On the Road with the legendary Albert Lee

On the Road with the legendary Albert Lee

Ross Spurdle is a musician’s musician. He’s been playing keys since the age of six, and his career has taken him through function bands, to session work, to accompanying contestants on The Voice, and more recently becoming the touring keyboardist for legendary guitarist Albert Lee. After four busy tours we caught up with Ross as he prepares his rig for the coming year on the road...

[MPS]
You’ve played with quite a range of artists throughout your career; who are you working with at the moment?

[RS]
I currently have the pleasure of working with Albert Lee. So honoured to be playing on his European tours.

[MPS]
You are a truly diverse musician; from session work, to touring artist, to a successful function band, and also producing music for TV, movies and games; What kind of work do you get the most satisfaction out of?

[RS]
I've probably got the most enjoyment out of touring, it's so much fun and you get to see so many new places, but creatively I get a lot of fulfilment through composing.

[MPS]
Drawing on your live music experiences, can you pick out a favourite gig?

[RS]
That's really hard to pick just one, there's a particular gig that comes to mind, last year I had to gig 2300 meters on top of a Swiss mountain for an exclusive show with Albert. We had to get all the equipment in ski lifts which wasn't easy, and then trek to the venue through a blizzard. It was certainly the most ridiculous location I've ever played in but the crowd was awesome and we had such a laugh through the entire experience.

[MPS]
Albert Lee is connected to some of the biggest names in music and his influence runs very deep, can you tell us a little about your experiences touring with him?

[RS]
It's been a dream and an honour touring with Albert, he's such a genuine and lovely guy, he has such a great sense of humour too. The whole band get along so well and have a lot of fun, which is so important when you are on the road with each other for 4 months out of the year.

[MPS]
Who do you count among your own musical influences?

[RS]
To name just a few, Jerry Lee Lewis, Jools Holland and in more recent years, Cory Henry and Bill Laurance.

[MPS]
If you could go back to any musical era what would it be?

[RS]
The 60s was an insane time for music legends in their prime. Etta James, Marvin Gaye, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Ray Charles, The Beach Boys, Johnny Cash, Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Dusty Springfield, Miles Davis... my list could go on and on. I would have been out watching gigs every night of the week haha.

[MPS]
What kind of keyboard do you prefer to play?

[RS]
For years I've mostly used the Roland RD 700 stage series as my main keyboard. I realised just how versatile they can be a few years back I was playing in a resident karaoke band, where our setlist was around 500 songs from all different styles and eras, from the 50s to modern day pop. I had all 100 memory banks filled with custom made patches to cover the set, plus an external USB with another 100 patches for songs that were less likely to be picked.

[MPS]
Do you feel anchored to one brand or are you fairly agnostic? 

[RS]
Nowadays, playing with different acts and using more rental gear I've started branching out into other brands like Yamaha and Nord. Although I find them great keyboards that have insane presets for organs, strings and other samples, when it comes to how it feels under your fingers when using a concert grand patch - I haven't found one to-date that can match the hammer action and mimicked ivory touch of the Roland stage keyboards. When you close your eyes it's like your playing a Steinway.

[MPS]
Tell us about your BlueSky, what made you chose it?

[RS]
I first discovered the BlueSky a couple of years back when writing and recording a soundtrack for a video game. Me and my colleague were doing some research into reverb effects and saw how awesome the BlueSky sounded and then immediately thought, we need to put this through a keyboard or synth. Nowadays, I'm using a lot of different setups depending on who I'm playing with and I wanted consistency in my EP and piano reverbs. The BlueSky is second to none, is very user friendly and just sounds incredible.

[MPS]
Is there any advice you can offer to people starting out on their musical journeys?

[RS]
Networking is a massive part of the industry, just don't force yourself on people. I'm so lucky that nearly all my best friends I've met through work. Just be polite, be yourself, work hard, always be willing to learn, act professionally and things will start to happen.

 

Find out more about Ross' music production work
Buy tickets for Albert Lee's 2019 concert dates 

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