Eric Klerks – Guitarist extraordinaire for the Magic Band.

Couldn’t leave Eric Klerks out of the show. He was spectacular. That duelling guitar with Denny is the heart of the band. One of the most original and distinctive elements of the Beefheart sound. You have to be an amazing guitarist to master that technique, the notes, rhythms and complex interactions. Beefheart and the Magic Band have been blessed with an array of outstanding guitarists and Eric is up there with the best.

Remembering ROBERT JOHNSON on the day he died: May 8th 1911 – August 16th 1938

If only he had lived to perform in that concert in New York in Carnegie Hall! If only he had gone on to produce fifty years more music! What a performer. What a songwriter. What a guitarist. Even with such a limited number of songs recorded on portable equipment in hotel rooms he knocks the socks off nearly everyone! Genius!

If only that landlord hadn’t poisoned him!!

Today’s Music to keep me SSSsAAaannnEeeeE in Lockdown – John Renbourn – Another Monday

Digging out my Renbourn album – Another Monday – is a joy. It takes me straight back to my little bedroom and that seventeen year-old that I was when I bought it. He’s such a fabulous guitarist.

John Renbourn – Another Monday – YouTube

John Renbourn – I Know My Babe – YouTube

Jon Renbourn – Debbie Anne – YouTube

Nick Harper Gig – Live on air – Weds 13th May!!

Greetings Harpernauts – hope you and yours are well…

Yes, the rumours are true… I’ll be playing an online set from deepest Harperspace this Wednesday night (13 May), in support of my friends at The Railway Inn at this difficult time for all venues. Visit their Facebook page from 8:30pm UK time to watch me, and Native Harrow… and click ‘going’ on the event page for reminders…

Donations to their crowdfunder are not required to watch but are very much appreciated…

#LiveMusicMatters #LoveIsMusic

Nick Harper Gig at Back Room Cottingham – Photos and some words – a sell out!!

1. Nick 2.-NickIMG_0672  Richard

IMG_0667Rich & Lou

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Nick is the most extraordinary guitarist and songwriter and should be the biggest thing around. unfortunately he is yet appreciated on that scale. But then, that can only be to our benefit. We are able to appreciate his brilliance in small intimate clubs like the Back Room in Cottingham.

The gig sold out well in advance and they were turning people away from the door! That’s always sad. My only consolation for all those people who didn’t get in is that Nick has promised to come back and do another gig in the same venue soon!

The night did not go without hitches – Nick’s guitar developed a fault prior to going on and had to have emergency repairs. It took out some of the driving bass sounds but that irritated Nick more than it did the audience. It did nothing to stop people being mesmerised by the brilliance of his unparalleled skills. Paul, who runs the place, and is no mean guitarist and performer, was heard to say ‘How the hell does he do that?’

Nick never ceases to amaze me. I have seen him perform for twenty years now and he continues to grow and become better and better. It is hard to believe how. His voice, with that high range is phenomenal, the guitar and range of skills is beyond anyone else I’ve seen and the song-writing goes ever on.

It’s always a privilege to catch him live.

Thanks to Rich and Lou for the organisation. Nobody knows how much time and effort goes in to putting on an event like this – from the bookings, liaison, posters, tickets, sales, promotion, and general organisation. Who’d be a promoter? But then if nobody did it we’d never get to see the performers and live music would die. Thanks Rich & Lou. You made it possible!

It was also nice to see so many old and new friends turning out to support live music and catch a close-up of the wonderful Nick in action. Together at the gig were a number from Nick’s first ever gig (his first gig ever!) in Hull back twenty years ago – Liz, Rich, Tim, Carl, Eddy and Me!

Great also to see Dexter, Ian & Liz, Chris Barratt (who came in response to my blog – hope you enjoyed it and it was worthwhile!), Mike & Sue, John and Doreen.

There’s never time to talk and catch up at gigs but it is always nice to exchange a few words and smiles.

Thanks to Paul for the great venue and nice beer!

Thanks to Richard for the great support act! Great guitar and humour.

The photos are not brilliant as the lighting was not too conducive. There are a couple that Rich processed that are great though. Thanks Rich.

It was also great finally getting to meet the legendary Paula McBear who came all the way from Edinburgh but is neither Scottish nor ursine! Paula does a great job keeping everyone up to speed and was delightful!

It is good to spend the evening boggling at genius in action and feasting the eyes and ears! I’m already looking forward to the next one!

Thanks Nick – I loved it!

Lastly – a reminder that Rich & Lou’s acoustic Loudhailer events take place at the Back Room every first Thursday of the month! Nice friendly vibe, great music and company. Well worth a visit! Here’s the link:

Loudhailer Acoustic Nights

Jimi Hendrix – Opher’s World pays tribute to a genius.

It always brings a blast of great sadness when I think of Jimi. He was not only one of the most exciting acts I have ever seen but a genius of a musician. I cannot help wondering if he would still be with us today if things had not been so messed up that day when he was found unconscious. Was there a great panic because of the drugs in the house? Did his girlfriend just go to pieces? Were there phone calls and discussion? Was the flat cleared up before the ambulance was called? Did it take longer than it should have done? Then why did the ambulance take so long to arrive?

They are questions that haunt me. It was such a tragic loss. Jimi was only twenty seven years old. The music he was producing was prolific, original, exquisite and well beyond what anybody was doing then or is doing now. Who knows what magic he would have gone on to weave? His imagination was his only limitation.

We all know the stories of Jimi the entertainer. There was no-one who comes near his showmanship. He took on all the antics of the R&B stars like Johnny Guitar Watson, T-Bone Walker, Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters and accentuated them. He played the guitar behind his back, behind his head, between his legs and with his teeth. He played it one handed, with his elbow, smashed it against amps, bounced it off the floor, made love to it and set it on fire. I saw T-Bone Walker playing an amazing set where he played his guitar one handed while walking it around the stage. It was incredible to watch and hear but it did not compare to the excitement of Jimi.

The showmanship alone was sufficient to have made him immortal but that was only the minor part. It was the extraordinary expertise with the guitar that elevated to the heights. He created sounds and invented new methodology that extended the capacity of the instrument beyond its limits. I saw him play riffs and runs on that guitar that blasted your mind while at the same time orchestrating the feedback to provide an electronic chorus that took you into supersonic dimensions. When he brushed the strings with his hand or banged them with his elbow he induced sounds that were extraordinary. When other guitarists used gimmicks such as the wah-wah pedal they were interesting gimmicks. When Jimi used them he mastered them so that they were controlled and integrated. His mind was so sophisticated and complex that he could manipulate all those sounds in his head. He could hear what he wanted to produce and his skills were so great that he could manufacture the sounds that he was hearing in his brain. His mastery was so consummate that he not only played the guitar as an instrument but knew how to create a range of distortions and play them along with it. Nobody else has even come close.

When you add in the distinctive rich voice and song-writing skills you end up with a unique package that places him on a pedestal above all the others. I could, and do, listen to his guitar noodling for hours. I have hundreds of hours of him rehearsing, jamming and just enjoying himself.

At the time of his death Jimi was at a crossroads and was looking to branch out into a series of other directions. All I know is that they would have been extraordinary and we are all the less for being deprived of them.

Four short years was not enough experience!


Nick Harper – Opher’s World pays tribute to a genius.

I love guitar playing. When it comes to guitar playing I have seen all the greats up close playing in small halls – from Jimi Hendrix to Bert Jansch, Jimmy Page to Peter Green, Davy Graham to Eric Clapton; but there is one who stands out for me. The sheer brilliance is beyond anything else I have seen. What Nick can do with a guitar is magical.

The strange thing is that the bending of the strings, the tuning and retuning of strings within songs, the creation of new upside down chords and even the surround sound delay is never a gimmick. It isn’t showing off. It actually works to create great music and the tricks are integral parts of the songs that always add to the composition. Nick expands upon the possibility and generates extensions of improbability.

I have only ever seen one person capable of such a thing and he was Jimi Hendrix. Nick’s limitation, as with Jimi, is merely the extent of his imagination. It goes without saying that Nick’s imagination is of the scope of galaxies. It is phenomenal.

I have been fortunate enough to observe these prodigious talents develop over decades and I never get tired of the crispness and range that those fingers tease or pound out of that instrument. He can make the guitar thunder or trill with delicate melodies. Nick produces music you can get lost in.

If it were only the guitar playing it would be wonderful but limited. But it is so much more. Nick marries this instrumental genius to a voice that is incredible in range and texture and a song-writing ability that is up there with the best. He now has a catalogue of brilliant songs that would challenge any great songwriter of our time barring only a few. The content is both poetic and meaningful. What more could you possibly ask for?IMG_6785

Nick’s live performances are impressive. He is a showman who deploys with and cutting humour along with sharp observation. He is a warm, sensitive but forceful man whose sensibilities are complex and always intelligent and forthright. You never get short-changed at a Nick gig. He puts everything into it.

The one mystery surrounding Nick’s career concerns the level of success he has so far achieved. It boggles me to think that he has not risen to the heights, received the recognition and walked away with the awards. He surely deserves it. His time will undoubtedly come. Skills like his do not go unnoticed forever.