Snowboy promises infectious Afro-Cuban jazz at Rye Jazz & Blues Festival

Snowboy - pic by Carl Hyde
Snowboy - pic by Carl Hyde

They are promising infectious Afro-Cuban jazz at its finest – just a few weeks after they had a great time at Love Supreme.

Mark AKA Snowboy said: “I'm really looking forward to Rye. The venue looks incredible. It’s not really a tour that we are doing. It's just it is festival time and each summer we tend to travel all over the place. I was in Belgium on Saturday at a jazz festival and it's just good fun to do. The great thing with festivals is that you are playing in front of thousands and thousands of people rather than hundreds. We were on the main stage at Love Supreme and that was great. We were there in front of something like 15,000 people and I don't know what difference that makes really to your playing because we never hold back as a band anyway. We're always very full on but I do think you always know when you've got an audience because it's actually quiet while you are talking and it was quiet at Love Supreme. And that's a beautiful moment. To have that degree of attention in front of such a big crowd is a pretty magical thing.

"I would never take it for granted but we do love doing festivals. Sometimes you do 20 in a summer and sometimes there's just a handful. But I would say that we are now back to normal after the pandemic. What happened after the lockdowns was that it was such a massive surge of gigs, all the ones that were being cancelled through lockdown and more. It was like people were really hungry to get out and enjoy themselves.”

Afro-Cuban jazz has always been Mark’s thing: “My first album back in 1989 was Latin jazz generally and there were some Brazilian influences on there as well. I just love all Afro-Latin music but I think as things have progressed I've gone almost 100 per cent Cuban rhythmically. I think it's the rhythm that excites me more than anything, and I'm particularly big on the old style mambo of the 50s and 60s and there is definitely a mambo influence in our sound but I'm not about keeping up with the Joneses or keeping an ear out for whatever is contemporary in Cuban music at the moment. I think one of the things about getting older is that you know what you know and you know what you like and at 62 this is the sound that I like.”

As for the name Snowboy: “I used to be in an amdram down near Southend and the first show that we did was West Side Story and the character that I played in West Side Story was Snowboy.

"That was 1978 and when I released my first record in 1985 I couldn’t think of a name and that was the name that came to me, just as a stage name. It's never really been a nickname.”

As a percussionist in many styles, Mark has performed or recorded with Lisa Stansfield, Imelda May, Amy Winehouse, Rod Temperton, Mark Ronson, Basia, Simply Red, Makoto Kuriya, Mick Hucknall, Herman Olivera, Jon Lucien, Rustin Man, David Sylvian, James Taylor Quartet and Jim Kerr among others.