Graham Shipcote has spent literally a whole lifetime in music.
Brought up in Geordie land, with roots music all around him (His father, Bill, was a jazz trombonist), Graham started busking on string bass with Round Eyes Ray in a duo called Hot Licks Cookies in the mid-eighties. After playing the City streets & arcades, they went on to folk clubs/cafes/pubs. The Hot Licks Cookies were well loved in vintage blues/roots circles and twice invited Stateside to the New Orleans Jazz Fest. They also accepted another invitation, waltzing around Israel playing various Kibbutz’s and a very hot Jewish/American folk festival. Around that time, and with a family life to consider, Graham & his pal Adam, started up the famous Jumpin Hot Club in Newcastle, bringing rockin’ roots, country and blues, reggae and world music to North East England, which is still going strong today, 35 years later.
Over 120 tunes!
Also a singer songwriter at heart, just before the turn of the millennium “Shippy” started putting his own unique material out on demo albums, recorded with / in Frankie Gibbon’s studio in Co Durham, which was originally a café in the old Lambton Lion Park. Various pals helped out (Vikki P, Stikks, Gypsy Dave). So this gave Graham the idea to form a roving band with all his musician chums and call it “ Shipcote & Friends”. Having recorded a few more demo albums (he’s wrote well over 120 tunes) & a great joint effort of Shippy songs with a young acoustic quartet “Mothers Ruin”, Graham then had all the pieces together for a resident & regular Shipcote & Friends.
“Shipcote Rides Again” from 2009 was the first proper album featuring Bryan Younger (guitar) & Jon Codd (Upright Bass). With Cath Reding (Fiddle/Accordion) coming along a year later, these musicians have been the nucleus of Shipcote & Friends for a decade & more. Shippy songs have not really changed either. They generally have a local jazzy swingy country flavour to them, with lots of North East interest in the lyrics. The band have recorded five fantastic albums, which have all been quite rightly warmly received…
All the tunes, brings a broad smile to the reviewer’s face. They’re that eccentricity in all the songs & performance that’s nevertheless so entertaining.Dave White – Rock n Reel
We get the reward of having something that sets up a warm glow inside each time the ‘play’ button is pressed.Loudon Temple – Maverick Magazine
He writes songs that are warm, humane and down to earth – and also leavened with a little gentle humour. I hope it’s only a matter of time, before his songs, get picked up by more commercial acts.John Davey – No Depression
Shippy writes very clever and intricate songs about the immediate world around him and the people who inhabit it; performing them in a warm, charming and laid-back Western-Swing meets American Folk via a traditional singer-songwriter hybrid that doesn’t particularly sound like anyone else I can think of.Chris Bartley – Link Mag
Graham has two brand new albums. Well, lockdown does have the odd positives.
“Local Stars” was written during 2020 & while strict pandemic allowance were observed, a ‘duo live in a studio’ album with just Shippy & Bryan was made, with the odd local guest. Here’s a preview review-
‘There’s a robust simplicity to these songs and the album as a whole. As I say the circumstances that surrounded the writing and subsequent recording were (hopefully) a once in a lifetime thing; and Shipcote has managed to use them to his advantage on one of his finest and fearsomely honest albums.”Alan Harrison -Rocking Magpie.
The other album’s called “ Pop Pickers”. This was produced by Graham’s old chum Martin Stephenson & recorded with their new fangled home recording devices in The Highlands & Gateshead upon Tyne. It feature’s Martin’s awesome guitar playing and some Shippy, Calypso, Pop & Reggae originals.
Alongside all this Shippy does a regular monthly “78 records & Stories” program on YouTube/social media, & an occasional Mr Wonderful interviews series.