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.



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