12:00 AM 3rd July 2024

A Night Of Glass: An Interview With Dan Whitehouse

Acclaimed Black Country singer and songwriter Dan Whitehouse will be performing at the Joinery, Settle later this month. An enduring exponent of the connection between Art, the Artisan and shared history, we caught up with Dan in a recent interview:

What is the key message that you would wish to convey to your audience members in Settle?

Fragility is something we all share. Following your passion with a daily creative practice such as music-making or glass-making, can build strength and resilience and allow us to share and celebrate our gifts with one another.

What is the song that you most enjoy performing live? And why?

‘Free Beer’, because it makes people smile. It was HOT work glass-making, and believe it or not - they used to give the glass workers free beer! Within the show we hear an excerpt of an interview with a former glass worker who tells the story of how it was his job to pop down the hill to the pub and collect bottles of beer for his elders and how he devised a creative way of making sure he got a bit of beer for himself!

What in your discography will audiences be excited to hear during your performance at Settle Stories on Friday 19th July?

'A Night of Glass' features songs from Voices From The Cones - my song cycle about the long (400 year!) history of glass-making in Stourbridge near to where I’m from and The Glass Age - my commentary on the way we have adopted the glass screens of our communication devices almost as part of the family - exchanging virtual emotions with an emoji or a coded text, our smartphones as indispensable an appendage as an opposable thumb. My son lives in Japan and whilst I visit frequently, we do rely on the glass screens for connection for part of the year.

In a recent blog post, you commented on the strong historical connection between Stourbridge and glass-making. Did this phenomenon have a palpable impact on you whilst you were growing up? And how did this influence feed into the creation of A Night of Glass?

Interesting question, thank you. The Black Country has a long history of making things, or 'mekin' things to say it properly! I believe this dedication to developing skills and craft-making is a beautiful way of life and enriches humans in a multitude of ways. I was a kid in the 80s when the glass factories were still in abundance, making world class artefacts for drinkers on the Concorde flights for example. There is a pride amongst the glass-making community, crafts people are respected for their skills and dedication to their art. To conclude, yes - I think growing up here inspired me to want to be an artist, to dedicate my life to my craft of writing songs and playing music.

Your radio show The Glass Age on Brum Radio features yourself along with various musical guests discussing the emotional impact of music, our listening habits and how our human experience and ways of connecting have changed through the ‘glass’ of virtual meetings and communication. Why do you feel that it is important to share these topics with listeners? And what impact have you seen it have, or, what impact do you hope that it has?

Digital life can sometimes feel transactional. Podcasts, conversation and music provide a chimney of air within this digital age. The glass age radio show is a digital space where we guests and listeners express how much music and certain songs mean to them, and what practical steps they take to keep creativity at the front and centre of their daily lives.

In your single 'Campfire', the lyrics “When you change the way you look at things. Watch the things you look at start to change” were incredibly moving. Can you go into some of the meaning of those lyrics?

Whilst out in Japan I engage in a daily ritual of singing to the rising sun. I’m a member of a community group out there that meet at dawn at Tokyo Bay daily and we sing the Japanese insen scale as the sun rises. The group do this for mental and physical wellbeing -
after singing we engage in stretches and exercises together. This daily practice can be a really moving experience, and a reminder that we all share the same sun. Every human on the planet. So many are suffering at the moment, it feels important to pause and pray for them, and express gratitude for what I have and the love of my friends and family. Typically when I perform in the UK in the evening the sun will just be beginning to rise out in Japan where my son lives. I picture him in my mind as I sing and imagine him waking and preparing for school. I wish him well for his new day ahead every time I sing it and I believe we are together in spirit when I perform this song. The opening line you mentioned is a Wayne Dyer quote - for me it is about the power of acceptance. We cannot control the actions of others, and once we accept the way things are, we allow the beauty around us to be illuminated.

Dan Whitehouse will be appearing at The Joinery in Settle on 19th July from 7.30pm.

Early bird tickets are £12, £15 on the night.