January 2015 News Update
Thursday, January 1, 2015
Review of the Year
Well, my friends another year has come and past and the good news is that Hilary and I are still here and keeping pretty well for a pair of old uns! Gratefully delighted to say that all our loved ones are well and sincerely hope all your loved ones are the same.
What a year it has been eh! Touring with a full on rock band with the great Oliver Wakeman and celebrating my 66th birthday in style on stage at The Robin in Bilston, which in its own way was memorable when Paul Manzi brought a lighted candle birthday cake on to the stage to wish me happy birthday and seeing it set fire to his hair, which could have been serious but fortunately wasn't.
The remainder of the year has been a series of solos gigs interspersed with a handful of 4 Parts Guitar concerts. A personal highlight for me was to see Carrie Martin's wonderful album reach completion and to be instrumental (excuse the pun) in getting Oliver Wakeman to play on the album along with my old pals Ric Sanders, Gav Coulson, Garry Burnett and of course yours truly making the odd appearance. It was also a thrill to hear Carrie turn Wherever There Was Beauty into a lovely song, and her version of my old chestnut The Passing Of A Queen was indeed a joy to hear.
It is always a pleasure to work with deserving talent especially when they are such charming human beings. Another such charming human being is the legendary Gary Southwell who was Julian Bream's premier guitar maker at one time. I took on the task of doing an in depth interview with him for Acoustic Magazine which will be published in the New Year. It was also a pleasure to play on two tracks of Wolfscote's first album the band that Gary formed with Cathy LeSurf, but more of that in a minute.
All the gigs of note throughout this year have been well and truly documented as those who read these newsletters know.
One of the fun things was to be a guest of Graham Fellows on his radio programme John Shuttleworth's Lounge Music. This has lead on to me being invited to guest with him next June at his London Palladium show, to perform a duo version of the Wish You Were Here theme!
Throughout the year some lovely instruments have come and gone, but the keepers are my beloved Rob Armstrong designed deluxe signature guitars which just get better sounding the more I play them and I'm still astounded at their unbelievably low retail price which is great for those with a limited budget but want an outstanding sounding guitar.
This year has also been very special in terms of commissioned pieces. I started the year by composing Ania's Dream for that wonderful man and long-time fan Piotr Wargan and his wife Ania over there in Poland. I then wrote a special piece for Trevor and Thea Raggatt, and towards the very end of the year wrote a piece for Roger and young Ethan Preston. As I write this I await a response from Roger's lovely wife Shannon who asked if I could write something for them as a surprise gift for Christmas, and was given an unbelievably short time in which to do it. I wasn't sure if it was possible and told Shannon BUT...I did it!!!
Like all my compositions, it will grow in time in terms of arrangement because as I was composing it I could hear an orchestral arrangement coming into play but truly didn't have enough time to work on it, and getting the piece finished and recorded was cutting it pretty fine. God I hope they like it!!
Update from Shannon and Roger after Christmas
Shannon: "I contacted Gordon (through Sue) in mid-November in the hope that Gordon could write a piece of music for Roger’s Christmas present. It is very difficult to purchase a gift for Roger because if he wants something (which he rarely does) he gets it for himself. I waited until November and thought asking Gordon to create the piece for Roger’s end of November birthday might be a little extreme, so I thought Christmas would be a better bet. I had no understanding of the process involved in creating, composing, practicing to perfection and then recording a song!
Gordon managed my expectations and told me it most likely would be impossible to have the finished product for Christmas. Then on Thanksgiving Day, I received an email from Gordon saying that the piece was coming along beautifully and there was a chance I would have it by Christmas. He surely works great under extreme pressure and time constraints!
When I received the CD from Gordon, which was delivered to my Mother’s address, I asked her to open the package. When she read the letter from Gordon about the piece, she sobbed tears of happiness and could not finish reading the letter to me. It was at that point that I decided that I should give the present to Roger in private on Christmas Day versus at a large family gathering on Christmas Eve. I tried to wait until Christmas to listen to the piece, but I could not. I collected the CD from my Mom’s and loaded it into my car and drove around aimlessly for an hour in Christmas traffic playing it over and over. It was simply beautiful and absolutely perfect. Gordon’s beautiful music is such a wonderful part of our lives and now we will have a special song “This Father’s Love” to listen to and enjoy for years to come".
Roger, Shannon, Austin and Ethan
Roger: "It was the greatest Christmas present ever! An incredible surprise and the piece of music Gordon has composed is a truly beautiful tune.
I had never shared with Shannon that it is possible to commission a piece of music by Gordon and therefore I had not considered it to be even a remote possibility. I know she didn’t allow anything like a reasonable amount of time to compose the song, but the outcome of Gordon working under pressure is remarkable. The muse visited Gordon and the result is something Ethan and I will treasure forever.
I have no idea how Shannon managed to keep it such a secret!
Best wishes for a happy and healthy 2015 to Gordon, Hilary, Sue, and to all the forum members".
2015 looks very bright with the promise of FOUR re-releases in a box set which will literally be 4 CD's packaged to fit the appropriate sized jewel case. The albums are as follows. Elegy, Under This Blue Sky, Drifter, and Music For The Small Screen. These will have brand new artwork, new sleeve notes, extra tracks and will be remastered to improve on their current sonic properties. The label is Trapeze Records a company that specialises in back catalogue and is run by John Cooper whose history goes back to the very beginning of Transatlantic Records, the label that released my first two albums way back when. There are also plans to re- release my Troubadour album in April. Again with new artwork and sleeves notes and a double album release similar to Voiceprint's re-release a while back.
You can already pre-order on Amazon HERE
Obviously I think about new product all the time but as yet have no firm plans or ideas, but as I always say....watch this space.
My column for the 100th issue of Acoustic this month featured Quest for Nonsuch and I dedicated it to John Renbourn. In the same issue Raymond Burley did Tears of Joy. There was also a feature about life changing albums. I chose the first Bert Jansch album and the first John Renbourn album and Sweet Baby James by James Taylor.
4 Parts Guitar will be hitting the road in the spring for a major tour and I'm truly looking forward to that. Working with those chaps is always fun especially the mighty John Etheridge. It HAS to fun otherwise there really is no point in doing it.
Gigs of note recently has to be The Great British Folk Festival at Butlins Skegness. This is always a great opportunity to meet up with friends old and new and try and catch up with what's happening in the great big world musical world out there. The main thing is although this is a fun gig to do and just a one hour spot to fill, it is still a gig and believe me a very important one when one thinks that on average there could be up to two and a half thousand people at one time witnessing your performance, and you know in your heart that you want to make it extra special, but there is no guarantee. Just because you practice and prepare the whole day before doesn't mean that you’re going to deliver the life changing performance you hoped for.
I spent the whole day and much of the evening on the Saturday preparing for my Sunday evening performance, and when it came I felt so uptight about the whole thing I thought I would probably deliver a mediocre performance. Fortunately I don't think I did but afterwards (and this is typical of me) I felt I could have played better. That my friends is the nature of the beast. I certainly enjoyed my spot with Wolfscote on the Friday and believe me that was tough enough bearing in mind I had practised for days to get my guitar part right for the evening-performance. Fortunately it went OK and the band are such great new friends I just didn't want to let them down.
It was lovely seeing our beloved webmaster Sue Holton there with hubby Mike, but there again we didn't see that much of each other because (surprise surprise) they were there for the music and wanted (quite rightly so) to get into the venues early and get a good seat which meant queuing for at least an hour outside the venue to try and guarantee a decent seat. My thanks go to them for making sure they got a good seat for Friday and Sunday thus enabling them to get a decent view for filming which went onto YOUTUBE. Thanks to Sue, Mike and Brad for doing their best to capture both performances. You can watch them all here: HERE
I shared the Sunday night bill with Martin Barre who I really enjoyed, and The Full English were superb. It was good to see old mate Martin Simpson there in the line-up and to meet Seth Lakeman after the gig. What a genuinely nice man Mr Lakeman is.
A special thanks goes to Geoff Olner for being my trusty roadie on the evening. What would I have done without him? Been even more miserable I suppose!!!
Review of Gordon at GBFF by Northern Sky Magazine
As the afternoon seamlessly segued into evening, the conical party hats appeared on several heads suggesting we were going to have a party night, but not before the curtain rose for guitarist Gordon Giltrap’s solo set.
It must have felt quite strange sitting in the middle of such a large stage, surrounded by a collection of acoustic guitars as the curtain rose all around him to reveal a packed room of people staring back, but Gordon Giltrap has been here before and is probably used to it. There hasn’t been all that many solo performers at the festival over the years, possibly due to the fact that these stages are rather large and suit larger outfits. None of this phased the guitarist who had no problem filling the stage with a set made up principally of self-penned material such as On Camber Sands and the memorable Heart Song. Gordon also paid tribute to his friend the late Bert Jansch with his own interpretation of Davy Graham’s Angi. "It helps keep the memory of Bert Jansch alive" said the guitarist.
Warm and extremely charming, the guitarist remained seated throughout the set as he built an immediate rapport with the audience.
Read more from the weekend HERE
After Skeggie came and went it was heads down and finish the new composition in the hope that it would be ready for recording on Monday December 15th for the session with my new sound engineer of the moment Mr Paul Ward at his Sheffield studio. What a joy this man is to work with! Paul has a great pedigree having worked with John Parr and Meatloaf who recorded in the same room as I! How cool is that!
My final gig at The Stafford Gatehouse Theatre on Thursday December 18th was a nice concert to end the year on, and my thanks to Eric Furze for once again promoting me in concert in this delightful town.
I hate to end on a sad note but this year we have lost some truly wonderful people. I could not believe it when I read on Patsy Matheson's Twitter page that the lovely Maggie Boyle had passed away. I was still coming to terms with my old mate John Gustafson leaving this mortal existence when the news of Maggie's passing came through. I then heard from my lovely agent Sue Webster that John Kirkpatrick had lost his beloved wife Sally to cancer at the age of 55!
It certainly gives one pause to think about it all and try and take stock of what is truly important. Health of course being at the top of the list, then family and the ties that bind that only true love and companionship can bring. In this crazy world of show business one can get so bogged down with career moves, and whether one can still cut it as a composer/ guitarist/ entertainer and continually thinking "if only I could play as well as Martin Taylor or Tommy Emmanuel then I could truly call myself a guitarist" At 66 I'm still riddled with self-doubt but I guess it's the thing that keeps pushing me on to practise more and create better crafted tunes. As I said, in the light of recent events and extraordinary people leaving us well before their time it really is important to smell the roses.
The interesting thing is that when it comes to self-doubt to a lesser or greater degree I'm certainly in good company! Many years ago I had the pleasure of meeting the great Chet Atkins, and a nicer more humble person you couldn't wish to meet, he even confessed that he never really regarded himself as being that great. When I was with Brian May during that 93 recording session when he came up to record on Heartsong, he spent much of the time apologising for any tiny mistakes he made. I also have a memory of my old friend Albert Lee telling me that he wished he could do the things I did with an acoustic.....unbelievable isn't it.
All the truly great players I have had the pleasure to meet over the years (with one or two exceptions of course) were very self-effacing about their abilities. I know when I write stuff like this our webmaster Sue and my beloved Hilary often say " you can't write that" or "are you potty, don't you realise how gifted you are?"
No matter what people say, one still has that desire to reach for the stars in terms of playing ability and creativity, it comes with the territory I guess.
Nature has given me a gift in which I can use to bring pleasure and that gift will be used all the while I can, and there are sufficient enough people who want to hear my music.
Keep on coming to the gigs folks because YOU are my lifeblood.
Hilary and I wish you a great New Year.