General News

February 2014 News Update

Composing at Center Parcs
Happy New Year to you all and I sincerely hope it will bring us all the important things...Love, health and peace of mind. The rest is just the icing on the cake!

As you can appreciate, January for many folk can be quiet and we here in Sutton Coldfield are no exception. Apart from a cracking few days with our dear pals Cath & Geoff Olner this year has started off pretty quiet. Like many of us I have a few resolutions, the main one being to try and eat sensibly, or correctly is probably more to the point. Diets do not work, so I have been listening to one of the hypnotherapy CD’s that I produced with Ian Wood a while back, and I think it may be starting to work. Let’s hope eh, because I don’t want to get to the end of another year being a stone overweight and feel like a complete failure and looking like a Jumbly...whatever that is!

April Ravens tour

As you probably know by now, we are back on the road again (Oliver & I) with the same line-up as before when we did Summers End Festival.

We are looking forward to it and it should be “fun”. Full details of the dates are already on the website calendar and we hope many of you can attend.

These dates will be pretty special in as much as they may not be repeated due to our individual projects and commitments.

See you there.

Ravens and Lullabies 2014 tour dates

April 3, Farncombe Music Club, Surrey
April 4, The Cellar, Southampton                 NEW DATE
April 5, Montgomery Hall, Wath Rotherham
April 6, The Robin 2, Bilston, Wolverhampton
April 24, The Bedford, Balham, London
April 25, The Tithe Barn, Bishops Cleeve
April 26, Mr Kyps, Poole                                NEW DATE
April 27, The Vic, Swindon

Full details on the website calendar

Raven and Lullabies News

Really good to see that Trevor Raggatt of Rock N Reel Magazine declared Ravens and Lullabies his album of 2013, and Martin Hudson has chosen it s one of his top five favourite albums of 2013 in the current issue of CRS Magazine

Raven and Lullabies wins Paperlate listeners poll for Album of the Year

On behalf of Oliver and I we would just like to say a big thank you to Piotr and everyone over there in Poland for voting for us and ‘Raven and Lullabies’ in the recent Paperlate listeners poll for Album of the Year, and for celebrating our winning in such a lovely way. This truly means a lot to me personally and I’m deeply touched. Thank you so much. G.
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19 January 2014, 6.30 p.m. − the first guests arrive at our flat and I know that even though it is not heavy metal we are going to listen to “Awakenings” may keep the neighbours awake for some time (if not, then “Lucifer’s Cage” can do the job for sure).

The reason to celebrate is that “Ravens and Lullabies” won the end-year contest for the best progressive album at the Dutch radio station Paperlate. My friends have good musical taste and as they supported the voting, I wanted to play them some more music of Gordon Giltrap. I showed them what Gordon wrote on the forum and they were quite amazed!

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So the party went on and we had great fun, some wine, and we listened to Gordon’s music from CD’s, records and we also watched the Lydney concert, which was so well filmed by Sue and Mike Holton.

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Both the solo tunes and the classic progressive compositions made a great impression on everyone (especially “Roots” and “Heartsong”). Oh yes, we turned the volume down a bit at exactly 10.00 p.m., hoping that the neighbours will still respond to my ‘hello’ the next day.

Dear Gordon, I wish you could be celebrating with us, but we could feel as if you were here.


Heartsong New Recording

On the 17th of January I stepped into Paul White’s studio to make a start on a brand new recording of Heartsong. Why I hear you cry? Because I feel that with new technology we can bring something new and different to this old chestnut of mine and give it a new spin. There is even talk of releasing it as a Christmas single with all the Yule Tide treatment that goes with it, but worry not it will all be done with care, taste and musicality.

There will be a few guest appearances along the way, but at this point in time we are all keeping an open mind as to how it will turn out.

It was so interesting listening to the original 1978 version and analyzing how we first recorded it. Normally when creating a piece with a rhythm section one would play to a click track, not so with the original. Much of it was indeed recoded to a click, but whole sections were recorded free and somehow it added to the overall magic of the original. Paul and I have decided to approach some of the sections this way; because in all honesty that is the only way it can work.
I have to confess that at the end of that first days recording I was completely shattered. The reason for this is because HEARTONG is a VERY difficult piece to play in terms of power chords and high energy strumming that I had in abundance all those years ago, but because of my advanced years it really does take it out of me.

In a live situation it’s a different ball game and one relies totally on adrenalin and audience reaction. In the studio and different set of rules apply. Never mind, we shall get there, and hopefully another full day in the studio should nail it and give us a good acoustic guitar foundation to build on once we decide what we feel the piece needs. My friend Mark Soden who created my new Guitar website is acting as artistic adviser and marketing person, so I’m looking forward to his artistic input. Thus far Oliver Wakeman has offered to give us his sparkling acoustic piano arrangements, worked out over months of playing live with me, he will also be replicating Eddie Spence’s exhilarating synth solo that truly made Heartsong the joyous tune it was, plus a few guest appearances from friends. I’m naming no names as yet, but I don’t intend for it to be the star studded line up we had in 93 , which was great but went absolutely nowhere through lack of industry support. Hopefully that won’t happen again but who knows.

Guitar Practiced Perfectly

As you may know, for some time now I've been an Ambassador for Guitar Practiced Perfectly - a company that has developed an online learning system for guitarists of all abilities. My main input is video tutorials and practice routines.

GPP is now set to launch the next stage of development making the software available on more platforms including smart phones, apps and cloud versions and in more languages providing customers with an interactive “road map” for learning music.To raise funding to expand the venture, GPP are using a crowd funding approach through  Crowd Cube

I thought I'd alert you to the possibility of becoming an investor in this exciting project, however, as with all investments there are risks attached and I am in no way qualified to give financial advice. If this is of any interest to you please watch the video, visit the site, read all the information very carefully, and make sure you understand the way crowd funding works, the risks involved and the possible returns.

Of course you can still get involved with GPP by simply purchasing the software for £29.97 and joining the growing number of people who are finding it a valuable and enjoyable tool for improving their playing. Visit their website  HERE

Gary Southwell

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A few days prior to going on a four day break at Center Parcs with the Olners, I received an e-mail from that prominent maker of classical guitars Gary Southwell. Gary is regarded by many as one of the finest makers of classical guitars around 17 years ago he was approached by the great Julian Bream to build him a guitar. This he did and continued to make the great man guitars up until a couple of years ago when Julian retired from live performance. Anyway I digress.

The reason for the e-mail was to tell me about a wonderful new guitar he had just completed made from 5000 year old bog oak, and would I like to see it. Gary knew that I didn’t play a classical guitar, so I was very flattered and felt honoured that he wanted to share the instrument with me. We only had a small window of time because the guitar (which had already been sold) was being collected on the 10th of January by a gentleman who was flying over from the States to collect it.

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Fortunately Gary lives only about a forty minute drive from Center Parcs and an evening was set aside for his visit. Let me start by saying that I had met Gary once before when he attended a concert by Oliver and I, and I can’t begin to tell you what a lovely guy he is, very pragmatic and down to earth without any sign of ego whatsoever, and bearing in mind that not only Bream has owned several of his instruments but recently Paul Simon had joined the ranks as a Southwell guitar owner. A cracking evening was spent in our Villa with Gary, Geoff and I drooling over this remarkable instrument that even Hilary and Cath (both non players) absolutely loved, mainly because of the 5000 year old wood connection. This guitar was indeed a unique and beautiful thing, and with a 10 grand price tag must be worth every penny. To our ears even with my non classical technique it sounded lovely.

I plan to do an in depth interview with Gary for ACOUSTIC mag during this coming year and Hilary I very much look forward to being in this remarkable and charming mans company again.

Acoustic Magazine

In the January issue of the magazine there is a transcription of Em’s Tune, once again a favourite piece and one I thought at the time was probably my finest, but I guess like most composers I always think my latest creation is the best. In all honesty none of them are the best, and it’s all down to personal taste at the end of the days isn’t it. One always hopes that a new piece will eventually join the ranks of folks favourite GG pieces. I have one more column to go and that will conclude my partial capo column. My wish is to continue writing for this fine magazine and get more of my ideas out there to the world at large.

Wonga.Com Ad

Anyone who has seen this ad will know it features some astonishing guitar playing indeed, and I was flattered to hear that many think it reminds them of me and my percussive / legato playing style. I would dearly love to hear your thoughts on the astonishing piece. I do know for a fact that it’s composer Mike Dawes cites me as a major early influence!

Charity Shop Find

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Although I’m including a photograph of the guitar, it doesn’t really warrant being Guitar of the month BUT it did turn out to be a bargain. This inexpensive Chinese made acoustic bass was bought from our local St Giles Hospice charity shop for £25. When I saw it I truly thought it was irreparable, because it was in such a state and was completely unplayable, but I thought what the heck take a chance and see what happens. After several hours work over a two day period I got it playing OK, and as I don’t have an acoustic bass I’m sure it will come in handy sometime.

Because I know how to sort of fix guitars up I was able to do the work myself, but I have to tell you that if I had given it to my local repair guy, I promise you the cost of putting it right would have out stripped its value. Any way it was fun and it works OK.

Guitar Of The Month

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This is truly an interesting one, because this lovely antique Spanish guitar was bought from an antique centre in Horncastle in Lincolnshire at least 18 years ago. I have never recorded with it. I have used it as a prop in publicity pics round about the time of the Troubadour album, but apart from that it has never been used. Maybe it’s about time I restrung it and started to use it at least on the odd recording here and there. It was restored by Rob Armstrong free of charge because he wanted to use its shape as a template for one of his own guitars, so worked out fine.

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The style of the guitar is very much like the one a very young Julian Bream played when starting out. I have no idea of its age or value, so if anyone can throw some light on its history I would be ever so grateful.

From the Archives

I thought it might be fun to add some archive photos to the News page so look out for this new feature in future months.

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Left: Age approx 19 or 20 with my first really good guitar - my John Bailey guitar
Right: Sound checking at the village hall where I wrote Mrs Singers Waltz

Another Year Beckons

As I said at the outset, that yet another year beckons, and I’m going to try with all my heart to try and live for the day and just take things as they come. Many years ago someone in America wrote a wonderful song called “Rock and roll I gave you all the best years of my life”. Well, I guess that just about sums me up, the ever hopeful pensioner still going for it but trying his best not to dwell on past disappointments and just keep moving forward with the help of faithful loving friends and my remarkable lovely wife Hilary. All I ever really want to do is make her proud of me. She says she is so that’s good enough for me for now and always.

Be Well my friends.