Talented Travellers
Musicians and writers from my travels

One of the things I love most about travelling is the meeting of interesting people from around the world. In all my years of travelling I've had the good fortune to meet some very talented people indeed. To this end I've decided to create this page in order to share this talent with others. In this world of crappy, manufactured pop where all you need is a pretty face and no mind of your own to succeed, it's refreshing to know there is real talent out there; although somewhat annoying to think that they don't always get the recognition they deserve. So here it is, a full page dedicated to real talent. I will keep adding to this page as time goes on.

Your feedback is welcome: ian@ian-middleton.co.uk

Chris Powell

Chris Powell, Visions MP3.

Okay, so technically I didn't meet Chris during my travels, but I suppose you could say I met him on the journey of life. It seems fitting to include him here because he is one of the first really talented people I met.

Back in the mid-nineties I went to watch a rock band play in my hometown. The band was called Grace in Danger, and Chris was the guitarist. A few years later, to my surprise, Chris came to work where I worked. I say this is a surprise because I and many others were convinced that Grace in Danger was on the fast-track to fame and fortune. Unfortunately the band was splitting up.

Over the years Chris played for another local band, but has always wanted to work on his own stuff. Chris not only plays guitar but writes his own songs, so it was inevitable that he would soon start to record them. Advances in technology has meant that he is now able to do this. Chris is currently working on his first solo album. He writes all songs and plays all the instruments. To listen to the first of his songs, Visions, then click on the image above.

You can email Chris on: ChrisPowell@noise44.freeserve.co.uk.

Chris is now playing with Flaxen Rock. Visit their website: www.flaxen-rock.co.uk

Adam Lopez

Adam Lopez, My Raw Truth: Butterfly MP3

The trains are very slow in Southern California, but when you are travelling there is no hurry. There is just adventure, time to sit back and enjoy the scenery, soak up the atmosphere and chat with others on the train. I was en-route from Salinas to San Diego. One of the train's carriages was built especially for panoramic viewing of the golden hills of California. It's a truly beautiful State, and this is just the most perfect way to view it, with your feet up on the window sill. But when the sun goes down, there isn't much to see. So I was thankful that the guy sitting next to me was not a mind-numbingly-boring anorak whose idea of fun is discussing the great trains of the world; or even worse, recently released from prison (as is often possible on the Greyhound buses). The guy sitting next to me was Adam Lopez, who was in the process of moving from San Diego up to Monterey and was on his way back to San Diego to collect his wife (an important thing to forget).

Adam was interesting to talk to, and during our conversation I learned that he is a musician and writes most of his own songs. So to while away the hours, and with a little coercion from me, Adam brought out his guitar and sang songs as the train rolled on into the night. His style is very bluesy, and he has a good strong voice. I was impressed, and was convinced this man would go far in the music world. So imagine my disappointment when I learned months later that his music had had to take a back seat for a while, due to other more pressing commitments.

This was all in the summer of 2000. Well, I got an email from Adam recently telling me that he had moved back to San Diego and was back to playing music. Adam grew up in San Diego and was born into a musical background. When he returned to San Diego he began looking for someone to jam with. Then out of nowhere came all these serious professional contacts, which had set Adam on the road to a very bright future indeed. He is currently playing alongside a well known singer who has his own record label. So the long and short of it is that Adam is now back to doing what he does best.

Adam sent me his most recent album, an 8-track CD of live acoustic songs all written and performed by the man himself. And I'm happy to say that it is absolutely brilliant. I for one will be keeping an eye on Adam's career. If you would like more information on him, and how to buy his album (which I highly recommend you do) then feel free to visit his website: Adam Lopez You can also listen to Butterfly, one of the songs from his album, My Raw Truth. Just click on the album cover above.

www.adamlopezmusic.com

Ember

Ember, Winejig:

Northern Wind. MP3

Winejig. MP3

A chilly evening in the Kirwan House hostel garden in Wexford Town was the venue for a meeting with two girls with an amazing amount of talent. On the second floor, just outside the window is a small balcony. I wandered up one evening to join a group of people already out there. It's a small balcony with no furniture, just an old mattress. Most people stood or sat on the floor. Among this group was Rebecca and Emily. Rebecca was from the US and Emily from Wales. They had just returned from living in Spain where they had been writing songs, and were now travelling around Ireland. With them they had their first album, Winejig. Rebecca plays guitar and Emily plays the violin. Both girls sing. They warmed up the chilly evening air with their beautiful voices and had everyone in the hostel stop what they were doing, come out onto the balcony or look up from the garden below and watch and listen as the girls performed with the stars as their backdrop.

Emily and Rebecca stayed with us for a few days, drinking with us down the pubs and entertaining people in the street and in the pubs with their wonderful music. They became good friends, and returned briefly after their journey around Ireland. Then it was off to the US, where they would play concerts and gigs in various venues near Rebecca's hometown.

The girls are back in their own countries now, for the time being. But they will soon be back together performing. Ember have just launched a website that will keep people up to date with where they will be playing next.

Ember's whole album is amazing, but I had to choose one song for this website. Well, I simply couldn't decide between these two songs: Northern Wind and Winejig. So I have put both up here. Just click on the relevant song above to listen.

Visit the ember website

Chris Larsen

 

Chris Larsen, screenplay writer.

In the summer of 2002 I returned to Kirwan House. Chris was staying there, in the same dorm as me. I chatted with Chris briefly upon arrival and he told me he was from LA, loved movies and wrote screenplays. The next morning when I awoke, Chris was gone. No one seemed to know what had happened to him. Corrina, from Germany, came by that evening saying she was supposed to meet him. She didn't know where he was either.

A few days later it was revealed that during the night he couldn't sleep and so phoned home. His mother told him that Dreamworks had been on the phone and wanted to interview him about one of his scripts. Chris had shot up to Dublin and got on the next available plane home.

But the downside to this story is that Dreamworks wanted to make changes to his script, and being a true artist Chris refused to allow this and decided he would wait for a better offer. So a week later he was back in Kirwan House.

One of Chris's screenplays has so far made it to the quarter finals of the Nicholl scholarship of screenwriting. After returning to Kirwan House Chris began working there for the rest of the year. His website is basically just a mouthpiece for his everyday descriptions of life and his time in Ireland, but told with his talent for telling a story with amazing description and clarity and for making others laugh. Personally I love the way he can paint a single image with words, or describe with extraordinary depth the simple little things that often go unnoticed by most other people. This man truly has the gift that will put him on the road to the success he deserves. Keep watch on the opening credits of future movies, and I've no doubt that one day his name will be there.

Visit Chris's website

Efrain Cantu

Efrain Cantu, Drummer and Latin percussionist Foggy Dew MP3

I met Efrain in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. I was working in a hostel there when Efrain arrived with his girlfriend, Zonelle, and her eight year old boy, Devon. Efrain's passion for music was evident from the first day he arrived. Before long he was hosting jam sessions in the hostel common room. Efrain didn't have any drums with him at the time, so he would simply turn an empty water container upside down and drum on that. Such is his skill that even this sounded great. I hitched a ride with Efrain and Zonelle to the next town, and ended up travelling for the next five weeks with them through the whole of southern Mexico, during which we made music in the van, on the beach and just about anywhere else.

A year later I met up with them all again in their hometown of San Jose. Efrain was playing in a Latin American band, and had a couple of gigs in Northern California. We all went with him for the weekend, where I really got to see Efrain's talent at work. The photo above is from one of the gigs.

Sadly Efrain doesn't really play that much now, and I dont have any recordings of his Latin American band. He did, however, use to play in a rock band called Bed of Thorns who made an album called LatinoCelticAfroCentric. Unfortunately the album is no longer available.

My favourite track from the album is a traditional Irish track called Foggy Dew. You can listen to this track by clicking on the album cover above.

Check out Efrain's new band here

If you want to know all about my time in Mexico with Efrain and Zonelle, you can read about it in my e-book, Down Mexico Way. Click on the image to read more about it.

Keep watch here for more talented people from my travels