Published April 4, 2019

‘I see a lot of pain in the world — music is a very good antidote to that pain’


NORTH READING — Rupert Wates – London-born, Oxford trained and internationally renowned – headlines the next Performing Artist Series concert at the Flint Memorial Library on Friday, April 12 at 8 p.m. (doors open at 7 p.m.).

A full-time songwriter since the late 1990s, he spent five years in Paris before moving to NYC and Colorado in 2006.

When Performing Artist Series founder Art Grossman launched this project in the fall of 2018 with the two-fold purpose of bringing professional live musicians here for the enjoyment of the townspeople while providing another means of financial support for the multifaceted programming offered by the Friends of the Flint Memorial Library, an artist like Rupert Wates is exactly who he had in mind.

“When I first saw Rupert a year or so ago at an open mic as the feature, I purchased every CD title he had with him and I had never done that before with any artist. His singing, writing, guitar work and general performance is outstanding and I really hope people will come to see and hear this wonderful performer,” Grossman said.

Wates has won more than 40 songwriting and performing awards since coming to the U.S. just 13 years ago. His repertoire includes acoustic, melodic art/folk, jazz, vaudeville and cabaret. (

Audiences can enjoy this performance for a suggested donation of $15 at the door (general admission, advance tickets will not be sold). Wates is the third performer in the PAS which began with Twangtown Paramours in October and the Squeezebox Stompers in November.

Wates just released his 10th CD in January. His full discography is:

RUPERT WATES is the featured artist at the next Performing Artist Series on Friday, April 12 at the library. (Jason McClaren Photo)

• Full Circle (2019),

• The Lights Of Paris (2017),

• Colorado Mornings (2016),

• The Nightwatchers (2015),

• The Rank Outsiders Ball (2014),

• At the Losers’ Motel (2012),

• Joe’s Café (2010),

• Dear Life (2008),

• Coast to Coast (2007)

• Sweet or Bitter Wine (2005).

Rupert travels extensively, performing an average of 120 shows per year at venues ranging from house concerts to 3,500 seat concert halls. However, he prefers smaller venues which makes the setting at the Performing Artist Series’ home base in the activity room of the Flint Memorial Library perfect for an artist like Rupert. It seats up to 100.

The Transcript and PAS founder Art Grossman caught up with Rupert last week, between gigs, for a joint telephone interview.

Five questions with singer-songwriter Rupert Wates:

Transcript: In 14 years’ time you wrote and produced 10 CDs. What do you attribute your prolific writing and producing schedule to?

Wates: “Well, writing for me is living really; I am not happy when I’m not writing. And in order to write, I have to have a stimulus. And one stimulus that works for me is an idea for a new CD. I don’t write anything unless I have an idea for a whole CD. I am very traditional in that way. Once I get an idea about how a whole CD might take shape I start writing and I find ideas come to me pretty quickly. I spend a lot of time on the road and I find being on the road is very stimulating for writing.”

Transcript: When you come to North Reading on April 12, which CDs will you be featuring? What do you want people to know about your music to get them to come out and support the Performing Artist Series?

Wates: “I would mention that I am not going to be accompanied by any musicians. My guitar playing is one of my strengths… Guitar playing is very much a part of my sound.

“On top of that I tell stories. I always describe myself really as a storyteller. Every song tells a story but I think I do that more consciously than some songwriters, perhaps. So I am telling stories through song, and they can expect some very good guitar playing.”

Grossman: “He’s got a beautiful voice and he is an exceptional guitar player. Also, he is very engaging with the audience. It’s not one song after the other and ‘nice to be in North Reading.’ There’s a real back-and-forth with the audience. Rupert likes intimate settings and he likes being able to engage with the audience.”

Wates: “The trick is to make every audience feel like they are being personally engaged, whatever the size of the audience. Any performer who is any good makes you feel like you’re in an intimate setting. The size of the crowd shouldn’t make any difference.”

“I’m much happier indoors and I don’t like playing big rooms. My material is the kind of music that draws you in rather than punches its fist in the air, and it does work better indoors and it works better in smallish rooms.”

Transcript: When it is just you and your guitar, which CDs will you be featuring?

Wates: “None of my song are impossible to reproduce with just a guitar and a voice. I always write with the idea in mind that it will be me, on my own, performing it. I try to move through all my different CDs but it’s the newest ones that interest me most because I am more excited about them. They are fresher to me. I like my latest CDs most because they are more distinctive in the way that they sound. I am beginning to evolve a sound which is more distinctively my own.”

He will perform two sets, approximately 45 minutes each, with an intermission halfway through during which the audience can meet the artist, buy autographed CDs and enjoy some decadent cheese cake or other goodies from the refreshment table. Refreshment sales benefit the Friends of the Flint Memorial Library which pays for enrichment events for library patrons of all ages, from the summer reading program to visits from renowned authors.

Wates estimates he will perform a mix of between 20 to 25 songs during the concert.

Transcript: Who inspires you?

Wates: I wouldn’t say I’m a fan of any one person. I like so many individual songs by specific artists. When I was growing up there were all the usual suspects. Certainly Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, the Kinks, Beatles. I wouldn’t say I am fan. They’re human beings. I find their output patchy; they make some great stuff, some not so great stuff. I like all the good stuff. And I like a lot of my peers…  my fellow songwriters who are working today.

Transcript: What about life inspires your music?

Wates: “The struggles that people have to go through to be happy. I see a lot of pain in the world and I think that music is a very good antidote to that pain. And it helps me to remember that people are in pain much of the time because so much of what they do seems crazy. It’s easy for me to be compassionate towards them when I remember they are probably in pain.”

“I think that is the root of my writing but I have always felt the need to create. I’ve always wanted to make things, whether it was songs or paintings or novels. I have a very strong drive to create things. I think every artist has that.”

Lastly, Wates wanted to give a shout-out to Grossman for his mentorship of artists he encounters at open mic nights and coffeehouses while looking for new talent to bring to venues like the monthly North Reading Coffeehouse and now the PAS.

“I’d like to say every musician, no matter how hard they work or how talented they might be, needs someone in their corner. That is why I am very grateful to Art for getting in my corner. I want people to get behind Art because musicians need that, now more than ever. We are sort of starved of audiences and revenues, more and more,” he said.

“I’ve got several friends all over America who have given me support and there is no one like Art in the Northeast.”