Hi folks! Here is my bio as told to Laurette who does our bookings and wrote it for me. I have left out the details of my life that are irrelevant and have no bearing on my music or my life today and, of course, the parts of my life I would rather forget, like four disastrous marriages which, fortunately, sometimes give me the inspiration for a song.
— Pete Devlin.
Pete Devlin, aka “English Pete”
Pete was born in a small, sleepy farming town in rural Wiltshire, England, a place the freeway (or motorway as they call it there) missed, in fact way before they were thought of.
Listening to the Bakerlite valve radio in the living room, he could pick up such stations as American Forces Network, a very powerful station broadcasting all over Europe.
There he heard Hank Williams, Lefty Frizell, Jimmy Rogers as well as popular tunes of the day, big band music, dixieland jazz, and the onset of rock ‘n’ roll.
Way after the end of the second world war, his home town was still surrounded by at least three large American bases, USAF Fairford and Brize Norton, and his favourite within walking distance, 5 miles, was USAF Burdrop, which was a hospital and training ground for medics and other personnel going off to Vietnam.
There in the officers mess, seated at the bar on a revolving stage, he wasted his teens away and got to see rockabilly, bluegrass, and country acts, as well as drinking Pabst and Schlitz, and smoking Lucky Strikes.
There was no such thing as security in those days. Who was there to worry about? Just a few curious local kids! And often as not, the sentry on duty was a friend. Even the camp commander would give him a ride in his jeep if he passed him on his way there.
All Pete wanted in those days was a pair of Levis with the cuffs turned up, a pack of “Luckies” in his rolled up T-shirt sleeve, and a Zippo lighter. With his hair greased up in a DA and later in the possession of a cast off vehicle left behind by a departing service man, Pete would cruise (when they could scrounge a few shillings for gas) the bases in his 56 Oldsmobile convertible.
At school Pete had picked up the guitar, and with a few friends they had a skiffle group, which included a tea chest bass and drums. Lots of groups had a washboard but “we were flash and had a real drummer”. We played the local cinema on Saturday mornings for the kids, between the serialised thrillers and the ice cream lady.
“I don’t think we had any real idea about what we were singing about, songs like Pick A Bale Of Cotton, Cumberland Gap, and The Wreck Of The Old Ninety Seven.” All this in the country side better known for Stonehenge, crop circles, prehistoric burial mounds, and UFOs.
He realised one day that the world was a lot bigger and had a lot more to offer elsewhere as in the “big city” with the jazz and folk clubs, the emerging blues scene, and rock music, so it was off to London he went.
Although music has always played a big part in Pete’s life, he also had to make a living. A short period at a local newspaper as a trainee reporter and then various other jobs, eventually leading back to his early interest in American cars and Harley Davidson motorcycles. Specialising in thirties, forties and fifties cars, and then Harleys.
Becoming one of the first custom Harley builders in a emerging new field in England, he had ridden a Harley and rebuilt it from the age of twenty and with a partner had a business in London building and selling bikes, with trips to various states in America importing used bikes and parts to customers in Europe and the UK.
Pete played in the folk clubs and pubs in and around London, holding a Sunday evening residency for many years in a bar in Wimbledon where he then lived. Trips busking through Europe to the south coast of France on the Mediterranean, and playing in Amsterdam, Holland also occurred.
There were lots of connections to America with many touring artists, including two tours of England with the Grateful Dead as a road manager, and a brief appearance playing in his local pub with Jerry Garcia, to everyone’s amusement.
After his partner in the motorcycle business had a serious accident which left him with brain injury, ultimately leading to the demise of their business in south London, Pete continued his trips to the USA and importing used Harleys to Europe.
Extended stays in California and various bands ensued during this period including “Harley Pete and the V-Twins”, a band which was to last a long time with a even longer list of musicians. By this time Pete was writing a lot of his own material but still keeping to his love of an old-timey blues/country feel.
“I had no idea this type of music would be called ‘Americana’. I was listening to Billy Joe Shaver, Jerry Jeff Walker, Guy Clark, Townes Van Zant, Steve Earle, as well as other songwriters such as John Prine, and bands like Commander Cody and his LPA, and of course Willie Nelson and friends.”
Eventually a trip to Texas in search of used motorcycles led him to Corpus Christi, Texas. And twenty six years later, as a naturalised citizen and honorary Texan, he’s still writing and performing along the gulf coast and around the Austin area and hill country, with various musicians including a long time association with Mike and Jill Robinson . With Mike on fiddle and mandolin and Jill on stand up bass and harmony vocals and sometimes a larger band with drums and lead guitar, they go out as “Pete Devlin and the Texas Moon Band”. And pete also performs as a singer songwriter as a solo act in smaller venues.
Pete writes about his surroundings, his life in south Texas and its ambiguities, and of the people he meets. Pete describes his music as “from the sublime to the ridiculous with obscure in between. I think of myself more as a folk singer and story teller of quirky songs”. Though they also cover material from bluegrass, rockabilly, and Texas country.
Not following the well trodden route of cookie cutter music, Pete pulls from a wide variety of styles and influences. His latest CD “Nashville Ain’t No Fun” is scheduled for release June 2012.
artist and coordinator
Downtown Artwalk, Corpus Christi, TX.