|Jo Burt has performed with a lot of big-name musicians, but one of his fondest memories is as an audience member, hearing Jimi Hendrix at the Isle of Wight music festival when he was still a teenager.|
He was in the audience when legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix played one of his last shows and was on stage playing at the birth of the punk era. Along the way, the affable British singer, guitarist, bass player and songwriter has recorded, toured and performed with the likes of Black Sabbath, Jason Bonham, Brian Setzer, Bob Geldof, The Sweet and Freddie Mercury.
But these days, he prefers to devote his time and energy to his own original music with a message.
"I like to write about things that people will hopefully relate to," said Burt. "When
I do my live shows, I like to think that people leave having had some kind of thoughtful experience, whether it's about old-fashioned love â€¦ or loss.
"It's in the last few years, since I've grown up, I've realized the platform is there" he added. "And that there is a chance to get people to listen and think about things and not just be spoon-fed."
Although he calls a small village in the English countryside in Dorset home, "Thomas Hardy country" as he called it, he's been spending time in the Okanagan lately and will be playing a series of shows here with his own band, the Jo Burt Experience, including one Saturday at the Creekside Theatre in Lake Country.
Born in 1953, Burt grew up in the U.K. in a family that worked as entertainers - both his parents were music hall performers.
"In the U.K. we used to call it variety and over here, certainly in America, it was know as vaudeville. I spent most of my formative years travelling with them.
In fact, it was his father who guided him through his first musical steps on the piano before he received his first guitar at the age of 12. Self-taught on the six-string, Burt took it from there, ending up forming a band while at university in Bristol, England in the early '70s.
"I was completely soaked up by bands like The Who and Deep Purple, (Led) Zeppelin," Burt said.
"It was all starting to kick off then and I was getting old enough to start understanding what I liked."
Burt switched from guitar to bass when a particularly opportune opening came.
"It was a surefire way of getting into the best band at the time," he joked. Eventually, Burt's band got the opportunity to open in London for the Tom Robinson Band, one of the most influential groups of the British punk/new wave movement and that show resulted in a recording deal.
After that recording was done, Burt himself was asked to do more sessions, which forced him to move to London permanently while he pursued his next opportunity.
That came when punk forerunners The Troggs (of Wild Thing fame) came calling in the person of lead singer Reg Presley, who was looking for a bass player for a North American tour.
Burt jumped right in, joining the band and finding himself immersed in the burgeoning punk and new wave music scene on both sides of the Atlantic.
"Playing with the Troggs, the stage was being rushed by fans," he said. "And I was standing there thinking, I want some of this.
"It was a rock 'n' roll education. We had these huge rock 'n' roll stars coming into the dressing room, from Mick Jagger to Blondie."
After those heady times and back in England, Burt joined the activist Tom Robinson Band and later, Sector 27. That collaboration lasted from 1979 until 1984. A highlight, according to Burt, was opening for The Police on their first stadium tour of North America.
He rejoined TRB in the late '90s, playing with the group for several more years. In between, he worked on other projects for many famous artists.
Yet another gig was with Black Sabbath, playing with them in 1987 and '88 on their Eternal Idol tour through Europe.
Now concentrating on his own material, Burt recently finished recording his latest album with Chris Kimsey (Rolling Stones, Duran Duran, Peter Frampton) at the helm, and he promises some of that new material will be in his set at the Creekside Theatre. Henry Piovesan on keyboards, Dan Oldfield on drums, Barry Lamb on bass and guitarist Paul May will join Burt onstage at the Creekside show.
But Burt also relishes the opportunity during his live shows to tell a few tales from his rock 'n' roll storybook as well. So you might just hear about legendary performers and personalities from someone who was there.
Take for example, that Hendrix show. It was Aug. 30, 1970 when Hendrix took the stage at the huge Isle of Wight music festival and delivered a legendary performance in front of a crowd estimated at 600,000.
Burt was in his teens, but he remembers it well.
"It was pretty wild, it was really late," he said. "I remember sitting on the hill there and watching The Doors and The Who playing at four o'clock in the morning or something. It was chaos.
"But Hendrix was phenomenal."
Who: The Jo Burt Experience live in concert
Where: Creekside Theatre, 10241 Bottom Wood Lake Rd. in lake Country
When: Saturday, Aug. 31 at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $25 general, $23 student/senior or $84 group of four, available by calling 250-766-9309, or online creeksidetheatre.com
More info: joburt.co.uk/