Steve Knightley is the song writing force behind Show of Hands, widely acclaimed as the finest acoustic roots duo in England. He was named ‘Songwriter of the Nineties’ by BBC Radio 6 Music in 2012.
Inspired by a sound, a phrase, a passing conversation, a rhythm or a melody he hears in his head, his unerring instinct for the musical elements that constitute a ‘classic’ enables Knightley to wite his own. For instance, his ‘faux Celtic’ song the Galway Farmer (1994) appears on lists of traditional Irish folk sogs.
Informed by a love of folk ballads, Knightley writes his historically accurate songs that resonate with contemporary meaning. He has an extraordinary ability to conflate time and space to bring history vividly, smack bang into the present. It’s an ability that fuels his reputation as an ‘issues’ writer. The seminal Country Life (the title track of Show of Hands’ 2003 album) earned him the moniker ‘The gravel voiced spokesman of the rural poor’ and a nomination for best song at the 2004 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.
He also invites feedback on songs, and getting everyone to sing along is for him an integral part of the show. Knightley’s respect for his audience fuels his continual dedication both to delivering his best and fostering a warm embracing sense of community. It’s this respect that’s a conduit for Knightley’s connection with the crowd, wherever, and whatever the gig!
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