Dec 2023 News Update
Friday, December 1, 2023
I should like to dedicate this month's newsletter to the memory of a very dear and beautiful friend Christine White who passed away last month.
Chris was the loving wife of my dear friend Paul White whose name will be very familiar to you as it was Paul who I worked with for many years in his Malvern Studio mixing and editing many of my past albums.
Christine had suffered for many years with MS and Paul had been her devoted carer and was a model loving husband. If any man should be awarded a husband of the year award it was Paul, a remarkable man and he and Chris were a remarkable couple.
My thoughts go out to Paul and daughter Emma at this sad and tragic time in their lives. All who knew Chris will miss her terribly l. She was a beautiful woman and a beautiful soul. RIP BEAUTIFUL ONE.
Four special concerts to tell you about and I'm so pleased to relate that they all went well despite me being incredibly nervous. The wonderful Carrie Martin was my special guest on all four shows and was as ever amazing!
I resurrected 'The Dodo's Dream' using my new Roberts guitar featured recently but on the Otley Courthouse and Huntingdon Hall concerts I used my new Ibanez guitar and will expand on that shortly.
For me personally the Huntingdon Hall gig was extra special. Maybe it was because I had three concerts under my belt already and therefore felt truly back in the swing of things and doing what I was meant to do. It was an emotionally charged evening having special friends in the audience. All I can tell you is that I was totally relaxed and enjoyed every minute of it and there was indeed a lot of love in that room on the night.
The very first time I visited the lovely home of friends Patsy Matheson and husband Tim in Otley I was put up in a glorious top bedroom. There in the room on a stand was a very nice Ibanez Artcore semi bodied electric guitar with stunning abalone inlay on the neck and a beautiful, grained laminate top. I just fell in love with it. Tim, who is a fine guitarist, had set it up beautifully. I thought I must get one of these (like I need another guitar like the proverbial hole in the head) and looked high and low on eBay but to no avail.
We now move on to the Friday before the Saturday night concert at The Otley Courthouse. After arriving at Patsy and Tim's house I showed them my recently acquired eBay purchase of the Roberts archtop to be used for future renditions of 'The Dodo's Dream'.
I passed the guitar over to Tim for him to have a strum. After a few minutes playing it was obvious that he was very taken by it. One conversation lead on to another and it was agreed that we should if we so desired do a swap.
I got the Ibanez Artcore and he got the Roberts.... Job done.
As a footnote to this insane guitar swop, I used that very guitar on the night of the concert and it did go a bit awry on the Dodo but I managed to do a swift recovery. Since then, Tim has replaced the pickups and control knobs on the Roberts and he's a very happy bunny.....Happy Days.
Guitar maker Mick Johnson
Whilst visiting my good friends Hilary James and Simon Mayor last month I had the great good fortune to meet (in my humble opinion) one of the finest craftsmen of guitars Mr Mick Johnson.
Hilary and Simon many will know are an incredibly gifted couple.
Simon is without doubt one the finest mandolin players on the planet and not only that is a virtuoso guitarist and fiddle player along with being a fine composer.
Hilary is blessed with a beautiful voice, has a gift for songwriting, plays a Mando bass and is an outstanding artist and writer of children's songs and short stories. On top of that they are the most wonderful of friends and very modest about their gifts.
Anyway, I digress. I had performed my first gig of the year in Wokingham on the Friday and on the Saturday, I travelled just a few miles to Simon and Hilary's beautiful home in Reading. Whilst there we did a new recording of my tune 'Loren' with Simon adding a sublime second part. Also, we looked at an arrangement I did yonks ago for Simon's Tune for a 'Mop Fair'. This is still a work in progress and will take a lot of practice to get it up to a standard worthy I hope of this mini masterpiece.
Over the course of the afternoon the subject of guitar and instrument makers came up and was told that the local guitar maker Mick Johnson was in the middle of building a custom Mando bass for Hilary. I had known of Mick for a number of years through him making fine guitars for Bruce Welch of the Shadows, Hank Marvin and Joe Brown are also customers. I had invited Mick many years ago to include one of his guitars at an exhibition I was the curator for celebrating the British guitar maker held at the Centre for Craft and Design in Sleaford Lincolnshire.
A phone call was made to see if the great man was in and up for a visit, the good news was that indeed he was at home and happy for us to drop round for a cuppa and chat. I had never met Mick before and was greeted by this warm affable Geordie. Whilst there he showed me many of his guitars along with a "distressed" replica Telecaster and a sublime and beautiful archtop jazz guitar he made years ago just to see if he could!
Inspired by the great American guitar maker Bob Benedetto this guitar was an outstanding achievement in anyone's book.
Once in my hands I just couldn't put it down. I have always loved the look of archtop guitars it's probably a throwback to my childhood when my first ever guitar was a Martin Colletti F hole sunburst guitar that cost my mother about 20 guineas way back in 1960. Anyway back to this guitar. You can see by the photographs how stunning it is. The next thing I knew was that Bob just said "take it away and play it. It just stays in its case and needs to be played."
I couldn't believe my ears! This very kind and generous man has loaned me this most wonderful guitar and I plan to use it as much as possible and will make a great contrast to my acoustics, and one never knows it might just be perfect for 'The Dodo's Dream'!
Before we departed Mick asked me if I wouldn't mind writing a few choice words about his instruments for the website. I didn't find the task in any way difficult as it's so easy to write what you feel from the heart about such wonderful creations. As yet I don't think it's on his site but I hope he uses it because it was an honour to meet such a gifted and generous man.
Just Google Mick Johnson guitars and you will find his website www.mickjohnsonguitars.com . His beautiful guitars are a feast for the eyes. If you are serious about having a guitar made by this master luthier then contact him on.... firstname.lastname@example.org
Fylde Guitars November Newsletter
has just been published online. Welcome to Fylde Guitars Newsletter
Oliver Wakeman Interview
If you have some spare time this interview with my dear friend and musical collaborator Oliver Wakeman is well worth a listen. He chats about working with Yes, John Wetton and myself amongst other things
This little incident will make you smile methinks.
Last month whilst visiting a friend's 94-year-old mother's flat we were in the kitchen making a cup of tea when we noticed a huge puddle on the kitchen floor. After investigating under the sink, I noticed that the sink plug screw that holds the whole thing together had rotted and had come away.
In a long distant past life, I spent my 16th year as a plumber’s mate in my native Greenwich. During that year I learnt some very basic skills such as plumbing, bricklaying, how to use a saw and shovel etc. So, after inspecting the above problem I thought "I can fix this"
So, the following day I went to B&Q to purchase a replacement plastic U bend and sink plug and drainer. A job that should have taken half an hour took up pretty much the whole afternoon. Sealing water is a tricky thing at the best of times but without the right tools a blooming nightmare!
Anyway, the point is I finally did it thus saving a very hefty call out charge from an emergency plumber.
I shan't be changing careers as yet from guitarist to plumber but it's good to know that those basic skills learnt 59 years ago are still in there.