David Walker brings sax appeal to Sailmakers

A TALENTED saxophonist who played in front of royalty at the wedding of an England rugby star is set to perform at a busy Ipswich shopping centre this month.

David Walker, 33, will be playing a hometown gig at Sailmakers Shopping Centre as part of its eagerly-anticipated, annual acoustic music festival on Saturday and Sunday, September 29 and 30.

The father-of-two’s talent led to him being booked to play at rugby star Danny Care’s wedding, which was attended by the Queen’s granddaughter Zara Phillips and her husband, former England international Mike Tindall.

David, who lives in Ipswich and has also performed at balls and functions for the likes of Marks and Spencer and Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, is looking forward to playing for shoppers in his hometown.

He said: “The acoustic music festival is a really great idea and I’m looking forward to it.

“It’s my hometown so it will be nice to perform at Sailmakers. There are not as many sax players these days so it’s a little bit niche at the moment.

“My playlist is basically music I like listening to. I can adapt it to the type of occasion or event I’m playing.

“It comes with experience but you get to know what music to play depending on the audience.

“I can play a particular cover and put a twist on it. For instance the Pharrell Williams song ‘Happy’ is very popular and everyone knows it whatever their age.

“When I play it on the sax it’s really cool and not instantly recognisable. When people realise what it is they really like it.

“When I perform I’m essentially playing the vocals on the sax.”

Sailmakers Shopping Centre Manager Mike Sorhaindo said: “The acoustic stage was a big hit with our customers last year and we’ve been keen to do it again and having David there will be a real coup.

“We’re still looking for more performers as it’s a two-day event with slots available and we see it as a great way of showcasing local talent.”

The Centre plan to have up to ten acts performing 45-minute slots between 12 and 4pm each day of the weekend which will also feature student offers and promotions and festival-style face painting.

David realised there was a big opportunity for him to pursue a career in music and turn it into a business when he landed the gig to perform at Danny Care’s high-profile wedding to wife Jodie Henson.

He said: “Danny messaged me on Twitter and said he and his wife-to-be had seen some of my videos online and really wanted to book me.

“I thought what a really cool opportunity. I ended up getting a mention in OK magazine.

“It was an awesome day – I couldn’t believe I was there. Zara and Mike Tindall were 20 feet away as I played.

“It didn’t put me off, it was just another day at the office as such, but I knew I had to be on top form.

“Danny was lovely, he’s such a down to earth guy. It was a big boost for me. Friends and family started to take my playing more seriously – they could see this as a business.”

Music has always played a major role in David’s life, but after losing interest in his late teens it took him several years and a helping hand from his mum before he picked up an instrument again.

He explained: “When I was five I started playing the drums but that became impractical because you could never carry them around.

“Then I played the double bass before trying out the saxophone. I liked the idea of it and loved the sound.

“Music has been a part of my life since I can remember but if I’m honest I didn’t think I’d ever pursue a career at it.

“When I was in my early teens and going to London Guildhall School of Music on a Saturday I didn’t particularly enjoy it.

“When I stopped playing at the age of 17 I didn’t play an instrument again for nearly ten years.

“I didn’t think about it one bit. When you’re 17 and you’re offered £400 for your saxophone all you think about is going out and spending it with your mates.

“Then on my 25th birthday my mum got me a saxophone. It was such a nice present and I’ve not looked back since.

“I’m so thankful to her. She’s proud that I started playing again and that I’ve taken it on to another level.”

He added: “I found it easy to pick it up again. I’d had private lessons when I was 15 for a year.

“I adapted what I’d learnt with watching videos on YouTube which is a massive tool as there is so much material.

“I practiced non stop and listened to lots of different sax players. I’ve adapted that with my own unique sound and people think it’s nice so I can’t complain!”

David is currently on sabbatical from his day job in customer services as he explores the feasibility of playing the saxophone full-time.

He explained: “It was a big step. I wanted to see how it went over the summer and I have to say it’s been incredible, better than I imagined.

“I was worried about the financial side. My second daughter is only one month old so my wife was pregnant when I took this step.

“I knew what the workload was going to be over the summer and I managed to double it.

“It’s opened my eyes a lot because when you have a family it’s great, but to be able to spend more time with them is even better. It’s had a massive impact in that respect.

“I’d say 80% of my work is wedding receptions and generally I work Friday to Sunday. I also do some stuff in the evenings with my brother who is a DJ.”

Any acts interested in performing can contact julie.mcgee@bewonder.co.uk and for more on what’s happening at Sailmakers Shopping Centre go to www.sailmakersshopping.co.uk and to https://www.facebook.com/sailmakers

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