From an early age music was part of daily life, Colin fondly remembers playing ‘the big drum kit’ at Paddy Addinal’s playgroup in Carperby and racing back home to watch Yorkshire TV’s Animal Kwackers – a children’s programme based around a four piece pop band consisting of Bongo, a dog; Rory, a lion; Twang, a monkey; and Boots, a tiger. The first record he owned was the band’s theme tune of the same title on Handkerchief Records with a tasty version of Shortenin’ Bread on the B-side.
At age 3 years old Father Christmas brought him a shiny Chadvalley Drum Kit and a Saxophone which wasn’t up to scratch… “Doesn’t Father Christmas know this Saxophone isn’t real?” Words regularly retold around the family dinner table but serving as an affectionate reminder that his musical quest had begun.
Alongside instrumental activities grew a fascination for the family record player which was transformed into a jukebox, complete with coin slot to accept payments, and featured an eclectic selection of available music genres. Hours and hours of creative play presenting broadcasts to anyone who would listen over the years. His first real DJing break was at Westholme Caravan Park at his parent’s Silver Wedding Anniversary. Resident DJ Tony Knowles kindly showed him the ropes and allowed him to play some of the music. Tony was so impressed by his performance he offered him chance to return and learn more about the art of filling the dancefloor. School holidays were spent working alongside and observing other local DJs and their dancefloors at play. One such DJ was Brian Torrode, Brival Sounds, who was a huge influence and later passed on his business when he hung up his headphones.
Throughout his time at West Burton Primary School singing, keyboard and drums became the main instruments of choice. He was a founder member of the Wensleydale Youth Choir based at West Witton Primary School directed by Wendy Griffiths which went on to perform in various competitions including the Wensleydale Tournament of Song providing an introduction to ensemble and harmony singing. He was also a member of Aysgarth Choral Society and Reeth Brass Band Junior Section. Solo appearances were common and included regular performances in the Swaledale Festival, Chapel services and Christmas parties. Colin studied with vocal coach and piano teacher Mrs McMillan and it was her encouragement and guidance that provided a life changing opportunity.
It was always assumed that Colin would follow his Brother and Sister to the local secondary school but this was no longer the case. The notion of a career in agriculture had long since been dropped too. The whole family agreed that a school offering specialist music tuition was the best option and set about visiting a number of establishments and scholarship auditions followed. Colin accepted a bursary to Catteral Hall Prep School and, aged 11 years, embarked on life as a boarder. Over the next ten years Giggleswick School provided a wealth of academic and extra-curricular opportunities that still influence and shape his approach to life. From TV and radio appearances with celebrities such as Sir Harry Seacombe, Russell Harty and Richard Whitely; CD recordings with the Chapel Choir; music tours of Paris, Austria, East and West Berlin; hands on drama production and technical mentoring; to establishing BlueBoxt Productions and an interest in education.
While at Giggleswick Colin continued to develop his skills as a DJ and Broadcaster volunteering at Castleberg Hospital Radio Station as part of his community service. He met Martin Hodgson, Audioworks (North West) Ltd., and a long-term mentoring friendship was formed. Martin shared his knowledge and expertise and the ultimate professional sound and light show for the Yorkshire Dales was crafted. A partnership that has evolved and stood the test of time. Through the 1990s The Inspirations Roadshow provided entertainment at numerous Weddings, Birthdays, Fun Days and Corporate events across the region from Windermere to Skipton, Hawes to Scarborough and numerous guest appearances countrywide.
During this time live music had to take second place but Colin remained a keen community musician and technician performing when schedules allowed with Reeth and Muker Brass Bands, on and off stage with Hawes and Settle Amateur Operatic Societies and The Wensleydale Troupers. He joined Norma Jones on the production team at Hawes AOS and continues to direct the annual pantomimes and productions for the Wensleydale Music and Theatre group some 15 plus years later. It was around 2005 he was approached to mentor some young people with the desire to set up a rock band. The next chapter in BlueBoxt Productions began and a number of performing arts based projects and workshops followed such a Richmond Jam, The Musical Theatre Project, Get Musical and establishing a community equipment bank. These continue to be available to all ages across North Yorkshire and The Dales delivered by a growing team of volunteer mentors from the creative industries sectors.
A ‘portfolio career’ has meant live performance, teaching and mentoring have been a constant while spending ten years as a manager and facilitator with Craven College’s rural learning and community development team. In 2011 Colin returned to self-employment and established Creative Knowledge Music Services providing 1-2-1, group instrumental teaching and workshops. 2015 heralds the launch of a concert programme to celebrate over 30 years as an entertainer, musician and educator and the music which has influenced him thus far.