Joe Topping is a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from the Wirral, whose musical journey so far has been as colourful as it has varied. Joe has always been surrounded by music; his dad, Tom, who in addition to being a semi-pro musician ran a folk club and put on gigs by people as varied as Billy Connelly to Stephan Grapelli, from Martin Carthy to blues musician Blind Jessie Fuller. Many of these influences filtered down to Joe who is playing anything from traditional British folk music to Delta blues slide guitar. Joe also “has a gift to write songs that will last and that others will want to sing” John Wright. And “one of the most beautiful voices I have heard” Chris While. At gigs you are just as likely to hear him playing the mandolin, bouzouki, harmonica, dobro or banjo as you are the guitar.
After cutting his musical teeth playing with The Tom Topping Band, Joe was asked to join John Wright after the late John Wright heard and covered one of Joe’s songs “The Flame Danced Flamenco”. Joe toured with the band for 18 months playing at venues in all over the UK and Europe, gaining a wealth of experience and inspiration until leaving to embark on, ‘a journey of a lifetime!’
Joe is adventurous, whether living and travelling around America and Canada in a pick-up truck or walking across the Namib Desert in aid of a landmine charity. He is ever looking to be challenged and in the summer of 2006 saw him undertake his biggest adventure yet: a 1,400 mile solo walk across America!
With an old Gibson guitar strapped to his back, Joe walked from Chicago and the shores Lake Michigan in the north, south to New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico. A journey rich in musical flavour and history: Chicago, St Louis, Nashville, Memphis, the Mississippi Delta, Baton Rouge; sleeping along the way in motels, cornfields, cotton fields, graveyards, backyards and sugar plantations, meeting musicians and characters along the road which have added to and inspired Joe’s own music, before finally - and three pairs of shoes later – being marched into New Orleans by The New Wave Brass Band.
As his trek across the Namib Desert was for a landmine charity, his walk across America was to, and indeed did, achieve raised awareness and funds for New Orleans musicians displaced by Hurricane Katrina. (www.nomrf.org).
On his return from America, Joe accepted an earlier invitation to join local band, Elbow Jane. Since then, Elbow Jane has gone from strength to strength, recording the critically acclaimed album “England Stone” and playing the main stages at many British folk festivals. “Masterful purveyors of harmonic folk” NW Enquirer. The band’s latest album “Three Side Island” was released in March 2009 on the Fellside label.
Joe’s obvious talents have also been seized upon by folk/rock legend Ashley Hutchings who in December 2007 asked him to join his band, “The Rainbow Chasers” alongside Ruth Angell and Jo Hamilton. Since Joe joined the Chasers have been playing in arts centres and theatres across the UK and Italy. A new album is planned for 2010. “The best acoustic group in the country” Phil Beer, Show of Hands.
Joe has worked with many well known artists from the folk/roots world including Chris Leslie and Gerry Conway (Fairport Convention), Maartin Allcock (Fairport, Jethrow Tull, Beth Nielson Chapman) and Chris While and Julie Matthews among others.
Joe’s new solo Album “Ghosts In The Shadows” was released on Fellside early in 2010 and has been getting good radio airplay around the country including radio 2!
It features songs inspired by, learnt on or written on his walk across America. Songs ranging from traditional folk music to acoustic blues to country influenced to jazz with musicians Miranda Sykes on Double Bass (Show of Hands) and Joe Wright on Fiddle and mandolin.
“… a beautifully crafted album, played to perfection, fused with passion and heart” Maverick Magazine
“ … heartfelt vocal backed by intricate, intensely accomplished guitar work” fRoots magazine
“… book him for your folk club now, before he ends up on the guest list of every festival next summer!” Sreds and Patches magazine
“an innovative resonator guitar style and a real song writing talent” Folk on Tap
“a cracking album” Mike Harding, BBC radio 2