Austria

Hi folks,

I’m currently away on tour in Austria with Jackie Oates and Mike Cosgrave, and we’re onto day four, having played three shows in three very different towns and venues.

So far, we’ve played in a beautiful old theatre in Bad Ischal, a Musikschule in the mountain village of St. Georgan and last night in a very smoky folk club (I miss only the smoking ban of home!) in Waidhofen. Last night’s gig had a St. Patrick’s Day theme, except that it wasn’t St. Patrick’s Day, and we aren’t Irish. The other band – led by the very, very brilliant fiddler and concertina player, Niamh ni Charra – are Irish, however, so a suitably raucous set of reels and polkas did the trick.

We’re en route to gig four now, in Mistelbach, which has a winery, so we’re all looking forward to that (hic!)…

Austria Tour

Hi folks!

I’m off tour Austria for 17 gigs with Jackie Oates and Mike Cosgrave on Wednesday 29th Feb – see the live dates for full details. I’ll post updates as and when I can 🙂

See you down the road somewhere xx

Autumn tour

I’ve been on tour for a couple of weeks with the Jackie Oates band, which has been enormous fun. Jackie has a new album out, called Saturnine on ECC Records, and the current set contains the album in its entirety. I even get to play childrens’ toy hand bells on stage, and bassist, James Budden has found new skills as a glockenspiel player!

We’ve played so far in Ivybridge, Bristol at the Colston Hall, Nottingham Glee Club, The Sage in Gateshead among other places, and we’re off to Germany and the Isle of Man this weekend and next, respectively.

During a day off, we stayed at the incredible Brancepeth Castle in Durham, and took the opportunity to shoot a low budget music video for the album track, Young Johnson. We don’t expect an Oscar, but it was a lot of fun making none the less. Here’s the video:

Cheltenham Guitar Festival

I’ve just returned home from an exhausting but brilliant week teaching my acoustic guitar class at the annual Cheltenham Guitar Festival. I had 15 wonderful people in the group and we worked on various songs by The Beatles, Jack Johnson, Neil Young and the like, and then participated in the end-of-week ‘Night of 1000 Guitars’ concert, which was nerve wracking but brilliant fun. The picture shows my guys in full flow!

Week two (rock week) is just starting, so good luck and have fun to all those involved, but for me, I’m going to catch up with some sleep!

Port Isaac’s Fisherman’s Friends

I recently undertook a studio session recording two tracks for the Fisherman’s Friends Special Edition album (thanks to my mate, Jon Bishop for the contact). The two songs were (What Shall We Do With) The Drunken Sailor and When the Boat Comes In.

A couple of days ago, I was idly watching ITV1, as one does, and the ad for their new album came on, and there I was, banjo-ing away in the background 🙂

Glad they kept my parts!

Acoustic Guitarist of the Year 2011

Hi all,

Last Friday, June 1st, I was invited to be a judge for the prestigious Acoustic Guitarist of the Year competition, run by Guitarist Magazine (for whom I’ve been the acoustic techniques columnist since the year Umpteen-Hundred and Eleventy…). The competition was held in the beautiful Queen Elizabeth Hall, at the South Bank Centre, and run in conjunction with the London Guitar Festival (part of IGF).

There were six nervous finalists, and frankly, they were all fabulous with vastly contrasting styles, ranging from country picking to slappy-tappy to folky and melodic.

I think there would have been no uproar had any one of them walked away with the lovely prize guitar kindly donated by Takamine Guitars, but as the cliche goes, there could be only one, so…

…many congratulations to Will McNicol, for his stunning composition, that I was humming for the rest of the afternoon!

I also had a great time catching up with old friends, fellow judge Michael Watts and wonderful guitarist Amrit Sond, who’d come to enjoy the competition.

Happy New Year!

Greetings, one and all! I thought it appropriate to blog one last time in this busy year. It’s been a great 2010, musically, what with joining Jackie’s band and playing some great festivals and arts centres.

My last solo show was a triple bill with Clive Carroll and Amrit Sond on December 19th, at Acoustic Routes in Cambridge, which was nerve-wracking, considering the combined virtuosity of those two! Amrit is a total one off with a highly individual style (and a Grammy Award winner to boot!) and Clive is, well, Clive! Anyone who has seen him will attest to the fact that he’s a phenomenal talent, up there with the very best players in the world. So yes, it was a scary experience, but one which was sold out, and great fun. Thanks to Bernard Hoskin for putting it on.
Instrument-wise, I sold my recently purchased Fylde Mandola to Mike (who plays keys in Jackie’s band), and bought myself a Fylde Signature Octavius Bouzouki and Fylde Walnut Touchstone Mandolin in it’s place. Oh, and I’ve taken up the banjo, after recently seeing legendary folkie, Pete Coe! I love old timey clawhammer style banjo playing, and have decided to finally figure it out. You’d think that a guitar player wouldn’t have too much trouble turning his hand to this, but the clawhammer technique is utterly counter-intuitive to fingerstyle guitar.
Teaching-wise, I’m going to be running a new evening class in acoustic guitar at the ACM starting in January. Go to http://www.acm.ac.uk for more information.
That’s all for now. I wish you all a very happy and peaceful new year! Wassail!

Mandola

Just picked up this 1995 Fylde Octave Mandola at Towersey Folk Festival, last weekend. I’ve given it a clean up and changed the pickup to a Fishman Rare Earth Blend, and it sounds great.

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