Gig - John Crampton
Last time one-man blues band John Crampton played the Lansdown, just before Christmas, his performance was (quite literally) on fire. “My amp blew up”, he laughs, “The whole system conked out in the middle of the set.” Crampton returns tonight armed with a new PA system and the hope that “this one will last through”, he says. Crampton first started playing music when he was fifteen and taught himself the guitar and harmonica. He played in various bands in his 20s and 30s, supporting, amongst others, Ian Drury and the Blockheads at Hammersmith Odeon. Now he prefers to go it alone. “I’ve been playing solo for about twelve years now”, he tells me. “It’s much easier. Fewer arguments”. It must be difficult to juggle all the instruments though, like patting your head and circling your stomach at the same time? “Yes, it’s exactly like that. I’ve got my harmonica on a stand round my neck, my guitar, and my foot banging on a footbox which gives a sort of bass drum, and then I sing - when I’m not playing the harmonica obviously”.
Crampton’s influences are Howling Wolf, John Lee Hooker and, unexpectedly, flamenco, and you can hear them in the fast driving blues and bluegrass music which he delivers. Based in Brighton since “the summer of 1979”, he has played all over the country and abroad. He’s just returned from a Blues Festival in Europe. Nevertheless Crampton’s happy to be back in Lewes. “It’s is one of my favourite places to play”, he tells me, “the audience is really responsive.” ER