From the Arizona Daily Star the week of June 11-18, 1999
From fan to tour agent Tucsonan is Lindisfarne’s man in U.S.
by Gene Armstrong
Pat Garrett was a 22-year-old folk musician playing in English hotel bars when a waiter in Essex introduced him to the music of Lindisfarne. It was the English rock group’s debut album, “Nicely Out Of Tune.”
Garrett, now a 49-year-old Tucson furniture salesman, was immediately hypnotized by Lindisfarne’s easygoing combination of rock, folk, Celtic, blues and country music.”A lot of their songs are about people doing regular things – songs about personal growth and character and being a musician and playing on the road,” Garrett says during a recent interview in the restaurant at the Triple T Truckstop. “Being away from home as I was, a lot of the songs really hit home with me.”
Garrett, who was raised in Tucson and graduated from Amphi High School, has remained a die-hard Lindisfarne fan since. More than 25 years later, Garrett finds himself booking Lindisfarne’s summer American tour and acting as the group’s tour manager. Garrett and his wife, Maria, will travel with the group and see each show. He’ll even celebrate his 50th birthday on the road next month with his favourite band. “It’s the best birthday present I could give myself,” he says.
Named for an island off the coast of England, Lindisfarne started 30 years ago in the town of Tyneside near Newcastle, where its members still live. The band has released more than 20 albums to date. Lindisfarne was never as popular with American audiences as were other English folk-rock bands, such as Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span. But the group has continued to enjoy a thriving career in Britain.
Although Lindisfarne’s main singer-songwriter, Alan Hull, died in 1995, the group bounced back within a couple years with an infusion of new talent. Lindisfarne last year released its most recent album, “Here Comes the Neighbourhood,” on which members old and new contribute gently cantering rock songs. The recording was produced by American rocker Sid Griffin, formerly of the band Long Ryders and an avid rock historian.
How did Pat Garrett – yes, that’s his real name – finally start working with the band ? When Garrett talks about periods in his life, he relates them to eras in the history of Lindisfarne. After his short stint playing music in England, Garrett was back in the States by the mid-1970’s. He returned to Tucson in the early ’80s. One night in 1988, inspired by old Lindisfarne’s LPs and encouraged by a “nice bottle of wine,” Garrett decided to track down the band on the phone. He eventually found himself speaking to Lindisfarne’s drummer, Ray Laidlaw. The two struck up a friendship that grew incrementally stronger. The band eventually invited Garrett and his wife to Newcastle on holiday.
One thing led to another, and Garrett became Lindisfarne’s principal American contact. Although Garrett has played music as an amateur for years, he never imagined he’d been booking and managing an entire tour. “It’s been extremely gratifying and a lot of hard work,” he says. “I’ve been learning something completely different. It’s been challenging in a really good way.” In the process, Garrett may have discovered a new calling. The England-based Park Records, Lindisfarne’s label, already has Garrett planning American tours for English bands such as Pentangle and Tarras.
“The whole thing has been snowballing and it looks like pretty soon I may have a new career.”