It’s been a busy month for me in the guitar magazines:
The latest issue of Guitar Techniques (issue 182) has an 8-page feature by me, on acoustic blues guitar from the last 100 years. It was a fascinating feature to undertake, as it allowed me to delve into the genre with a greater focus than before, introducing me to some players I’d previously all but overlooked. For example, the playing of Lonnie Johnson was a revelation to me – a player who was way ahead of his time in terms of guitar soloing – and who really began to form the bridge between blues and jazz, as early as the 1920’s. The magazine’s webpage is:
Finally, my regular column in Guitarist Magazine this month (issue 333) features my arrangement of the Scott-Skinner waltz, Hector the Hero, for solo guitar in DADGAD. It’s a mournful but beautiful Scottish tune, that you might like to have a go at learning!
I’ve just come back from a busy couple of weeks of shows and workshops. Warwick Folk Fesival, Folk by the Oak, Sidmouth and Cambridge Folk Festival dates with the Jackie Oates band sandwiched four days teaching at the first ever Cheltenham International Guitar Festival. I say first, because for the last fifteen or so years, it’s been held in Bath. Same faces, different town, but just as much fun as usual. I had the priviledge to work with some truly lovely people, and a lot of laughs were had as well. The general format is that we work on songs and techniques during the week which culminates in a student showcase concert at the end of the week, in which nerves of steel are demonstrated by those for whom the stage is an entirely new place to play!
As for Jackie’s band, we played some lovely gigs, including four seperate appearances around Cambridge Folk Festival, and one at Sidmouth, sharing the bill with Julie Fowlis, an artist of whom I have long been a fan.
The great thing about festivals, is the chance to hear artists I’ve not previously got around to checking out: Highlights for me at Cambridge were the Carolina Chocolate Drops and Salsa Celtica.
The next stop is Shrewsbury, then on to Towersey. See you there!
A few months ago, I commissioned my favourite guitar maker, Roger Bucknall of Fylde Guitars to build me a new model, which would fit tonally and size-wise in between my Fylde Falstaff and Goodfellow. Well, last week I took delivery of what is one truly remarkable instrument! The model is basically an Alexander, which is roughly an OM-style body size and shape, but with a custom spec. It’s got beautifully figured ziricote back and sides and a cedar top, with coconut bindings around the body.
I’ve wanted to try a different pickup for a while, so I took the opportunity to experiment with a new internal mic system as you can see from the sound hole close-up. It’s made by http://www.miniflexmic.com, and features not one but two internal mics, which, in theory at least, are mechanically out of phase, making them less prone to feeding back, which is a pretty common drawback with close-miking guitars on stage. Well, I haven’t gigged it yet, so I can’t comment too much, but early experiments are promising! It sounds very natural through my Radial preamp into a PA system…
I’ve just returned home from my first three concerts with the Jackie Oates band. We played Dartington Hall, in South Devon, Caerleon, South Wales and finally, Nettlebed Folk Club near Henley-on-Thames.
From the first few chords of the opening number, it felt like a great place to be. Great music, great band – a joy to be involved.
The Dartington show was particular significant on a personal level, because Dartington Hall was where I went to college, but as a music student, I never got to play in the Great Hall. Ten years later, and I finally had the chance, and what a beautiful room to play in, it was!
Next stop for the band is the Howard Assembly Rooms in Leeds on Friday 10th March…
Welcome to my brand new website which has just been launched. We will be adding further information and material in the near future, but for now, please have a look around, as you will find tour dates and music to listen to.