Is it really October already???

Can’t believe it’s already October and the Autumn seems to have arrived all at once. It’s high time I updated my rather neglected blog with some news. It’s not as if I’ve been lazy – quite the opposite – much has happened since the last posting.

Firstly, back in August I ran the first of my Brittany Guitar Workshops residencies, which was a joyous experience, with a lovely group of students who’d made the trip over from England to stay in the lovely village of La Fontenelle, Brittany. It was hosted by Brenda Dean of Brittany Music Workshops, who looked after us beautifully, and even sang a song with us at the end-of-week concert.

We worked on a variety of pieces from blues to Celtic to pop arrangements, leading up to the aforementioned concert, which was attended by about 30 of the locals. Thanks to Brenda for translating all the stage gossip!

I must give a special plug to the hugely talented Kitty Macfarlane, an up-and-coming singer-songwriter, who was one of my students. She bewitched the lot of us with her voice, guitar playing and all round charm.

Anyway, we’re already planning next year’s workshop and the dates are looking like August 13-16 inclusive, so if you’re interested in coming, put those in the diary!

Secondly, I’ve just received the new Abi Moore record, Amoeba & Stone. Abi is a dear friend of mine, and this record has been a long time in the making, so I’m really chuffed it’s finally out there. There are a few session contributions from me on there, too.

Finally, I’ve just returned from the 14th Ullapool Guitar Festival in the northwest Highlands of Scotland. This festival has gained a legendary status as the one everyone wants to play at, such is the quality and atmosphere on show. It’s quite simply THE place to be for guitar enthusiasts in early October. I feel blessed to have now played at 10 of the last 11 festivals, and I’m already counting down until the 15th festival in 2014.

Highlights included jamming with Clive Carroll and John Smith, playing an epic pool tournament with friends, and of course, performing and teaching!

At one point I found myself playing a brief private banjo recital to Elliott Randall from Steely Dan, Carl Verheyen from Supertramp and Jerry Donahue of, well, everyone. Surreal. Here’s Mr. Verheyen having a play on my guitar:

Oh, and speaking of banjos, upon arriving at the festival, Roger Bucknall of Fylde Guitars presented me with my brand new open backed frailing banjo. The hoop is made from 48 separate blocks of Claro Walnut and capped on either side with African Blackwood. It sounds amazing and I’m totally delighted with it:

Well, that brings us more or less up to date, so I’ll sign off for now, and promise not to leave it too long before the next installment!

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