Simon Widdowson has been making music and performing in Europe and America for the last 25 years, recording and releasing 9 albums and also working as a producer and recording engineer for dozens of artists. After performing several dates in the UK in 2015 Widdowson retreated to his studio in the mountains in France to record a new album. Free from the constraints of making music geared around solo acoustic live performances and breaking the mould of a performing singer/songwriter, the new album "Retractable Roots" represents the sum of Widdowson's influences and experiences; a life spent either on stage or in the studio and performing and recording all the instruments himself, it reflects his skills as a multi-instrumentalist, producer and recording engineer. The album artwork was produced during the recording by French artist Nanouska Pietronave www.mandalanouska.com Prior to the album's official UK release in the Autumn of 2016 Retractable Roots is available July 2016 as a special vinyl and CD digipack only release directly from Are You Listening Records on the shop page here: http://www.simonwiddowsonmusic.com/shop.html
From his origins in Leeds in the 1970's, Widdowson boarded a plane with an acoustic guitar and a suitcase full of records and in 1986 landed in Minneapolis, sitting in with bands in bars on the West Bank, the Cabooze and Whiskey Junction and playing guitar in a blues band called Killing Floor, going on to front a power pop trio called Rainjackets and performing regularly at clubs around Minneapolis for several years. Feeling suitably prepared for the road, in 1994 relocating to Santa Fe New Mexico and embarking on a period of touring across the USA, playing over 250 shows a year for 5 years and racking up over 250,00 miles in an old Volvo. Widdowson played acoustic guitar and harmonica in dusty saloons, college bars, theatres and festivals and driving almost every day across the desert, the Great Plains and the mountains, Widdowson's English Pop roots merged with America's folk and blues. He shared the stage with numerous artists such as; John Martyn, Peter Case, Dave Mason, Tom Paxton, Leo Kottke, Spin Doctors, Clarence Gatemouth Brown, RL Burnside, Clive Gregson, Deacon Blue, Crashtest Dummies, Subdudes, Peter Himmelman and recorded and released 3 albums which received modest airplay and positive reviews.
"British transplant Simon Widdowson is a prolific, socially conscious songwriter who wears his heart on his sleeve and whose nimble phrasing recalls both Graham Parker and Van Morrison" Jim Walsh, Billboard Magazine
Taking a break from touring, Widdowson moved to Portland Oregon in the late 90's, at that time a largely blue-collar town, home to a booming music scene with artists such as Elliot Smith, Dandy Warhols, Dharma Bums and many more English influenced pop rock outfits. He built a Recording Studio and Artist Space called Are You Listening? and went on to record and produce many artists such as Decemberists, Pete Krebs, Little Sue, Charmparticles, Hindi Guns, Papillon, and borrowing some of their musicians to make 2 more of his own albums and occasionally perform live while gathering experience and developing a reputation as a producer, recording engineer and studio musician.
"Simon Widdowson's Are You Listening? Studio, the soundlab responsible for some of the shiniest gems in Portland's recent pop past" - Zach Dundas, Portland Willamette Week 2003 After 18 years in America, Widdowson moved to Ireland and wandered the windswept cliffs of Cork and Kerry spending countless evenings mesmerised by traditional folk music sessions, playing bass in a local rock band called The Outside and keyboards in a folk pop group called Box Camera, playing occasional solo gigs and continuing his work as a producer and recording engineer for several notable Irish bands such as Driven and Arm the Elderly. After 3 years in Ireland Widdowson moved to France and spent 4 years in Lyon performing regularly with various musicians and working as a recording engineer and producer for several French artists such as Novox, Karimouche and Zen Zila. Moved back to his hometown of Leeds in 2011, almost exactly 25 years after leaving and performed solo gigs around the North of England before signing a deal with French Record Label Fakir Music and going back to France to record the ep "Simon Widdowson & Bellecour".
In 2014 Widdowson moved to a secluded place in the mountains in the South of France, built a recording studio and recorded and released a solo acoustic album entitled “Looking for the Sun” and a 4 track EP titled "A Little Bit Blue" with an acoustic trio featuring harmonica and upright bass. In the winter of 2015 Widdowson began working on the new album Retractable Roots
"Widdowson is a superior songwriter whose intelligent social and political commentary is never preachy because it's usually grounded in a personal context. Musically his adept mingling of rock and roll, folk elements and catchy pop hooks result in tunes remarkable for their depth and scope" Rick Mason, Minneapolis Star tribune
"Widdowson isn't just playing up to the journeyman artist stereotype, behind the casual melodies smart arrangements and typical British gift for irony there's a palpable restlessness to this guy and his songs" Dave Kirby, Colorado Daily