Fully qualified survivor

Michael Chapman
Michael Chapman

When American record label Light In The Attic hosts its first showcase out of America at Todmorden’s Unitarian Church on Sunday, August 24, they couldn’t have picked a better representative of the roster to headline it.

The tasteful surroundings - it is a beautiful, Grade I listed building, selected as the label owners have friends in Todmorden and saw it - are matched by the peerless performer who is topping the bill.

Todmorden is just about in Michael Chapman’s home county of Yorkshire, and for the last 18 months the Hunslet-born singer, songwriter and guitarist extraordinaire has seen his back catalogue become the focus of a high quality reissue programme. Four and five star reviews have resulted.

LITA’s reissue and repromotion of his early work for EMI’s Harvest label including his debut set Rainmaker, the excellent follow-up Fully Qualified Survivor and his last for the label, Wrecked Again - has given his music a real renaissance, leading to more touring and promotion at showcases attended by 3,500 fans a time in the States, not bad for a 73-year-old.

And, as often is not the case with record labels, they are a pleasure to work with, he says.

“Light In The Attic are a re-release company, that’s all they do, and an old friend of mine introduced me to them and they started to trawl through my stuff.

“I’m glad they did. They’re magic people to deal with. They do everything properly and take care of buisness,” he said.

A busy performer on the live circuit - Hebden Bridge Trades Club is a favourite venue of his - he turns in performances that can be mesmerising, newer material often matching the old classics in quality. Surprisingly, the content of live shows is all unplanned.

“I never practice - I can’t be bothered! I never have a set list which I work on, I like to take people by surprise. I get bored easily and gave up making plans years ago! I have put the handbrake on touring this year a bit - I’ll never be 30 again.”

He is looking forward to the gig, at which support comes from upcoming acid folk performer Julie Byrne, plus Light In The Attic DJs. He still loves playing live - hence why his chops are top notch despite the non-practising routine.

“The playing’s never been any bother. Live, it’s like putting a fish in water, I love it,” he said.

Tickets for Light In The Attic Presents...Michael Chapman and Julie Byrne at the Unitarian Church, Honey Hole Road, off Rochdale Road, Todmorden town centre, are £8 and can be booked by logging on to http://www.wegottickets.com/event/282715 - the gig will run from 6pm - sharp! - to 10pm, and there is an after show party for ticketholders at the nearby 3 Wise Monkeys bar in Water Street. DJs at the gig include the label’s head honcho Matt Sullivan.

Any unsold tickets may be available on the door.