Interview with film-maker Sam Holloway, plus performance.
Ali George is an extraordinary singer-songwriter and guitarist from Bath, UK. He has supported folk acts such as: Martin Simpson, Roy Harper, Gren Bartley, Steve Tilson, Nick Harper and Rory McLeod.
Ali has made five albums of original material and performed at Glastonbury and The Village Pump (Trowbridge) festivals, and venues such as the Wiltshire Music Centre, The Michael Tippett Centre in Bath, and countless smaller venues in Bristol and the South West.
When Ali was six his school teacher implored his parents to buy him a guitar, as she had discovered it was the only way to get him to sit still. They did, and thus began the songwriting career of Ali George.
He was in his first band by the age of ten. By sixteen he had traded his electric guitar for a Yamaha acoustic and was performing solo gigs in pubs and venues around Bath and the South-West, recording demo albums, and developing his skills as a songwriter. In 2003 Ali was interviewed for the first time by Decode magazine; his first E.P. Songs was described as “ingenious”.
Over the next few years Ali gigged extensively. His first official album, Danish Eyes was self-released in 2006. It was inspired by Nick Drake’s Pink Moon, and Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are a’Changin’. It consisted purely of vocals and guitar, giving it a stark yet intimate feel. Later that year he created a music video for the title track of the album with his cousin Jack George, which was televised and won a young film-maker’s award.
In 2011, after a few years of issues with his vocal chords, and having to limit his singing, Ali released the eclectic and atmospheric album, You Always Burn Your Feathers in which he established a more mature, and authentic sound. He also experimented with longer, darkly epic songs with unusual open tunings. Irish violinist Katie Stone-Lonergan played on several songs, and he began being more experimental in the studio, adding over-dubbed melodeon, vocals and slide guitar.
After this album launch Ali started looking for a vocalist who could harmonize on his songs. His friend, the singer and performer Ruby Brown, was the perfect choice. They began rehearsing and working on new material. Ruby’s powerful and beautiful voice complemented Ali’s music perfectly, so they began gigging together regularly. That summer they performed in the 2011 Bath Folk Festival.
2013 saw the release of Ali’s third album, The Snow Ballad, which included hauntingly beautiful backing vocals from Ruby Brown. That summer Ali performed many of the songs from the album with a three-piece band at Glastonbury Festival, on the Band Stand.
In 2016 Ali released Fallen Jewel, his most polished record to date, which featured the renowned and unforgettable Beth Porter on Cello. Some of the songs featured Ali on electric guitar for the first time, giving the album a fresher, brighter tone, including a tour de force solo on the rock ballad Faded Out. Elation Spark showed some of Ali’s inspirations from Classical guitar, and Mushroom Picking demonstrated his love of Ragtime music. Fallen Jewel was launched with a five-piece band at The Chapel Arts Centre in Bath, with great success.
By this time Ali had accrued a large amount of as yet unrecorded material. He decided to collect some of these lost songs together in a concept album about lost innocence and reflection. The recording and production took almost two years to complete and The Old Innocence was finally released on CD in March of 2018. The songs in the collection were written over a period of 15 years (The oldest being the opening track Innocence - a song Ali wrote when he was eighteen). The album was recorded on a Zoom H2n (a relatively modest recording device), and features Ruby Brown and Katie Stone-Lonergan, who appeared on You Always Burn Your Feathers in 2011.
In September 2018 an upcoming U.K. record label called Myriad Pink released a four track mini-album of Ali's songs called The Old Innocence E.P. It includes selections from the album The Old Innocence. The song Times Of Hunger was also released as a single.
Ali is currently promoting his latest albums, performing both solo and with his band.
The British National Library have recently added six of Ali's releases to their permanent collection.