General News

January 2010 News Update

Virginia Luque
The Purcell Rooms

My first concert of 2010 will be on Saturday January the 9th at The Purcell Rooms on London's South Bank.

This promises to be a VERY special evening when my guest from the USA Virginia Luque will be performing a 45 minute set in the first half.

Virginia is without doubt one of THE finest Classical and Flamenco guitarists in the world. A native of Cadiz, Virginia currently resides in New York. For more information on this outstanding artist visit her website or view some of her performances on YOUTUBE.

Because this is London, we need all the help we can get in terms of attendance. Virginia is flying in specially for this one off concert, so I urge you to try and attend the concert for a unique musical experience. There is a link from the Concerts page on the website to purchase tickets.

The South Bank is a delightful location in the heart of London, so why not plan a long weekend break taking in the sights. I recommend the boat trip from the Embankment down to Greenwich with all its navel history and great little shops and restaurants. You could also visit the church of St Alfege with its Thomas Tallis connection and where my Mum and Dad were married, stroll up Crooms Hill to no 5a where I used to live, and opposite where the famous Day Lewis family lived, and then enjoy a stroll round Greenwich Park with the Royal Observatory, General Wolf statue and a stunning view overlooking the Naval College with London beyond.

PLEASE come along if you can, I promise you won't regret it. Oh and I forgot to mention... I shall also be playing.

Demon  Records.

As you know, over the last few years, the main bulk of my back catalogue and studio albums have been released through Rob Ayling's Voiceprint label.

Many of these albums have now become available for relicensing. To that end I'm delighted to say that the following albums will be released in double album format with the wonderful Demon records.

Demon are probably one of the most respected labels who specialise in this field and are co-owned by the BBC. The people there are a great bunch and have the utmost respect for this ageing acoustic guitarist / composer. They are indeed a joy to work with, and being based in the West End of London makes for a good excuse to visit the big city whenever the need arises!

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The first of the releases scheduled for February / March will be Troubadour coupled with a live performance DVD of a concert I did a year or so back on the Isle of White. The second of the re- releases will be Music for the Small screen coupled with The Solo Album. Each of these packages will contain never before seen photographs and memorabilia.

Scheduled for the coming year will be in no particular order:

The Peacock Party / Airwaves.
Under this Blue Sky / Drifter.
Elegy / A Midnight Clear.
On a Summers Night / Drifter (the live CD).
Remember This / Janschology.

Each of these albums will probably have additional bonus tracks and even more unseen photographs and memorabilia. I also hope to unearth even more archive material to see if it is worthy of re-release!

Rick Wakeman's Christmas Concerts 19th / 20th Dec.

It must have in 1972/73 when I last played on the stage of Marlborough College. I remember it well as I was supporting  the Edgar Broughton Band!

Fast forward 36 years and here I am again on the very same stage with some of the finest and more to the point nicest bunch of musicians one could ever meet. I was of course the guest of Rick Wakeman, and much fun and delight followed. You may have already read Sue Holton's superb and detailed account of the weekend on the Forum so I don't need to cover old ground there, but there is now a gallery of her photos here. On a personal level I haven't enjoyed myself so much in a long time.

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I performed just two brief sets, with Rick joining me on Maddie Goes West. I can't begin to tell you what a thrill it is to hear the great man's piano coming through my monitors enhancing this old tune of mine. In all honesty I would love to re-record Maddie with just my guitar and Rick's piano. Here's a thought...the whole thing was  being filmed. Maybe I could get a nice edited copy of the second nights performance and include some DVD footage for my new album. Watch this space!

Rick was in a good and relaxed form from start to finish and I could tell he was  loving every minute of it especially sharing the stage with three of his outstandingly gifted children. The beautiful Jemma Wakeman, the outstanding keyboard virtuoso Oliver Wakeman (a man enjoying his time in the new incarnation of Yes) and his brother Adam Wakeman who is currently doing the odd gig with Will Young and then touring the world with Ozzy Osbourne. Rick must be SO proud of his kids, I certainly would be.

For the past couple of years Rick has sort of put on hold his Christmas concerts for the fans, and has said in passing that this year will probably be the last. I sincerely hope not because it gives his devoted followers such a cracking and fun filled two days. Selfishly I hope it happens again next year in the hope that he will invite me again to take part.

Long life and happiness to you sir Rick.

Update – 22nd Dec I was so sad to hear that a camera was stolen from the venue. The footage contained material that is VERY special to the Wakeman family as well as footage of Rick and I performing a wonderful version on both nights of Maddie Goes West. This is such a shame and has cast a minor shadow over the whole weekend. See Rick's report on this theft on his website.

Four Parts Guitar.

Three Parts Guitar are now FOUR Parts Guitar, with the inclusion of the wonderful Mr Clive Carroll.

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On Friday the 18th of December, Clive Carroll, John Etheridge, Ray Burley and myself had a meeting with our agent Sue Webster of Routes Music, at Huntingdon Hall in Worcester to make plans for 2010. Prior to that meeting was a photo session with my favourite photographer Mr Rob Jewell.

The plan is for the quartet to record an album, and then to do concerts as and when they appear We had thought about setting aside a specific period to tour, but thought it far better to do the concerts throughout the year.

I am personally quietly excited at the prospect of working with indubitably three of the finest guitar players currently working in the UK. The fact that we happen to be good friends is the icing on the cake, and will without doubt reflect in the music we will produce and perform in the  future.

Many of you will know of each of these outstanding  musicians reputations and past history. For those who would like to know more have a look at their various websites.

Roger Williams.

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I have had an ongoing friendship with the guitar maker Roger Williams for quite a few years now. Roger is without doubt one of the most likeable people you could ever wish to meet. Truly a nice man, and an outstanding craftsman. On top of that he lives just a few miles from me in the beautiful cathedral city of Lichfield. 'How lucky is that' I hear you cry to have such a skilled person living so close!

Over the years Roger has worked on many of my instruments, and has built two superb guitars for me. The first one I used on the Double Vision DVD with Raymond  Burley. The guitar is very classical like in its construction and visual impact and features a gentle cutaway for access up the dusty end, and the rosewood body tapers down very slightly for more playing comfort. This guitar features on a number of tracks on the new Shining Morn album due for release in May 2010, namely the title track, along with his latest creation which is loosely based on my legendary "Car Boot guitar" that created pieces like Appalachian Dreaming and Rain in the Doorway. The original cost me £5 from a car boot sale and was a cheap three quarter sized classical guitar that I converted to my means. It did the job (just about) but cannot of course be compared to this new RW creation!

This superb sounding little instrument, which Roger calls a Requinto, has the most beautiful figured Mahogany for the back and sides and Red Cedar for the front with the most stunning sound hole inlay of abalone and burr Walnut. Roger has also extended the movable first string capo idea that I came up with to incorporate other positions up the neck, but hey I'm getting into anorak territory here. It also records extremely well!

Apart from making steel string guitars, Roger's first passion is really the classical guitar and instruments of the nylon or gut strung variety. He sells many of his classical and flamenco guitars to discerning players. Last year Roger made a Baroque guitar for Raymond Burley. I was privileged enough to have a strum on it when it was first built.

Roger was also an exhibitor at the Guitar Exhibition at The Hub in Sleaford last year, where I was the visiting curator.

Roger's skills go from strength to strength and his order book is rapidly filling up, so along with keeping up with orders and repairs to priceless antique instruments he is a man in much demand.

Whether you have a cheap guitar that needs attention or an expensive instrument that needs that little bit of TLC, Roger is your man. If you want something a little special built then Roger would be a wise choice. I can't recommend him highly enough and would trust him with any instrument. As I said before he is one of this worlds Mr nice guys and a fine craftsman. Come to think of it for a guitar maker he's quite normal!

You can find him via his website  or you can ring him direct on 01543 262543
My association with Gordon by Roger Williams

I first came across Gordon's music in the very early '70's when I bought an album entitled "The Contemporary Guitar Sampler" – now how many of you remember that?  At the time I was a struggling amateur guitarist with ambitions way past my abilities, I couldn't believe that anyone could play guitar like that! Gordon was in the company of other guitar greats like Bert Jansch and John Renbourn who were my heroes; I was later to find out that they were Gordon's heroes too! I could never imagine that many years later our paths were to cross in such a mutually beneficial way.

All those years ago, I was a struggling apprentice at the world famous Rolls-Royce Company in Derby. I had been fascinated by all types of craft work, materials and structures for many years so for me it was a dream-come-true to be able to learn from the experts. Little did I realise how this training was to help me in a totally new career many years later.

I completed my Engineering apprenticeship in 1971 and was fortunate enough to became a jet engine designer working on one of the most advanced engines in the world, the RB211, which was later to take the aerospace industry by storm, but before that sadly it led to the downfall of Rolls-Royce and before long I was forced into a career move which took me into the world of Computing and IT for more than thirty years. However I was never really happy as I wasn't working with my hands – making something for someone else to use or enjoy.

How the world turns. More than ten years ago now, the Company I was with made me an offer I couldn't refuse (redundant in other words) and I couldn't face working for anyone else again, so having maintained my passion for the guitar and its music for all those years, I knew without hesitation what I should do; I would make and repair the instrument I had loved all my life – the guitar.

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A few years later, having established a small business I was repairing for a growing number of clients including two local music shops.  I had completed a guitar making "apprenticeship" with the late Norman Reed, a well respected lute and early instrument specialist and was selling guitars of my design and construction throughout the UK. It was at this time that Gordon and my paths were to cross again.

I was heavily involved with the Lichfield Arts group at that time and it fell to me to MC an evening concert with, Gordon Giltrap, I couldn't believe my good fortune.  That night I was transported back in time and I was in guitar music heaven!

I approached Gordon at the end of the evening and said how much I enjoyed his music – corny but true, then told him that I made and repaired guitars. His reply was immediate and unconditional – "I'll pop round and see you next week then".  True to his word (as always) he arrived on my doorstep with not one, but two guitars for me to "Take a look at".  The rest is history. My association with Gordon has been truly one of the most inspirational events in my life. To work for and with someone so skilled and eminent, yet so thoughtful and kind gives me enormous satisfaction, and to have someone so musically talented bring pleasure to so many people, playing something I have created, is a very emotional and moving experience.

Thank you Gordon for all the pleasure you bring to this world.
Your good friend, Roger W

Foreword to Del Newmans book - A Touch From God

As I told you in November I was asked to write the foreword for Del Newman's forthcoming book, here it is:

I first met Del Newman in 1970. My then manager Miles Copeland had just secured a recording contract with MCA records. The producer of that record Derek Lawrence had hired Del to arrange the music for the material I was going to record. At that time I was very much cast in the mould of the singer songwriter. Later on in my career I dropped the vocals to concentrate on instrumental music, but that is another story.

I remember that first meeting so well. It was in a basement flat in Earls Court. Del and I were sat at his piano, me with guitar in hand, slowly going through the pieces we were working on. It was the first time I had ever worked with an arranger and found the whole process utterly fascinating. From the word go this man was full of encouragement, patience and enthusiasm for the material I was presenting.

Since those far off days of the early 70's Del and I have worked on three recording projects. The MCA of 1970, one in 1973 and in 1997 my Troubadour album which Del arranged and produced. To this day I regard this as my finest work, and I take great pride in the fact that Del came out of retirement to work with me.

To watch Del Newman at work is to watch a man at the height of his powers. The way he communicates with an orchestra is a joy to behold. One knows instinctively that the musicians before him have the highest regard and respect for his gifts as arranger and conductor.

There is always mutual respect here. To hear Del Newman weave his special magic on something one has written can be a very moving experience.

In my opinion there is a very thin line between arrangement and composition and I have always felt that some of his superbly crafted arrangements could be stand alone pieces. Such is their beauty.

The many and varied artists that Del has worked with reads like a virtual Who's Who of legendary music icons from Cat Stevens ( Yusuf Islam) through to Sir Paul McCartney with Paul Simon, Charles Aznavour, Elton John and many more in between. The list goes on!

Although Del to all intents and purposes has retired from the music business he hasn't for one minute sat on his laurels, basking in past glories. This book is testament to that fact. Retirement, if that indeed is the correct terminology, has given him the freedom to pursue the things he has been yearning to do for years. These days he spends much of his time composing. For a man who has spent most of his professional career writing for others, I say 'about time sir'. Oh, and I forgot to mention that he also teaches piano to a small number of students in his village. Mr Newman is without doubt busier than ever.

I feel very privileged to have been asked to write the foreword to this amazing and entertaining book and indeed to have been a small part of his long and distinguished career.

I am indeed proud to call him my friend.

Gordon Giltrap.