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Leo has been playing music for the last 45 years. His musical interests and influences are varied. His earliest influence (aged 7 - 10) was due to his mother (Flo) taking him regularly to visit his aunt's house in Stoke Newington on a Saturday. This was important as his aunt was an absolute Frank SInatra fan and had every album he recorded throughout the 1940s and 1950s. So, on these terrible boring days he ended up sitting in his aunt's living room trying to entertain himself with his aunt's record player and amazing record collection of hundreds of vinyl albums of Frank SInatra and Ella Fitzgerald singing jazz standards. To this day - if asked - this is still his favourite music - called 'self-imposed brainwashing' at a very early age.

At the age of 12 his parents bought a 'gramophone' enabling him him to purchase records and he began listening to blues performers such as: John Lee Hooker, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee and Sonny Boy Williamson. Sometimes these artists would visit the Ricky Tick in Windsor in the early 1960s and with his friends he would often go to there on Saturday nights. This opened up more influences by hearing regular guest performances of Steve Winwood (Spencer Davies Group), John Mayall, Georgie Fame, Zoot Money and Graham Bond. A highlight was when Jesse Fuller played and Leo sat for a long time chatting with this great blues singer of 'San Fransisco Bay Blues' fame.

The first time he was really hooked on wanting to play music was when two of his school teachers (Mr John Beadsley and Mr Laver) set up a lunch time record session and introduced him to the recordings of a newcomer on the music scene (1963) - Bob Dylan. Leo went to buy a Dylan album and the shop assistant had never heard of Dylan and the album 'Bob Dylan' had to be specially ordered. It was the playing and song writing of Bob Dylan that inspired Leo to start playing guitar - he was hooked.

Dylan was an absolute inspiration for Leo's exploration into music leading him through the investigation of Dylan's own influences. Names mentioned on the back of album covers were the starting point, and as a young boy of 14 Leo had to blindly purchase albums of the artists mentioned. He got record stores to import recrordings from the States and purchased Folkways Recordings of Woody Guthrie, Sonny Terry, Pete Seeger, Peter La Farge, Leadbelly, the Watson Family, Clarence Ashley and Cisco Houston. This was a period when the Beatles and Stones were on the music scene and his family and friends thought him to be a very strange individual. His interest grew in early American Old-Time-Country Music, specifically from Doc Watson and Clarence Ashley and throughout his teens he taught himself (from these old recordings) Guitar, 5-string banjo and Mandolin. The major influence on his guitar playing was Doc Watson from North Carolina (who became the second major influencer). The flatpicking style that Doc Watson originated playing fiddle tunes and rags on a steel string guitar has to this day under-pinned Leo's guitar playing on both acoustic and electric guitar.

In 1963 Leo decided to take guitar lessons - unfortunately, back then few people were teaching blues and folk guitar, and no one in Leo's circle of contacts were slightly interested in this music. So he decided to get the only lessons that were available - he started classical guitar lessons. This was a failure as it wasn't the type of music that he wanted to play but one positive thing came from it and that was an invitation (by his guitar teacher) to attend a folk session in a pub in Slough, and the two guest stars were Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger.

Leo was shocked to find his teachers Mr Beadsley and Laver there and they encouraged him to go and speak with Peggy, so during that session Leo spoke to Peggy Seeger and explained his love of American old-time Country Music and his yearning to learn to play and she invited this boy of 14 to visit hers and Ewan's home in Beckenham, Kent. These visits came to be on a regular basis where she allowed him to record many of her amazing collection of albums on her reel-to-reel Ferograph taperecorders (cassette recording machines were still new in concept and very expensive) and to give him lessons on guitar and banjo. Leo learnt Freight Train from Peggy in the style of Elizabeth Cotton, and this style of picking (Clawpicking) has formed the basis of his playing in all styles. Peggy is a life long friend and they are still in contact.

Leo fell in love with a modern string band of multi-talented musicians who were dedicated to keeping the American Folk Tradition alive in the 1960s, the band was 'The New Lost City Ramblers', and Peggy introduced Leo, in 1966, to Tom Paley and Mike Seeger (during a session in theSInger'sClub at Mount Pleasant, Kings Cross).

Fortunately Tom Paley (ex-New Lost City Rambler) was living in London and Leo began taking lessons on guitar and banjo from Tom on a regular basis and learnt about the music and playing styles of the early players like Uncle Dave Macon, The Carter Family, Gid Skillet and his City Lickers and many more old time players from the 1930s and 1940s.

Leo eventually, influenced by the exciting banjo style of Roger Sprung and Joe Locker (in Tom Paley's New Deal String Band') started playing Bluegrass 5 string banjo and was heavily influenced by the playing of Earl Scruggs and Lester Flatts and this interest led him to love and study the styles of some of the greatest acoustic musicians who play a genre generally called 'Jazzgrass' these were: Bela Fleck on 5-string banjo, Tony Rice on guitar, David Grisman and Sam Bush on Mandolin and the great Jerry Douglas on Dobro.

These players were taking the foundations of Bluegrass and leaning it heavily towards acoustic jazz. This was an ideal combination for Leo as it combined all of the strange early influences of Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Jazz Standards, acoustic blues, Bob Dylan, Old Time Country Music, Folk and Bluegrass together.

Later in life the two instruments that always escaped his attention, but he had a great love for, were the piano, violin and Cello - he started piano lessons in the late 1980s and achieved the classical UK grade 4 and his love and enthusiasm for the violin became focused when he heard the playing of Jay Ungar and began working on some of Jay Ungar's beautiful fiddle tunes like the Ashokan Farewell; but it soon become apparent that the technigue involved in playing violin was not something he could just pick up on his own. He therefore decided to take classical violin lessons over a focused period of three years from Andy Shaw, an amazing violinist with the Norfolk Symphony Orchestra and an incredible and versatile music teacher for Theory, Violin, Piano and Guitar.


Andy opened Leo's eyes to the wider picture of classical music and helped both Leo and his wife Sophie to take their grade 5 theory exams in 2002. Leo has now gone full circle, back to his folk and Bluegrass roots learning a number of Scottish, Irish and old-time american fiddle tunes.

He built his own violin at the Cambridge Violin Workshop under the tuition of Juliet Barker MBE and Kit Beament, and Violin Bow under the amazing tuition of Chris Halstead - a course that was also held at the Cambridge Violin Workshop. This inspired him to build his own workshop and has to date built two steel string acoustic guitars, a resophonic guitar, two violins and has started building three F5 mandolins and a Cello.



Musicians that Leo admires, besides Peggy Seeger, the jazzgrass guys and Doc Watson are:

Alison Krauss and Union Station,

Brian Sutton (Acoustic Guitar), Chris Thile (Mandolin),

Brian Sutton and Bela Fleck Buggle Call Rag

Emmy Lou Harris, Nanci Griffith, Eric Clapton, Ali Bain, Miles Davies, Heifetz, Harry Allen on Sax, Eva Cassidy, and many many more.

Over the last few years he has put together a CD in his recording studio.