General News

December 2014 News Update

December 2014 News Update

Maggie Boyle RIP

On November 6th the British folk scene lost one of its most beautiful woman. The lovely Maggie Boyle lost her fight against stomach cancer and passed away peacefully surrounded by her friends and family. I had only met her a few times over the years but the memories remain. I saw her for the first time over 25 years ago when she performed with her then husband Steve Tilston the fine guitarist and songwriter whom I had known since the early seventies. The venue was the Globe Hotel Warwick where the folk club was held every Monday night.

The memories of those days hold fond memories for Hilary and I. What struck you most about this tall beautiful woman was her quiet grace and poise. The second time we met was on the happy occasion of Bert & Loren Jansch's wedding day. After that was a concert in Cambridgeshire where due to illness the late great Isaac Guillory had to pull out so I filled in for him. At that concert she was performing with her trio Grace Notes and ironically the last time we saw Maggie was at the graveside of Bert Jansch at Highgate cemetery. It sounds like sadness was touching us on each of those last two occasions.

You can find out much about this lovely person from her website Coming from an Irish family she was steeped in music and her voice can be heard throughout the movie Patriot Games.

This year has been rife with wonderfully talented people popping their clogs FAR too young, but this one really has a sting in its tail.

She will be greatly missed by all who knew her. I found out about her passing through the pages of Twitter where Patsy Matheson left a very poignant message and a lengthy one on Facebook telling what a great friend and comforter she was to Patsy whilst she was battling cancer.

A celebration of her life was held in Keighley on the 17th of November.

Rest in Peace Maggie.

Shining Morn Cover

I always find it deeply flattering when I hear anyone playing one of my pieces. For a player to feel that a piece of mine is worthy of time and effort to learn, and believe me these pieces can take a long to perfect and for a player to feel they are up to a standard public performance is really something to behold.

David May has captured a cracking performance of this relatively new tune of mine and I congratulate him. Well done sir.

Watch David May play Shining Morn here

Carrie Martin

Our friend Carrie Martin's new album is finally finished and out there. She is totally thrilled with it, and we are so happy to share in her new release. You can listen to the album and purchase from here. Here are Carrie's thoughts...

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An article on my new cd 'What If ' by Carrie Martin

I have been on such a journey since my last album 'Luna'! I suppose 'Luna' which started off as just an experiment if I am being honest, just myself and my guitar, was more of an EP than an album but it was the start of things and I'm still extremely proud of it !

'What If' however is a different thing all together, a new project, with fresh ideas and the help of some fabulous musicians!

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This new collection of songs have been inspired by people and places close to my heart; encounters and observations the turmoils and triumphs in their lives. Some of these songs seemed to 'arrive' fully formed and relatively effortless to write. 'What If' came precisely this way after listening to conversations relating to family grief, the words formed quickly in the middle of the night at the beginning of 2014. It seemed the perfect choice for the title track as it distils the hopes, dreams and sometimes regrets we all carry, and also a universal feeling of 'what could have been' had we made different choices or 'could turn back time'!

Oliver Wakeman's sublime contribution to this piece elevated those feelings to give the song an unforgettable impact and made it an inevitable choice for the title of the album, given also the point my career is at the moment.

The addition of Ric Sanders agreeing to play on 'My Love', and stunning his contribution it is too, was absolutely thrilling! Of course as with Oliver, this too was Gordon's idea and he didn't stop there! Having three superstars on my new album was taking it's time to sink in but there was one track 'Butterflies', which despite having bass guitar on, played by my lovely friend Rosie Queenan, needed something else too! That's when JHS' very own Gavin Coulson stepped up to play some show stopping lead guitar that lifted the full song!

Gordon himself added some unusual and stunning chiming guitar parts on 'Your Eyes', which he delivered in that fabulous style that we all love and recognise as being him! It takes the track onto another level and adds a little mystery!

It was of course thrilling for friends of mine, Garry Burnett, who played a beautiful version of Gordon's Passing of a Queen', Rosie Queenan on Bass, John Shepherd on lead guitar and Carol Withers on flute to play on various tracks and be part of an album with such established musicians !

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'Wherever There Was Beauty' for me is very special! I adored this piece of music from the moment that I heard it, so being allowed by Gordon to create lyrics for it was not just an honour but a dream and I am very proud of it. This song now holds some lovely memories, not just for me, but for my best buddy Garry Burnett, also a great friend of Gordon's, as it reflects the wonderful time we spent in the studio together with Gordon!

I cannot begin to tell you of the importance of the friendship, support and belief of Gordon and Hilary Giltrap, whose dedication, contribution and artistic musical genius have been inestimable! He is not only a giant in the world of acoustic guitar as everyone of you reading this already knows, but a dear friend and a dependable source of support and guidance in all ways which has raised my level of performance and given me something that cannot be bought; 'belief'!

Thoughts on A Promise Fulfilled - By Trevor Raggatt

Those big "lifetime landmarks" don't come around every day so when they do it is worth marking them in style. Something a little special is appropriate, something very special even more so. So as the year began, both my wife and I faced racking up a half century each. "Something a little special" seemed to be in order. But what?

We both wanted something which would be quintessentially us but which would be lasting, significant. Posh meals, parties and holidays would have been lovely but somehow seemed too ephemeral - gone in a moment. After much head scratching one thing seemed to be the obvious answer. We would ask Gordon to compose us a song.

Gordon's music has been so much a soundtrack to our lives together that, once we had hit on the idea, there was no other possible choice. It felt so right. Since we first met there were a few artists we had followed, seeing them live whenever they were playing within striking distance of us. Gordon, of course, Kathryn Tickell, Fairport Convention, Iona... Many, many happy evenings were spent together listening to their wonderful music. But it was always Gordon's music which struck the most personal chord for us and, over the years, it was wonderful to be able to count him and Hilary as friends.

But fast forward a couple of decades... I sent a quick email to Gordon and not long afterwards we were chatting on the phone, discussing what he might do. I was touched that he seemed so excited at the prospect of writing especially for us and he was keen to know what sort of thing we were looking for. He threw out a few suggestions of approaches and styles but I said, "Really, what we would love is just what comes out of your heart and your imagination without setting out too many limits." We agreed that we would set down some thoughts in an email as a way to get his creative juices flowing. Which of his tunes were our favourites and what about them particularly appealed to us? Did we have any thoughts on possible titles which he might use to inspire himself? There was only one thing which my wife stipulated... it should be a tune that spoke of hope and joy.

Across our thirty odd years together as a couple we had experienced many, many wonderful, happy times together but, also many difficult periods through which we had supported each other. But throughout the dark times we had, above all, retained a sense of hope and we made sure that we took joy in all the little pleasures of life. Gordon's music formed no small part of those pleasures. Now that so many of those trials were behind us it seemed fitting that "our tune" should reflect that joy, that hope...

Over the months Gordon would email or text with updates on how it was going and to chat through ideas. I recall one afternoon when having played ansaphone ping pong for a couple of days I phoned him from the office. It was on that call that he first played, down the phone, some fragments of what was to become our song. My colleagues at work (in our open plan office) were staring at me wondering why I was sitting there grinning like an idiot.

Not long after, Gordon, called to ask a question - playing through the song he just kept hearing in his head a violin playing a lyrical melody line over the top of it. Erm... Is that the kind of thing we might like? It was just he had some ideas that he might like to try out... I could hear in his voice a little tinge of "What if maybe they hate the fiddle and are appalled at the thought?" I reassured him that it sounded like a great idea and reminded him that some of our earliest Giltrap gigs were on the "One To One" tour with Ric Sanders. There was a feeling of relief from down the phone line but little did I suspect the idea brewing in Gordon's mind.

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A few weeks later Gordon asked me to call him as he had a couple of ideas to run past me. I made the mistake of phoning from work again. It was then that Gordon dropped the bombshell... He was getting together with Ric for a long overdue catch-up and he was thinking of asking him whether he would like to play on the track. Would we be open to that, at all? Ric-bloomin'-Sanders from Fairport-bloomin'-Convention!!! Once again my work colleagues were saddled with a grinning idiot for the rest of the afternoon.

Over the next few weeks I watched updates on Gordon's Twitter feed and Facebook pages; one of the few people in the country who knew that there was a deeper subtext to catching up with Ric or recording with Mike Stranks in a church hall.

Finally Gordon emailed to say it was all done bar final mixing and he would be sending over the track for our final approval. When the email arrived my wife and I sat there all evening listening to it on repeat - finally I had a companion for those "grinning like an idiot" moments. One thing remained... A title.

One of the ideas which we had sent to Gordon many months before was "A Promise Fulfilled". Listening to the track as it moved from a melancholy mood into a joyful climax it seemed so appropriate, encapsulating everything that we had described to Gordon. For me, Gordon has come up with a classic, timeless melody which he has performed beautifully. It's almost a mini-concerto taking a theme and developing it from a bare melody into a rich harmonic texture - all in the space of three minutes. As a solo guitar piece it would be stunning enough but with Ric's lyrical playing layered on top it is elevated even above that.

So we are beyond delighted and what could ever top that very special birthday present to each other? Except maybe hearing Gordon play it live one day... No, scrub that thought... Hearing Gordon AND Ric play it live. Hint, hint, hint! :) In the meantime you'll have to make do with listening to this short snippet !

Here are some more memories of Gus:

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Quotes from musicians such as Steve Hackett and Mick Underwood and a lovely tribute from Gus' widow Annie

John Gustafson Remembered

Robin Millar

I wanted to share with you a trip I had to London at the beginning of the month to meet one of the most remarkable people ever. His name is Robin Millar and this was only the second time we had met since 1981 when I had a meeting at his London studios.

My reason for the trip was to see if he would be interested in working with me in whatever capacity took his fancy. When I arrived at his beautiful Art Deco flat overlooking Clapham Common it was raining hard but his warm greeting and the offer of coffee and biscuits was just delightful.

The three hours or so spent in this man's company was unforgettable. We chatted about the people he had produced over the years like Randy Crawford, Big Country, Sade, Alison Moyet and many more. We also chatted about the people he turned down like Jeff Beck, Chris Rea and Ricky Lee Jones. Robin is a fine guitar player and has a lovely collection of instruments and amplifiers many of which I had the pleasure of playing. I introduced him to the joys of open C tuning and we had a wonderful time jamming together.

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Whilst I was there the doorbell rang and the caretaker of the flats who is a keen guitar collector came in with a brand new deluxe Gibson Acoustic and asked me to sign it and maybe have his picture taken with me. I of course was very flattered.

The time just flew and I had to decline a generous offer of beans on toast cooked by my host, because I needed to get back up to Brum before the rush hour.

A new and I felt deep friendship had been formed and I sincerely hope we meet again. If he does want to work with me that would be great but really the most important thing was making a new and valued friend.

We have exchanged e-mails since then and I truly want to stay in contact. Robin has the most amazing sense of humour and is a great mimic with a gift for accents.

What I haven't mentioned thus far is the fact that Robin Millar is totally blind!

Look up You will not regret it I promise you. This amazing man is regarded as one of the top four most significant blind people in the world.

There really isn't enough space here to tell you all that the great man has achieved, but I for one feel, very privileged to have met him and now count him as a friend.

Tracy Sollis Trust donation

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Our dear friend Sue Sollis with friend Neil came up to the house last month with a hired van and filled it with many of our lovely collectables and antiques to sell in her charity shop, hopefully for a huge profit for the charity that is closest to our heart The Tracy Sollis Leukaemia Trust

It will be the New Year before all the stuff goes on display in Sue's new additional charity shop in Evesham. This visit did us both a great favour because it forced us to seriously look at all the things we have collected over the years, and if anyone who knows Hilary and I will know what collectors of "stuff" we are!

Sue is currently valuing all the bits and you never know there may be some valuable treasures there. Let us hope so eh. Watch this space.

Gigs of Note

At the risk of repetition, the gigs last month were all absolutely cracking and I dare not quote any particularly outstanding ones because they were all in their own way truly memorable.

This month’s gigs were a mixed bag of two village hall concerts Blackbrook on the 1st of the month and Atherstone on the 8th. Its great to be back to doing these Live and Local gigs with their mixed bag of regulars and new faces along with the raffle which is always lot of fun.

The high point of the evening was being asked if I played Classical Gas.... hey ho !

Moving on...

St Giles Hospice

On the morning of the 7th I developed a sharp pain in my upper left arm. The pain it caused made me seriously think about having to cancel my charity concert for The St Giles Hospice that evening. Fortunately I was able to do the show, although at times the odd twinge appeared but in the main I thought I played in many ways on certain pieces with more emotion than I have known for some time.

My good friend Keith Dudley was in the audience and had been suffering serious health problems for quite a while. I knew his favourite piece of mine was A Christmas Carol, so I thought it appropriate to play and dedicate it to him. I really felt there was something special about the way I played and I can't remember it sounding as well as it did that night and I know it meant a lot to him. Be well Keith and get well soon buddy.

The concert was well attended with about 100 in the audience, and of course it goes without saying what a truly worthwhile charity it is. As yet I don't know how much was raised and will let you know next month. A big thank you to all who came.

Chichester Inn 13th November

It's ALWAYS a joy to do gigs for Sue Martin one of our treasured friends, and although the turnout at the Chichester Inn wasn't as full as last time it was a great fun gig to do. The venue is fast becoming THE place to play in the area, and as long as Sue wants me to play there, play there I shall.

Ashcroft Theatre Fareham

The last time I played at the Ashcroft was with maestro Oliver Wakeman. It was a great turn out then and it certainly was for my sell out show. For some reason I'm getting standing ovations at the end of my gigs these days! Maybe the audience are just pleased I’m still here and doing it, but whatever the reason I don't really care and am just happy to be appreciated for what I do.

Forest Arts New Milton

Once again the last time I was at this lovely theatre was with Oliver. It was great to see our friends Russ and Carol Gannicott along with old friend Emma Blake. Once again a sell-out show and a lovely warm reception. I have to tell you when there is a full house and the audience are behind you there is no better feeling in the world.

This month’s Guitar

This month’s guitar is an interesting one for many reasons.

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I bought this guitar from E- Bay for £12! This little plastic guitar is virtually identical to the one my folks bought me from a Freemans catalogue way back in about 1957, the only difference being that mine had a picture of Elvis is on the headstock and this has the word SKIFFLE on it. Raymond Burley had something very similar except his one was all brown and had Tommy Steel on the headstock.

Mine originally came with a gadget that you strapped to the neck with a series of buttons that one pushed down to create chords providing of course that the thing was in tune in the first place!

I learned to play on this "toy" and it gave me much pleasure until Mum bought me that Martin Colletti archtop three years later. I was in deep trouble then because I had no idea what to do with the extra two strings!!

I believe that this little beast was probably made in the Maccaferri factory when the man in question decided to branch out into the world of plastic instruments. His plastic Maccaferri guitars fetch good money to collectors these days because of that connection. It was Mario Maccaferri who designed guitars for the Paris Selmer company in the 1930's, and it was the great Django Reinhardt who made them famous through his incredible playing.

Believe it or not it has quite a good sound, and I know if I worked on it I could probably make it work reasonably well as a playable instrument.

In the meantime it serves as a nostalgic reminder of days long past and where Gordon Giltrap started.

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New piece of kit

Here's my latest piece of kit courtesy of JHS.

It’s a Fret King distortion pedal to spice up my electric guitar tone for The Dodo's Dream.