Chay Snowdon is the result of a love affair between Arctic Monkeys, Kings Of Leon and Elvis Presley in 1997 (I know, the 'KING' died in the late 70's but let's imagine that he was alive until 97') it’s as if they all got together and donated their DNA and from this, Chay was ‘incubated’ for 9 months, being introduced to the world with a guitar round his neck and his hair coiffured into a rockabilly quiff.
His is a name that we were already familiar with, we featured him in our very own ‘Introducing’ section a couple of months back and I was waiting for an opportunity to see him play live in his hometown to see if he lived up to the hype that seemed to be surrounding him. A good friend (Emma Scott from Pluggin’ Baby) sent me a copy of his ‘Shower and Scream’ track a few months back and we were more than happy to play it on our podcast, from then on in, I was hooked.
Chay has kept in regular contact with me via Twitter and Facebook and it wasn’t long before he announced a local gig in Plymouth at the B Bar, I checked the gig calendar and despite having shows either side of the event, we agreed to pop down to the venue and see what it was all about.
The B Bar is actually a noodle bar that is attached to the Barbican Theatre in Plymouth so upon entering the room, we were duly handed a copy of the menu to browse, we had just eaten so I popped to the bar to get some liquid refreshment prior to the performance.
A few minutes before Chay took to the stage, there was enough time to say hello, introduce ourselves and get comfortable for the evening. Chay mentioned that the set was going to contain mostly original tracks with a few cover versions thrown in for good measure, I thought this was unusual, for a young guy to play mostly original material, you would normally expect someone to spin the tables around and rely more on traditional tracks that people could relate to and offer an occasional original for them to mull over, not Chay!
On the stage stood a brand new Gibson guitar, it appears that Mr & Mrs Snowdon had been very kind and bought him it for his 18th birthday, looking back, I think I got a pint and a kebab for my 18th, okay, I may be exaggerating but it was certainly no Gibson geetar!
Dressed in black with tan boots, Chay looked along the lines of a better looking younger Johnny Cash, something I hope he’s not offended by me saying! Hell, if I were compared to a legend like JC, I would be over the moon! Let’s hope that Chay goes on to follow in Mr Cash’s footsteps….
So, what did he sound like, well, I’m glad you asked, he opened up his set with ‘Shower and Scream’ which set the scene for the next 90 minutes of music. Chay is clearly influenced by the greats, Elvis being one of them and he was soon to drop in a stunning version of ‘That’s Alright Momma’ into the mix.
Moving a little more up to date, Chay played a cover of Jake Bugg’s ‘Pine Trees’ which, with his unique voice and guitar style, added another layer to the music, I’m not saying that it was better than the original, for me, it just ‘enhanced' it somewhat.
Chay mentioned that he has been booked to appear at Volksfest in 2015 and would be playing 2 stages, one on his own and one alongside a bunch of guys called The Retro Brothers who he has teamed up with to provide more clout to his tracks and offer another layer to his own music. I hope to be covering this festival and will make sure that I’m there to catch both his sets.
A later track ‘Bicycle Man’ showed hints of James Blunt peeking through, now, James Blunt is the type of artist that you either love or hate (I call him a Marmite act…), but cut the guy some slack, he writes some mean tunes and I only said that Chay sounded a bit like him so go easy on me eh?
For someone who has just turned 18 years old, I was impressed with the range of tracks that Chay had at his disposal, not bad for someone who’s been into it for a few years. His tracks cover a range of topics including love and relationships but not in a sickly sweet way, the way he gets the songs across make you think that he should be middle aged, someone who has been around the block a few times, dabbled in relationships and experienced much that someone in his senior years would have done, but he’s only 18 years old…..imagine what his tracks are going to sound like in a few years time when he has encountered a little more that the world has thrown at him, amazing!
The majority of his tracks were fast paced, jaunty numbers that kept your toes-a-tappin’ and kept your interest levels up, I see a lot of solo artists, it can be quite easy to drift off after a couple of songs as they tend to start sounding a little ‘samey’, I didn’t feel this at all with Chay, he was regularly switching between his acoustic and electric guitars to break any mold that considered forming in the room.
Some of his tracks generated a few cheers from the room, ‘Guitar Preacher’ which I incorrectly labeled as ‘Guitar Creature’ in my notebook, was received very well and he really took you back to the 50’s in middle America with its full on rock n’ roll style.
There was a short break in-between his sets for glasses to be charged and bladders to be relieved, he was soon back up on stage, peddling his wares for the audience to feast on as well as their noodles!
Taking to the stage for round 2, he played a great version of Paolo Nutini’s ‘Candy’ and went on to explain that the first track he ever wrote ‘Live Like Jay’ was often misheard as ‘Live Like Chay’, he was keen to point out that it was ‘Jay’ and that he wasn’t some type of self obsessed Narcissist, keen to sing about the way that he lives his life! This made me smile as I think I was about 30 when I learned what a narcissist was! Must be what they teach them at school these days! The track sounded good, too good if you ask me, if this was his first outing as a singer songwriter, I fear that he may have peaked too soon, clearly not the case as his material just grew in stature with some really strong vocals and fab guitar playing.
‘Prince of Peace’ kicked off with some great chords but what struck me in the song was the impressive 'speed strumming' that Chay delivered, his almost effortless style and the fact that he looked so damned relaxed up there on stage, I must admit, I was a little jealous thinking that this guy has it all in front of him.
He played a new track ‘Mad World’ that he had only recently finished, the glint from his pickups on the Gibson were dazzling me, I must have a word and see if he can buff them up a bit!
His final track ‘Make You Walk’ was a great classic slice of rock ‘n roll which is the first time I have ever heard the words ‘Frustration’ and ‘Playstation’ used in the same verse….
To sum up, I think Chay is a confident young man who looked good on the stage, he has a great future as a singer songwriter and his tracks are already starting to sound like classics. With strong influences from some of the greats, he has bags of subject matter to call upon for new material. It was refreshing to see someone so young and confident on the stage, knocking out over 90 minutes of music is quite an achievement and I hope that he goes on to further his career when he heads off to Bristol University at the end of the year.
Keep an eye out on Chay’s Facebook and Twitter pages for updates on gigs and festival appearances throughout the summer of 2015 and beyond. Ladies and Gentlemen, Chay Snowdon is a force to be reckoned with, go check him out, see what he has to say, you never know, he may even give you a free CD at the end of his set!
We took some video and had a play around with it and produced a short montage of some of his tracks, see what you think....