Music In Devon Initiative

CONTACT US: info@musicindevon.org

Team Members

Nick Hall

Nick’s music career began when he picked up his younger brother’s guitar aged 15 and began trying to play songs he liked by ear, moving up and down the strings until it sounded right. He met a few other like-minded souls in the last year of school / first year of college and formed bands playing Nirvana covers and loud punk music. They put on their own gigs and got involved in bringing other touring bands to Taunton, and Nick decided pretty rapidly that a musician’s life was for him.

After leaving college, Nick hitch-hiked around Europe with a friend and quickly found that busking provided salvation from starvation! During this time he met a lot of street musicians, and soon noticed a special connection between music and people, where strangers were turned into friends and people were brought together from disparate backgrounds and positions. Nick describes this as an overwhelmingly positive experience.

Once back in the UK, Nick moved to London with a band, and then joined various others based in Camden around the time of Britpop. He watched many bands rise and fall, along with a lot of money being punted and lost by record companies on the backs of the successful and fashionable Britpop bands of the time. At the end of this period, Nick travelled to Holland and joined another rock band who ended up in Sweden. There the band recorded an EP and were offered a gig supporting Motorhead, but due to various wrangles over the recording this never came to pass, and Nick once again returned to the UK.

Nick’s next trip was overland through Europe, across the Western Sahara to Senegal and Gambia. Again, on this journey he met and played with many amazing street musicians and experienced for the first time music in different cultural contexts – in ceremonies, dances, and also religious and spiritual settings. He observed musicians in their role as living historians passing down stories, melodies and rhythms from one generation to the next, and he saw music turn people from reserved observers into ecstatic, joyful, dancing participants. He also saw musicians respected and compensated for their efforts, outside of any strictly commercial agreements. The music was enjoyed by everyone regardless of age, class, gender, fashion, etc, and the levels of skill among the players and groups was often incredible. In Gambia Nick had the opportunity to join a trio on bass, playing traditional music at hotels, clubs, bars, parties and tourist areas with two experienced Gambian musicians.

When Nick once again returned to the UK, he formed another rock group playing local venues in Somerset and Bristol, and also began teaching guitar. He then relocated to Dakar from 2006 to 2010, again soaking up music from all over Africa via the radio and through meeting musicians and instrument makers. He set up a business exporting instruments, filming performances and making websites for Senegalese businesses. It was during this period that Nick met and worked with Mor Thiam one of the most experienced and respected Senegalese US based percussionists and his son, the rapper and entrepreneur known as Akon.

For health reasons Nick moved back to Exmouth in Devon in 2010 and, with his wife Fatou, formed Dakar Audio Club – a five-piece Afro-fusion band who play uplifting, heartfelt songs in Bambara, Wolof, French and English. The band’s sound is a mix of traditional Malian Blues, Soukouss, Highlife and Reggae, and is inspired by sounds you would hear on a crackly transistor radio walking the streets of Dakar, Lagos or Banjul. To date, the band have played more than 150 gigs, as well as several festivals. They have recorded an EP, had airplay from Lopa Kothari on BBC Radio 3 ‘World on 3’ , Tom Robinson at BBC 6 Music and have supported Misty in Roots and Baka Beyond.

Nick has continued to teach guitar for the past four years to over 125 students, and has also recently begun a music coaching project called SoundTribe. SoundTribe currently has five groups of young grassroots musicians at various stages of development and 15 other individual students between 11 and 60 years old. During recent years, Nick has also promoted African Nights in Exeter, in association with Exeter Respect CIC. These events have featured African bands Nick has come into contact with through his own musical activities. To this day, Nick also continues to busk, and he is a familiar face in Exeter city centre.

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