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Teenaged Barnet singer-songwriter Tobi Earnshaw gears up to play the Isle of Wight Festival, writes Rosy Moorhead
What were you doing when you were 17? Having your first driving lesson? Stressing over your A Level coursework? Or getting ready to play the Isle of Wight festival?
It’s all in a day’s work for 17-year-old Barnet singer/songwriter Tobi Earnshaw, who was discovered by Free's legendary bass player Andy Fraser when he was just 15. He’s flown to LA to record his first album, Spirit In Me, earning nine Grammy nominations for it, toured the States and is getting ready to release the album and his double A-side single Brighten Up My Day in the UK.
"I’ve never been to a festival before - my first one is the one I’m playing at!" Tobi laughs. He’s playing the Garden Stage on Saturday, June 23 at 1.10pm.
How does he feel about playing on the same billing as the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam and Noel Gallagher? "I’m just sort of rolling with it. I’m so busy doing radio interviews and rehearsing, but when the band gets over from LA and we start rehearsing together, that’s when it’ll start getting exciting - and nerve-wracking.
"I’m just so happy to be playing there," he continues. "I’m really looking forward to getting down there and playing with the band, playing with all these people.
"Andy did it with Free in 1970 when there were about 750,000 people. He showed me a picture taken from behind him looking out over all these people - they just kept going on and on... Luckily there won’t be that many there this time!"
After the excitement of the festival has died down, Tobi’s thoughts will turn to the release of Spirit In Me, out on September 3. It’s already had a great reception in the US, where it came out at the end of last year. And in September he’s going back over to LA to begin work on the follow-up album, part of his three-album deal with Andy Fraser’s McTrax label.
"I’m really going full-out on my musical career," Tobi says. "The Isle of Wight is such a big deal - you can imagine how I feel!" Well, you can if you’re a superstar 17-year-old.
Tobi plays the Isle of Wight Festival on Saturday, June 23. The single Brighten Up My Life is out on August 20 and the album Spirit In Me is released on September 3. Details: www.tobiofficial.com