American tales from a British bard


London-born Rupert Wates has been a full-time songwriter since 1992, a journey that has carried him from his native England to Paris and finally to the USA, his base since 2006. A talented musician, Wates writes songs that bring the lives of his characters, real and imagined, to vivid life.

A fine guitar player possessed of a smooth and expressive voice, he has an ear for memorable melodies and intricately crafted lyrics that keep audiences spellbound. On Sunday, March 12, he returns to White Horse Black Mountain for a night of memorable music.

Rupert Wates is said to incorporate  the warmth and lyricism of Gordon Lightfoot and Richard Thompson’s attention to guitar craft.

Wates has composed songs for himself and others in an array of styles. His ambitious 2010 album “Joe’s Café” is based on true stories, tracing the American experience through the eyes of everyday people, while 2014’s “The Rank Outsiders Ball” has a folk-noir vibe anchored by a crackerjack band and Wates’ jazz-inflected guitar work. Although Wates’ sophisticated sound is very much his own, his music draws favorable comparisons to the warmth and lyricism of Gordon Lightfoot as well as Richard Thompson’s attention to guitar craft and razor-sharp wordplay but without the pitch-black corners.

The prolific Wates has eight CDs to his credit, all well-received. His most recent, “Colorado Mornings: True Love Songs,” is an album of acoustic love songs inspired by the beauty of that state. Driven by a narrative of two lovers on a Wild West outlaw-like quest for new freedom and frontiers, the sound is folky, pastoral and rootsy, tied together by Wates’ gorgeous tenor and immaculate guitar.

An English take

Who: Rupert Wates

When: 7:30 p.m. March 12

Where: White Horse Black Mountain

Cost: $10