Meet the Dylan Project
It was while The Uglys were playing a residency at a club in Germany that Steve first heard Bob Dylan: "The voice made me tingle, the song made me shiver, the moment is frozen," he recalls.
By 1970 the Uglys had disbanded, and Steve released a solo album, Short Stories. In 1972 he formed the Steve Gibbons Band. In 1975 the band released Any Road Up (the first of many Steve Gibbons Band albums) and went on to success in the album and singles charts.
The Steve Gibbons Band was invited to support The Who on European and world tours and Steve penned One Of The Boys for Roger Daltry. The band went through various line-up changes down the years but remained perennially popular, partly because Steve not only has one of the greatest rock voices in the UK but is also an inspired songwriter.
There is more to Steve than rock 'n' roll, however. For example, the trio he formed at the end of the 1990s innovatively uses fretless bass, guitars, accordion and piano to perform classic songs as well as his own material.
P. J. Wright
PJ has worked extensively as a session player: his rootsier credits include recordings with Chris While and Julie Matthews, Ashley Hutchings, David Hughes, Julie Felix, Christine Collister and recently Katriona Gilmore & Jamie Roberts.
During the 1980s and 90s, PJ regularly recorded and toured as lead guitarist with the Steve Gibbons Band. Since 1999, he has been lead vocalist and guitarist with the five-piece folkrock band Little Johnny England as well as performing as a solo singer-songwriter. PJ released Hedge of Sound , his first solo album, in 2006 and has subsequently toured with Dave Pegg in the duo project "A Night Off With...". Currently touring with US folk-blues virtuoso Brooks Williams.
The chance came and Gerry found himself the drummer with The Jet Set, playing ska and soul. His next move was to blues legend Alexis Korner's band. After a year with Korner, Gerry joined Trevor Lucas in Eclection.
By the time Eclection folded in the early 1970s, Trevor's partner Sandy Denny had left Fairport Convention and Gerry was invited to join them in a newly-formed folkrock outfit, Fotheringhay. Though creative and greatly respected, the band was shortlived.
Next, Gerry played a studio session with Cat Stevens and was invited to join the band. After six years touring the world with Stevens, Gerry found himself back in London and in demand as a session man. However, in 1979 he went to live in the USA for a few years, working mainly with Jerry Donahue.
During the 1980s, Gerry returned to the UK and spent a year or so on the road with Jethro Tull. This was followed by a stint with Richard Thompson's band.
In 1985, Gerry joined Jacqui McShee's Pentangle and has been with the band ever since. He has also played drums and percussion for Fairport Convention and The Dylan Project since 1998.
Dave heard that the Uglys was auditioning for a lead guitarist and went along. He didn't get the job but Steve Gibbons suggested he try his hand on bass guitarist and he has played the instrument ever since.
Dave joined the Ian Campbell Folk Group on double bass where he met fiddle maestro Dave Swarbrick. It was through Swarb that Peggy was introduced to Fairport Convention: little did he know the association would last over 35 years.
After founder-bassist Ashley Hutchings left Fairport in 1970, Dave took over on bass and backing vocals, a role he has fulfilled ever since. In fact, it was Peggy who kept the band together through the hassles and line-up changes of the 1970s.
By the 1980s, Dave had joined Jethro Tull as bass player. As if playing in two bands was not enough, he set up Woodworm Records to produce and market Fairport's albums.
Dave and his ex-wife Christine founded Cropredy Festival in 1980 and he has been a key organiser ever since. The event started as a small reunion concert and has now grown into a major festival.
Bored with living on brown rice and baked beans he got a job in Del Shannon's backing band.Following this he moved to the Channel islands, then a spell in the Middle East, then sailed round the Caribbean. This was followed by some time in the US, thence Europe and Scandinavia.
After sleeping on many different sofas Phil has been back in Birmingham for the last 15 years. During his extended travels he was absorbing lots of different music, traditional forms, jazz and rock n roll. there's always been room for Dylan in his suitcase. Phil plays piano, organ, piano accordion, flute and guitar.
Don't be misled by the word 'tribute'. Although the phrase "tribute band" can mean a slavish facsimile or a big-name cash-in, The Dylan Project is far more than a mere copycat act. The members bring their own distinctive take on the music, Steve Gibbons interprets the lyrics with stylish individuality and, above all, respect for a master writer and performer shines through every word, every note. As Mojo's reviewer said: "The Dylan Project is a tribute in the best possible sense. Touching and deftly handled, it makes you marvel, once again, at the scope and majesty of this singular writer's work."
There is so much to relish in the Dylan Project. For a start there's the laconic and charismatic Steve Gibbons, sounding uncannily like Dylan while retaining his own inimitable vocal style. As well as Steve's homage to Dylan himself, the Project's musicians are equally fine interpreters of the virtuosity of The Band. There's PJ Wright's scintillating slide and haunting pedal steel; on the first studio album Simon Nicol adds compelling rhythm guitar and fine backing vocals; Dave Pegg bringing his beautifully subtle and powerful bass lines, and Gerry Conway holding the whole groove with a tour de force on drums and percussion. As a bonus on Dylan Project Live At Cropredy Festival (the second album) John 'Rabbit' Bundrick's keyboards commemorate the characteristic quality which Garth Hudson's organ brought to Dylan's mid-period, now provided live by Phil Bond's piano, organ and accordion work.
This musical cornucopia arose from an after-gig chat between Steve Gibbons and Dave Pegg when the conversation turned to Dylan. "One thing led to another," recalls Steve, "and Bob's your uncle –Peggy's offer of his services was just the spur I needed to do what I had long been considering, an album of Bob Dylan songs."
That album, The Dylan Project, was recorded at Woodworm's studio in Oxfordshire, produced by Peggy and released in 1998. As well as Steve, PJ, Peggy, Simon and Gerry, there are guest contributions from Chris Leslie, Ric Sanders, Maartin Allcock, Ben Bennion, and Mick Bullard.
But The Dylan Project is more than a studio ensemble. Since its inception, the band has been entertaining audiences with an electrifying stage show. As well as touring UK arts centres, concert halls and theatres, The Dylan Project has played in Europe and appeared at festivals large and small – including Cropredy of course.