James Blunt captures Brit Awards, heads back to the States for tour

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:: James Blunt :: Paramount Theatre :: March 30 :: 

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By Tim Dwenger

James Blunt. He became a household name in Europe last summer and the buzz is steadily building here in the States. He is the man who knocked Coldplay out of the number one spot on the charts in the U.K. in the summer of 2005 and accomplished something that has people comparing him to the likes of Rod Stewart and Elton John. He had both the number one single, “You’re Beautiful,” and the number one album, Back to Bedlam, on the U.K. charts for five straight weeks . The last time a male singer/songwriter managed to garner that kind of attention was in the ’70s when Rod Stewart was bringing the house down with hits like Every Picture Tells a Story’s “Maggie May” and Atlantic Crossing’s “Sailing.”

Recently — on the heels of winning two of the coveted Brit Awards (England’s version of the Grammy’s) — Blunt sat down to talk with The Marquee from backstage at a gig in Plymouth, England. “The Brit Awards were a great experience, I have attended them before, but it was a thrill to be receiving awards alongside bands like Coldplay, The Kaiser Chiefs and Kanye West,” said Blunt.

Blunt was awarded Best Pop Act, beating out mega-diva Madonna, and his award for Best British Male Solo Artist was presented to him by Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips.

With success like this comes attention, a whole lot of attention. “I get recognized almost every second these days. It really doesn’t bother me very much. The only time it really gets in the way is when I am trying to go to the loo and people just won’t let me by,” he said in his heavy British accent.

He seems to be handling his new status as a heartthrob and superstar very well, considering his last career wasn’t exactly glamorous. Upon graduating from university Blunt spent four years in the British Army. His assignment included being stationed in Canada and also in Kosovo. While in the army, Blunt kept himself focused on the music career he had dreamed about since he was a young boy. “I really looked at the army as my day job. I focused on it during the day and then at night I’d be out at the pubs with my mates or writing songs and playing music,” said Blunt.

In a lot of ways he seemed to have more time to focus on music when he was in the Army. The service being his “day job,” he was able to have the free time at night to do what he wanted. These days things are different and Blunt is facing the realities of what it means to be successful in the music business. “I write in the one spare minute I get a day,” he said. “Today we had load-in this morning, then we sound checked for an hour, now I have two hours of interviews and then I am off to a meet and greet before the show. It is a busy life and there isn’t much time for me to be creative.”

Apparently, Blunt has had some time over the last year to pen some new songs, because he admits that he and his band are playing some new tunes out on the road this year. “Well I guess I better play the tunes from the album right?” he joked before going on to say, “We are also working out a few new songs on the stage and we have just started playing a couple of covers, which is something we have never done before.” He doesn’t want to divulge the songs that he is covering, but is quick to say that they have been very well received.

It is hard to imagine what Blunt does on stage not being well received. His audience ranges in age from 13 to 60 and to say that the ladies are crazy about him would be putting it mildly. His high tenor voice is reminiscent of Elton John or David Gray and by most accounts his stage presence is captivating.

Blunt takes pride that he has accomplished so much in so short a time without becoming a slave to the industry. He remains very involved in the management aspects of his career and claims to love his busy life on the road. He stresses the fact that playing with a band made up of “all my mates” is a particularly bright spot for him.

Blunt and his mates will have a new addition to the mix when they arrive in Denver, and while it won’t be in the form of a new member, the addition will be a critical part of the sound of the band. “I am very excited to be coming back to Denver because it is a beautiful place with great venues and a good vibe, but also because I will be picking up a new 12-string guitar that is being made for me by Bob Dooney in Boulder,” said Blunt.

Dooney is the owner of The Guitar Cellar in Boulder and was kind enough to talk to The Marquee about the project and how it got started. “James and his band were in town for the AAA Radio Convention last summer and I got to hear him play and really enjoyed his music,” Dooney recalled. “I approached him after the show, we got to talking, and he ended up coming down to the store and really liked what he saw. He bought one guitar off the shelf and we started talking about a custom piece. He was really interested in a 12-string and decided we could help him out.”

The guitar, which Dooney is working on furiously to have completed for Blunt’s arrival in Denver at the end of the month, is a sunburst finished custom Dreadnought style 12-string that will work elements of Blunt’s dancing monkey logo into the design. While Blunt passed along his input into the design of the guitar, he left the majority of the design decisions up to Dooney and his staff. “We have been e-mailing back and forth over the past several months concerning the guitar and he is a really down-to-earth and accessible guy. I have enjoyed working with him,” Dooney said.

Provided everything goes according to plan, Blunt’s first songs on the new instrument will be played on stage at the Paramount Theatre in Denver when Blunt and his band take the stage.

Opening the show that evening will be one of Blunt’s personal favorite bands, The Boy Least Likely To …  Blunt describes them as “very poppy, kind of like the Magic Numbers. They are friends of mine and I invited them to come along on the tour with me. I like to be involved with the planning of things like that, as it really reflects on who I am,” he said. 

 

:: James Blunt ::

:: Paramount Theatre ::

:: March 30 ::

 

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