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my musical influences

18/07/2011

 

if you like my music, you will doubtless enjoy the sounds of those that inspired me - here are just a few influences ...  

 

folk
back in the seventies, the folk group The Pentangle was favourite listening during my college days – featuring two legendary guitarists, Bert Jansch and John Renbourn, their mix of folk, jazz, blues and their own material kept my turntable turning for many years – I particularly liked Bert’s original playing style and John’s taste for the medieval and I’ve followed their solo careers since – many people have compared my vocals to Bert’s and I first heard a number of the folk songs in my repertoire from the playing of The Pentangle

 

The Pentangle

 

also about that time, Steeleye Span and Fairport Convention used rock technology to give traditional material a contemporary feel and it worked so well that both bands enjoyed great popularity for many years – my favourite Steeleye albums were those that featured the wonderfully idiosyncratic guitar work and vocals of Martin Carthy and I also like the playing, vocals and songs of Fairport’s Dave Swarbrick – together Carthy and Swarb’ formed a wonderful duo of quintessentially English folk music and song – I played support to (Americans say ‘opened for’) them some years ago, when I was just starting out – they are great guys and were kind to me, showing considerable interest in my guitar playing - I'm delighted that Martin has won awards from the BBC and an MBE from the Queen

 

medieval
still focusing on the seventies and eighties, bands like The City Waites and Gryphon brought medieval music into the twentieth century with virtuosity and passion – the City Waites using authentic reproductions of old instruments and Gryphon combining reproduction instruments with current technology to give a medieval rock/jazz sound – one night the ‘Waites got me on stage to act the dragon in a comical re-enactment of ‘George and the dragon’ during one of their concerts – I had to exit a cave and roar before I was killed - all my voice and performance training kicked in and my roar filled the theatre – the performers and audience we so taken aback that I was given an unexpected round of applause   

 

guitar
the late, great John Martyn OBE was a fantastically talented singer, songwriter, guitarist and guitar innovator – originally using tape loops, John built up layers of sound, live, on an acoustic guitar – inspired by this, I used sampling and digital effects to create my own electro acoustic guitar sounds -  John had an excellent rapport with bass player extraordinaire Danny Thompson (ex-Pentangle) and together they made atmospheric sounds that still make me tingle – John Martyn’s music has been such a large part of my life, I literally felt bereaved when I learned of his passing

 

sadly, also now deceased is the late, great Isaac Guillory - over many years I have watched Isaac develop as a musician, singer and performer – his guitar work was world-class and his improvisation skills were second-to-none – I am full of admiration for Isaac and still enjoy his albums today - one night I played support to (opened for) him – we had met before but he hadn’t heard my music – afterwards he was effusive about my work and described one song as ‘beautiful’ – whenever anyone criticises my work, I think of that moment

 

Isaac Guillory

 

two wonderful guitarists that still inspire me are the French Pierre Bensusan, who specialises in playing jazzy guitar ‘landscapes’ in DADGAD tuning and the multi-award winning folk guitarist Martin Simpson – indeed the only instrument training I’ve ever had was an informal one-to-one session with Martin – in just fifteen minutes he transformed my playing, helping me to put power and poise into my right hand technique – both Pierre and Martin are enormously deserving of their success and recognition in the guitar world 

 
dulcimer
I’m deeply indebted to the late, legendary British dulcimer player, Roger Nicholson – Roger’s transcriptions of medieval lute tunes for the dulcimer are second–to-none and he has inspired players on both sides of the Atlantic in so many ways – Roger and I made a trip to the USA together and we recorded a couple of dulcimer duets on my Spirit Dancing CD – Roger was not only inspirational to me but he also encouraged and helped me in my own career

 

Nashville-based Stephen Seifert is also a friend and is probably the leading player in the world today – he was the protégé of the late, great David Schnaufer, whom I had the honour of getting to know on my first trip to Kentucky – Steve’s virtuoso playing transcends the instrument and I have the privilege to have recorded two duets with him in Nashville in 2014  for my Au Vieux Moulin CD

 

minimalist music

my Au Vieux Moulin album showcases a style of dulcimer playing I call 'minimalist' - in these peices the focus is not melpodic but on a gradual shifting of harmonic patterns - this style was influenced by modern composers like Steve Reich and Philip Glass 

 

style & nature
whilst the talended artists above have motivated me, given me repertoire and techniques, I do not seek to emulate - if I perform their music it is always in my own, highly individual, style - furthermore, many of my compositons are insipired by nature itself: Snow, Waves, Le Ruisseaux Du Moulin to name but three - by deliberately seeking ideas from nature, rather than from other muscians, I avoid the trap of emulation



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