• John James. Walking to Chelsea and Alchemist for sale
  • Fifty Year Video.
  • John Smith. The Living Kind
  • Martin Simpson. Skydancers
  • Danny Thompson. Wotcher
  • John James, Rogers RoundHouse
  • John Smith. Smithcaster
  • Tristan Seume. Waiting for a Star to Fall
  • Visitors - Clive Carroll and Dariush Kanani
  • Sid Goldsmith and Tarren
  • Tarren Spring Tour
  • Remi Harris
  • Sönke Meinen. Mirror of Water
  • Will McNicol and Sönke Meinen on Tour
  • Jule Malishke. He Waited
  • Skeet Williams. Name that Tune
  • Gareth Evans. Time After Time
  • Dick Gaughan
John James. Walking to Chelsea and Alchemist for sale

I featured John as the lead piece in last month's newsletter as well. Perhaps I'm sensitive to the fact that he isn't in the big video. He should have been, but he isn't the only one missing I'm afraid, we just ran out of time and shoe leather.

So here he is again as some form of compensation.

And the other reason - John is thinning down his guitar collection, selling his Nine String, featured last month, (see pictures here) and this guitar, a perfectly standard Alchemist.

It's been well used, live and in the studio, but is in very good condition. We've given it a "proper looking over" It's for sale at £3,950 - SOLD. John's Website

  • John James' Alchemist
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Fifty Year Video

Well, its "out there" now and getting thousands of views. All the artists involved are very pleased with how it's turned out and have shared it on their social media. It's all very very positive, rather emotional to be honest. If you haven't seen it,You can watch the film here.

Fretboard Journal in the USA shared it and described Fylde as "Our friends in the UK". Jason Verlinde, the founder and Editor, is a UK ex pat, and describes the video as " a great little history lesson with some incredible music”.

Thanks Jason.

The Journal is extremely high quality, worth a good look. Fretboard Journal's website

Sam English is working on a few extended edits of some of the video contributions, I'll share those as soon as I can.

John Smith. The Living Kind

He's done it again. Another wonderful, strong song with something very new in the guitar accompaniment. I've had two conversations with John about the guitar "riff" and asked him how long it took him to nail it. Ten years!! I can understand why, I think the main difficulty would be keeping it going like that, all through. Very strong, very effective.

John has a lot going on at the moment. I'll share it when I can. Next month I might include the dance video of this song. Yes, dance video. Be prepared.

"The Living Kind" Album is launched on 15th March. Not long now.

John's Website

Martin Simpson. Skydancers

Having mentioned a dance video, what better link than this?

Skydancers is the title track of Martin's new Album, available on the 12th April. He and I often talk about dance accompanied by acoustic guitar, I think it's a splendid combination, and I would like to see the two filmed simultaneously- maybe on a wooden stage where the acoustic sound and the dynamics of the dance can interplay. I remember Martin Carthy playing guitar for Bampton Morris years and years ago. Stirring stuff.

"The Skydancers song was commissioned by TV presenter and naturalist, Chris Packham, highlighting the plight of the endangered Hen Harrier.

One of the other tracks is ‘Roger’s Cascade’, a very personal, jaunty, 5-string banjo homage to master instrument craftsman, Roger Bucknall."

That's me! Thank you, Martin, I'm honoured.

Martin's Website

Danny Thompson. Wotcher

Only a short clip of what hopefully will become a fully-fledged documentary. Danny is in the background of the soundtrack to my life, he played a big part in Davy Graham's early recordings, and I've lost count of how many of my friends, and "clients" have worked with him.

He once brought "Victoria" into the office with Eric Bibb and here he is with Eric at the MJC Dartford. He is full of stories ranging over a huge range of music. It's always a special experience to hear upright bass with acoustic guitar, and it can't get any better than Danny.

Danny's Website

I'm now thinking of how to get Danny Thompson, Martin Simpson and a dancer together. Does anybody have Darcy Bussell's email? And do you think they would fit in my pub?

John James, Rogers RoundHouse

Another plug for John's nine string guitar. This is the tune John wrote and recorded for the "Strings that Nimble leap" charity CD. Link to CD

The nine-string guitar is for sale, and there is even a pic of me and John playing ! (see the guitar here)

Never fear, John is keeping his beloved early Oberon and cutaway Maple Oberon. I am hoping for more videos soon.

John Smith. Smithcaster
  • John's New Acoustic/Electric
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John Smith Special DSCF1377

John doesn't like touring the USA with two guitars, pedal board, suitcase and all his merch. It's especially difficult if one of the guitars is a full size acoustic. Reminds me a little of my early days walking three miles to the local pub and back in Birmingham, carrying guitar, fiddle and banjo. I don't think I ever managed to take a mandolin as well. It's ok in a car. No use at all on foot, in a plane or any other form of transport.

Anyway, John's solution was to find an acoustic guitar that was the same size as his electric so he could carry them both in one double gig bag. Now who could he get to make him such a thing?

Take a guess.

He'd tried a few of the existing options, none of which did the job. So we cooked up the idea of a more or less standard acoustic body, much slimmer than usual, and rather shrunken in other dimensions, but maintaining a full "professional" neck. That did raise the question- would it sound like an acoustic guitar?

Only one way to find out, and I do love a challenge . We hoped that we could recover anything "lost" in the sound by choosing the best pickup system that would suit John's latest needs.

Once I'd made the first decisions, parts of the job worked out very easily. It's a modified "Goodfellow" shape so the top and back were straightforward. The sides were rather more difficult. Guitars are built in a dedicated "mould" to keep everything in shape, and we had to tweak the size and shape continuously while we worked, so that was a challenge, mostly for Paul! I did suspect that he was tempted to punch me every time I changed something, so I settled on the details and made a proper mould. It was much "easier" after that.

I particularly like one feature of this guitar, it has a back panel that can be removed for access. The pickup system is the LR Baggs Dual Source which unfortunately is no longer made but I have a few "in reserve". It would have been impossible to fit in such a shallow guitar, but with the access panel it became more of a joy. I say joy, because it wasn't me that did it, it was Alex, I couldn't have done it.

A few years ago I did all this sort of thing myself, but Alex's hands are less damaged and more mobile than my ancient appendages, it's now part of his job description.

But - the real reason is that we would have the option to try other pickup systems if this one didn't work. We can move the internal microphone around, and fit batteries somewhere else, clever things like that. So far, I would say that this pickup works very well, and the acoustic sound is far better than we had any right to expect. I might try and write about that more at some point.

John is very pleased; he is touring America with it as I write this. This must be the longest he's ever been without an acoustic, I hope he doesn't turn to the dark side.

"Smithcaster" was an obvious thought for a name, but if I want to stick to the Shakespeare theme, "Goldsmith" seems quite appropriate and fits in with "Alchemist" quite well.

But I'm not sure if we will make any more of these, I will wait until I get proper reports back from John. If anyone wants to try and persuade me, feel free. That's assuming Alex and Paul are still speaking to me of course.

Tristan Seume. Waiting for a Star to Fall

Tris uses the same Pickup System as John, both of them are a little addicted to effects pedals and it works very well.   

Tris will be up here in a few months for his annual Bicycle adventure. When he finishes he will be exhausted, that's when I'll challenge him at Pool. For money.

Tristan's Website

Visitors ... Clive and Dariush

Clive Carroll and Dariush Kanani stopped by on their way back from Celtic Connections, Clive was fascinated by John James' 9 string, and had a suggestion that I might be able to tell you about next month.

Dariush has a special event coming up soon:
"Bert Jansch Guitar Workshop, on Saturday 13th & Sunday 14th July 2024 atPateley Bridge, North Yorkshire, U.K.

This will be an opportunity to study a number of Bert’s songs and instrumentals. Each piece will also act as a springboard to help develop your technique and musicianship. Aspects of each piece will lead to discussion about various techniques, exercises and more!"

For info, details and to reserve a place, email Dariush

Clive's Website

Dariush's Facebook Page

Sid Goldsmith and Tarren

I think this is lovely. Sid is the third owner of this "Nordic Mandola" and uses it simply as a Cittern, he isn't using the extended strings and frets at all. It's possible that the extra wood and metal involved does influence the overall sound of the instrument, it's difficult to say, and of course, the chapel acoustics and the attached microphone are important as well. Central to the whole thing of course, is Sid. 

Sid's Facebook Page

He doesn't just play Solo; he is also part of "Tarren"

Tarren's Spring Tour

Tarren's Website

Remi Harris

Can't have a newsletter without Remi. Paul saw his Peter Green show last week and was very impressed. I haven't seen it yet, only snippets, there's too much to do and see nowadays. But soon!
Remi's Website

Sönke Meinen. Mirror of Water

This is the third excellent piece Sönke has recorded on his new Fylde. I'm hoping for more.
Söenke's Website

Will McNicol and Sönke Meinen on Tour

No explanation necessary. We are all going "en masse" to see them in Ambleside. That's where I met Moira! Sorry, they don't have any more Moiras, I got the only one.

Will has a lot going on at the moment, more than I can explain here, so you should look at his website and sign up to his newsletter.

Will's Website ...
... and all his gigs are here.

Jule Malishke. He Waited

Jule wrote this song about Richard and Colleen Lindsay, those two splendid people that put guitars, music and friendship together in Ullapool. The story is obvious in the song.

Jule performed it at the festival last year on her new Fylde and managed to get enough video footage for Don Ross to put this together.

Ullapool is a very special place for all of us.

We'll be seeing Jule and Don at this year's Festival, and seeing Jule and Will McNicol in concert in Italy in a few weeks time - we are having a holiday with our friends Giulio and Giulia from Sec Guitars.

Jule's Website
Sec Guitars Website

Skeet Williams. Name that Tune

Seven videos of old favourite tunes, played on Skeet's old favourite, Orsino number 645, made in 1978

When Skeet sent me this link, he was about to go to a friend's restaurant to play guitar, so I thought I'd advertise them a little bit, maybe we'll get a free meal when we are nearby. 

Here we are - Old Wives Tales in Bala, Wales. 

Gareth Evans. Time After Time

Gareth always has something new to offer. He's an excellent player and concentrates on tutorials, video is a great teaching medium, and he does it very well.

Goliath Guitar Tutorials

Dick Gaughan

This video, although excellent, isn't what it says it is, it's a few years old now but only recently published. Dick has not been at all well for a while and certainly not up to playing like this. 

He bought this guitar with a royalty check that arrived at just the right moment - as he was visiting me!  I really enjoyed Dick's visits, particularly our "discussions". We don't agree on much, we just like talking to each other. I think that's the way things should be. If you see this, Dick, my very best wishes - kettle is always on. We have a coffee machine now as well. There's posh.

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