Chris Simmance

  Born in Salisbury, near the famous monument of Stonehenge, Chris grew up in Amesbury on his father´s market garden before entering the Salisbury Cathedral School at the age of eight. At thirteen he progressed to Ardingly College in Sussex, then proceeded tu Durham University to study Geography after which he became a member of the academic staff for a further three years. Unfulfilled in academic life, Chris quitted his well-paid post to travel through Europe with tent and rucksack ending in a three month sojourn on Kibbutz Galon in Israel.

Returning to England in November 1975 he took an administrative post at the York Theatre Royal. The view of the stage from behind the scenes sson inspired Chris to consider an artistic life for himself. It had to be singing.

In the summer of 1977 Chris quit, once again, his secure job to dare his chances as a street singer. He borrowed an accordion, learnt to play it and sang to his heart´s content on the pedestrian streets of York. „People of the Street“ was his first own song. All up and coming artists go to London, where Chris lived in a shared flat and spent the winter learning songs, listening to Folk singers, gaining ideas and trying them out in dismal underground passages. Then came John, an out of work actor, who persuaded Chris to lead him on a busking tour to France. They bought an old car and set off with 27 pounds in their pockets. This adventurous journey started in Paris, lead to St. Tropez, Nice and Florenz, then over the Alps to southern Germany. They arrived in the summer of `78 in Tübingen, where Chris found his first wife and a town where he loved to sing and the people liked to hear him.

After marriage – May 1979 – Chris, now 28, returned with his newly-wed to England to try the path of respectability for a third and final time. He trained as a teacher but, on seing a canal boat gliding through the landscape of his homeland, he never became a teacher but a street musician living on a boat and singing in the towns along the Thames and the canals of southern England.

Brigitte played recorders and sang second voice and in Windsor they recorded their first songs and made a „single“ to sell on the streets. After a surprise success in Stuttgart and Tübingen in the winter of 1981 they returned to Bray Studios to make a second single which they presented as a double-single-pack named „First Four Songs“. They spent times in France and times in Italy, bought a car, sold the boat and wondered where they should live till Brigitte became pregnant and the pair settled in Germany.

The young family found a home in the Black Forest and Chris travelled on most week-days to Tübingen or Stuttgart or Herrenberg and other towns in the area within 80 km to earn the daily bread. Settled life enabled Chris to spend more time writing, playing and recording songs. His first LP „Songs of Simmance“ 1984 became a street-selling-hit and was swiftly followed by „Seven Stars“ and „Streetsinger“. In 1990 „Malikalo“ was the fourth and last recording together with Brigitte and his best friend, Andreas, who both played the flute.

From the early 90s onwards Chris began to sing more and more as an engaged musician on Craft and Pottery fairs throughout southern Germany. In addition, he gave concerts and was often engaged privately. Subsequently, the street music diminished and towards the end of the decade, practically vanished apart from the annual Christmas Market in Tübingen.

A change in his private circumstances brought him closer to that town, where he lived together with his new partner in music and life. „Kissed by the Sun“, „Fire in my Heart“, „People and Places“ and four other albums where written and recorded in a concentrated, creative phase.

Chris had always felt comfortable to possess little goods and to command as much freedom as possible, as he proved with 2 ½ years on the canal boat in England. For several years now he had owned a camper van to facilitate overnight stays at Craft fairs. It was therefore no great surprise when in 2004, single again, he packed his instruments and recording gear into that said 6 metre long van. What was supposed to be an interim solution turned out to be the accomplishment of a long-held dream. Over the next years he recorded three solo albums „Nomad“, „Fame and Fortune“ and „Moving Roots“ in his – slowly getting bigger – mobile home which was mostly based in southern Germany but often along the Route Napoleon on the way to the south of France.

Six years passed before Chris got to know someone who wished to share his vagabond life. The young musician, Julia, moved in with her violin in 2010 and together they started to perform under the name of Travelling People on the streets of southern Germany and increasingly in Provence. By 2013 they had produced three albums – „Two Senses“, „Book of Words“ and „On a Summer´s Day“. By the beginning of 2015 it became clear that they would have to consider the idea of becoming `settled´ if only to satisfy the needs of their now three-year-old daughter. As chance would have it, the home they found was on the southern slopes of the Luberon in a small village called Puget-sur-Durance in the departement Vaucluse, Provence.

A new pattern of living and playing in Provence whilst maintaining personal and musical contact to Germany is emerging and it is true to say that both musicians feel `settled´ in more than one sense of the word and look forward to follow in the footsteps of the Troubadour, Bertrand, who was apparently born in the same village in the twelfth century.