A musician who goes by the name Dr Blue says he “found his voice and a love of performing” while at school is returning to the area to perform. Michael McKeon went to St Michaels in Garston between 1976 and 1979. He is performing his Nothing but the Blues Show at the Abbots Langley Festival on June 22.

I spoke to him to find out more…

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in and around London. The family moved to Abbots Langley in 1976 when my dad got a job in Leighton Buzzard. I finished my education at St Michaels. where I attended the 6th form.

Was music creativity encouraged there?

Very much so. But much of my musical activity was going on outside school. I was a member of something called the Folk Group, which initially started playing music in a church. It quickly diversified and we started singing at social clubs and Ho Downs that were very popular at the time. I was also writing songs and performing them as a solo musician.

What is your earliest memory of music?

I have always been and wanted to be a musician. My mum has a photo of me when I was about four or five playing an old toy metal guitar with a clown on it. I broke all the strings playing it. When I was eight my dad brought me my first guitar. My class mates and I recorded an album with the Spinners who were very big at the time. We recorded in the same EMI studios at Hyde Park as the Beetles. The single from the album was called the Fox , made it into the Top 100 (just!).

My dad used to come back from America with jazz records, which along with rock and roll was the music I grew up listening to.

What is it about the blues that you like?

I have always loved the Blues Music as played by the greats like Bessie Smith, Victoria Spivey and Ella Fitzgerald, Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf, Jimmy Reed and more recently Tom Waites. It has always resonated with me at a very deep level.

I have always written poetry and songs, and realised that I am a story teller. British Blues for me, is about the poetry and the stories of working people.

My fathers family were from Ireland. I grew up listening to stories about my great grandmother who was a gun runner and a suffragette. She was thrown into Dublin jail for being a trouble maker. My grandfather was shot by the Black and Tans when he was 15.

These are just two of the many stories of my family, for me Blues speaks to the emotions of my history. I wrote about all of this (with my co - writer and director wife Sameena Zehra) in a storytelling show called Irish Jimmy.  Blues is also a simple honest music, with no pretensions, if it aint the truth, it aint the blues.

Tell me about your music?

I have always written and performed songs. I am  a singer songwriter. In my 20s and 30s it was all about live performance, singing protest songs and playing in various blues projects which included fronting a blues band called Dr Blue and the Prescription (where I got my stage name). That band played regularly in Blues venues in London and Dublin. We had a residency at Aint Nothing but a blues Bar in London, as well as playing at festivals here in the UK and Eire.

In my 40s I returned to playing more solo. Now in my 50s I perform as a solo blues singer as well as with a band (when the fees allow). I have recently branched out into working in theatre.

I am currently the musical director of four stage shows. One of them, Fiery Tongues, the Polemic Poem written by Heathcott Williams and performed with Roy Hutchins and a cast of poets, won the Outstanding Ensemble Performance award at the Wellington Fringe Festival in New Zealand last Year.

Talk me through your career

I go where the work is. Over the last few years I have played at festivals in Australia and New Zealand. I regularly perform at the Edinburgh and Brighton Fringe Festivals. I always travel with a guitar and regularly find myself in clubs where musician hang out, get chatting and inevitably start playing. This has ended up with me playing at such clubs as the Silver Dollar in Toronto and the One Way Blues Club in Paris.

I will be away touring the UK in July of this year performing at the Upton Blues Festival, as well as music venues like Sticky Fingers in Middlesbrough, or the Cluny in Newcastle. Later in the year I have bookings at the Blues Kitchen in Camden. This summer I am also playing at a number of Fringe Festivals, Brighton, Shaftesbury, Edinburgh and of course Abbots Langley.

Abbots Langley Festival on June 22 at the Henderson Hall in Abbots Langley. For more info on Dr Blue go to mikedrblue.com