Chichester, Hailsham and Shoreham dates for Peter Knight's Gigspanner Big Band

Peter Knight brings The Gigspanner Big Band to a string of Sussex venues this spring.


They are playing The Pavilion, Hailsham on May 08; Graylingwell Chapel in Chichester on May 12; and Ropetackle Arts Centre, Shoreham on May 11.

For Peter the gigs will give him back music’s most important ingredient: the public.

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“It has certainly been an odd couple of years, but when the pandemic first hit I was quite happy to be honest.

“We had to cancel tours when it first started kicking off and we just went back to France where we live.

“The first couple of weeks we were just thinking what a shame because we were selling out some quite big venues but then a month went by and then two months and it went on and on and I started growing vegetables in the garden and I started to enjoy it. I thought this is quite good.

“But then everybody started missing being in front of an audience, just playing in front of people and I really did. But I didn’t think that I would.

“I’ve got a studio in France and I went in there every day and I did try to find the inspiration to connect with myself in a way that I do when I am accessing that place in me that makes the best music and I just realised that something was missing.

“I spoke to other musicians and they were finding the same, that there was just something lacking, a lack of fun.

“And it was only when I got back to playing gigs that I realised what it was.

“What was missing was obviously the audience.

“I must admit that I had always thought that the audience didn’t matter too much as a musician but it does. I have changed my mind because of the pandemic. It’s really lovely being in front of people and playing to people. I’ve been front of audiences all my life but I realised that to make the best music that I can make, I do have to have that audience and it was just something that I had got completely wrong over the years, just not realising how important those audiences are so it’s really great to be back.”

He is touring with The Gigspanner Big Band, a line-up of six: “It’s a folk band because we all play that sort of music but the musicians are not necessarily folk musicians.

“Everyone in the band is open to spontaneously drifting away from the formal score which is great.

“And I really enjoy playing with them because it allows me to play in the way that I like to play and that means I’ve got no excuse not to play well.

“I have to constantly remind myself that when music first started it came from the sounds of nature but we are easily influenced by what comes through on the radio and influenced to play in a certain way. I’m constantly looking for a different vocabulary in which I can choose to express myself. My challenge is always to be expressing myself in different ways and to follow different paths.”

Peter and his wife have lived in France for the past ten to 12 years, near Limoges.

“It is absolutely lovely . We moved because we could afford to have something that we couldn’t afford over here. We’ve got the house, a couple of barns and a bit of land and a studio in one of the barns and it was all for just two and six more or less! Much cheaper than it would have been in England and we just love it there.”