First island gig for Danny and The Champions

Danny & The Champions of the World, ready to hit the road on a tour that sees them perform thier first island gig. Photo: Peter James Millson.
Danny & The Champions of the World, ready to hit the road on a tour that sees them perform thier first island gig. Photo: Peter James Millson.

He has been making and touring his music for nearly 20 years, but Danny George Wilson has yet to gig in the Western Isles.

That’s all to change this month though as Danny & the Champions of the World perform at the Royal British Legion, Stornoway, next weekend.

“My parents have been as far as Skye, so I’ve heard all about the natural beauty up there – I’m so looking forward to literally seeing the land!” chuckled Danny in anticipation of the Hebrides show.

“We all have high hopes for the night and it’s always nice to meet new folk. We do tour quite a lot, but the Stornoway show is certainly very exciting and the one everyone’s talking about.”

The band’s 20-stop UK and Ireland tour brings their fourth album – Stay True – to music lovers the length and breadth of the country; and joining Danny are ‘The Champs’ - Chris Clarke (bass), Paul Lush (guitar), Steve Brookes (drums) and Geoff Widdowson (saxophone, organ).

They are the champs of the moment, but Danny & the Champions of the World has always been a pretty loose collection of great musicians, songwriters, stowaways and adventurers – with some former talents returning on ‘Stay True’.

“When I first started the Champs it was made up of people in other bands who were around at the time of us recording,” Danny expanded. “It’s always been a loose arrangement, very natural and organic.

“I didn’t want it to be a regular band but it needed to pull up its boots in terms of what we were giving people who’d paid to see us.

“The nice thing is that it’s stayed a bit of a revolving door – there are a lot of ‘forever Champs’ who come and play when they’re around. It’s great, it’s like a big school reunion!”

Although ‘Stay True’ marks album number four for Danny & the Champions of the World, it’s number 11 for Danny, with six records under his belt with the much loved Grand Drive, a band created with his brother, and one solo outing entitled ‘Famous Mad Mile’.

And for all the changes brought to the music industry through the advent of the internet, for Danny it’s all about making and performing music.

“The reality for me is you put on a guitar, write tunes and it’s the interaction with people that matters,” he said.

“When I started making music there was an exciting lack of knowledge,” continued the 41 year old.

“You’d be reading the weekly music papers to find out when an album was being released, or there was a PO Box number for you to write to. There was an intrigue about what bands did, music kept its mystery.

“The internet has made stars of people who maybe wouldn’t have been heard, it’s got them recognition quicker. But my life’s been mostly unchanged by the internet and the biggest aspect of music for me is touring,” he continued.

“The point of playing music is an immediate community thing – a live performance, that’s when music lives and breathes.”

And if you love live music, it’s a view you no doubt share – so make sure you don’t miss the Hebridean debut of the London folk/rock/soul band Danny & the Champions of the World. Tickets, £10, are available from WJ MacDonald (Butchers) in Stornoway, doors open at 7pm in the Royal British Legion, Stornoway, on Friday, November 22nd.