Martin Simpson at the Studio
Sunday 16 Aug 2009 13:28:00
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Martin Simpson: Friday 4th September

Martin Simpson's guitar playing is unsurpassed; he is one of the finest finger pickers and slide pickers of our time and was recently named one of the top artists of the decade by Acoustic Guitar Magazine. Winner of 5 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards - 2 of them in 2008 for Best Original Song and Best Album - an Indie Award for his album Cool & Unusual, and the 2006 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Ards Guitar Festival, he is a superb interpreter of traditional music and song from both sides of the Atlantic. Both spell-binding, and highly entertaining, he is a master of his craft.


Martin Simpson is one of the world's premiere acoustic guitarists and a powerful songwriter with a rich, charactered voice. His playing, which in part defined the English steel string acoustic guitar sound, is idiosyncratic, instantly recognisable, and revered among guitar fans. His body of work is very diverse encompassing all types of traditional and acoustic music, and he has toured with everyone from June Tabor to Steve Miller.


Martin was born in Scunthorpe, and grew up with the benefit of rather diverse musical influences. His father enjoyed light opera and Victorian parlour ballads. From his older brothers he heard rock, jazz, R&B and blues. He started playing tile guitar when he was twelve and picked up the banjo shortly thereafter. He was fortunate to live in an area rich with great music. As a teenager he was hearing and working with performers like Dick Gaughan, the Watersons, Tim Hart and Maddy Prior of Steeleye Span, Stefan Grossman, Martin Carthy, Nick Jones and Christy Moore. There was a folk club near his home in Scunthorpe, and Martin started going there weekly from the age of twelve. He also hung out at blues festivals where he heard legendary blues performers and got to meet Big Joe Williams.


Martin was playing music professionally from the time he was fifteen. When he was twenty-two he recorded his first Album, Golden Vanity on the Leader Trailer label. The year the album came our (1976), Martin went on tour with Steeleye Span, opening for them in some of the biggest rock venues in England. As his career progressed. Martin also worked with some of Britain's best musicians, including Martin Carthy, Dave Mattacks, Ashley Hutchings, Simon Nicol and Richard Thompson.


In 1985 Martin married Jessica Ratcliffe, an American singer-songwriter and poet. They stayed in England for a few years and recorded their first album, True Dare or Promise for Topic (1987). While living in England, Jessica put together the first of their wonderfully innovative ensembles - the Simpsons' Flash Company - which Martin described to Sing Out! as an "insane five-piece band."


In the early Nineties, Martin & Jessica moved to Santa Cruz California. They recorded Red Roses, their second album together, and Martin released the blues album Smoke and Mirrors. Both were critically acclaimed. In recent projects Martin has ventured into Eastern music, collaborating with Chinese and Indian musicians as well as with guitarist Bob Brozman and a collection of very diverse musicians from Santa Cruz called the Band of Angels. In 1998, in true Simpson fashion, Martin and Jessica relocated again, this time to New Orleans, and Martin recorded a new album 'Cool and Unusual'.


All these albums highlight the elements that make Martin's live performances so splendid - particularly brilliant guitar playing and rich emotional vocals. The diverse collection of songs includes English ballads, traditional Celtic melodies, contemporary folk, and slide-guitar driven blues. No wonder the editors of Guitar Player recently called Martin one of the world's finest acoustic players.

Interviews can be arranged.

Tickets: £11 adv / £12 otd 

Doors open 7.30pm. Artists on stage approx 8.45pm

Tel: 01429 424440 (9am – 5pm Mon – Fri)

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