Higher Ground - Cheshire's soul singers
PUBLISHED: 00:00 22 October 2014
From what started off as two rival bands in high school, Higher Ground has now grown into one of Cheshire's most established soul acts. We chat to drummer Craig Smith to find out more.
Sat in Craig Smith’s garden on a pleasant autumnal afternoon, you couldn’t help but notice the slight building work taking place on the patio. ‘That’s my new studio being built,’ said Craig as he brought out a pretty Le Creuset teapot and biscuits. ‘It’s a work in progress, but we are hoping to get it finished by October. It will be a practise space for the band and also a recording studio.’
The four-piece band, which consists of Danny Curwen on vocals and guitar, Richard Bridge as bass player, Wayne Morgan as lead guitarist and Craig as drummer, have been performing as Higher Ground for five years. ‘Believe it or not, Danny and I used to go to school together and were in rival bands,’ said Craig. ‘We formed a super-group in the end, so that was kind of the start of it all.’
All four band members are from either Stockton Heath or Warrington, and are regular performers in wine bars and upmarket hotels within the Cheshire area. They have also played at the Cheshire Life 80th birthday party at Mottram Hall earlier in the summer.
‘This is our full time job and as local lads, it’s great to play within our home county. Over the past three years, we have also been trying to push the wedding scene more, as well as individually pursuing touring with different motown and soul acts.’
Craig and Wayne, who started playing together over ten years ago, have recently been touring with the Four Tops and the Temptations and can travel for up to one month at a time with various soul legends.
‘Thankfully arena touring has always been out of wedding season,’ laughed Craig, ‘We have never had a clash so far. We love playing weddings. When the band are booked in, we always get the bride and groom to email us a list of their favourite songs and artists so we can produce a personalised set for them.’
As most people know, there is nothing worse than an empty dance floor at a party. Higher Ground aim to keep the dance floor full by watching to mood of the crowd: ‘We don’t arrive with just a standard set, we can mix and match to whatever is required,’ said Craig. ‘Our music is a cocktail of soul classics, modern day hits with a twist of indie and a splash of whatever you want it to be.’
Once the band’s permanent studio space is up and running, they are hoping to start posting videos of their acoustic sets online. ‘It would be great for once a month to upload a recording onto YouTube as a sort of video blog,’ said Craig. ‘We’re going to stop being so old fashioned and have more of an internet presence!’ n
To find out more, visit the band’s website: highergroundband.co.uk