Black Vines guitarist/vocalist Stu Robinson.  Photo from

Black Vines guitarist/vocalist Stu Robinson.
Photo from

This week, Black Vines guitarist/vocalist released four ‘new’ EPs via the band’s bandcamp page. What initially seemed to been archived Black Vine’s tracks turned out to be pickings from Stu’s own musical past, featuring collaborations with a couple of other Barnsley musicians. Stu has always been known for his rich, soulful, big blues voice, whether it be with the Black Vines or going back to the very late 90s as vocalist with Grande Casino. The results are fantastic. The EP’s fuse gentle folk with Massive Attack style beats. I cannot recommend them enough. My favourites are Volumes 2 and 3 – I only wish they were available to download. Stu released a statement revealing the backgrounds to each release. Here’s what he had to say…

“For quite some time I have been threatening to open up the Vaults of Stu. Believe me when I say there is some really scary stuff in there indeed, but luckily there is also some pretty cool stuff too. I have enough decent stuff for quite a few volumes. I am just going to put them up as selections of four, and try and keep them in some kind of order or theme. The first four volumes were picked and put up onto Black Vines Band Camp page 18/19th November 2013, and are as follows. Volumes 4-8 coming soon…”

Vol.1 ‘Boy from the Wolds Demo’
These tracks stem from a project I wrote in 2007 – and these were recorded in 2008 at Northern Line Studios with Pete Phillips Jnr. The project never became fully realised as the studio closed, Mr Moon – wanted to play more rhythmical elements that didn’t really sit well with these songs. So I then tried to get it completed as a one man show. I did a few gigs solo, and on the whole they didn’t really work as I had intended. They needed to be played in a theatre or a warmer quieter environment, and support slots with heavier bands just didn’t let the story speak for itself. The basic story of this folk-opera was as follows… Stuburt Smithsoanian III returns from North-Gare to reclaim the thrown of the underwater city of Lud, and tales of the Ludensians, and in the end he is crowned King of the Wolds. It was very whimsical and I wanted it to be a kind of Tolkien meets Gulliver’s Travels. I realised that the story and the songs and my settings for both the story and performances just didn’t add up – so off to the vaults in went.

Vol.2 ‘Adventures in Family’
Before I embarked on my fantasy tale above – I recorded a full folk/soul collection with Mr Moon and Pete Phillips Jnr – We recorded it over a 12 month period and really spent quite a lot of time making a really good album. I planned to coincide the release of it with the birth of my first daughter. This got delayed due to boring arguments about money and credits. We eventually planned to release it a year later. We had the product all ready to go early summer 2008 – but in my mind the time had passed and we had played the album live for well over a year. We didn’t release it at all, and just gave it to a small selection of friends. In 2014 we may release a version of it… but who knows?

Vol.3 ‘Alive and Unknown – A Selection’
Alive and unknown was a 2003 album I recorded as my first full solo venture since leaving the band Grande Casino. I had quite a long break from music, so this return was a bit daunting and also a totally new sound. I had become immersed in DJ Shadow and breakbeats. I had been a big hip hop earlier in my life and I wanted to combine elements of this into my work. The album had a small release and got some good reports. The track ‘Free’ was on the front of Future Music magazine. For live gigs I started to use local drummer/percussion Simon Edwards known as Mr Moon. Our gigs began to take more of a free form feel and the electronic elements became less frequent – and didn’t really return until 2009’s Electric Garden Project (for future vaults I’m sure).

Vol.4 ‘Fresh Seeds Demo’
In 2009 straight after the release of Electric Garden, we started work on the second album. We were feeling massively creative at this point and the songs wouldn’t stop flowing. I recorded 10 demo tracks in my own studio for consideration towards the album. Here is a selection of those. The album never happened as Electric Garden split up after the departure of Kelsey (lead guitar) – Moon and Stu carried on playing for a few months under the guise Fresh Seeds. This project also came to an end with Simon opting to join Pulp Friction (local covers band) – and Stu starting Black Vines.

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