Thursday, May 11, 2006


Guitar Man by Will Hodgkinson
[Bloomsbury 2006]
A Six-String Odyssey or You Love That Guitar More Than You Love Me

At the age of 34, Will – who had been told he was tone deaf at school, decides not only to learn the guitar and but also commits himself to performing before a live audience in six months time by boasting to all his friends.

In particular, he wants to learn and play ‘Anji’ by Davy Graham – a tricky but seminal guitar instrumental, recorded by Paul Simon and Bert Jansch amongst others.

Having exhausted the advice of immediate friends and colleagues, he begins roaming further afield and chats and take lessons from Johnny Marr and Bert Jansch. He goes to the States and meets Roger McGuinn in Orlando, travels to Nashville, Memphis and New York and on his return, buys an electric guitar and meets the legendary eccentric/reclusive Davy Graham himself.

In addition, he learns about such outsiders as Teddy Paige and Jackson C. Frank and such masters as Django Reinhart, Robert Johnson, Link Wray and Charlie Christian, and about the whole history of the instrument from Renaissance times to the present day.

The author if a born story teller with a delightful touch, who deftly interweaves these experiences and encounters with accounts of his attempts to form a band called Double Fantasy, and rehearse them in the basement of his family home and the impact that his whole adventure has on private life, especially on his long-suffering partner NJ. All ends happily in a successful gig and a final leeson from Jansch, who patiently takes him through ‘Anji’ until he more or less gets the hang of it.,

What could have been mawkish in the wrong hands, is instead, truly informative and inspiring. - a joyful, amusing, engaging book that should be read by anybody whose trying to learn or planning to learn the guitar. Also by anybody who plays guitar or is remotely interested in the instrument.

Read Will Hodgkinson's article on Davy Graham in The Guardian: 'The Original Guitar God'

There is definitely a resurgence of interest in this beatnik pioneer. I well remember some years back now, excitedly discovering ‘Folk, Blues and Beyond’, originally recorded Decca in 1964 with Gus Dudgeon on the desk (now available again on Topic) and it remains my favourite – a perfect blend of styles and genres, way ahead of its time and highly influential.

Also re-released of late is another stunner – ‘Folk Roots, New Routes – by Davy Graham with Shirley Collins [A Wing and a Prayer 2005} which startlingly juxtaposes the pure trad folk voice and tunes of Shirley with esoteric and adventurous guitar work from Graham.

So enamoured did I become that I made strenuous efforts to track Graham down and book for one of our ‘New Beat Experience’ events in Brighton. No joy unfortunately.

Davy Graham Official site:
Apparently DG is at work on a new album called Fahrenheit and Centigrade
Outright Records:
Find out more about Davy Graham and past releases
Davy Graham discography:

Just been to see this remarkable music film at our local arthouse cinema (Duke of York’s in Brighton). A documentary journey, directed by Fatih Akin, through the musical underworlds of the music of Istanbul in the company of Alexander Hacke who records an extraordinary range of music – from heavy rap, experimental, Turkish pop, Romany and Kurdish to Pink-Floydie eastern psychedelia and much more. Moving and inspiring and a must see.
[The soundtrack album and book of the film are available. DVD is out on June 26th]

Here is the synopsis from the official press pack. Further details from the movies' official site:

'A maverick in Istanbul. ALEXANDER HACKE, a member of the German avant-garde band EINSTÜRZENDE NEUBAUTEN for more than 20 years, first came into contact with the city and its music while producing the score for the movie HEAD-ON (GEGEN DIE WAND). In Istanbul he met the members of the neo-psychedelic band BABA ZULA. When their bass player dropped out, he was asked to sit in for her. Alex Hacke is a collector of musical styles and loves to experiment with sound, and so it didn’t take much to persuade him. But he didn’t just bring his bass guitar, but also a complete mobile recording studio, including his “magic mike”, which he has used to capture exotic sounds from all over the world. He calls his approach to collecting sounds “street recording”, and it allows him to make professional recordings just about anywhere.

And so he sets out to capture the musical diversity of Istanbul onto his hard drive. His aim is to expose western ears to the broadest possible spectrum of Turkish music, ranging from modern electronic sounds, rock and hip-hop, right down to classical “Arabesque” music. FATIH AKIN, director of HEAD-ON, accompanies him with his camera and shoots a portrait of Istanbul’s lively music scene, whose music suffuses every part of the city, and which is dearly loved by all of its inhabitants. Hacke’s home base is the venerable Büyük Londra Oteli (Grand Hotel de Londres) in Istanbul’s district of Beyoglu, probably the most “European” spot in all of Turkey. From here he wanders through an alien, contradictory, lively, and seductive world, collecting impressions and tracks, drifting along in the unstoppable stream of this mega city of myriad facets.

But no hard drive or film can do justice to the diversity and overwhelming force of musical and visual impressions this city generates. With this experience he finally returns home, a musical treasure in his baggage, which now needs to be sifted and presented to the world.'


Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros – Streetcore [Hellcat Records 2003]
Amadou & Mariam: 1990-1995 The Best of the African Years [Syllart Productions 2005]
Toumani Diabate’s Symmetric Orchestra [World Circuit 2006]
Hamilton de Holanda – Samba do Avião [Kind of Blue 2006]
Anouar Braham – Le Voyage de Sahar [ECM 2006]
The Django Reinhardt Festival: Live At Birdland
[Kind of Blue 2006]

Alligator Records 35 x35 (35 Songs, 35 Years of Genuine Houserockin’ Music) [2006].
The R&B Scene [Deram 1998]
The Blues Scene [Deram 1999]
Feber 2: Andres Lokko Folk [Amigo Musik 2005]
Play Back (Good Music Re-visited) [Sony BMG 2005]

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