Entry Requirements: 18+
“There are buskers that will make you cry, they’re so good”, according to cult Americana artist Andrew Bird. “And then there are busk-ers that will take you to a place where sound and energy merge to create a kind of spiritual ecstasy, a joyful affirmation of life itself.” CC Smugglers, who have made the transition from the street to the stage with consummate ease and considerable acclaim, exemplify the latter, and then some.
The Bedfordshire-based band started out as “guerrilla buskers”, hijacking queues waiting to see other artists, or commandeering un-derground trains and escalators. They got their big break by playing outside every UK tour date of the two-time Grammy Award-winning Old Crow Medicine Show. Not even a severed artery on his finger could stop frontman Richie Prynne – he delayed surgery to lead the six-piece on the audacious escapade. So impressed were the Old Crow Medicine Show with a “ hugely engaging performance ” ( Sunday Times ), they invited them to share their platform on the remaining dates.
It was Richie who formed the band after busking alone for some years as a teenager. He enlisted the help of Dan Edwards (double bass) Ryan Thomas (lead guitar) and Sam Barrett (rhythm guitar and fiddle) who formed the Bedfordshire contingent of the band for several years. They were joined last year by Tom Seals (keys) and Iain Mcfarlane (drums) both accomplished young players: “Their influences have really allowed us to explore more contemporary challenging arrangements” said Richie, as is evident on recent single ‘Money’.
Last summer saw the band selling out venues in their own right, and stealing the headlines at the Cornbury, Glastonbury and Camden Rocks Festivals, among others. They went on to play further afield at some of Europe’s biggest festivals including sharing the bill with Bruce Springsteen at the prestigious Werchter Festival in Belgium along with dates in The Netherlands, Germany, Czech Republic and more.
2017 started off with an appearance at the O2’s huge Country to Country (C2C) festival in London and a set at Eurosonic in The Nether-lands, and they are confirmed for a run of festivals this summer including Cambridge Folk, Cropredy Festival, Montreaux Jazz and more.
A rapid rise that has elicited critical plaudits from the Sunday Times culture Section, bluesman Seasick Steve , roots guru Bob Harris (“just brilliant”) and BBC 6 Music’s Cerys Matthews , who describes them as “the best live band on the scene at the moment”. Even Jon Snow is a fan, as indeed is Princess Beatrice . Prynne reckons the reason for their success is simple: “Showmanship and really good music invariably speaks way beyond any genre. We play good, original music with inspiration plucked from the rhythms and instrumentation that inspired most of today’s modern music. We like to think most people connect in some way.” Listen to CC Smugglers and you’ll hear the ghosts of American folk music, swing, jazz, country, ragtime and bluegrass. Listen more closely and you’ll hear contemporary touchstones such as hip hop, metal, dubstep, house and dancehall. Nothing is off limits for this outfit.
“Six years ago I was a singer-songwriter, handing out CDRs with a photocopied sleeve,” recalls Prynne. “Nowadays we’re a tight-knit team of good honest friends who truly love what we’re doing. Over the years we’ve developed an ethos and consequently a reputation for innovative self promotion, original, creative compositions and dogged hard work; values learned in part from working our way up from street performers. It’s hard work that continues to pay off. The dream is nowhere near realised.
CC Smugglers new single ‘Dirty Money’ is out now.
- Original music inspired by American and World Folk -
“Great live. Just Brilliant.” - Bob Harris // Radio2
The natural born, ‘self-made’ showmen CC Smugglers have worked their way up from young street performers to playing some of the biggest festivals and venues in the UK and Europe.
“The best live band on the scene at the moment.” - Cerys Matthews // BBC6 Music
Fronted by charismatic front-man ‘with a song running off of every page’ - Richie Prynne engages with an audience within seconds of stepping up and conducts the show with ‘infectious joy’.
“Hugely engaging live performance” Paul Sexton // The Sunday Times
Together the sextet of multi-instrumentalists perform with a genuine and now almost infamous chemistry.
The band has become renowned for producing fresh and unafraid blends of old-time/world-folk styles & instrumentation; hitting home the unique and contemporary British songwriting with skill, charisma and passion.
“Besides the infectious joy they exude while playing, their understanding of the music is so deep as to make it sound effortless.” - Alex Petropoulos // Songlines Magazine
For CC Smugglers creating a show designed to captivate and thrill an audience is a skill they have well honed. These slick and exciting performances have allowed them to rocket through the ranks in the live scene and build a reputation for real music, proper showmanship and damn good times.