 members of the Spen Valley Ski Club at their winter base in Niederau, Austria. It was, he says, “great fun” and an unexpected bonus of being a local songwriter.
Roger, who admits he can’t read or write a note of music, has produced several albums and is about to launch his latest, Live at the Topic Folk Club, which features both Huddersfield Town and Brighouse on Saturday Night.
He says he grew up in the Oasis and Blur Britpop era of guitar bands and that was what influenced him to learn the guitar. However, he felt drawn to the folk genre, in all its many forms, because, quite simply, “I like storytelling.”
His experiences on the road with Fairport Convention, one of the 1970s legendary supergroups, have given him an even greater hunger for performing.
“After doing 30 concerts I thought that when I’m finished I’m going to feel that I want to keep it up. So I’ve got two or three gigs a week, all over the place, for the next few weeks,” he said.
But Yorkshire folk lovers can hear him here in Huddersfield town centre first.
Tickets for the LBT concert, which starts at 7.30pm, are £7 to £12 from 01484 430528 or www.thelbt.org.uk