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Page last updated at 16:31 GMT, Thursday, 27 May 2010 17:31 UK
Thomas Dolby forms new band for Maverick Festival 2010
Thomas Dolby
Thomas Dolby has an alter-ego called The Lost Airman

Pop boffin Thomas Dolby has formed a new Americana band for Suffolk's Maverick Festival in July 2010.

Dolby, who lives on the Suffolk coast where he has a home studio, had hits with I Scare Myself, Hyperactive and She Blinded Me With Science.

His new band, The Toadlickers, will make their debut at the Easton Farm Park event which runs 2-4 July.

Also on the bill are Hank Wangford, Chris Difford and other alt-country, folk, Americana and blues acts.

"I went to Maverick last summer and really enjoyed it," said Thomas. "I'm very interested in Americana music.

"The organisers are friends of mine and I thought it would be nice to make a contribution of some sort."

People who remember Dolby's polished 1980s pop hits may raise an eyebrow or two at the news that he's delving into traditional US folk and country music.

Maverick promoter Paul Spencer was certainly surprised.

"He asked if he could contribute and I was delighted, although a little bit apprehensive as to how the music would fit in," said Paul.

"But I heard a little taster and it'll make a very exciting and dynamic addition to the bill."

BBC Suffolk's Stephen Foster with Thomas Dolby

From Aldeburgh to Maverick

Thomas's musical links to Suffolk go way back. His mother was the first secretary of the Aldeburgh Festival in the late 1950s and he remembers sailing on the River Alde.

He's working on his new album A Map Of The Floating City in California and at his home studio in Suffolk.

It'll be his first new work for almost 20 years and follows time spent developing audio technologies in California and becoming musical director with the Technology, Entertainment & Design (TED) organisation.

"Americana music is interesting because on a certain level it's indigenous to the United States, but, like all folk music, it's travellers' music," said Thomas.

"I lived in the US for 22 years, so I feel a certain entitlement to be influenced by it and respond to it with songs of my own.

"The new album has three sections from different continents and Americana is the first. The songs are twisted versions of my response to American roots music.

"These songs put an interesting complexion on a British perception of Americana.

"The song Toadlickers sounds like a bit of bluegrass, but turns out to be about a group of eco-hippies holed-up in the hills of Snowdonia who get all psychedelic and sneak into the town to raid supermarkets for munchies.

Thomas Dolby has a home studio in his back garden on the Suffolk coast
Dolby's studio is in a former ship's lifeboat converted to a houseboat

"There's one song featuring Mark Knopfler [of Dire Straits] and Natalie MacMaster called 17 Hills which has many verses and is seven and a half minutes long.

"It's about a jailbreak and a robbery and it's like an American folk song that tells a story, but sung from the point of view of an English narrator.

"The title song Toadlickers needs a video and I'm hoping to enlist some help from the Maverick crowd.

"So, if you're up for nipping off round the corner of the barn and helping me shoot a video, make yourself known!"

Maverick to grow

This is the third Maverick Festival. In 2009, around 1000 people went and Paul Spencer believes it's really established itself.

"We're adding an extra stage called the Peacock Cafe which is my homage to the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville. We're hoping to replicate a little bit of that Nashville atmosphere.

"It's an indoor stage as well. We're keeping our fingers crossed that we get the great weather we've had the last two years, but we're prepared so that we can say we're an all-weather event.

"The fun-est part of being into a third year has been really feeling that we're on the radar now.

"I am committed to keeping the festival going and ticket sales this year look like being healthy enough to enable me to do that.

"Getting onto the Guardian's Top Ten Best Small Festival list was a real boost and now I am hoping the audience will grow accordingly and we can take the event to the next level."

Two Fingers Of Firewater
Two Fingers Of Firewater in the barn at Maverick 2009

Thomas Dolby isn't the only local well-known name on the bill. Cambridge's singing doctor Hank Wangford is coming.

"We're very excited about Hank," said Paul. "He's really been an alt-country pioneer for over 30 years and it turns out I auditioned for his band as a drummer when I was living in Felixstowe, so I shall be reminding him of that!"

The line up also features Danny & The Champions Of The World, Memphis veteran Rayburn Anthony and returns for Chris Scruggs and Brigette DeMeyer.

One of Paul's top tips is The Orbitsuns from Detroit: "If I tell you they're Iggy Pop's favourite country band, that probably gives you an idea of where they're coming from."

BBC Suffolk's Stephen Foster will be live from Maverick where he'll also be recording several acts for broadcast on his Drivetime and Big Suffolk Sunday shows.

Suffolk Country with Brian Mann is broadcast on Sundays on BBC Radio Suffolk, 4-6pm.

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