Little Axe

Who has released records on all these labels: the legendary R&B label OKeh, the nu-blues stronghold Fat Possum, the key rap originators Sugar Hill, Tommy Boy and 4th & Broadway, the innovative On-U Sound, and of course Real World Records?

Which musician has played on records by Grandmaster Flash, Afrika Bambaata, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, James Brown, Robert Plant, Mark Stewart & The Mafia, Sinead O’Connor, and Megadeth?

The answer to both questions is Skip McDonald, and Skip is Little Axe.

Skip made his name as an integral part of the Sugar Hill house band, playing on some of the most influential early rap classics, such as ‘Rapper’s Delight’, ‘The Message’ and ‘White Lines’. As part of Adrian Sherwood’s On-U Sound crew, he has made some of the most adventurous and highly praised UK music of the last two decades.

"We take the tones and feelings of the old blues and put today's stamp on it. We make music you can feel, taste and touch." Skip McDonald

Little Axe is the project Skip started in the early 1990s to reconnect himself with the blues of his childhood. His dad, a bluesman and steel mill worker, taught him blues guitar before he was ten years old. The name Little Axe is both a tribute to the Bob Marley/ Wailers’ song ‘Small Axe’ and also to Wilbur ‘Little Ax’ Broadnax of the Spirit of Memphis gospel quartet.

Little Axe mixes blues, gospel, reggae, dub and funk with modern technology. The ideas and techniques of early album ‘The Wolf That House Built’ was in the words of The Times critic, John Clarke, “copied by Beck and Moby.” And to great commercial success.

Now based in north London, Skip McDonald mainlines the old Delta blues and plugs it into the 21st century. “We take the tones and feelings of the old blues and put today’s stamp on it. We make music you can feel, taste and touch.”

Further reading

Tim Bowness signs publishing deal with Real World Music

Tim will release his sixth solo album on 28 August 2020.

Bab L’ Bluz & Les Amazones d’Afrique announce socially distanced shows

This will be the bands' first run of tour dates since the beginning of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Late Night Laments: Track by Track

Tim Bowness talks us through the songs on his new album, Late Night Laments.

16 August: A day to remember music royalty

Aretha Franklin, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Robert Johnson and Elvis Presley share the same anniversary...