General News

July 2014 News Update

July 2014 News Update

Quite a mixed bag this month.

Gary Southwell

Gary has been making fine guitars for many years now, and his clients include the great Julian Bream and Paul Simon plus many more. Gary has recently branched out into making steel string guitars, and it was while Hilary and I were visiting the great man that he produced the first prototype for me to try out.

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As you can see from the photograph it is a beautiful instrument built from 5000 year old bog oak.

I was there in the capacity of a writer, as it was I who suggested that Acoustic Magazine should do a lengthy feature on this astonishing guitar maker, and to spread it over three issues. Such is the worth of this outstanding instrument maker. It was then down to me to arrange a visit and to interview him about his amazing career.

Right, back to the guitar in question.

Needless to say, the instrument had a very impressive and huge sound and was of course a joy to play. I feel very honoured to be bench testing this first guitar, and took it home to give it the Giltrap treatment of new lighter strings and an action adjustment via the rather clever key operated neck tilting system that has been around for many years but Gary has refined it for his own needs.

Since having the guitar in my possession I set time aside to record a version of " LOREN" on it and promptly sent off the CD for Gary's approval. I got a call from him a few days later saying how wonderful the guitar sounded in my hands on the recording, and indeed how lovely he thought the piece was, which was nice to hear.

I shall continue to offer my thoughts on how I think it could be refined to suit the dyed in the wool, steel string player, and Gary has said that he will take note of my comments and suggestions, and when time allows have a crack at making another one.

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I must point out at this juncture that I am not endorsing these guitars, I'm just lending a hand to a new and valued friend. To buy one of these wondrous creations will set you back best part of £10,000!

I hope you enjoy the selection of photographs that I took whilst visiting his workshop including one of the 19th century style models he makes and a photo with Gary's daughter Maria.

Private gig Linda and Chris's wedding

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I have always enjoyed doing private gigs and my gig in a banqueting room above a busy pub just outside Southend on Sea close to the airport was indeed a cracker. The small but appreciative audience were wonderful, and I even got a standing ovation at the end of my concert, which to my knowledge has never happened before at a function such as this.

My thanks go to the bride and groom Linda and Chris for inviting me to be a part of their special day.

Linda wrote: Gordon's performance was everything we hoped it would be and he was very easy going and accommodating. His performance was enjoyed by all our guests and he made the day special for us. A true professional.


A huge THANKYOU to everyone at the theatre in Neath who made us so welcome after an horrendous journey. Great audience, great venue, great response, standing ovation what more could one ask!

I shall return.

Double Vision in Oxford

What better way to celebrate D Day than doing a concert with maestro Burley at the beautiful HolywellL Room in Oxford. This was an interesting one because it was virtually an "unplugged" concert with me providing just a tiny bit of sound reinforcement via my little Fishman amp.

It's always a joy playing with Raymond, and the usual suspects were in the set list including the long forgotten Ravensbourn and of course Down the River. It was good to see those lovely Merediths in attendance, and Keith bless him always writes such a superb and articulate review.

This concert was great practise for our sets for the JHS Event just two days later!

JHS Event
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Although this isn't a public event, it has always been a very important part of our calendar, and this year was no exception. Ray and I performed two half hour sets over the three days we were there, and it's always great to see old friends Jerry Donahue and Doug Morter along with Paul Brett and  John Etheridge who of course is our mate within 4 Parts Guitar.

This year was special for John as he was launching his brand new Fret King JE signature electric which to my ears just sounded the best I have ever heard. The sound was so full and rich! Having said that it does have something to do with the way he plays it. Remember folks it's not the instrument but the player!

Also at the EVENT was the legendary record producer (Tubular Bells) Tom Newman.   Tom and I had never met, but he enjoyed my solo set and we got on famously as you can see from the picture. There is a rumour that we may be working together on a project in the future!

Also in attendance, and this came as a great and pleasurable surprise to me was to see my old friend Midge Ure in the hospitality tent! It had been ages since we saw each other and after the usual heartfelt hug we got to chatting. Midge has his own superb signature model out on the market on the Vintage brand.

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The other delightful surprise was to see our pal the talented Carrie Martin there. Carrie wasn't aware it was EVENT as Gavin Coulson had told her to just turn up with her guitar that required a slight adjustment on the jack plug socket. Whilst she was there she tried out several" dream" microphones, and low and behold she bought one. Here is a lovely photo of Carrie with my good pal and hero Gavin Coulson.

Next year promises to be a bit special as JHS are celebrating 50 years as a company. We shall be there to share in the celebrations!      

It was great to see the Boss Mr John Hornby Skewes back in harness after a number of major operations. Be well John.

Coventry concert

My May 30th concert at The Embassy Club in Coventry was eventful to say the least. First of all shortly after arriving I discovered I had a flat tyre, on a borrowed Volvo that we had owned two years ago, and was being used whilst our VW Passat was being serviced.

Under normal circumstances I would have rolled my sleeves up and tackled it myself, but I just didn't want to risk the chance of nail breakage and possible hand injury, so I called out the jolly old AA, who arrived (would you believe) within twenty minutes of making the call bless em!

Once that had been sorted I was able to turn my attention to the sound check. After about ten minutes it was confirmed that my on-board mixer had died on me! Thankfully James the sound guy was a real gem, and managed to re wire the board and get everything working, even my Loop Station so I was able to perform The Dodo's Dream. Prior to all this my mobile phone had decided to play up, and I really was beginning to think the evening had been cursed, and they say things come in threes!

Anyway in the end it turned out fine and I even got a standing ovation from this cracking Coventry audience.

As a footnote to the evening’s concert, I was informed that one of the city’s best loved sons Rod Feltham had recently passed away. Rod had been in The Grunt Band with Rob Armstrong, so I was able to dedicate a tune to his memory. RIP Rod.

By the way the aforementioned Volvo is now ours again! It's good to have it back like a long lost old friend!

Old Bull Hotel Royston

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It had been ages since I had actually played a folk to a degree I was a little apprehensive, but my fears were allayed when I walked into the venue and saw my host Chris with a beaming smile of welcome.

Chris and his wife Lesley run the venue and what a cracking venue it, is in the courtyard of the Bull Hotel, which is quite an upmarket establishment in the heart of sleepy Royston.

It was great to see Roger and Ethan (my youngest of fans) at the concert along with old friend Sir Keith Meredith. The audience were the 10 out of 10 variety and really helped the evening go swimmingly. I even offered to do the raffle!!!

I was also delighted to meet Mark and Vanessa and to discover that my music had an important place in their lives. You can read Vanessa's story below.

I look forward very much to a return visit at some point, such was the success for me personally of the whole evening.

Royston Folk Club –  27th June - Gordon Giltrap review by Vanessa Stone

We were both a bit dumb struck when we saw the poster outside the Old Bull Inn at Royston – Gordon Giltrap playing here in a couple of weeks? We had just come into Royston to avoid the rain and find a cuppa.  Gordon had come up in conversation back on a snowy walk in Letchworth when Mark and I had first met at the end of 2012. I had told him how a concert I had been to many years ago was brill, some bloke called Gordon Giltrap! Mark stopped still. He was there too.

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Pictures of us all about 1983.

It was the spookiest thing. Mark and I had grown up in the same village. I had ridden his mum’s horses at their stables at my weekly riding lesson. He was older than me by five years or so; I was horse mad and he was a strapping 18yr old soon to be off to college so not even vaguely on each other’s radar! We were virtual friends on Facebook as part of all the Winterslow kids that were on there too, but many years later. We were friends of siblings - those layers of friendships, but had never met.

By 2012 we had both been through the mill. Long marriages that had ended, moving houses, redundancy for Mark and being poorly through stress and I had a father that died after suffering from Parkinson’s for many years and both had a feeling that we had never quite found what we were looking for. At the very end of 2012, we met at Duxford. I was to make an art piece for him. At that first meeting we talked for about six and a half hours! We met again soon after and so the relationship developed until he moved down to Hertfordshire last year.

The thing is that being with him just made everything seem to make sense.

So, he bought tickets straight away for the Royston gig and we went. It was a very special moment. Seriously special. Gordon is such a magnificent musician – the complexity and subtlety of his playing alongside the sheer muscularity of how he plays was simply awesome!  Mark has played guitar all his life and been a fan for years. Hearing the music again was so powerful. I choked up and felt so moved, held onto Mark’s arm.

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Haven't we all aged well ?

Those notes played that hung in the air had hung in the air in another time 31 years ago, a time when Mark and I were at the beginning of our lives, a time when everything was safe and secure. Gordon’s music took us both back to the start and to the now too. It seemed to complete a circle for us both. Here we were hand in hand, heart in heart.

It had been a very long journey, but life can be utterly amazing.

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This month’s guitar

About a year ago I acquired a Fret King self-tuning guitar. Well, in all honesty it never really worked for me, and re stringing it was a nightmare. Fortunately it was in mint condition, so I was able to do a straight swop for this current beauty.

The model is a Super 60 Fret King model, with a P90 pick up in the neck position and a very useful tremolo arm for all those Jeff Beck riffs I plan to compose ( in my dreams) on this instrument.

Anyway, it's a cracker and will hopefully get more use than its self-tuning cousin. Nice colour eh?. Echoes of Hank B Marvin methinks!