Back in the 80s, a label was formed in Tyneside called Kitchenware Records and its roster was small but the envy of larger major-labels. They were marketed under the wing of what was CBS and is a name familiar to anyone who buys Editors releases today - they were also staunchly loyal to North-East artists hence the nurturing and canoodling with Prefab Sprout, Kane Gang and Hurrah!.
As well as intelligent yet conformist pop-bands, they also housed the latent energies of Cathal Coughlan's aggressive yet melodic charges, Fatima Mansions and one cocky-yet-likeable young lad from Durham Town, Martin Stephenson (with his backing band, The Daintees). The two songwriters later collaborated on a smile-rendering cover of 'Let's Call The Whole Thing Off' - I'm glad they didn't do as the song suggests.
Stephenson's output for the label included four pin-sharp albums, including the successful debut 'Boat To Bolivia', that took in blues, folk, rock and cabaret in equal measure and the evergreen troubadour is back on the road throughout the year. His string of dates start in April on the 3rd for an unusual Buster Keaton evening at the Strathpeffer Coffee Shop (£8) - he will improvise during some Keaton 'silents' as well as play his own songs afterwards!
The remaining gigs are a little more straightforward with Hebden Bridge being the first stop on 22nd April, quickly followed by Chesterfield (23rd) and London's Green Note (29th). He then heads to Winsford (28th May) and Newcastle (4th June) before playing at the Willowman Festival 2010 on 20th June at Lenthor Farm, North Yorks. He returns to London for a bigger gig at the Borderline (17th Sep) and finally the Edinburgh Voodoo Rooms (18th Dec)
Tickets for the genial strummer are on sale now, priced from £8 (plus fees).