May 2021

  • Ben Walker’s 12-fret Roll Over Leonardo
  • Tristan Seume. Rolling Stock
  • Second Hand Alchemist for Sale
  • Clive Carroll. Online Concert and Workshop
  • Michael McGoldrick, John McCusker and John Doyle in concert
  • Latest Single Malts
  • Will McNicol. Miniatures
  • Dave Holmes. The Kid on the Mountain.
  • New Banjo Neck for Martin Simpson
  • Martin Simpson Interview
  • Bubinga Ariel SOLD
  • Strawberry Fylde
  • John Smith
  • Gordon Giltrap
  • Remi Harris
  • Gareth Evans. Billie Jean
  • Queen of Sheeba
  • What we did on our holidays
Ben Walker’s 12-fret Roll Over Leonardo

This is a beauty, even if I do say so myself. There was a lot of discussion to get everything decided and sometimes such things can go round in circles, but with someone like Ben, it's easier to explain the consequences of particular features and have reasonable confidence that you've both got it right. Body size and style first, then scale length and soundboard, followed by body materials and decorations. The neck dimensions are always critical, but don't have much effect on other things so that can be dealt with as a separate issue.

Ben wanted a "bevel" on the top edge, I persuaded him to let me make it a "rolled edge", it isn't at all obvious, but is actually much more significant than it looks, and very comfortable. I've not seen it on other acoustic guitars and it's tricky to do.  The downside is that nobody will notice, and it is hard to photograph. If you meet Ben, ask him if you can have a play. Don't be surprised if he says no.

Back and sides are curly Claro Walnut, the top is Sinker Redwood. The bindings are made from ancient Bog Oak and are much thicker at the "rolled edge", and rounded over, with no significant sharp corner. The neck is made from three pieces of very old Mahogany, and two thin slices of Ebony. Everything bordered with delicate red lines, and the red lines are bordered by delicate black lines. There is a basic principle in a lot of this - if it's easy to do, I don't want to do it. Story of my life.

Ben says "Absolutely incredible sound, I'm over the moon with it!" and he has promised videos!

Ben's site

  • Ben Walker's 12-Fret Rollover Leonardo
 
 
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Tristan Seume. Rolling Stock

Tristan moving away from his recent "Covers" for once, it's good to hear his own tunes again. I was expecting a train to go past as he was playing.

Tris says "I made it as sponsored content for Black Mountain thumb picks so hopefully it’ll get 20 billion views".

I do love a bit of optimism.

30 seconds in you can see a lovely example of the "prehensile" thumb which guitarists value so much. Unless your fretting hand is double jointed, this only works if the neck is shaped properly. The bass string has to be spaced just close enough to the edge so that the thumb can reach it without also folding onto the fifth string. The fret ends need to be reasonably square so that the string isn't easily pulled off the edge, the fingerboard edge needs to be carefully rounded to make the manoeuvre comfortable, and the wood of the neck behind the fingerboard needs to be shaped to "fill" the hand enough and allow the thumb to hinge from the best position. Not too thin, too thick, too round or too flat. Quite tricky, this guitar making business.

Pool match soon Tris? I bet £10 on me.

Tristan's website


Second Hand Alchemist for Sale ~ SOLD

This was made in 2000, and owned since then by two professional musicians, the first of whom named her "Alisa". I'm not sure how you go about changing the name of a guitar for a new owner - is it by deed poll? Moira say it is often done by marriage- would that work?

Alisa has been well used, (what a terrible form of words for a lady) but is in excellent condition, we've re-fretted "her", fitted a new bridge and tidied up most of her tiny blemishes using guitar makers Botox and delicate, painless cosmetic surgery. The original Headway pickup is still working perfectly. It also has a clear scratch plate, just to prove that there are no scratches underneath.

It's difficult to decide on a price. New, it would be £4,400, with a two-year wait. I think £3,200 would be a good deal for both sides. SOLD

  • Second Hand Alchemist For Sale
 
 
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Clive Carroll. Online Concert and Workshop

I’m going to perform an online concert on Saturday 8th May and also give a short guitar workshop on Sunday 9th May. It would be great to ‘see’ you there.

For the concert I’ve got a few new numbers ‘up my sleeve’... I’ll be playing some requests along with standards from my ‘live’ set and I’ll probably stick Mississippi Blues in there - a version filmed on a phone at the start of 2020 has miraculously gone viral! I’ve got John Renbourn’s ‘Another Monday’ in the set, perhaps a song (!), and maybe a special guest too!

The concert will be broadcast simultaneously on Facebook Live and YouTube Live.

Here are all the details:

Clive Carroll Concert on Facebook Live and YouTube
Saturday 8th May 2021, 7pm (UK) / 2pm (EST)
Watch on YouTube Live
Watch on Facebook Live

For the workshop on Sunday 9th May I’ll be teaching the Irving Berlin classic, ‘Cheek to Cheek’

(I’ll also be performing it in the concert the day before). Even if you play this tune already, I hope there will be some details that you might find useful.

The session will probably last about 1hr to 1hr 20mins.

Here are the details for the workshop:

Clive Carroll Workshop on YouTube only

Sunday 9th May 2021, 3pm (UK) / 10am (EST)
Watch on YouTube Live
Both the concert and workshop are free events.
Donations are not essential but are gratefully received. Thank you!
https://www.paypal.com/paypalme/clivecarrollmusic

Details for live concerts are being added regularly over on the Concerts page on my website. There are lots of plans in the cards (albeit far into the future!) and, fingers crossed, I'll be able to play for you all in person soon!

I cannot wait to get back out playing live again but in the meantime, I hope you’ll enjoy the upcoming concert and workshop online!


Michael McGoldrick, John McCusker and John Doyle in concert

It was a real boost to have these three in my office a couple of years ago, they are great musicians and lovely people. John (Doyle) has caught up with the custom Falstaff we made for him during lockdown, that was quite a story in itself, it’s great to see him get to play it finally.


Latest Single Malts

Four recent gifts and thank you presents - proof (40%?) that things are now getting back to normal.

I thought I'd use them to test out my new conservatory, specially designed for drinking in comfort. It seems to be working so far, and there is room for a lot more.


Will McNicol. Miniatures

Will is about to launch a new Album - I asked him to describe it for me:

"It’s an album defined by experiences, with all 16 tracks coming under the umbrella of “Miniatures” as I experimented with more short-form composition.

Track one, "Cessna", is about a flight over New Hampshire piloted by our mutual friend John Greene.

"Arthur’s Lullaby" and "The Musketeer’s Approach" are about our baby son, Arthur. "Two Days in November" comes from when I was home alone worrying about Clare and Arthur when they were in hospital and I couldn’t visit due to Covid restrictions.

The 3 tracks at the end are collaborations with some special musicians. Namely Sönke Meinen, Innotet and a wonderful multi-instrumentalist who goes by the moniker of Simple Human and has created an intricate vocal harmony part."

Thanks Will, can't wait to hear it.

All the pre order info is here


Dave Holmes. The Kid on the Mountain.

Dave Holmes must have had a similar musical education to me, I learnt all these tunes as well. He now has five Fyldes and another on order. He will have to get a bigger camera.

Back in my youth (don’t say anything, please), the first album I bought was “The Shadows Greatest hits". (didn’t we all?), followed in no particular order by Davy Graham’s “Folk Blues and Beyond”, The Django Reinhardt Ace of Clubs Album, and Dave Swarbrick 's "Rags Reels and Airs" -  it's quite clear which way my interests would take me. 

I learnt all the tunes from Swarb's album, on fiddle, mandolin and guitar, they included “Kid on the Mountain", and this video brings back all sorts of memories.

I'm now trying to remember which albums came next. Captain Beefheart’s Magic Band, John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers, Deep Purple. Then my hair started to go thin and I didn't qualify anymore. Sigh.

Dave has spent his lockdown writing film and TV scores, with a bit of luck he will be back in the West End later this year

Dave Holmes' website


New Banjo Neck for Martin Simpson

I really couldn't decide if I should publicise this. A banjo. Well, a banjo neck. Martin Simpson had discovered a 1923 Gibson Mastertone 4 string and was desperate to turn it into a 5 string. I volunteered, when will I learn? It's taken me nearly a year, largely due to both my hands needing surgery during that time. I'm not blaming Martin for that; I'm just hoping to gain a bit of sympathy. I actually enjoyed doing it, but don't ask me again.

The wooden diamond side inlays were tricky, but I managed eventually, using Ebony and Jelutong. All the Pearl inlays were imported from specialist suppliers and inlaid by hand. The neck is made from a Curly Maple Cello back, it was lovely watching the figure "develop" as I rubbed two stages of stain in over a couple of days, and the final polish really works well. An unusual feature of old banjos is that the sides of the headstock are "vertical", square to the surface of the fingerboard rather than square to the surface of the head, that would normally be done on a "bobbin sander", but of course I did it the hard way.

Martin hasn’t been able to see it yet, I've been teasing him with photographs as I went along.

  • New Banjo Neck for Martin Simpson
 
 
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Martin Simpson Interview

Once more, Martin is talking about his relationships with guitar makers - old and new. Nobody is better qualified to do this- and his "discovery" that the best results come from allowing the maker a large amount of freedom is crucial- without such freedom, we wood nibblers cannot advance. Thank you, Martin, from all of us.

Martin's website


Bubinga Ariel for Sale ~ SOLD

Isn’t this sweet? A perfectly standard Ariel , except that everything is different.

Figured Bubinga back and sides, Chocolate Cedar top, Ebony bindings with delicate red and black purflings, three piece Mahogany neck , again with red and black lines. Ebony fingerboard.

The Ariel has become a Classic design, it never disappoints sound wise, and offers much more than you might expect from such a small guitar.

This one looks and sounds gorgeous.

SOLD

  • Bubinga Ariel For Sale
 
 
  • Bubinga Ariel-LC0A5742
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Strawberry Fylde

A story which would have been lovely if it had worked out. I was offered parts of a Sycamore tree that had been felled in Liverpool's Strawberry Field. I really do hope you know the significance of that. It hadn't been cut in the best way and was likely to be badly stained, despite my advice on how to handle it. The pieces were also rather small, but I think I could have managed a few mandolins or ukuleles. Unfortunately, the man in charge changed his mind. Perhaps there might be some wonderful porridge stirrers or napkin rings made from it soon. How exciting.


John Smith

John's new Album "The Fray" is breaking new ground:

"The response to The Fray has been overwhelming. It crept into some charts and broke head-first into others. It’s been played now all over the UK and US, with Europe and Australia catching up.

When I wrote Hold On, I was about to find myself without a fixed address for six months, as I embarked upon an extended period of moving between houses. We sold up to find out that our new place wouldn’t be available for a few months, so my family spent much of lockdown renting a one-bed lodge on the side of a mountain, where I learned to shovel snow and marvel at the rooks nesting overhead.

When we were finally able to enter our house, I felt instantly and completely at home. After a long, cold winter, my own hiraeth had been satisfied."

John is touring in September - not that long now.

CDs, Vinyl and T-Shirts available on Johns site


Gordon Giltrap

I think I’ve shown this before, but it's a great video and we haven't seen much of GG recently, I love seeing close ups of the players hands. The guitar is very much a one off, and now lives with Troy Donockley of Nightwish.

More video please Gordon

Gordon's website


Remi Harris

Remi warming up to begin touring again soon - I hope.

Watching this makes me realise how much I’ve missed live music, it seems such a long time ago.

Remi’s third album is nearly ready to launch, there is so much to look forward to this year.

Remi's website


Gareth Evans. Billie Jean

Gareth had trouble with copyright for some of his videos recently, but he has overcome that and is back "on line".

This is a great version of the Michael Jackson Classic, and a really good way of teaching it, I always look forward to new videos from Gareth

Gareth's website


Queen of Sheba

This tune of course, is a "classic" of classical music, but I first heard it on a Planxty album about 1974. Since then it's become one of my favourites and I often find new "versions " of it.

This one is so refreshing, and it really makes the point about orchestration and quality - It was written for Oboe and strings, and I didn't imagine that saxophones would "fill all the space” to this extent. I think its lovely. The Misteria Quintet seem to change personnel quite often, but always astonishing.

I once had a dentist who would play the saxophone to his patients while he waited for the anaesthetic to take effect. Fortunately, he was quite good.


What we did on our holidays

Rock of ages

I'm always looking at rocks, sometimes I can see fossils which might have been my ancient ancestors. Sometimes, I see faces, I shouldn't have to tell you " who this is".

Our new car

This was parked behind us at an outdoor cafe, and I did a double take when I stood up to leave.

A Buy to let opportunity

This sign was there a year ago - nobody has bought them. I wonder why?

The dog, the lead, and the legs.


Imagine this: Sitting outside a pub, having a drink and something to eat, along with half a dozen other couples, with light aluminium tables arranged to leave a narrow space for pedestrians, and in particular, dog walkers.

Then imagine this: a lady with a dog on a lead. A very small dog, possibly a doggette or even a doggling, wearing a doggy coat bigger than itself, in fact, resembling a tiny kennel with a head, a tail and four paws sticking out. The lady owner has the doggy on one of those extendable leads, a bit like a fishing line and reel that can be released or wound back in as required. Or not, in this case.

The lead was extended to about eight meters, and the lady was walking in front, completely oblivious to what was happening eight meters behind her.

As she came to the end of the line of tables, she turned sharp right. This was not going to end well.

I think she had forgotten about the dog. The lead was now pulled at right angles around the last table in line, actually against one man’s leg, who stepped over it so that the lead was resting on his other leg. He stepped over that, so the lead was now against his chair leg, I bet you know where this is going don't you?

The dog lead was now forming two sides of a triangle. The dog was small in stature but obviously large in intelligence, maybe even a mathematician. He/she could see that the shortest route to catch up with Momsie was not to follow the line of the lead, but to cut across the third side of the triangle, and even better, an even shorter route, was under a second table, through the legs of another chair, and between the feet of the lady sitting in the chair who was taking a first mouthful from a very full glass.

This is all completely true, but It was one of those "Honestly, Officer, it all happened so quickly " things. I jumped up, the two customers and their partners jumped up and we all shouted " STOP" in unison. Or was it octaves? Of course, the act of standing up took the weight off the tables and chairs and everything began to go very wrong very quickly. The dog lead was being pulled into a noose from both ends, tables were sliding, chairs were tipping over, everybody was holding their drinks and grabbing their food, hopping over the dog and the dog lead while a total of thirty six assorted legs, belonging to tables, chairs, humans and one dog were untangled.

The lady "culprit" hardly paused, not a word was said, Momsie carried on walking, with little doggy tagging along, still eight meters between them, still oblivious.

We were lucky, the next dog that came along was a Great Dane.


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