Lightwater Valley Country Fest preview: Top music critic who plays a mean guitar

David Sinclair.
David Sinclair.

By Graham Chalmers

Among the local names appearing on the musical side of the first-ever Lightwater Valley Country Festival feast of food, drink and more tomorrow, Saturday is one from ‘south’ - London to be specific

All set to be one of the highlights of this new event near Ripon, which runs from Friday to Sunday, David Sinclair is a well-known music writer who also does music pretty well himself.

The respected critic will be unveiling tracks from his fourth album called, appropriately, 4.

As always, it’s a swaggering mix of rootsy energetic classic British blues and rock with hints of the songwriting of Ray Davies.

As for what David thinks of his own music and its influences, here’s what he kindly told me:

“Ian Hunter is a great inspiration. A songwriter who’s been around (in Mott the Hoople and elsewhere) but is still climbing the ladder and looking forward. Seasick Steve is a great storyteller who took a while to find his mojo and hasn’t lost it yet.

“Mike Scott of the Waterboys writes great tunes and truly poetic lyrics. When I first put on their new album Modern Blues, every track that came on, I thought, “Damn, I wish I’d written that!””

As for the new album, it’s blessed with a few major guest acts.

David said: “I’m thrilled with the new album. It took us a while to get where we were going. High points were getting hold of Paul Jones to play harmonica on a couple of tracks. You know him as a singer and Radio 2 DJ, but he is a stunningly well-rounded musician.

“And we got Maxi Priest to lend some much-needed support on “Down by the Canal”, my first attempt at a reggae song. What a voice! I got to give a lot of kudos to the band who all played brilliantly and props to Jack Sinclair who mixed it.”

Surely being a music critic yourself makes you a little self-conscious as a musician, I suggest to him?

But David’s having none of it - and he’s not a huge fans of critics, despitebeing one.

Not necessarily. But I’m often surprised at how little some people who set themselves up as “experts” on this or that actually know about the subject they are passing judgement on.

“It’s not hard to know what you like. Harder sometimes to say why. But it’s as well to remember that it is only one person’s opinion… and a lot of critics don’t know the first thing about music. “

As for the rest of the line-up at Lightwater Valley Country Festival, it offers performances by popular heart-throb vocalist Yo Preston, The Four 45s, Dragonfly Tattoo, The Paper Waits, Strangers in Paradise, The Omega Era, The Jack Edwards Band, Backyard Bisons, The David Sinclair Four, Pray for Hayden, Ade Payne, Sarah Louise Boyle, Paul Mirfin, Matt Anderson, Jamie Bevan and According to Eve.

The festival will celebrate all aspects of rural life with food and drink, nostalgia events, children’ activities, farming shows, craft stalls and street entertainers, as well as live music.

For tickets and information, visit