Phil Beer plays Bognor Regis

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Phil Beer - half of leading acoustic roots duo Show Of Hands - plays a solo gig this month for Folk On The Coast in Bognor (Friday, February 25).

“Show of Hands works for very specific times of the year,” Phil explains. “Steve (Knightley, the other half of the duo) also does a fairly extensive solo tour about this time, any way. Originally I used to do quite a long tour with my band. I do less and less of that now, so I have got a degree of capacity. Certainly over the past six years I have done the odd solo dates.

“It means I get the chance to sing a lot of songs that I want to sing. It will just be a mixture of stuff. It’s also a different kind of guitar-playing. Once you are in a band like Show Of Hands, you play the guitar in a different way. I fulfil the role of lead guitarist. Once you are on your own, you are playing in an accompanying style. And I get to sing a lot!

“I also go further into the traditional things. Equally I have a penchant for certain branches of Americana. It’s a pretty broad range. You might get a Steve Earle song next to a West Country folk song. For me, it all to do the theme of the songs.”

It’s also all about community, says Phil, a great devotee of village halls.

“When I was a kid, the village hall in our village was in use five nights a week in terms of going out in the evening, and I mean real events. That seemed to disappear towards the end of the 70s, and then you had the wastelands of the 80s and 90s. I go out of my way to play the village halls. Whenever anyone says ‘Why haven’t you played down our way?’, I harangue them about trying to put something on in their village hall.

“It’s community. Sometimes these things work. Sometimes they don’t. Tonight I am playing a club in Lincolnshire that is a prime example of a folk club that has been moved from pillar to post because of unsympathetic landlords and have now ended up in a village hall. And they are fine.”

That sense of location also comes across in the music: “It’s generally music that embraces a sense of place. The hard core on the folk scene tends to regard the traditional music as an end in itself. But I regard it as a starting point.”

Folk On The Coast meets on the last Friday of every month at 8pm at Seasons, Bognor Regis Town Football Club, The Rocks, Nyewood Lane, Bognor Regis. Tickets on www.folkonthecoast.co.uk.