Wednesday, 15 February 2012

The New Troubadours

A while back I reflected either on a post here or on someone elses blog about the demise of the Troubadour, in the last few years we've seen Davy Graham, John Martyn and Bert Jansch pass away taking with them a legacy of the solo guitarist forged in the folk clubs of the 50s and 60s.  Davy Graham is a case in point - rarely ever quoted in "the most influential guitarist ever" polls but really he should be, he was a real trail blazer with creating a steel string instrumental fingerpicked style that continues to this day.  Yes Bert Jansch and John Renbourn continued and expanded on it but esp Anji by Davy was a pivotal piece in establishing that genre of playing.

Anyway recently I realised I should reconsider my position on this statement - i.e. there are plenty of excellent troubadours out there performing and recording and it is a very healthy scene.  Let me tell you about some I've been listening too over the last year or so.

Jon Gomm - WOW - that was the three letters Stephen Fry Tweeted with the link to the youtube video of Jon playing Passionflower.  You can't really give a better review than that!  That clip has now had over a million hits.  Jon is not only a stunningly inventive solo guitar player but a great lyricist and singer too.  I urge you to spend a few minutes listening to him at least.

Next up Andy McKee.  Andy is someone I keep coming back to listen to.  Such musicianship, dynamics and soul in his playing.  He is again a hugely inventive player - he sometimes uses Harp guitars. Much forgotten about in recent years these guitars are sort of normal guitars but with additional strings that you don't finger at all on a fretboard but use purely open as drone notes.  I met Stephen Sedgewick a couple of years ago at a guitar show at Olympia - he lives near me and makes these incredible instruments.

Again here is Andy playing a harp guitar to stunning effect. To date over 8 million people have watched this!

Gareth Pearson is a relatively new find of mine - encouraged by Tommy Emanuel (another great player btw) Gareth is a great solo instrumentalist.  He often like Jon and Andy above takes known popular songs and rearranges them for solo guitar and some them are just brilliant.  Here he is playing the old Micheal Jackson hit Billie Jean...

Finally some other worthy mentions...

David Mead - fantastic player, very gentle almost completely classical style pieces but mostly on steel string. he uses alternate tunings and partial capos to great effect.

Richard Durrant - incredibly inventive classical guitarist but he does very special stuff...  He has a DVD called the Guitar Whisperer - worth seeing just to see his one man rendition of Tublar Bells, ok there are some taped backing stuff helping but it is still just amazing.

Finally couldn't not mention Gordon Giltrap - my old influence.  Mrs F bought me another of his music books for Christmas and I'm close to a passable but ham fisted attempt at Heartsong now which I've always wanted to have a crack at.


  1. Triple WOW?! and that's just for Jon Gomm . . . That's gotta be getting the most out of a guitar. Brilliant. All excellent musicians . . . I'll give them all another listen when the kids are asleep . . . Noisy buggers.

  2. That is one heck of serious looking guitar. What is the purpose of that shape?

  3. @candy - to have a sound box for the lower unfretted strings - although you can see harp guitars without the "extension" like that as well