It was hard to believe the witty and talented musician who played at the Yard last Tuesday night to promote the release of his first CD heard his own music on the radio for the first time that very morning. The artist, Ollie Childs, and his wife and manager, Alix, had been out driving around the Island when WMVY radio debuted a song from All in Good Time.
It was an emotional moment for the young couple, and, as Mr. Childs put it, quite “surreal.”
“When the song came on, I thought, hey, I recognize this one,” he said. Alix quickly added, “We basically had a dance party in our car seats.”
In a cutthroat industry that is, as Mr. Childs has experienced firsthand, “constantly changing and constantly challenging,” success does not come easily, if at all. In fact, Mr. Childs said that his biggest achievement was simply finishing the album. “Getting here was hard,” he admitted. “Actually getting the music down, out of your head and onto a CD, is a long and stressful process. But being here, with the album out, is a relief.”
Mr. Childs was born and raised across the Atlantic in and around London. He had been told that America was the land of fast food with greasy burgers on every corner. But when he arrived in the U.S. for the first time, he “had to write back and say I really don’t know what you’re talking about, there’s no fast food anywhere.”
He first landed on Cumberland Island off the coast of Georgia, which, like Martha’s Vineyard, does not have fast-food franchises. While there he befriended members of the Carnegie family, who in turn introduced him to Martha’s Vineyard.
“They [the Carnegies] have spent pretty much every summer for the past 25 years traveling up to Martha’s Vineyard,” he said. “They’ve got a plane, and I have an interest in aviation myself, so I happily jumped in with them and we flew up and I kind of fell in love with the place.”
Soon after moving to Martha’s Vineyard, Mr. Childs connected with the Taylor family and it was at Kate Taylor’s 60th birthday party that he met his wife-to-be, Alix Berger. He also began playing music with Ben Taylor and played as the opening act on Mr. Taylor’s UK tour. “I owe Ben a lot,” said Mr. Childs. “He taught me about being a professional musician.”
At his CD release party, Mr. Childs played four tracks from All in Good Time. “You could say that I’ve spent fifteen years on this album, even though I didn’t write all the tracks until about four years ago,” he said to the overflow crowd at the Yard.
Mr. Childs’ sound is hard to label. There are elements of alternative rock, folk, pop, blues and even a bit of country with a British twist. When asked how he defined it, Mr. Childs laughed and said, “Perhaps there should be an all-of-the-above genre.”
The artist may present his new album modestly, but based on the reactions Tuesday night his work is worthy of much greater praise. Each track he played highlighted his eclectic abilities.
Nine out of ten tracks are originals. The tenth is a cover of a song by UK artist Paloma Faith.
Mr. Childs began the night with the album’s first track, a tribute song called America. This was followed by Change for the Better, which he introduced as a song “inspired by a good friend... a baker’s son, who always complained because he didn’t want to take over his father’s business. There just wasn’t enough dough to be made.”
Perhaps the most captivating song of the show was I’ll Make the Best of This. The song tells the story of a child trying to cope with divorce. Mr. Childs admitted it was the hardest to write and produce because coming up with the words to transcend the emotions of such an event, which the artist experienced at age ten, didn’t come easily. But it is just this patience and care taken in crafting the final product that make Mr. Childs’ music so satisfying. With his smooth yet raspy, soft yet soulful voice filling the Yard with stories from his past, the audience experienced with him all the years of pain, joy and growth that went into creating the songs on All In Good Time.
Now that the release party is behind him, the job of promoting the album takes center stage. All in Good Time is available on iTunes and various other online music retail sites. Also look for him to be playing several Island gigs in the near future.
For more information on the artist and his new CD, visit olliechilds.com.