A YouTube Pick (# 5) – Martin Simpson

Tommy Emmanuel is a monster acoustic guitar player and in the past I have reviewed some of his You Tube performances – Tommy Emmanuel. His forte seems to be in the country / pop arena and while that is fine there is a whole world of music and many guitar players that never make it to the front page of the “show bis” press. The one guitar player that immediately comes to mind is Martin Simpson. Martin celebrated his 60th birthday recently so he Martin Simpson 2.has been around a long time. He first came to my attention when he performed several times at the Studio Stage Door in Cranbrook. That was many years ago in the late 90’s and I have been hooked on his music ever since. He is not a pop musician. His music has a lot more substance than that. He started out in the traditional music scene in Britain and for a significant period of time he was the accompanist for June Tabor (who can forget their version of Richard Thompson’s Strange Affair). Martin has always been a restless individual traveling the world. He was a resident in North America for a number of years before returning to Britain. He plays music from all across the musical spectrum. His emphasis has always been on music with a solid traditional basis. His guitar and banjo playing has always been noted for spectacular precision and beautiful sound. I think that is what really set him apart from most other performers. He has a natural acoustic sound that your average acoustic guitarist would absolutely die for. I know a lot of people don’t care for his singing but I find his voice is more than appropriate for the material he performs. In fact I rather like it. So the attached You Tube video below is basically an interview in which Martin takes the opportunity to display and review the instruments that are part of his professional arsenal. It is interesting to note that he is not particularly interested in vintage instruments. He is a great believer in modern instruments and, with the exception of only one Martin guitar, all his instruments are modern instruments hand crafted by some of the top luthiers of today. I am of the same mind. Why spend thousands and thousands of dollars on instruments whose value has been inflated by the collectors who may only want to hang the guitar on the wall? Isn’t it better to spend $5,000 – $10,00  on a superbly crafted modern instrument that can only improve with age. Martin also takes the opportunity to demonstrate his technique, tunings and approach to music. The side trip into how he prepares his nails is also of interest. For British Columbians his recent acquisition of a hand crafted Romero Banjo (27 minutes into the video) should give us some sense of pride in that a local luthier has proven to be more than note worthy on the international scene …… Romero handcrafted custom instruments . So here he is – Martin Simpson, his instruments, superb sound and technique. Enjoy………………………

and here is a bonus of June Tabor and Martin Simpson performing Richard Thompson’s Strange Affair. Written by the Sufi poet Si Fudul al-Hawari, translated and set to music by Richard Thompson.



It’s a long way from Buenos Aires – The Gabriel Palatchi Band


Yes, it is a long way from Buenos Aires, Argentina to the Rocky Mountains of British Columbia. But the Argentinean  Gabriel Palatchi has made the trip with many stops along the way to sharpen his musical skills and soak up the some interesting musical vibes. Gabriel plays piano and keyboard. Along the way he also managed to pick up the crack-a-jack rhythm duo of Tony Ferraro on drums and Doug Stephenson on 5 string electric bass. Now most people know my aversion to loud drummers but for Tony I more than make an exception. He is loud, sure, but he works so hard at being musical that the loudness is not a factor. It seems that everything he plays ends up in the perfect sonic space. He is probably one of the best drummers I have come across in recent years.  On bass Doug doesn’t appear to work as hard but that is probably an allusion because he looks like he is having way too much fun and how could that possibly be work? Both of these master musicians reside in the West Kootenays and the question that must be asked is why are they hiding away in the jungles of British Columbia? Their answer is that it is purely a life style choice. Sure, they could make it in the big smoke but at what cost? The music they played on Saturday night can only be described as high octane improvised jazz with many overlays of Latin, Funk, Tango, Reggae, Klezmer,  Brazilian and whatever else Gabriel manages manages to pull out to the air. With the exception of Juan Tizol’s Caravan and Ahmad Jamal’s Poinciana  most of the compositions played where originals. Caravan was an absolute tornado of variations on the original classic jazz tune plus quotes from all across the American Song Book. Even Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue appeared in the mix. Caravan was written in the late thirties by Duke Ellington’s valve trombone player Juan Tizol and there must be a million interpretations out there. Think about it; a tune that has been around for over 70 years that can still be fresh and exciting. I have yet to hear a version that does not work. At the bottom of this page there is a link to a couple of Gabriel’s YouTube performances. Once again the production team at Centre 64 has come up with another winner. They don’t seem to able to come up anything less than the exceptional. Although Gabriel resides in Mexico he does a tour through this part of the world every summer and hopefully we will see him back here next year. Here are some images from the evening.

208. Gabriel Palatchi  220. Gabriel Palatchi     292. Gabriel Palatchi     

424. Doug Stephenson544. Tony Ferraro





404a. Doug Stephenson254. Gabriel Palatchi    262. Gabriel Palatchi   258. Gabriel Palatchi      260. Gabriel Palatchi513. Tony Ferraro    515. Tony Ferraro    517. Tony Ferraro412. Doug Stephenson  008. Header549. Tony Ferraro270. Gabriel Palatchi   300. Gabriel Palatchi  426. Doug Stephenson

547. Tony Ferraro

So once again a big thanks must go to all the volunteers and sponsors – The Burrito Grill, Mountain Spirit Resort and Ray’s Music. Mike Redfern finished up the evening with the wonderful news that Jim Webster and Anita Iacobucci have donated $3,000 dollars towards the installation of professional theater lights in the Centre 64 Studio. The money comes from the proceeds of the recent Music on the Mountain event. As a photographer I am very excited at the prospect of the difference enhanced lighting will make to my photos.

Here are some YouTube clips……..


Music behind the Green Door – Sophiella Watt and the Huckleberry Bandits

Soph Poster 15x11
On Saturday, August 22, 2015 the Green Door in the Platzl in Kimberley continued with their policy of live music by presenting Sofiella Watt and the Huckleberry Bandits. The opening act on the patio at 7pm was Rod Wilson on vocals, 12 String 020. My name in lightsGuitar and Cittern. At around 08:15 Sophie and her crew kicked off their portion of the evening by performing a couple of songs out in front of the Green Door  in the platzl. The weather quickly got chilly so they issued an invitation to everybody to move inside for more music, food and good cheer. That was the beginning of a night of unique music. The musicians are all, at the moment, residents of Nelson and, true to the Nelson norm, their music was outside the box. It is essentially acoustic based but not BlueGrass, not Old Timey, not Country, not exactly folk and certainly not pop/rock. In a nutshell this was “Sofiella Watt and the HuckleBerry Bandits and this is what they do”. Members of the band included Sophie Watt on vocals, open back banjo, guitar and washboard percussion; David Reid on back up vocals, mandolin, harmonica and guitar; Jimmy Mayer on vocals, open back banjo and guitar; Jakob Simek back up vocals and upright bass and tucked way in back on drums Lee Campese. Out side in the platzl Lee hauled out a magnificent Gon Bop Cajon to provide the appropriate percussive rhythm.

In their own words “If we were a wanky wine label, we would read something like this: …a motley mix of winsome folk, bruised with blues and infused with banjo. A full bodied country blend, with heady jazz notes, and spicy gypsy undertones”. Sofiella Watt and Huckleberry Jim are an independent folk duo hailing from the East Coast of Australia. 2013 marked the release of the EP “To Friends Of The North Wind”, and saw these two huckleberry nomads commencing a 20 show tour over four Australian states, from Melbourne to Darwin! Since relocating their guitars, banjo and washboard to Nelson, BC, the duo have formed Sofiella Watt and the Huckleberry Bandits; with Lee Campese on drums, Jakob Simek on upright bass, and David Reid on mandolin. The group recently received ‘Best Folk/Country/ Roots Act’ in the Kootenay Music Awards, and have been getting many feet stomping across BC and Alberta with their unique brand
of gypsy folk-a-billy-blues. The troupe will be touring throughout the summer, promoting their fresh off the press self-titled EP. ! Here they are outside the Green Door in the Platzl enticing patrons to come on inside for more good times, good food and very interesting sounds.

106.Outside  110. Jimmy Maher   120. Sophie Watt  112. David Reid  116. Lee Campese on the Cojon 132. Outside  134. Sophie Watt 130. Sophie Watt

Once inside the light was warmer and the fun continued unabated with a whole bunch of homespun originals that included Old Man Trouble, Junkyard Betty, Gypsy Green Eyes, Mama’s Got a Secret, and a cover of Tom Waits’ Chocolate Jesus.

200. Sophie Watt   314. David Reid   436. Jimmy Maher206a. Sophie Watt  512. Jakob Simek   222. Sophie Watt  434. Jimmy Maher316a. David Reid   208. Sophie Watt   244. Sophie Watt212. Sophie Watt318. David Reid   218. Sophie Watt  402. Jimmy Maher346. David Reid228. Sophie Watt432. Jimmy Maher700. Jakob, Jimmy and Sophie

This was a night of very entertaining music. So much so that the organizers of Cranbrook’s Summer Sounds and Kimberley’s summer festivals should take a note and add Sophellia and the Huckleberry Bandits to their “must have” list for next year’s music scene.