The story, as it is told, is thus…

In late October 1981 a pretty 30 year old girl (albeit with, photos attest, a perm that these days would be considered questionable) walked into an orchestral rehearsal at Handsworth Grammar School, Birmingham. Ignoring the assorted instrument cases, bags, coats, jackets and school children she made a beeline for the conductor. Even with his back to the auditorium he sensed a presence and wheeled around just enough as she began to speak..

“Hello Daddy….”

And so it came to pass that a child was born. And Daddy and Mummy were delighted. However, little by little, one thing at a time, it became clear that their fears were to become realities, and worse still they knew better than anyone that there was simply no cure for this plight.

He was a musician.

He practically snatched the dusty old clarinet out from the cupboard under the stairs, and barely stopped to adjust his tuning whilst racing to the highest award offered by the Associated Board of the Royal School of Music by just 11 years old. Sensing an opportunity to pass on the family gene (a problem shared being a problem halved) Daddy tried to teach him the piano. Sadly this endeavour was doomed from the outset, as children don’t listen to their parents, and musicians (even at 7) have little time for the opinions other musicians.

At 11 though an odd thing happened. Being a human male, and being 11, an interest welled within him. One that being a clarinettist would never quell. Mummy hated football though, so she bribed him with the purchase of a saxophone, promising that it would get him laid. So to speak.

With the shackles of being 1st Clarinet at the City of Birmingham Wind Orchestra thrown off, he embraced the saxophonists life and all that came with it… soul and jazz mainly… leading the Arthur Terry School Soul Band through an unprecedented appearance at Ronnie Scott’s and just about keeping up with the trumpeters at the Midland Youth Jazz Orchestra.

During all this, the mathematicians among you may realise, Britpop happened. And with this he developed the obligatory devotion to such flights of fancy as ‘playing the guitar’ and more far fetched still, ‘being in a band’.

First there was The Bad Robots (2007 – 2010). They were young, and as such it was still OK for them to be a ska band. They played the North London circuit, focusing on their sell out residency at The Enterprise in Camden Town, and then took the risky decision to do a TV show. They were well received by Jo Whiley, Edith Bowman (Radio 1) and Alex Zane as well as industry reps from Universal in particular (Less so by Lily Allen but struggled to give a shit) and placed 3rd nationally after 12 weeks of TV bulls**t. It did however result in a national tour (including a sold out Camden Town Barfly) and interest from several indie labels including Waterfall in Norway and Fierce Panda and B-Unique in the UK. But alas it was not to be.

Next there was Dead on TV. A bit older, they decided to expand to 5 members allowing him to focus on keys (which, without the distraction of a much older, more accomplished and well intentioned father figure he had excelled at and come to love) and expand their sound into something a bit more electro poppy. Named MTV’s best band in the UK, and 2nd in the same Europe wide competition, they poured their creativity into the independently released album ‘Once Upon a Time‘ and the accompanying art series and short film. But alas, nothing further was to come of it.

So now I shall move to the present tense, and the first person.

Since settling in The Bay Area I’ve been lucky enough to work with Play Cafe, BATS Improv, All Terrain Theatre and Theatreworks Silicon Valley to name a few. I am a freelance composer, songwriter, musical director or any combination of the above.  Hell, I’ll even play the clarinet if you ask nicely enough, with cash.

You can contact me at philsurteesmusic@icloud.com

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