HIS instantly recognisable sax solo appears on Take That’s ‘A Million Love Songs.’

During a career spanning almost 40 years Snake Davis has worked with some of the greatest names in the business - now he is bringing his musical talents to the village of Birkenshaw.

The legendary saxophonist is performing with his band in the final concert of the Birkenshaw Music Festival on October 27.

Running from September 30 to October 28, the month-long festival at St Paul’s Church in Bradford Road, initially launched in 2016 to bring the community together.

Snake is one of the highlights of the programme along with performances from Opera North.

Since the start of his career Snake has worked with many notable names including Annie Lennox, Lisa Stansfield, Heather Small and Paul McCartney. He has recorded on more than 400 tracks for over 60 artists.

Incidentally, singing is where it all started for Snake before re-discovering his voice again through the saxophone.

Growing up in Newport, South Wales, where he lived until he was 16, Snake honed his musical skills singing with choirs.

“I started out as a singer, that was the first thing I did.

“After my voice broke I tried the piano, the trumpet, I taught myself guitar and came to woodwind instruments in my late teens. As soon as I picked up the sax my life changed and I decided to become a professional musician.”

Snake explains the combination of being a ‘soul boy’ and loving the rhythm and blues sound led him to the instrument.

“People talk about my singing style and I think I have re-discovered the voice I had as a young choir boy. The sax became my voice and I love the tone and the passionate sound,” says Snake.

Snake studied for his diploma in jazz and light music at Leeds College of Music.

“I went to music college in Leeds in the very late seventies where I met a lot of my musician friends and kept putting different bands together.”

Working with well known artists, Snake’s name soon became known. “People heard about me and my sound and asked me to work with them.”

He describes the most ‘pinch yourself moments’ were working with the likes of Ray Charles and Paul McCartney.

“It was really exciting to hang around with musical icons and legends. I am a soul boy, Ray Charles was a hero I listened to in my teens,” says Snake, who also plays the Shakuhachi, a Japanese instrument he describes as a traditional bamboo flute which he will play as part of his performance at the Birkenshaw Music Festival.

Expect funk and soul along with versions of hits including Gerry Rafferty’s Baker Street and the classic sax solo version of the famous piece Snake performed on Take That’s ‘A Million Love Songs.’

“I’ve played lots of churches and I love them. It’s a different ambiance. They make a fantastic venue and it’s great to see them used as well,” says Snake.

Vicar of St Paul’s church, Rev Danny Walker, says: “We wanted a big name who would bring some amazing music for our final concert.

“I have known Snake’s music for many years and I was delighted when he agreed to come. It promises to be a fantastic evening of soulful music as well as upbeat tracks that will get everyone dancing.”

Tickets for the festival go on sale at the beginning of September. Visit snakedavis.rocks.

By Sally Clifford