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Lincoln’s singing gritter: “Our music scene needs to catch up”

Richard Fenwick is in charge of Lincolnshire’s winter road maintenance. Behind the gritting though, his talents have seen him through the highs and lows of the music industry.

As a Highway Maintenance Engineer at Lincolnshire County Council, Richard spends most days behind a desk or out on the roads gritting, but his career path has taken a roller-coaster route before this point.

At age 16, Richard and his band Rotary Ten began producing their first album from a family farm milk shed.

After achieving a record deal with Xtra Mile Recordings, the band released their first album in the UK and Japan, and began touring with the likes of The Killers, The Futureheads and The Enemy.

Although Richard says he doesn’t regret anything about being in the band, he describes his taste of the music industry as “soul destroying”.

Richard said: “For us, it all fell flat on its face before it got anywhere. We toured for a couple of years and officially we did our last gig in 2010. I think the official line is we are on an indefinite hiatus.

“It was the end though and we knew it. I think we spent too much time thinking about the ‘holy grail’ record deal.

“One band member left to teach in South Korea and, after a year of sulking and not playing music at all, I picked up my classical guitar.

“I was a bass player in the band but I learnt to play the guitar at age 9. I started to compose from my bedroom and began acquiring my own style.”

“Now, I am writing music and performing for the fun and I enjoy it more for that reason. In the band we were so restricted to what we were producing and indi-pop was all the rage.

“My own music has developed a kind of classical folk style. With hindsight we could have done things so differently.”

Richard now performs at venues all across Lincoln with the help of former band members and guests, and he is encouraging local musicians and supporters to campaign for a bigger local music scene.

“I play wherever I can but it’s usually bars, and when it comes to my style that’s sometimes not the ideal venue. It’s frustrating because there are a lot of people behind the local music industry but it’s not like other cities.

“Lincoln’s music scene has a lot of catching up to do. It’s still one of those places where people want to hear covers a lot and there’s not a place for local musicians to showcase and for the event to be all about the music.

“I’m touring next week with a young Lincoln girl called Ellen Wilson and the group is really looking forward to it.

“I’ve gone from almost band stardom to cleaning toilets, to a job at the council and now I’m playing for me.”

Listen to Richard Fenwick here.