Performer Profile - Chris Bannister

Tell us a bit about growing up and how you got involved in music?

I grew up in industrial Northern England, my mother was of Irish heritage and my father Canadian.  Both of them loved music and had played and sung in bands in the 1960s.  My father encouraged me to play the guitar from an early age and I was always singing around the house and at school.  When I was about 17 I started to play in bands and loved rock, Country and folk music.

What made you decide to get into the music of John Denver?

John Denver was the first singer I can remember being really drawn to as a child, it was the purity of his voice and the visual nature of his lyrics about nature and his home in the Rocky mountains that really captured my imagination. Growing up where I did I saw very little natural grandeur, John's music brought it alive for me.

All through my career as a singer people have remarked on how I remind them of John when I sing and about seven years ago I decided to go out and celebrate his music.  Not as a tribute act but as a singer and guitar player performing his songs and talking about his life.

You have sung with many members of John Denvers band, including the late Steve Weisberg, what was that experience like?

The experience of singing with the guys who helped make the music so memorable was amazing.  The one I'm most proud of was Steve Weisberg who became my dear friend before he sadly passed in 2014.  Steve was on all the biggest hits (Annies Song, Back Home Again, Spirit etc) and I was so honoured when he left me his 1937 Epiphone guitar in his will.  I've also sung and recorded with Chris Nole, Jim Horn and Mack Bailley.

You have written your own songs too, are they heavily influenced by your love of country music?

My own music has always been country influenced as I'm a lover of songs that tell stories or paint pictures, country music and especially John Denver's has always done that for me.  I've had five albums of original material released over the years and some of the songs definitely owe a lot to John's musical and singing style.