Recently an email popped into my in-box from AUK Features Editor Clint West telling me it was my turn to write the ‘Small Venue Heroes’ article. Now I have to admit I’d forgotten all about this new feature as it had only been running for a few months. So, I had to rack my brains as to who I was going to write about and one name kept coming to the fore: Danny Wilson. Now for most of our contributors that might have an easy article to write but I had to wrestle with my conscience as I’ve known Danny since he was five and he’s the husband of my daughter Jasmine and father to two of my five grandchildren! But ‘why not?’ won the mind wrestle and I decided that he is my Small Venue Hero and thoroughly deserves to be included in this series.
Danny is well known in the world of americana in the UK. He started when he was a teenager with his brother Julian in a band called Soul Green. They then moved onto the superb and much missed Grand Drive before Julian decided that being in a band wasn’t for him and they split up. Danny however continued to write songs and make music and formed the much-admired Danny & The Champions Of The World who are still going strong making records and gigging all over the UK and Europe. He’s also part of Bennett Wilson Poole and recently has been doing a lot of solo gigs as Danny George Wilson sometimes accompanied by the guitarist from The Champs, Paul Lush – are they still solo gigs if there are two of them?
Now like all musicians, Danny’s had his ups and downs and has played at a number of big capacity venues over the years but it’s the smaller ones where you can appreciate his songs especially when it’s just him on acoustic guitar. As a solo artist I’ve seen him play at Lock 17, the late lamented 12 Bar Club, The Windmill in Brixton, The Bedford Arms and most recently at the superb Sound Lounge in Sutton where he can be heard and seen at his best. Knowing Danny as well as I do, I’m still amazed by the breadth of songs he writes and sings and I’m a big fan of his prodigious talent. Yes, I’m biased (who wouldn’t be) but even if I’d didn’t know him personally, I’d be a big fan of his music.
The whole point of this series if to praise our small venue heroes and whilst I’d love Dan to be playing some of the bigger venues, I’m more than happy to see him enjoying himself at a small, intimate venue where he can be seen and heard at his finest. He’s got great stage presence and always seems at ease in front of an audience who really love him and his music.
So, if you get the chance, get down to the Sound Lounge in leafy Sutton one evening and see Danny play one of his regular gigs in one of the finest venues south of the river and maybe Danny George Wilson can become your Small Venue Hero too.