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Jesse Hutchinson

Fresh from supporting Status Quo this Summer at the Open Air Theatre in Scarborough, we catch up with Jesse Hutchinson, lead singer and guitarist of Alabama Paydirt, before their headline performance on the Saturday at Acoustic Gathering 2013 in Peasholm Park, Scarborough.

The band consists of Jesse Hutchinson - lead vocals/guitar; Joe Thornton on drums; Mat Dunn on guitar and vocals and Michael Dunn on bass. 

You have always had a regular acoustic spot at Cellars Bar in Scarborough on a Thursday. What are the most and least enjoyable elements of playing small & intimate pub gigs like that?

Yes, it used to be solo, but we've been doing it as the band for about a year now - doing the first half of the night's set acoustic, then heading onto a full-blown electric set for the second half. The most enjoyable element is the sheer mutual joy of playing as a band that actually 'gets it', we are firm friends, we play for each other and we care about the sum of the parts more than our own, individual egos! The least enjoyable is when idiots turn up and I have to get them to shut up or leave!

In huge contrast, Alabama Paydirt recently supported Status Quo at the very large Open Air Theatre. How did that come about & how did it feel performing on the night?

We were approached by the management team at the Open Air Theatre and, of course, jumped at the chance. The gig felt surprisingly intimate and I was extremely proud of the guys in the band for the manner in which they took the day in their stride. This was augmented heavily by the fantastic way in which we were looked after by the event's organisers. I didn't feel any different about playing to 6,000 people than I would to 60. Both are equally important.

You are headlining with your band at the well established 'Acoustic Gathering' Festival in Scarborough on Saturday 7th September. Do you ever get nervous before a gig? What do you do to overcome it? Any advice for less experienced performers?

I used to get crippling nerves. These days, I do - but in a more constructive manner. I don't worry in terms of being nervous in front a crowd, or even any amount of people - but rather, I concern myself with making sure my performance is good. You can build up a reputation over years and months but it only takes a couple of poor performances to lose that reputation, I would imagine. My advice would be to realise nerves are all part of a natural human reaction to an important event and can be channelled positively.

Can we expect an electric based performance at Acoustic Gathering or are you doing more of an acoustic set?

We're doing a combination of both. After Acoustic Gathering, we're going to be doing things completely differently, moving away from covers to original songs. We're also being documented by a small film team but more about that another time...

Alabama Paydirt - who came up with that and where does that band name come from?

I asked my sister Hayley and her husband Sam if they could come up with a band name that would 'feel' American, be along the lines of 'Buffalo Springfield' but obviously not be that. I was stunned when the next morning they sent over almost FIFTY names. Any one of them would have been great. We finalised the choice in a democratic moment when I showed Joe the list and he said 'that one, I want that one', in his excited puppy-style manner, and that was the end of that.

Alabama Paydirt - 9.45pm at Acoustic Gathering, Peasholm Park, Saturday 7th September. Tickets £8.

Also at Cellars Bar most Thursdays.