March 2024 News Update
Friday, March 1, 2024
Paul Brett and Anne Sutcliffe R.I.P
It is with sadness that I open this news page with the news of the passing of two special people in my life..
In the past few weeks that fine guitarist and 12 string legend Paul Brett has passed away leaving his beautiful partner Michele Breeze to carry on best she can without her soul mate Paul.
Paul and I recorded a few items together demonstrating and celebrating two of his signature instruments created for JHS…. John Hornby Skewes. The first being the lovely Viator travel guitar an instrument that I used and continue to use. I used the Viator on my piece 'The Anna Fantasia'.
Although a budget instrument it sounded remarkably good on stage and it the studio. The other instrument was the dramatically visual Raven guitar. Whilst recording material for 'Scattered Chapters' I used his Statesboro 12 string. That amazing artist Sue Martin painted my portrait holding that very instrument.
Paul was a leading authority on pre-war American guitars and had a vast collection of stunning instruments from that period. He even appeared on the Antiques Roadshow! He was a great guy and his contribution to the furtherance of live music was immeasurable. Many of us have great memories of the Llyn guitar festivals.
Our heart goes out to Michele and to all the people that loved him. He was one of life’s larger than life characters and will be greatly missed. We shall never see his like again.
Another dear friend has passed away, Anne Sutcliffe.
Anne was a senior anaesthetist a brilliant award-winning photographer. During the early days of my illness Anne was by my side whilst attending the oncologist. She visited my Hilary whilst she was in hospital and was an Angel of a person. She will be deeply missed.
Her death along with that of Paul Brett has come as an incredible shock and I for one am still processing the whole thing.
RIP Dear One.
I mentioned last month that I would report back about the Chapel Arts concert in Bath.
It’s always a good feeling when folk take the effort to turn out to see me in concert and the certainly was the spaces at Chapel Arts in Bath. What made the evening particulars special was to have my dear friend and excellent guitarist Nev Marten who apart from being editor in chief of Guitar Techniques magazine is also one of two guitarists in the legendary Marty Wilde’s band the Wilde Cats. I stayed over at his lovely apartment in Bath and truly caught up on old times and life in general.
At the end of the concert I observed a lady weaving her way through the crowd followed by a young man who I guessed was her son. He was carrying a very familiar guitar case containing one of my Vintage GG 2000 acoustics. My guess was he wanted me to sign it. I guessed right and what a lovely and quite emotional encounter happened on behalf of his lovely Mum. After I signed the guitar she requested that maybe we have a selfie. We went one better and got one of the crowd to take a picture of the three of us at which moment she started crying! I asked what she was crying for? She replied that she was overcome to have met me! I felt like I was Paul McCartney or Brian May. I said don’t cry it’s only me!
If I had the chance I would have investigated further because I believe there must have been some sort of emotional back story that somehow had triggered such an outpouring of emotion. Anyway, I was deeply humbled and moved by the whole episode. If she’s reading this I hope she gets in touch and shares her thoughts on the tearful episode. Either way I shall never forget it.
Temperance Leamington Spa
What a cracking two-night experience it was playing at this interesting and intimate venue. Both nights were sold out which sounds really grand but the venue only hold 54 people thus making it fairly easy to fill but either way a lovely feeling to know that folk still want to watch the old fella in action. The second night was live streamed on Facebook. At the time of writing you can still view the event online HERE.
My very dear friend Susan Lilley was in attendance on the first night along with her son Tom and his partner Abbi, her beautiful daughter Charlotte and her partner Dan. It was the night before Sue’s very special birthday so for me it was a joy to see her there and the family. Adrian who owns and runs the venue said he could have sold it out for five nights but that really is a bit risky!! Anyway it was a cracking couple of nights.
What was really interesting and highly amusing was whilst I was standing in the cafe waiting to go down the stairs to the basement venue I was transfixed by some quite lovely music coming out of their in house music system.
I asked the girl behind the counter what the music was and she replied “it’s the bloke who’s playing here tonight Gordon Giltrap.” In fact she said “you look very much like him”. I ignored that remark for the moment and asked if I could see the detail of the music that was being Blue Toothed from her tablet behind the counter. She said “come round and look”. When I looked on the screen sure enough there it was an album called 'Travel Notes' by me and Chris Mcormack. It was a project of an ambient nature that I forgot all about that was created as a library album with Chris at least 10 years ago.
The point is that I loved what I was hearing and truly had no idea what it was. Do check it out on Spotify. ‘Travel Notes’. Like me I think you will be pleasantly surprised.
Thanks go to my roadie for the two nights Mark Guyatt and to his wife Dawn for looking after me so well in their beautiful home.
I am so looking forward to sharing the stage with my dear friend John Etheridge this coming May. The dates are on the poster below with full info and booking links on my concerts section. It will be so good to see you at one of the shows.
The resurrection of Appalachian Dreaming
Many years ago as many of you will hopefully remember I bought a small bodied Spanish guitar from a car boot sale in Long Marston in the Midlands for £5. This guitar eventually morphed into the instrument that created 'Appalachian Dreaming' alongside 'Rain in the Doorway'. Listening to 'Rain in the Doorway' from the Troubadour album I’m still astonished at great that little old guitar sounded.
Sadly over the years the neck started to warp thus rendering it pretty much unplayable. It was always a problem keeping it in tune so I decided to stop playing it but very recently my pals Mark and Jane Day said how much they missed it being in my repertoire and another friend Mark Guyatt said the same and suggested I purchase another guitar to play it on, one that would hopefully keep in tune and would be easy to play. I took his advice and found this nice little Sweetwater model on eBay. This will eventually become my A D guitar. It’s a nice thing and has a built-in pickup! I. It won’t have quite the same sonic qualities as the original but hopefully will sound good.
Part of the original guitar’s creation came about through placing a capo at the fifth fret and securing the first string at the tenth fret by drilling a hole in the fingerboard and screwing in an L shape bracket to act as a sort of capo. I restrung it in Nashville or high stringing and creating a sort of hybrid DADGAD tuning. The whole thing sort magically grew organically.
Once again Mr Guyatt sprung to the rescue by suggesting using a brilliant invention called a FRET LOCK. He had some tucked away in a guitar case and let me have them in the meantime another friend Andrew Davies had one spare and sent it through so now I’m FRET LOCK rich. Many thanks to both those kind chaps.
I’m enclosing a photo of the old classic original side by side with the new beast.
Hopefully once it’s put together 'Appalachian Dreaming' will be given a new lease of life back in the set list.
I’m delighted to report that I found new homes for two of my instruments. The lovely Ibanez semi electric and a Kala uke. The electric was collected from my home by a lovely couple who attended my Acapella show in Cardiff and the uke was posted to another lovely chap who was thrilled with it when it arrived in the bespoke cardboard box that was fashioned by yours truly.
The reason for parting with these instruments are that they weren’t being used to the degree they should have and secondly I’m purchasing a special and historic guitar so I needed the funds to cover its purchase. Believe me this instrument has an amazing back story and will be worth the telling for many years to come once it arrives in my hands. More news next month if it’s finally ready to be collected.
My Great Grandfather's war medal
I have some wonderful news (those of you who know me well will appreciate just how wonderful…..)
Earlier this week, I got an alert to say that a medal with my mother’s (unusual) maiden name was for sale on an online auction site. I was pleased and interested to see the alert, I’m always looking for medals awarded to someone with one of my family surnames, but on closer inspection I was completely gob smacked. The medal for sale was one of my Great Grandfather’s First World War medals (Great Grandfather Giltrap, Bugle Major, Rifle Brigade) – his British War Medal - what were the chances????
The medal already had some bids on it so I messaged our family group just to make sure that we weren’t bidding against each other and then messaged the seller directly to see whether we could come to some agreement. I so wanted to get it back in the family.
Once he realised the situation, the lovely man finished the auction early to ensure that mine was the winning bid. He did exactly as he promised, and the medal arrived this morning.
I hope that the little extra I added to the amount he asked for (very reasonable) will go some way to thanking him. I've written to him as well and expressed thanks on behalf of the whole family.
A strange tale!
This extraordinary and amusing message was sent to our website from a fan who had been burgled. Fortunately, it wasn’t too serious. The irony is both amusing and at the same time quite humbling. I just want to thank him for sharing his amazing story with us.
Thought I would share a little story with you ... Been a fan for many, many years and have seen you several times in Glasgow, Hampshire and Oxfordshire over the years. We even had a chat at The Crooked Billet in Stoke Row once.
Anyway, I'm fortunate enough to have a second home in the Gers department in southwest France where I keep half of my vinyl collection, including several of your releases.
Sadly we had a break-in recently and lost just a few items; ebikes and some other sports equipment. But the thieves also had a rifle through the 400+ LPs and stole 12 of them.
I had a brand new, unopened copy of The Beatles White Album - The Esher Demos taken as well as some rock LPs. However, and the point of my email, all of my Gordon Giltrap albums were taken!
So, no more do I have ...
Fear Of The Dark (one of my top albums of any genre)
The Peacock Party
The Platinum Collection
I thought it might tickle you to know that you have a major fan in the farming community in SW France who, given the choice of rock, metal, folk, jazz and concert music, decided that yours were the most to be cherished.
I'm obviously angry at losing them and the damage to the property, but the fact that someone else can enjoy your wonderful playing does warm me a little.
So, back to Discogs, I'm buying them again.
Take care and hope to see you again soon on the road.
With best wishes,
Whilst going through some of my ancient archive pics I came across the image taken by the late great Derek Brimstone.
Derek was a fine guitarist and banjo player as well as an outstanding entertainer. He also enjoyed his photography as is evidenced in this good old pic of me aged at about 25. Derek was also a very great source of encouragement to the likes of me, John Martyn and many more in those early days. It was Derek who encouraged me to write a guitar concerto which in many ways I have ever since. God rest him!