Siegal’s home truth

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Ian Siegal might be a Londoner, but his spiritual home is much further afield.

Siegal, one of the most revered blues players in the country, has just returned from Mississippi, where, he says ‘he feels at home.’

The guitarist travelled to the Deep South to record his 2011 album The Skinny and then again last year. But it was on his latest trip that proved particularly interesting: Siegal ended up featuring in an award-winning film documentary.

“I went to a guitar shop to meet Hubert Sumlin, Howlin’ Wolf’s session guitarist. And we were just jamming together and someone filmed us for the film, Take Me to the River. I ended up with a credit in the movie, which is fantastic.”

“The film focuses on some of the legendary artists from that region but also looks at contemporary artists as well, and how different genres such as hip hop and blues can work together. But a lot of the great artists who appeared in the film have since died and that makes it all the more emotional.”

Siegal is a big fan of the Deep South. “People often say to me ‘you’re just like a southerner.’ I love it there.”

But now Siegal is preparing for a full UK tour with fellow blues player Jimbo Mathus. “He is a brilliant player and we are having such a great time on tour. Before we met we were told by mutual friends that we ought to meet but I knew that that would either mean we’d end up hating each other or liking each other.”

The pair eventually met in 2013 when Mathus dropped by the Zebra Ranch studio in Coldwater Mississippi to contribute some banjo and mandolin parts to a Siegal recording. “Luckily we really like each other and now, when we’re on tour, we laugh constantly.”

The pair are touring the UK - including Sheffield - to promote this album. “It’s a great show because Jimbo will start playing something and I will just pick it up - I know 99 per cent of what he plays on stage.”

Mather and Siegal will be performing material from their latest album, The Picnic Sessions.

Indeed Siegal is no stranger to the stage. The 17-times British Blues Award winner has performed in a whopping 40 countries with a variety of artists from blues bands to orchestras. One of his recent albums was a live recording of a very special Albert Hall performance. “That was a very special show,” he says.

But Siegal’s not just a straight-up 12-bar bluesman. He’s also been at Abbey Road Studios recording an album in which the bluesman interprets Latin poems and transforms them into blues versions.

“I can’t really talk much about that album right now but it will be out in 2015,” says Siegal.

For now, however, Siegal is focussed on one thing: the pending UK tour.

“We’re playing at the Greystones in Sheffield and I love playing at that venue, it’s a great place.”

Ian Siegal andJimbo Mathus play at the Greystones, Greystones Road on Tuesday November 25.