IT was Ten Years After and Paper Lace in the 70s, Swing Out Sister in the 80s and KWS in the 90s - so when will our next popular music success story be told? Meet Sam Beeton, a 20-year-old from Carlton who is set to put Nottingham on the music map of Britain once again. SIMON WILSON went round for a cuppa...
AS SAM Beeton opens the door to his parents’ semi-detached in Carlton his dad is looming in the background.
Dad is often with Sam wherever he is these days, be it on a tour with James Morrison or meeting Kanye West, Jarvis Cocker and Dave Grohl backstage at the V festival.
“I wouldn’t miss a thing,” says the 57-year-old retired BT engineer. “There’s no greater buzz than standing watching him at the V festival. It brings tears to the eyes.”
He leads us into the lounge, where the family pooch Chico barks, pants and then wheezes at the new arrivals. There are cards atop the fireplace. Sam turned 20 last week.
One shows a naked family sat in a garden inscribed with the words “join us”. It is from the CEO of Sam’s record label SonyBMG, who signed the singer-songwriter early last year. “It’s not really, it’s actually from his manager,” laughs John. “You can tell by the writing, but the CEO did send you a bottle of champagne, didn’t he?” he says to Sam, who has just returned from the kitchen with a brew for his guests.
Not too big a pop star to shirk kitchen duties then? “He’s not too bad,” says mum Karen, 49, a trademark paralegal for a city centre company.
“And he’s a bit untidy but he is a typical lad.”
Among the hundreds of CDs on the shelves are a Dylan box set, and albums by The Eagles and The Beatles.
“It’s just a fraction,” says John. “All the vinyl is upstairs.”
As a kid, Sam would plunder the collection. “My dad’s heavily into really melodic stuff. The Beatles, The Beach Boys and The Kinks. And a lot of blues. My mum’s side of it was more folky. She was in to the Levellers and Nick Drake. My brother (Paul, a 31-year-old retail manager) was into Jeff Buckley.
“So it was a real mix.”
At last summer’s V festival, Sam hung around to watch the older bands like Squeeze and Echo & The Bunnymen. “I’ve never really followed the pop music of my day.”
It shows on his debut album No Definite Answer, a mix of folk and country rock that nods to The Beatles, Dylan, Tom Petty, Paul Simon and Squeeze.
After the debut single, What You Look For, stalled at No. 41 in last Sunday’s chart, the record company decided to put back the album, due out this week, until January. The label wants to build his profile a little more before it hits the shelves.
A second single will be released in December.
“The label are really positive,” says Sam.
“They’re looking at it being a slow building sort of record.”
Though it’s already been leaked on to the internet...
“You get some mates saying ‘Yeah, the album’s brilliant’ and you just know they’ve downloaded it illegally. Thanks... but you’ve totally ripped me off,” he laughs.
The single has been played on Radio 1 and 2 and led to appearances on ITV’s This Morning and a few on Channel 4.
Sam now has 8,000 plus “friends” on MySpace and fan sites on Facebook and Bebo. Family friends are also keen to keep up with his latest movements, says John.
“Since the single’s been out it’s been ‘Is Sam at home? What’s he doing this week? I saw the video on the television’ and all the while I’m trying to get a drink at the bar.
“But all of them are really chuffed that something’s been happening for Nottingham because there have been some cracking musicians in this city.”
There have been a few phone calls from giggling girls asking for him; one bravely turned up at the house, but Sam was elsewhere.
“I’ve been in to town with him and he does get recognised but they tend to just stare,” says Karen. “A lot more of that is happening,” says Sam but adds: “It’s good that there’s some awareness.”
And they’re not all teenage girls?
He knows that teenage girls are a big part of his fanbase but is keen that he’s not seen as just a pop pin-up.
“I think about that a lot. I’m young and I’m bound to get that – but it’s just up to me to be as good a songwriter as I can, then people can grow up with me.”
When he played the Splendour festival in Wollaton Park in July he drew a gaggle of teenage girls...
“Yes I was pretty pleased with the reaction. There were a lot of young girls at the front –which you can’t complain about.”
He shows me a box by the sofa that's full of Hershey bars and other Stateside candy, pirate figurines, pirate stickers and pirate plasters.
"There's a woman in Seattle who keeps sendign me stuff."
"I said something on my website about talking like a pirate when we're on the tour bus. She must have picked up on that."
We head down the road to The Old Volunteer pub where Sam was spotted by record producer Chris Bucknall who invited him to record a few songs at his Mapperley studio. He then passed them to his London A&R contacts which, eventually, landed him the SonyBMG deal.
“I still get up at the open mic nights,” says Sam.
“It’s to test out new songs. There’s no introduction for me and a lot of people don’t know who I am so you can tell how good you are or whether the songs are working or not. It’s a cool way of staying on top of it.”
There’s no plaque on the walls: ‘Sam Beeton was discovered here’.
“Not yet,” he laughs.
It was landlady Lorraine Craig who knew the family and encouraged him to give them a tune during a Sunday afternoon jam session.
So you’re responsible for all of this?
“Noooo, he’d have made it anyway,” she laughs.
“He’s played here a lot either on his own, or with his dad or in the Drains.”
That was Sam’s teenage band and not his dad’s punk band of the same name, a fixture on the local circuit during the late seventies.
“We thought we were like Eddie & The Hot Rods and The Stranglers,” says John. “We always thought we were too good for punk.”
He adds: “I’ve always kept my hand in. We formed a band called Congo’s Secret Chimps doing mostly Kinks covers for The Julie Cotton Foundation. And Sam played drums. We did the Concert For Liam at Rock City earlier this year.”
Next week Sam plays a gig at the Bodega Social Club then returns in November supporting Scouting For Girls at the Arena.
In between there are more promotional stints for press, TV and radio. And dad will be there for them all.
“Tell him about that driver we had at the V Festival,” says John as we load in to the car for the journey back.
“He was a professor or something,” says Sam.
“Tattoos all over his face and piercings in the bridge of his nose.
“ And he’s driving to V shouting out the window at other drivers. Like a maniac.
“And his downtime reading matter was The History of Torture!”
And they both laugh like, erm, drains.
You get the idea there’ll be plenty more stories for them to share in the coming months.
Sam Beeton is at The Bodega Social Club in Pelham Street on Wednesday, 7pm-10pm. Tickets are £6. Call 0115 822 1314.