Norwich Big Issue seller’s bid to build solar powered music studio

A Big Issue seller is turning his life around thanks to a quirky invention which allows him to harness solar power to capture the sounds of the city.

Steve James, who is best known for selling The Big Issue outside Norwich's Guildhall, has compiled a CD from gigs played at the Wildman pub in Bedford Street.

The CD, called the Wildman Sessions, is designed to promote local bands and singers and to raise funds for Mr James' quirky invention - a solar powered recording studio built into a bicycle trailer.

It is planned to use the recording studio to make CDs of music played by buskers in Norwich city centre and at festivals.

Mr James, 34, who lives in Cringleford, said: 'I've been a musician for the last 23 years and thought how amazing would it be to record music there and then using the lap top and solar panels.

'One of the first things I want to do is use it in Norwich city centre to record buskers playing on the streets and then put that on a CD and help them increase their income.'

The Wildman CD is due to be released this month and features tracks by artists including Washboard Chris, Danny Whitehouse, Addison's Uncle and Dumbfoundus.

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Mr James, who had been homeless or travelling since he was 16 before he started to sell The Big Issue, has been working on the solar powered recording studio for the last three years.

It works by having a solar powered full 16-track recording system built into a bike trailer which is then towed by an electric bike. It also includes car amplifiers and speakers, a laptop for mixing and a rackmount effects unit.

Together with his engineer Pete Hornsby, Mr James is hoping to have the system up and running by April.

They also plan subsequent CDs and are already half way through producing volume two.

Mr James, a former music promoter with New Blue Sun Promotions, added: 'Everything has been bought second hand so it's recycling at its finest.

'Hopefully by the end of the year, we will have completed the recording studio and will be out at festivals.'

Are you part of a quirky money-making venture? Call reporter Kate Scotter on 01603 772326 or email