If the name of Boo Hewerdine isn't immediately familiar to you, then some aspect of his work almost certainly will be.
You may know the songs Patience of Angels or Joke as recorded by Eddi Reader or Last Cigarette by KD Lang. You may have heard author Nick Hornby singing his praises or enjoyed the incidental music to the film Fever Pitch. You may even have been moved by the song Bell, Book and Candle during Tricia's deathbed exit from TV soap Emmerdale.
Boo Hewerdine was responsible for all of the above and so much more. Easily one of Britain's foremost singer songwriters, certainly one of the most underrated, I caught up with him prior to his appearance at this year's GuilFest to ask, does he mind that people may only know his songs sung by other artists?
"It's my job to write songs and I'm quite proud of that, so however people come across them, either on my records or someone else's, that's fine. I do write deliberately for other people like Eddi Reader and I have songwriting partners who I'll work with. We'll pitch into a studio in London and just write. The more you write, it's like a muscle, the stronger it gets and you're ready when the good ideas come.
"KD Lang for example, I heard she was making an album of songs about smoking, so I sent My Last Cigarette to her and she liked it. I was surprised she recorded it, because she had already recorded a song with the same title but I love her version, it was much better than mine.
"She got in touch with me before her album launch at Ronnie Scott's in London and we practised the song together. She said: 'That's great, I'll do four of mine, then you come out for the last one and we'll sing Last Cigarette together.' Unfortunately she fell off her stool during the fourth song and was so mortified that she left the club immediately. I was left standing in the wings and I've never seen her since!"
Boo started out as lead singer with bands such as The Great Divide and The Bible who, if there were any justice, should have tasted far more success than they did. I wondered if Boo missed fronting his own band?
"No I don't actually, I really love what I do now. I still work with Bible guitarist Neill MacColl (half-brother of Kirsty), who's producing the album I'm working on at present. I think The Bible were a really good group who were just a bit unlucky, but I'm not really bothered by it. Of the five members in the band, three of us are still deeply involved in making music."
One unabashed aficionado is author Nick Hornby who listed The Bible's Glorybound as one of his favourite songs, observing that Boo's music "aches and that ache is pop music's rarest, most valuable commodity".
Boo says: "Nick wrote a very nice piece about us for his book Thirty One Songs. I knew him when we both lived in Cambridge; he would always tell us that he was trying to write and eventually he got a short story on Radio 4 and told us to have a listen it was just fantastic, incredibly funny and very good. When people you know do something that good it's a bit of a shock."
It is noticeable of late that more television programmes are seeking out original material to enhance their dramatic effect. Yet when Boo got the call it came from a surprising source.
"Last year Steve, one of the scriptwriters at Emmerdale called to say he liked my music and asked if they could use Bell, Book and Candle. I wasn't sure at first but it turned out to be an amazing scene, it was very moving, someone dying to one of my songs. It went on to win an award for best soap exit' and this year they used another piece of my music which turned up in the winning best episode'; so I can write soap music, that's what I can do!"
Be sure to get to Guilfest early, as Boo Hewerdine is the opening act on the UnCut Stage. Don't miss him.
- Boo Hewerdine Guilfest Friday, July 15 01483 454159