About CC Smugglers
Innovative self-promotion and a tireless work ethic turned British "old-time" band CC Smugglers from penniless buskers to self-made festival darlings in the space of just a few years.
The band was formed in leafy Bedfordshire in the heart of England by Richie Prynne (vocals, guitar), a young busker in love with Jamie Cullum's Twentysomething album whose musical direction had been shaped when a producer added double bass and electric guitar to some of his solo demos. He sent the recordings to his childhood friends Ryan Thomas (lead guitar, dobro, banjo) and Dan Edwards (double bass), who were at that time traveling in Australia. Thomas and Edwards returned and they formed a band, taking their name from the 125cc motorbikes they had ridden in the fields as youngsters. After various changes, the lineup solidified with the addition of Sam Barret (guitar, fiddle), Iain McFarlane (drums, percussion), and Tom Seals (piano, accordion). Playing an "old-time" mixture of country, folk, blues, R&B, jazz, and swing, the band started out busking on the streets of Bedford and Cambridge and performing anywhere that would have them, from bar mitzvahs to working-men's clubs, before they hit upon an innovative self-promotion technique they dubbed "guerrilla busking." They would show up at gigs of artists whose fans would, they thought, also like them, then set up and play to those fans while they waited in line to enter the venue. In this way, they gained a fan base and even bagged support slots with Seasick Steve and Old Crow Medicine Show. Once the latter headliners heard about what was going on outside, Old Crow went out into the street in the middle of the gig and hauled the Smugglers up on-stage with them. The band also have a long association with the Cambridge Folk Festival; initially pestering the promoters to let them play, they started out in the smallest tent before working their way up to the main stage within a decade. After securing a coveted support slot with Bruce Springsteen, the band's currency swelled and they started to play at larger festivals such as Latitude, Milton Keynes, Greenbelt, and Kate Rusby's Underneath the Stars. They self-released their debut album, How High, in March 2019. ~ John D. Buchanan