Richard gigging in Graffham

Describing his music as evocative and uplifting, Richard Navarro takes the folk traditions of melody and storytelling and supercharges them through live looping and improvisation.

You can see the results on Saturday, March 7 at Graffham’s Empire Hall (01798 867026; tickets £10: 8pm) and on Saturday, March 21 at Winterton Hall, Plaistow (01403 871370, 7.30pm).



“I perform with violin and voice,” Richard says. “I also use piano, trumpets, hand percussion, all kinds of things. I work with a double bass player called Nicholas Thurston as a duo. We have been working together for about three or four years now, and in the last year or so, we have started writing together. We put together our own album, Let Go Light, which has just come out with ten tracks. It’s our first proper release in terms of promoting it properly, but this is the second album as Richard Navarro.

“We write songs that have a very strong lyric content. We love words and writing about the world around us, not just in terms of the landscape. We are inspired by the natural world, but we also write songs that have quite a strong story or message and talk about issues that we feel strongly about. There is a strong social and political aspect.”

Richard describes the album as a series of short, emotionally-charged sketches with a cast list that includes sea-weary refugees (Salt and Light), the beguilingly-beautiful owner of a lemonade stall (Cloud Lemonade), a city-weary office worker (Seabirds) and a wedding-guest-turned-revolutionary (Sweet Nothings).

“One song on the album deals with the migration issue and talks about the Meditteranean crisis and international migration. It’s a look at what is happening in Kent (where Richard lives) and the fact that for hundreds of years Kent has been the kind of place that welcomes people from overseas and we hope that continues.

“Another song looks as the effect on children and families of conflict abroad, things like the Syrian conflict. There are other songs that are love songs, but not necessarily about romantic love, but devotion. There is a mix of songs. They are passionate songs, and we bring that passion to the performance.

“I also use live looping on stage. We bring looping into the structure of the songs. It is just the two of us, but we use looping as a means for improvising. I play one violin part and then add another on the back of it to build it up sometimes so that it has an orchestral feel. Sometimes I layer voice. I end up creating my own backing vocals. Each performance of each song is different, but the basic structure of the lyrics remains the same. We like to take one of our songs and treat it as an opportunity to create something unique for that night.”

The duo have just done a couple of support slots with Joan Armatrading who has been extremely welcoming to them, Richard says – a great opportunity which they have thoroughly enjoyed.

“We did a show with her in Canterbury, and she invited us back for this tour. It was a wonderful opportunity. It’s a great audience for us, and we have just had a wonderful response from that. She gives us a whole half an hour to play. It is not just a tokenistic 20 minutes. It’s a really good set before the interval, and we get to make new friends and fans through that.”