General News

December 2008 News Update

December 2008 News Update
Update -15th Dec Davy Graham passes

Dear friends, it is with great sadness that I have just heard via Roger Bucknall of the death of Davy Graham. I don't have any details beyond the fact that he passed away this afternoon from cancer.

I have already put a brief line on the "More Music" page of the Forum and will be adding and inviting folk to leave their own messages about the passing of this remarkable guitarist. We as guitarists are all standing on the shoulders of giants, and Davy was indeed a giant of the guitar world.

I would like to share a few memories of Davy with you.

I remember in the late 60s seeing Davy play down at the Cousins in Greek St, where ironically he played a brief set before Bert Jansch took the stage and I well remember Davy saying something like 'this is going to be my last number then I leave the stage because you can't make love to two people at the same time'. Very true of course!

For me at that time Bert was the main man, and Davy's playing just went over my head, well it would wouldn't it. I had only been playing properly for about a year and was still under the spell of the great Bert. Shortly after that I turned up at the Cousins one night and had the chance to do a floor spot on Davy's night. Davy very kindly loaned me his old Gibson guitar, and would you believe I was complaining about the strings he used and the high action. My God, Davy showed SUCH patience with me. If it had been me and the situation was reversed I would have said something like...'if you don't like the guitar bog off'. Fortunately for me he didn't, but he did give me a withering look and quite rightly so bless him. I was only 19 at the time!

A while later a friend of mine was having lessons with Davy and I went along, once again Davy most graciously allowed me to sit in. I think what you can gather here is that Davy was a lovely guy, outspoken but lovely. I well remember advertising my teaching services in the small ads of the Melody Maker under the heading 'Advanced Guitar Tuition', and having a conversation with Davy about it and him saying that he thought the title was a bit strong...he was right of course, but at the time I wanted to avoid teaching beginners but the heading did appear a tad arrogant, it wasn't meant to be, and once I had explained that to Davy I think he understood.

During the early to mid 70s I embraced Christianity for a while and coincidentally so did Davy and I rang him up to say how pleased I was to hear that he had found a faith. Many years later Davy did a short tour of Midland clubs, and one night I reminded Davy of that phone call and he remembered EVERY word of it...what an Amazing memory! It was during that time that I had the opportunity of performing Angie with him on stage somewhere...what a privilege that was!

Ever since hearing the news of his passing yesterday,and having to break the news to a few close friends including my dear friend Bert Jansch who understandably was shaken by it, I can't get the memory of the man out of my mind.

I was pleased that he decided to tread the boards again a few years back, mainly for his own satisfaction more than anything else, if it brought him a modicum of joy then that is all that matters.

For all you who have seen my shows over the last few years you will know that I have been performing my own take on his classic Angie. It may not have been to everyones taste and has been seriously ridiculed by one or two folk on YOUTUBE, but at least in my own way I like to think that I kept a small flame burning for our Davy, and of course there is my recorded version of this classic on my tribute EP to Bert Jansch... Janschology.

Now the great man has passed on I'm not sure if I shall continue playing the piece particularly in the light of the criticism on YOUTUBE, but probably more out of respect for the great man. I'm not sure if he ever heard my version, it would have been nice to get his approval!

One thing is for sure, whenever a group of acoustic players get together I guarantee that at some point the name of Davy Graham will be mentioned and his immortal Angie.

Rest in Peace Davy, you were a one off and we will never see your likes again.

Sir Cliff's 50th Anniversary presentation at the NIA Birmingham.
giltrap 1974

Many of you who have attended my concerts of late will know that I have been featuring a brand new composition entitled 'FOREVER GOLD.' This piece of music was commissioned by the Birmingham, Hereford and Worcester branch of the Cliff Richard fan club.

I was approached by Ann Bew and Nicky Piercy well over a year ago to write a special piece to celebrate this remarkable artist's 50 years in show business.

The piece was inspired by a special tuning that I invented for one of my most profound pieces ' Elegy',  written for my late mum in law Elizabeth Barker. I have only written three pieces in this tuning and all three are completely different in feel and style.

I am particularly pleased with the way it has turned out and I'm certain that it will be a permanent part of my repertoire for many years to come.

Thanks to Bob Wilson for the video footage.

Full credit must go to Ann and Nicky for helping to create such a stunning package which contains not only a CD of the piece but a beautiful limited edition print (1 of 50) of the cover created by the wonderful Jan Leytham Gain who also did the portrait of yours truly for my 'As it Happens' live album. Jan has also designed the sleeve for the upcoming Giltrap / Wakeman 'From Brush and Stone' CD  due for release late January / early February 2009...  Watch this space.

Anyway, back to the package. The limited edition print is beautifully mounted and has a certificate of authenticity, once again numbered and signed by the artist. Each CD is signed by me and is presented in a stunning box with the following words engraved in gold on the cover. CLIFF 50 GOLDEN YEARS IN MUSIC SPECIAL EDITION SET.

The boxed set is £50 and there are a few copies left if folk are interested contact Ann Bew on her mobile number....07813 207740. There are CDs that can be bought separately if one can't afford the £50 presentation and I'm sure Ann will give you all the details when you ring her.

We presented the package to Sir Cliff before his final show at the NIA on Sunday the 23rd of November and I'm delighted to report that he was I believe, VERY moved by the whole thing! We have no idea if he has heard the piece yet, but  we all hope he likes it as much as everyone else who has heard it. I'm sure he will. Special thanks go to our pal and Cliff's PA Roger Bruce for keeping the whole thing a secret and for arranging the presentation for us. Cliff as ever did a stunning show and it was good to see our friend Jasper Carrot after the show for a good old chinwag. The icing on the cake was the fact that we were collected from our home by stretch limo.... never been in one before... great fun and highly recommended!

The Hub Exhibition.
giltrap 1974

Three years ago I was invited to be the visiting curator for a major guitar exhibition celebrating the art of the British guitar maker to be held at The Hub in Sleaford Lincolnshire. The Hub is the National Centre for Art, Craft and Design in the UK. The  Artistic Director Mr Phil Cosker is a charming man of drive and vision who had long wanted to stage an exhibition of this kind.

I'm delighted to report that his vision became a reality three years on, when on Friday the 21st of November 2008 when the exhibition was officially opened by yours truly in the form of a brief concert in front of invited guests most of whom were the makers themselves! Roger Bucknall, Rob Armstrong, Steven Toon, Andy Manson, Roger Williams, Earl Marsh, Brian Eastwood, John Marlow, Chris George, Jim Fleeting, Shona Bluhm, Gus Guitars and Cool Acoustics were some of the makers in attendance along with local dignitaries, friends of The Hub, local radio and visiting members from various guitar journals including Guitarist magazine.

One of the guests was the legendary blues guitarist Tony McPhee. Tony has kindly loaned The Hub the very first metal front Zemaitis electric guitar. This instrument is worth a fortune to collectors of Z guitars and like all the instruments on show, is housed in a glass case. Next to the metal front is a Zemaitis Resonator guitar that once belonged to the late Ronnie Lane. It was  kindly loaned to the exhibition by its current owner Keith Smart  who also loaned us a Christmas card that was sent to Tony by George Harrison. There is also a video showing Ronnie playing the beast on TV! Thanks to Keith for the loan of both these amazing items.

giltrap 1974

Also in a glass case is my 1968 John Bailey twin neck guitar which greets visitors as they enter the exhibition. Alongside the guitar are my brief notes about the guitar and my love for hand made instruments. On the opposite wall is a huge photo of yours truly taken by Sue Holton with a brief biog. Needless to say I was very touched by this unexpected level of profile. There is also a wall where folk can leave comments about their favourite guitarists and guitars generally.

The video below, although a little rough around the edges, will give you a quick peek at the exhibition.
( Please be patient and allow time for this to large file load.)

It was a truly wonderful evening and my sell out concert the following night was the icing on the cake.

During the exhibitions run there are a series of fantastic concerts featuring some great artists including my good friend Ray Burley 28th November, Martin Taylor and Martin Simpson 12th December,  Newton Falconer 19th December, Tristan Seume and Gareth Pearson 4th January and Bert Jansch 18th January. I shall be presenting and guesting on this final concert on January the 18th.There are also extra shows being planned as I write this so do check out the Hub website for more information.

My thanks go to the following people for helping to make this exhibition such a great one. David Groom, Phil Cosker, Melanie Kidd, Barry, Maurice and anyone else who I may have forgotten. That being the case I beg their forgiveness.

I urge anyone who is interested in hand made guitars and things of beauty generally to take a trip to beautiful Sleaford and check it out.

There will be photographs posted on the site later.

This year.

This year has been without a doubt VERY special for me having reached the grand old age of 60 with most of my faculties still intact... grin.

I had a wonderful birthday shared with family and special friends. The concerts in the main have been memorable particularly Brum Town Hall with my  friends Rick Wakeman, Ray Burley and John  Etheridge. Receiving my Lifetime Achievement Award was just so special and it's good to know that my work over the past 42 years has been acknowledged by a few folk. I'm a very luck bunny.

The handful of 'Up Close and Intimate' shows have gone swimmingly well and we look forward to doing more of these type of events next year sharing special occasions with lovely people.

Hilary and I would like to thank you all for attending the concerts throughout 2008 and our special thanks go to Sue Holton for ALL her hard work along with hubby Mike and to my agent Sue Webster who is without doubt one of the best in the business. I would like to thank my lovely Hilary, because without her I just wouldn't function on ANY level... It must be me age.

We sincerely wish you all a stunning Christmas and a healthy and happy 2009.

From The Troubadour.