The passion play continues for a prog rock veteran who loves his job
"I truly love what I'm doing; I'll never give it up," declares erstwhile Jethro Tull guitarist Martin Barre, on his way to rehearse with his new band for a tour that kicks off at Tavistock Wharf next weekend.
For the musician who was so terrified of performing as a gifted teenager that it took him ten years to pluck up the courage to stand in front of a live audience, he hasn't done too badly as a professional rock star.
And with the globally successful prog band with which he made his name now resigned to the history books, at 66 Martin has seized his newfound freedom with incredible enthusiasm and vigour.
Not only is he taking to the road to perform a lively, heavyweight, fired-up blues and rock-fuelled set, peppered with Tull classics, he also has a brand new album up his sleeve.
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He played a few band gigs last year and the line-up has now been honed to feature young Devon singer songwriter Dan Crisp on vocals, drummer George Lindsay and saxophone, flute and harmonica player Frank Mead.
"We've got some really good new tracks to play and we have been working to improve all the time, chopping out anything that's weaker than the rest and getting some blues standards in there," says Martin, who says his aim is to move people – both physically and emotionally.
"I think the audience should be able to bop to the music; I want them to feel the excitement from the stage."
Perhaps unusually for a veteran of his standing and experience, Martin is always ripe for fresh musical experiences and ready to learn from other artists both old and new. Recently he's witnessed old friends Fairport Convention down at St Ives, and travelled to Bristol to see Robert Plant in concert.
"That was an amazing show," he says. "It's inspiring to see other bands and I find it such a pleasure.
"If you have passion and enthusiasm, then it will come out in your music. I never tire of playing at all and I still want to improve as a guitar player. There's a whole other level to get to yet, so many facets; it's not just about the technical side of it.
"There's always a great piece of music that you haven't written yet.
"I love melody and if you can write something that people can hum and recognise as a 'nice tune', it's a very powerful thing.
"Age isn't a criteria for making good music, but young kids do have a lot of energy; they can write simple stuff and really empower it. As an entertainer you owe it to yourself to find out why an audience likes the things they do, and not just dismiss it because it's new. That really is the beginning of the end."
As opposed, of course, to the start of a new chapter, which is marked by Martin's classical crossover LP Away the Word, which will be on sale on the tour.
It is the fruit of happy and absorbing recording sessions at his home in the Devon countryside near Plymouth.
"I've been wanting to do it for ever. It was great fun and very self-indulgent. The whole album was just me and an engineer doing a track a day; it was fantastically easy and just fell into place. It's a very positive album, easy on the ear and very tranquil," he says. "You can sit and listen to it and let the mood envelop you."
It combines recent music written by Martin with new treatments of some appropriate Jethro Tull pieces from the past.
"It's quite an exciting project and next year I am going to take it out on the road with a four-piece acoustic band of guitars and mandolins and whistles for a series of small, high-quality gigs," he reveals.
"Getting out there to perform is a vital part of the whole thing. Just imagine if Hendrix or Mozart or McCartney had just spent their lives in a room with all their music..."
Martin Barre and his band play at Tavistock Wharf on Saturday, September 28, and is also taking part in the Blues in the Bay Festival at the Princess Pavilion, Falmouth on October 12, and the Budleigh Salterton Public Hall on November 10. For more details visit martinbarre.com.