IF you were pressed to name the world’s greatest acoustic guitar player, few would argue if your first choice was Martin Simpson.
Now based in Sheffield, he is a virtuoso on the instrument who can elicit a round of applause from merely tuning up on stage!
He took an early interest in music, learning to play guitar and banjo and performing at local folk clubs.
He dropped out of college to become a full-time musician and five years later recorded debut album, Golden Vanity. It was also in this period that he toured and performed with June Tabor: they would record three albums together.
In 1985 he moved to the United States where his musical ears picked up on a rich mix of traditional and more contemporary material.
By the time he returned to the UK, he had a string of highly praised albums under his belt, each showing the dexterity and soulful feel of a true master of the guitar.
His career came full circle in 2003 when he teamed up with June Tabor again. In 2004 he surprised everyone by performing at a gig in Nettlebed, Oxford, where he played banjo all evening, without touching a guitar.
He will be at Chesterfield Folk Club next Friday.
MAKING a welcome return as a duo are Stacey Earle and Mark Stuart who will be at the Greystones next Thursday night. A couple of years ago, following deaths in both families, the strain of travelling led the husband and wife to announce that they would no longer work as a duo but would pursue solo careers – each offering support to the other. New album, Dedication came from the healing process which saw them sit down at a baby grand piano and turn out a string of achingly personal songs. This has given them fresh drive and they are back to delight fans with their down-home humour and deceptively sophisticated music.
n A RARE chance to enjoy the combined talents of two of Britain’s finest songwriters and performers comes along next Friday when Allan Taylor and Rab Noakes team up for a show at the Rock@Maltby, at the Wesley Centre, Blyth Road, Maltby. Tonight will feature a singers and musicians night.
TWO festivals are on tap this weekend: Sheffield Sessions Festival will have music heard and played at the Kelham Island Tavern, Hillsborough Hotel, University Arms, Fagans, Grapes, Gardeners Rest and newcomer The Shakespeare. As part of the event, a Rarely Heard concert will be held tomorrow at the Shakespeare, featuring Kate Green, James Reynard, Pete Smith, Tegwyn Roberts, Simon Heywood, Hugh Waller and John and Vic Bowden.
Barnsley Acoustic Roots Festival takes place at Kingstone School, beginning tomorrow with a concert headlined by Acoustic Gathering (featuring former Lindisfarne, Fairport and Albion Band members), plus Fran Smith, Tarras and Stacey Earle and Mark Stuart. A Saturday afternoon concert features Miss Quincy, Walsh & Pound and The Shee. In the evening, Brass Monkey, Jessica Lawson, Walsh & Pound and Earle & Stuart will perform. There are two concerts on Sunday: an afternoon show with Phillip Henry and Hannah Martin, Toy Hearts and London Philharmonic Skiffle Orchestra. In the evening a show will showcase Edward II, Po Girl and Patsy Matheson & Becky Mills.
Steve Knightley is at Bradfield on April 27 and Richard Thompson is at Buxton Opera House on July 26.