April 2015 News Update
Wednesday, April 1, 2015
Classic Rock Society Awards
When Stephen Lamb asked me if I would present the Classic Rock Society Awards I felt very flattered mainly because not only is it an honour, it is unheard of for someone to present the awards more than once, and even though their original presenter let them down and I was stepping into his/ her shoes it still felt good to be asked.
Awards: Do they really mean anything? Are they really important? Answer...Yes of course they are. Being someone who has been the recipient of two awards an Ivor Novello nomination and a lifetime achievement award from Northern Ireland I know how it feels. The feeling is indescribable.
An even nicer experience is to present awards and know in your heart that the recipients are truly deserving, none more so than the amazing musicians and creators that were there on Saturday the 21st of February at The Montgomery Hall, Wath Upon Dearn.
Prog Rock by its very nature is aligned to musical excellence so every nominee you can bet your boots was gifted. To arrive at the final list must have been tough. All the nominees were voted for by readers of the CRS magazine.
Having worked with Oliver Wakeman and of course his father has given me over the years a degree of Prog Rock credibility, otherwise I would felt a bit like an imposter, an acoustic guitarist that had success in the mid-seventies but nothing since. So it was with a degree of confidence that I walked onto the stage of the Montgomery Hall to a warm reception from a lovely crowd.
The last time I was on that stage about three years ago I must confess that I hadn't really done my homework, but this time I had prepared some notes and Googled many of the nominees thus hopefully adding an air of assurance to the whole thing, because for goodness sake the event deserved it! Stephen Lamb and Steve Pilkington were co presenters and did a great job.
There were two fine acts performing on the evening. Jump Acoustic and Scots band Pallas. Sadly I didn't get the chance to hear either act but was told they were both excellent. Ironically our good friend Carrie Martin had been invited to play on the evening but she was committed elsewhere. She was truly gutted not to have been able to do it. Never mind, maybe next year eh Carrie.
Back to the awards event. The categories and winners were:
Best track – Road of Bones by IQ
Best Classic Rock Society Gig – Mostly Autumn
Best Newcomer – Cloud Atlas
Best Bassist – Pete Trewavas…....Couldn't make it but left a recorded message
Best Keyboard player – Clive Nolan. …....Couldn't make it but left a recorded message
Best Drummer – Johanne James.
Best guitarist – Steve Hackett ............Couldn't make it but left a recorded message.
Best lyricist – Pete Nicholls of IQ
Best Album – Road of Bones by IQ
Best Overseas Band – Moon Safari ...........Swedish band couldn't be there but left a recorded message
Best Male Singer – Damian Wilson
Best Female Singer – Olivia Sparnenn -Josh
Best Band – IQ
Unsung Hero – Dave Roberts (Cambridge Rock Festival)
There were two personal standout moments for me on the night, the first one being the profound pleasure it gave me to present the great Johanne James his award for best drummer in the band Threshold. As you know Johanne played superbly on the Ravens And Lullabies album and bass playing partner Steve Anderson also of Threshold joined us for those interesting six dates last April being part of the Ravens and Lullabies band and let us not forget the Summers End Festival in October 2013.
Johanne is a truly outstanding drummer and a lovely human being so you can imagine my big grin as he walked onto the stage to collect his award. Huge hugs and big smiles all round. It was a real thrill for me I can tell you.
The other special moment was chatting to Heidi Widdop of Cloud Atlas who confessed to me afterwards how special this award was for her because of all the hardships and band line-ups that had happened prior to their latest award winning album. She was almost in tears when she told me that she was a single parent and it had been tough out there, but this award had somehow made it all worthwhile. I was really touched by her words and I congratulated her on a well-deserved award. A lovely moment indeed. I wish her well in all she does.
Hilary and I stayed over at the local Holiday Inn and a few of the attendees were staying there so it was great to chat with some of them over breakfast. The general consensus of opinion was that the event represented great value for money and why they returned year after year. The whole thing for me was almost a family affair.
I loved every minute and I thank Stephen Lamb for inviting me. What a shame that I shan't be presenting more CRS Awards because it is truly a privilege.
A special THANKYOU to Stephen's lovely wife Gill for her hospitality in the form of tea, coffee and cake prior to the award ceremony. It was also good to share the evening with my new friend and sound engineer Paul Ward who is a real dyed in the wool Prog Rocker, and our dear pal Geoff Olner.
Well, this month has been full on Village Hall concerts and I shall try and report back on each of them as briefly as I can, but one or two truly do stand out. My concert in Tideswell on February 28th, could and should have been really enjoyable. The main thing that effected it badly it badly my old enemy COLD. The church was stunningly beautiful, the audience of 125 plus were delightful, and apart from an ongoing deafness in my right ear I played pretty well.
No matter how much they turn the radiators up and the underfloor heating one is still fighting a losing battle. The church was huge and the draught from the rear end up by the altar was very uncomfortable.
I have so many bad memories of playing churches in winter I have lost count. One in particular was at a church in the then village of Ray and Sian Burley in Ducklington. It was SO cold that our microphones refused to work because of it.
The lesson to be learned here is DONT PLAY IN CHURCHES IN WINTER unless one is really fortunate to play in a venue that has super modern heating.
Thank goodness I had my pal and roadie Malc Welch there to help with the loading in and loading out. There was no access to the church, you couldn't drive up to it, so we had to man handle the kit across a busy road and over a wall, and in the rain. Oh the glamour of it all I hear you cry!
Mugginton Village Hall
The March 7th gig was truly memorable. I have never played a village hall where chocolates were placed on each of the seats prior to the show, and during the interval locals would walked round offering either crisps or mixed biscuits. The raffle prizes were quality, and the organisers Kairen and Den were most hospitable. They even had two chaps with day glow jackets organising the parking!
My trusty roadie Malc Welch was there to lend a hand unloading and loading the PA as well as setting it up for me. Malc is now an expert and invaluable.
Both my sets were incredibly well received and at the end after Lucifer's Cage I received a full standing ovation which after all these years I'm beginning to accept without feeling a tad embarrassed or slightly unworthy.... but you know what I'm like!
The evening gave me the opportunity to perform my latest tune dedicated to my daughter Sadie entitled Sadie In May. Playing a new piece live certainly helps to hone and refine a piece prior to committing it to record.
After the concert I had the great pleasure of signing a chaps GG signature mahogany guitar which he said he loved to death. He had it set up by a chap in Ashbourne and by God the guy had done a great job. Simon the guitars owner told me that he had recently lost his wife and playing the guitar was therapy for him. Music at can be a great healer and has kept me sane through tough times in my life that is for sure.
So there you have it a cracking evening and even the dreadlocked young chappie who arrived late in the first half and sat on his chocolate declared it "very good".
Friday the 13th at Maxstoke Village Hall was another fine fun evening as part of Live and Locals' rural touring scheme presentations.
The luxury for Hilary and I was the fact that it was only a 35 minute drive from home. Oh how lovely it would be if all gigs were this close.... dream on Giltrap!
The village was a delight as was the village hall with its rather quaint tiny stage which I managed to get all six of my guitars on. The night if anything had a party atmosphere to it with a lovely ploughman's being served to one and all during the interval.
Thing were a little late starting but apart from that it was fine. I'm making a point of sticking rigidly to a set list these days thus avoiding running overtime in each half.
The only slightly down aspect to the evening was the fact I had incorrectly wired up a new Fishman pickup. I had replicated EXACTLY the settings on the old pickup, but unfortunately it didn't apply to the new one thus giving me no volume control whatsoever because as soon as I plugged it in was on FULL volume, but I was able to compensate that with my trusty volume pedal. Then towards the end of the evening when I was building up to my usual crescendo with Heartsong the volume went completely only to return a minute later...most strange. Nothing to do with it being Friday the 13th I hope!!
Everything went off OK after that and the audience were lovely.
Visionary in the new Museum of Theatre (Wroclaw, Poland)
Piotr Wargan sends this interesting report from Poland:
If you are a regular reader of the discussion forum or this News page you may already know that Gordon’s music contributed greatly to the success of a pantomime play in Poland, ‘King Arthur’s Knights’ by the late great Henryk Tomaszewski (1919 – 2001). Several tunes from the ‘Visionary’ album were part of the music used in this play created in 1981. The impact of Gordon’s music on the spectators and the actors alike was tremendous and the play itself was a great success (albeit it was not staged very often during the difficult 1980s).
Many years on from the premiere, both the former actors of the Henryk Tomaszewski Pantomime Theatre and people with a professional interest in it have very fond recollections of Gordon’s music.
This may be a pure coincidence, but in 2016, at the 40th anniversary of ‘Visionary’, a new Museum of Theatre will open in Wroclaw. The museum will house a collection of costumes and memorabilia of Henryk Tomaszewski along with photographs and costumes from his plays.
The original ‘Visionary’ record, press photos of the Gordon Giltrap Band of 1976 and a recent photograph of Gordon with the poster from the ‘King Arthur’s Knights’ are now part of the collection! There are plans to show pantomime theatre plays that were filmed. This means that there is a great chance of hearing Gordon’s music in Wroclaw. The opening is planned for the World Theater Day, 27 March 2016.
As we are nearing the end if this run of village hall concerts, I have to say that in the main they have been lovely, AND warm! I haven't been 100 % health wise of late nothing serous ( I hope) but fortunately it hasn't impacted too much on my performances and for some mysterious reason beyond me I have probably on most of my compositions never played them better which of course is very gratifying.
Sunbury on the 20th was a remarkable night with the venue packed to capacity, and it was a joy to see Sue and Mike Holton in attendance. How they manage to drive all that way in rush hour traffic to see me is beyond me, but I'm really touched that they do. It was also great to see our friends Jen and Will Rumsey at the concert and our thanks to them for hosting us in their lovely home over two days.
Hasland on the 24th again was a cracker with the village hall jammed packed. The audience was a joy. Good to see the Parrish family sitting at the front table. They are a great family and always good to see their smiling faces. The weather was stunning with a promise of spring. The hall was decked with handmade bunting made by committee member Gill, truly lovely.
The icing on the cake was to find out that a German fan Holger made the trip from Germany to visit friends and tied in his visit to attend the gig and get his vinyl of Visionary signed along with an original HEARTSONG single.
Two more concerts to go Coal Aston and Pleasley which I'm hoping will be good ones. I have found the setting up of the PA system and six guitars and pedal board before each concert quite tiring, and my recent lack of energy hasn't helped. Thanks to Malc Welch for attending some of the shows and helping out with his roadie skills.
John Renbourn passes
On the afternoon of the 26th March I received a call from Clive Carroll asking if I had heard the news. I asked what news? He then asked if I was sitting down.
As Hilary and I had just had a meal at Cafe Rouge in Solihull I sat at one of the chairs outside the cafe and asked him to reveal this news. He then told me that our old friend John Renbourn had passed away.
I still can't believe this news as I write this.
In next month’s news page I shall be devoting much of it to his memory.
Guitar of the month
This month I'm featuring a case instead of a guitar, but this isn't any old case. This case has been with me since around 1973 and contained a 12 string guitar made by the great Roger Bucknall of Fylde Guitars. Of course in those days Fylde guitars didn't exist because Roger made that lovely 12 string in his garage in Lytham St Anne's, and only later did he form Fylde Instruments based in Kirkham.
This case has seen a lot of action as the photographs testify. It still has my name stencilled on the front, done by my sound man at the time the wonderful Peter Ward one of THE great live sound men. Peter stencilled anything that moved and this case was no exception bless him. There is still a piece of masking tape stuck on the end saying that it is a Gordon 12 string. Also there is a flight sticker to God knows where, Europe probably on that ill-fated Wishbone Ash tour...who knows. I intend to try and smarten it up and use it to store an instrument. Not sure which one yet.
A vote of thanks to my good pal Garry Burnett who owned the twelve string for a while and had the sense of history to hang on to this tatty old case.
As a case it should probably be dumped but as a part of my history it is priceless to me.
The older I get the more I attach an emotional importance to things like this. It must be an age thing, and I'm totally unashamed about it.
A new venture
Having sucessfully played theatres around the world, ventured into the realms of private bookings and after dinner speaking I have decided the time is right to expand into hitherto unknown territory. In April 2015 my painting and decorating services will be finally be available to the general public. As with my music, I am self taught and have developed my own unique style.
We expect this service to be in high demand so we are limiting the period during which you can book me to 1st April only.
My dear friend and roadie Malc has designed the poster and will hopefully be accompanying me on some bookings to carry and set up my ladders and pass me my paint brushes. We have a strict rider in place, only those who can supply copious amounts of builders tea and piles of doorstep sandwiches will be considered.
Seriously though folks, next year marks my 50th year in show business. November 66 was when I was contacted by Transatlantic Records to sign with them, so I mark that as the start of it all.
Music has given me everything.
See you next time.