Folk veteran in special gig

One of the greatest names in British folk rock shows off the next generation at a special gig in Chichester.

Ashley Hutchings will be joined by his son Blair Dunlop when they play the Chichester Inn on January 18.

Ashley was a founder member of three of the most important English folk-rock bands in the history of the genre, Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span and The Albion Band.

But he insists that 19-year-old Blair is far more naturally talented than he ever was himself.

“The great thing is that Blair and I are best friends. He has got his friends, but I can definitely say that he is my best friend, which is lovely. We share a lot of things and we talk an awful lot and in a lot of depth.

“And what I say to him is ‘Don’t force it’. I say to him ‘You will find your own path.’ I did. When I was his age, I was playing rhythm and blues entirely. I was obsessed with blues music. But all that changed within three years. I was playing in Fairport and a year later we invented British folk rock, if you like. Who knows what will happen?.

“But Blair has certainly become a very good song-writer. People in Chichester will hear quite a lot of new songs that he has written, that people are saying are very, very good, far better than his years and experience.

“From a very early age, both his mother and I knew that he was probably going to be a professional performer. He had been going on stage since he was about five or six years old, banging a tambourine, but when he was at school, he managed through a circuitous route to get an audition for the movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”

He got through the first audition, the second and then the third, by which time, as Ashley says, they were all taking it much more seriously. It was down to just him and Freddie Highmore for the part of Charlie.

Blair didn’t get it and there were plenty of tears, but a week later, Blair was invited back into the film to play the young Willie Wonka (ie the young Johnny De2pp) in flashback. Blair then went on to do a TV series.

“But all the time he was playing guitar.

And he just got better and better and the acting was superseded by his playing. His mother and I would hope he will do both. The acting is not necessarily over. But I would say that it was on hold while he is concentrating on his musical career.”

Tickets: 01243 774641.