“Steve ‘interesting’ Davis is actually really interesting,” says Dave Harper about the snooker legend who’ll be swapping his cue for decks to perform a DJ set as part of a music cruise.
As well as taking to the floating stage aboard the DFDS ship as drummer with Sunderland’s Frankie & the Heartstrings, Dave has made waves programming the musical entertainment for the North Sea Sounds mini cruise which sets sail for Amsterdam from North Tyneside in November.
The series of music-themed cruises see the tables turned on stereotypical cruise liner entertainment with voyages featuring acts including Lindisfarne, Craig Charles Funk & Soul Club and Smoove & Turrell.
The high seas gig Dave’s had a helping hand in steering on November 18 will have a Mackem twang.
While headliners Frankie & the Heartstrings play top of the bill on the outward slot, fellow Sunderland musicians Hyde & Beast, which features Dave Hyde of Futureheads fame and Neil Bassett of the Golden Virgins, will headline on the return leg.
There will also be a DJ set from Peter Brewis of Field Music, and performances from former Futureheads frontman Barry Hyde, who recently released his debut solo album Malody; folk quartet The Cornshed Sisters and Tom Fletcher, pedal steel guitar player with Hyde & Beast and The Lake Poets.
As well as a set from snooker champion Steve Davis whose musical ear has seen him enjoy guest slots as a DJ on BBC 6Music, as well as regular appearances in London nightspots.
“Steve’s a great guy,” said Dave. “He’s got a local connection too as he’s married to a woman from Sunderland and they’ve got his photo up in Crozier’s fish and chip shop in Sunderland. What more could you want?
“He came to our first album launch in London so we met him then. He plays some great tracks in his set, he has impeccable taste in music, particularly in prog rock and Northern Soul. He DJ’d at Glastonbury and is really well thought of. Considering he was sometimes called Steve ‘interesting’ Davis he’s really interesting and actually hilarious. The uninteresting tag is just an urban myth.”
Dave says the cruise is a great chance to see a stellar line-up of acts whose individual gig prices would rack up to more than the cruise ticket price, which starts from £63.
“It’s a great chance to see these acts,” said Dave. “As well as the headliners, there’s acts like Tom who is a really well thought of musician who’s played loads of guitar festivals.”
Speaking about the Heartstrings’ involvement, he said: “We were initially involved a couple of years ago when it was first suggested that we play on one of the music cruises. Because of scheduling it never happened, but it was always in my mind that we could programme something and put it together like a showcase of funk and Northern Soul
“As a band we want to perform on interesting stages.”
Dave and guitarist Michael McKnight juggle gigging with running their Pop Recs culture hub in Stockton Road, Sunderland.
The record store, coffee shop, arts space and gig venue, which has been championed by the likes of James Bay and Tim Burgess of The Charlatans, opened in its new home thanks to a crowd-funding campaign which raised more than £13,000.
Dave says Pop Recs is a hard slog, but it’s one they think will take off over time.
“The shop is really hard work and we barely make enough money to keep it open but we still think what we do is important, people just need to grab hold of it more,” he said.
The shop is a shining example of the DIY approach to arts and culture which exists in Sunderland, one, it’s hoped, will help it win the City of Culture 2021 title which could spark a host of cultural activity on Wearside.
Dave said: “I’ve been behind the bid from the beginning and I have no reason to support it other that I genuinely think it will be a positive thing for the city. I’m a very proactive person, I like to see things happen. And the real test of the bid is what happens if we win the title. It would be just the kick we need as a city and we need to capitalise on it and use it as a shot in the arm to get where we want.”
The North Sea Sounds music mini cruises see the ferry operator’s Newcastle-Amsterdam ships transformed into floating concert venues, offering customers the chance to enjoy a cruise and concert in one.
Prices for the autumn mini cruises start from £63 per person, including en suite cabin accommodation on board and up to five hours to explore the Dutch capital. This year’s line-up of musical talent features:
•Craig Charles Funk & Soul Club and Smoove & Turrell – departs Friday, September 30
•Lindisfarne & Martin Stephenson – departs Sunday, October 16
•Hyde & Beast, Frankie & The Heartstrings and Steve Davis vs Field Music – departs Friday, November 18
•Bowie Ball tribute show – departs Friday December, 2
Book at www.dfds.co.uk/music or call 0871 522 9955.
•We’ve teamed up with DFDS to give away three pairs of mini cruise tickets, worth more than £120 a pair, for the Frankie & the Heartstrings / Hyde & Beast cruise on November 18 which includes live performances on board, two nights on board the ferry in an en-suite cabin, coach transfers to and from Amsterdam city centre and up to five hours in Amsterdam.
To be in with a chance of winning, answer this question: in which sport was Steve Davis a world champion?
Fill in your answer and full contact details on a postcard and return it to DFDS Competition, Katy Wheeler, Johnston Press North East, 2nd Floor, Alexander House, 1 Mandarin Road, Rainton Bridge Business Park, Houghton le Spring, DH4 5RA.
Alternatively, you can email your answer and full contact details to Katy.Wheeler@jpress.co.uk
Closing date: September 1.