Page 1

David Crosby: “I was supposed to be dead 20 years ago…”

The UK’s only dedicated acoustic monthly. Only £4.95

collings om1-T is this the ultimate om?

jon gomm INTERVIEW + REVIEW + Tuition The complete guide to the Lowden Jon Gomm Signature

interviewed Seth Lakeman Nancy Wilson James TW Suzanne Vega Dan Layus & More

!14

Pages of Tuition Breakthrough bottleneck and fiendish fingerpicking lessons


DaviD Crosby: "I waS SUppoSEd to bE dEad 20 yEarS ago…” ISSUE 125 dEcEmbEr 2016

The uK’s only dedicated acoustic monthly. only £4.95

collings om1-t iS thiS the uLtimate om?

jon gomm

Subscription Hotline

www.facebook.com/acousticmagazine

Tel: 0344 8482852 www.myfavouritemagazines.co.uk Subscription details on page 82

@acousticmag

www.youtube.com/acousticmagazine1

interVieW + reVieW + tuition The compleTe guide To The lowden Jon gomm SignaTure

interviewed Seth Lakeman nancy WiLSon JameS tW Suzanne Vega Dan LayuS & more

12 9 771745 446040

ISSUE 125 dEcEmbEr 2016 Uk £4.95

125

!14

>

Pages of TuiTion brEakthroUgh bottlEnEck and fIEndISh fIngErpIckIng lESSonS

www.acousticmagazine.com Issue 125 December 2016 Editor: Nick Robbins, nick.robbins@futurenet.com Sub-editor: Kate Puttick Design: Chris Sweeney and Jess Riley Studio gear photography: Joseph Branston, Olly Curtis and Joby Sessions Cover photograph: supplied by Lowden Columnists: Raymond Burley, Clive Carroll, Mike Dawes, Chris Eaton, Richard Gilewitz, Chris Gibbons, Gordon Giltrap, Daniel Ho, Leon Hunt, Thomas Leeb, Simon Mayor, Carl Orr, Chris Woods Writers: Bob Battersby, Stephen Bennett, Emily Bielby, Paul Brett, Chris Eaton, Graham Hazelwood, Huw Hopkins, Andy Hughes, Glenn Kimpton, George Henry King, Alun Lower, Joel McIver, Ollie McGhie, Ian McWee, Sean Reid, Alison Richter, Teri Saccone, Paul Strange, Florence Thornton-Weeks, Richard Thomas, Sam Wise CD reviews editor: Julian Piper Advertising: 01225 442244 Distributed to the news trade by Marketforce Subscription rates: For all subscription offers and overseas prices visit www.myfavouritemagazines.co.uk or telephone the subscriptions hotline on 0344 8482852. © Copyright – Future Publishing Limited 2016. Printed in the UK. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form, stored in a retrieval system or integrated into any other publication, database or commercial program without the express permission of the publishers in writing. Under no circumstances should this publication and its contents be sold, loaned out or used by way of trade, or stored or transmitted as an electronic file without the publishers’ prior approval. Disclaimer: While Future Publishing Limited prides itself on the quality of the information its publications provide, the company reserves the right not to be held legally responsible for any mistakes or inaccuracies found within the text of this publication. Acoustic magazine is an independent publication and as such does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of manufacturers or distributors of the products contained within. All trademarks are acknowledged.

Acoustic is proud to support the Music Industries Association.

The root note T

hough you can get somewhat used to the jarring time-jumps associated with working on a four-weekly magazine, I always find this issue the strangest to work on. Writing about Christmas before the clocks have even gone back just seems wrong somehow. But I know there will be plenty out there who are already planning their festive fun: presents already bought, turkeys preordered and the arguments over when you’re seeing different members of the family already well underway. Personally, Christmas will forever be tied to the acoustic guitar, as that was when I received my first guitar – a Yamaha F310 – aged 13. Admittedly, I’d wanted to learn to play drums, but my parents had reasoned that the guitar would be less likely to drive them insane when I was practising. And, in the interest of full disclosure, I’d also – when told that drums were out of the question – expressed an interest in playing electric guitar. But a deal had been struck: practise my acoustic guitar every day for 12 months and I’d get an electric guitar for Christmas next year. Not the most romantic of starts then. No deeply burning passion or Damascene moment in a guitar shop when I took a model off the wall and felt such a connection to it that I just couldn’t walk out of the door without owning it. In fact, the acoustic guitar was my third choice instrument, and one I assumed I’d put down forever after slogging through 12 months of torture to get to the electric Promised Land. I was also set on the path of self-learning. My primary guides would be a beginner’s book that was bundled with the guitar, which had me playing Henry Mancini’s ‘Peter Gunn’ theme within a day, and Total Guitar – now Acoustic’s sister mag in the Future stable. Fast-forward two months and the limit of my abilities was still ‘Peter Gunn’. I was not enjoying picking up the guitar and the idea of practising seemed a waste of time: I simply wasn’t getting better. I remember clearly a Saturday in February when I sat down with

my guitar, Total Guitar and a challenge: I was going to learn to play ‘The Middle’ by Jimmy Eat World, which was tabbed in that issue, by the end of the day or I would give up playing guitar forever. What followed was an arduous and soul-destroying few hours. Not helped, I now realise, by the fact I hadn’t realised the song was in drop D. Even if I had seen that, though, I would have had no idea what it meant. But I carried on. I must have listened to the playalong version of that track 100 times. By the end of the day I could just about muddle through the intro – which is played on the A, D and G strings, so unaffected by my lack of tuning – but that was enough. I’d made a breakthrough. I felt I understood the instrument slightly better. I had experienced that indescribable feeling of hearing music and being able to play it back. I was, by the very loosest definition, a guitarist. By the end of that year I had learned several more intros to pop-rock songs (and what drop D was). Sure, I had no theory knowledge, couldn’t list the notes on the fretboard and couldn’t play any song from start to finish, but I enjoyed playing the guitar. I’ve never forgotten that feeling in the following decade (and a bit). Years on from that, I can remember the first time I saw Jon Gomm play guitar. I knew immediately that his style was something I wanted to copy, combining percussive elements, dexterous fingerpicking and, above all, an ear for what makes a beautiful song. It’s been a real honour, then, to put together this issue, which features not just an interview with Jon, but a review of his new signature guitar and a tuition column on how to add aspects of his style to your playing armoury. So, as weird as it is to write this in October, I’ll sign this column off by saying enjoy the issue… and merry Christmas.

Enjoy the issue. Nick Robbins


Contents

12

issue 125 december 2016

Interviews 12.......................................................................................James TW 16.....................................................................................Dan Layus 20.............................................................................. David Crosby

20

26............................................................................ Seth Lakeman 31.............................................................................Suzanne Vega 36............................................................................. Nancy Wilson 42.................................................................................. Ben Caplan 44....................................................................................Jon Kenzie

46

26

36

6

acoustic magazine december 2016


50

Features 46.............. Special Feature: Jon Gomm & George Lowden 72................................Report: The Holy Grail Guitar Show 75.......................... Nick Benjamin: Thinking Inside The Box 76............................................. New Music: Retune Your Ears 78........................................................... New Music: CD Reviews 98..............................................................................A Funny Note

84

Techniques Gear

84......................Thomas Leeb 86........................... Daniel Ho

54............................................... Lowden Jon Gomm Signature

88.................. Clive Carroll

60........................................................................... Collings OM-1T

90.......................... Leon Hunt

64.........................................................................Martin GPCX1AE

92......................Chris Woods

68............................................ Snail Ukuleles SR-05T & SR-05C

94....................... Chris Eaton december 2016 acoustic magazine

7


news desk

for the latest news visit www.acousticmagazine.com

Country To Country Festival line-up confirmed Brad Paisley, Hunter Hayes, Zac Brown Band and Darius Rucker will perform at the Country To Country Festival 2017 – the UK and Ireland’s largest country music festival. The three-day extravaganza – held over 1012 March – takes place across three venues: London’s O2, Glasgow’s Clyde Auditorium and Dublin’s 3Arena. Other artists announced include: Brothers Osborne, Cam, Chris Young, Dan + Shay, Jennifer Nettles and Maren Morris – who between them boast Grammys, platinum albums and countless Country Music Awards. Milly Olykan, C2C festival director for the O2, said: “We are thrilled to be going into our fifth year of Country to Country – it’s been incredible to have established an event that is so hugely anticipated by country fans and artists alike.  For us to be presenting many new artists for their first time in the UK and Ireland as well as welcoming some back to C2C is fantastic.” Last year’s event saw over 80,000 country music fans take in music from the likes of Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood and Kacey Musgraves. Veteran BBC Radio 2 broadcaster Bob Harris said: “It’s amazing to think that C2C is five years old already and also how quickly it has grown. I am personally thrilled to be at the centre of it all and can’t wait for next March to welcome

© Jim Shea

8

acoustic magazine JULY 2016

back old friends from Nashville and to introduce some new ones.” Head to www.c2c-countrytocountry. com for all the latest artist information and day splits. Tickets are on sale now from: www. axs.com/c2c (08448 24 48 24) and www. gigsandtours.com (0844 811 0051). Tickets for Dublin are available at www. ticketmaster.ie and Glasgow www. gigsinscotland.com (08444 999 990).

Bob Dylan: Nobel Prize winner Bob Dylan became the first musician to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, a move that has caused surprise in the literary world and led the New York Times to declare that the boundaries of literature had been “redefined”. Though the Swedish Academy, who had placed Dylan on the shortlist for the award in previous years, reasoned that he had: “created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”, Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh countered that it was an “ill conceived nostalgia award wrenched from the rancid prostates of senile, gibbering hippies.” Dylan remained, consistent with his character over recent years, reticent to publicly acknowledge the award. He briefly added the phrase ‘winner of the Nobel prize in literature’ to his website, but removed it a day later when the media began reporting on it. His attendance at the award ceremony in Stockholm on 10 December had been cause for debate – and some consternation for the organisers. But some two weeks after the award was announced he revealed in an interview with the Telegraph that he had been left “speechless” by the honour and would attend the award ceremony in person “if at all possible.”


Eddi Reader boosts Beverley Folk Festival line-up Brit-award winner and MBE recipient Eddi Reader will appear at next year’s Beverley Folk Festival, held on 16-18 June. Reader, who is known for her enduring solo career alongside her time with Fairground Attraction, joins the previously announced Martin and Eliza Carthy, Jon Boden and False Lights on the line-up. The festival also announced that Moore, Moss and Rutter, Dallahan and rising UK banjo star Dan Walsh will also be appearing. Festival chairman Matt Snowden said: “We are delighted to be welcoming Eddi Reader to Beverley. Every year we carry out surveys with festival revellers to find out what they liked about the event, what we could improve upon and who they would like to see perform at the festival in the future. With this year’s feedback we kept seeing her name repeated where people were asked to suggest future bookings. We are therefore proud to announce that ‘you asked – we listened’.” The organisers tell us that the aim is to have at least 100 artists performing across the event, totalling over 100 hours of entertainment across the stages. Tickets for Beverley Folk Festival 2017 are currently on sale as part of a special Autumn Gold deal of £95 for a full weekend ticket at www.beverleyfestival.com (offer runs until 16 December). And it’s the same site for all the latest artist announcements and to see the line-up so far.

Martin adds ‘Time-Limited Edition’ trio Three new ‘Time-Limited Edition’ Martin guitars have landed in the UK: the 000-15 Special, D-15 Special and the DR Centennial. The D-15 Special (£1450) carries the satin finish and mahogany back and sides of the 15-Series but is completed by a solid Sitka spruce top, while the 000-15 Special (£1450) has many of the same attributes of the D-15 Special but put together in the popular 00014-fret body size. The DR Centennial is, according to Martin, the “final piece in the celebration of Martin’s ‘100 Years Of The Dreadnought’.” It’s a D-14 fret model with a satin finish on the body and neck that is apparently “smoother than a bar of Galaxy chocolate.” It’s got an Adirondack spruce top that has the ‘Vintage Tone System’, East Indian rosewood back, sides and fingerboard and is finished in ‘antique white’ binding. Head to www.martinguitar.com for more details and visit www. quickfind.me/martin to find your nearest Martin dealer.

New Framus signature model Framus is releasing a new Legacy Acoustic Jörg Nassler Signature model, based on the FD 28 dreadnought. The new guitar is available with or without a cutaway or a Fishman Prefix Premium Blend onboard preamp and will retail from £1308.90 to £1780.15 depending on the configuration. Each model sports a solid AA Sitka spruce top and solid East Indian rosewood back and sides, a mahogany neck and a tigerstripe ebony fingerboard. Nassler said: “Framus successfully built an incredible, versatile instrument with unlimited potential. Both with fingerstyle or when playing with a pick, whether delicate song accompaniment, open tunings or expressive melody over any positions and volumes, it makes an excellent figure in all disciplines. That certainly is because of the meticulous selection of wood

and other components like the handcrafted manufacturing quality in every detail. Above all, the intention of not building just any guitar; they built a guitar with a soul. A very aesthetically pleasing, high-class instrument that goes beyond expectations.” Full details can be found at www.framus.de

August 2013 acoustic magazine


ask the

experts

The MU doles out the advice for those of us looking to sell our guitars

I

t’s something that most musicians will have to do at some point during their careers. Whether you want to upgrade your equipment, change your sound or just free up a little more space, being able to negotiate the often fraught process of selling your instrument is an under-appreciated skill that is well worth acquiring. But what is the best way to go about it?

Finding a place to sell Identifying the best places to sell your gear online is fairly easy. Musical instruments – particularly lower-priced items – crop up regularly on eBay and Gumtree. However, both come with a warning. eBay’s fee structure has recently changed, and perhaps most significantly, the company has abolished the £40 upper limit on its final value fee, meaning it might be less of a bargain than it once was. You should also try looking at dedicated forums for your chosen instrument. Many include a facility to insert small ads in return for a small fee that gives you access to their classifieds for a whole year – considerably less than the commission now charged by eBay. This way, you’ll get directly to a host of apt customers. [Ed – don’t forget the Acoustic:

For Sale section at the back of the mag.] Quite often the final deal will be done in person. That’s the good side. The downside is that occasionally you’ll come across time wasters who just want a go on your guitar. Of greater concern is when something goes wrong with a sale – so make sure you know the instrument inside out before you sell.

How to list it Write a proper description of the item you are selling. Ask yourself ‘what might the buyer want to know about the instrument?’ and write enthusiastically but specifically. Be clear about what kind of condition it

is in, and honest. If it’s got scratches or marks, mention them – not doing so could put your reputation as a seller at risk. Take photographs and show the instrument from every angle. Make sure they are as high quality as possible, well-lit and in a good setting. Finally, price it fairly. If you’re unable to get it properly valued, do your research and look around at similar items to try and discern what would most likely be a fair price for your instrument. Ask around what makes and models like yours are fetching. For more valuable instruments it is advisable to get a valuation and make contact with a dealer face-to-face. One option is to sell to that dealer there and then, which, in many cases, you could do in return for a commission fee. However, these usually start around the 20 per cent mark, and there is no guarantee your instrument will sell. Another – if your instrument is worth four figures – is to go to an auction house. Great if you have something of value, but still look out for those pesky commission fees. Of course, whatever the price you’re looking for, you are always going to come across chancers who’ll ask you to drop the price. The online world can be hazardous, so look out for suspicious deals or anything too good to be true too.

Exchanging Finally, when the sale is complete, be prompt dispatching your instrument and pack it well. If you’re selling online, remember to leave feedback, thereby preserving (and maybe enhancing) your reputation as a seller. It’s okay to ask for feedback in turn. Even if you’re not a wheeler dealer type, the chances are that – whether buying or selling – at some point you’ll need to dive back into the world of instrument trading once more... n For more specialist advice, visit the Musicians’ Union at theMU.org.

december 2016 acoustic magazine

11


interview james tw

j a m e s

tw

Getting ready to take 2017 by storm, we spoke to rising star James TW straight after he’d wowed the crowds at Barn on the Farm Festival about his musical roots and making as much noise as possible Words: Florence Thornton-Weeks

F

rom the way the crowd gathered at Barn On The Farm festival, you’d have been forgiven for thinking that Ed Sheeran had wandered onsite for a quick set. But the throngs were there to see rising star James TW, an 18-year-old singer-songwriter who’s racked up major label and major gear support in a frighteningly short amount of time. His percussive, loop pedal-led acoustic stylings smack of Sheeran, but he’s got a youthful sweetness that makes you think of the Gabrielle Aplins and Hudson Taylors of this world. It’s not all sweetness and light though – he’s not shy about tackling the big issues in his lyrics, showing a maturity as a songwriter and storyteller well beyond his tender years. When he finally batted off the last remaining fans, he made his way to meet us among the hay bales of a nearby barn, all while laughing at how rustic this festival was. Though he has already played at SXSW in Texas, the NAMM show in Anaheim and what he classes as “a small set” at Great Escape in Brighton, he insists: “This is my first real festival because it has grass… that’s how a festival should be! “I love festivals,” he adds. “I can’t wait to go to some more festivals without playing and just take in the music. I love all different types of music: from dance music to acoustic music, to funky music, to jazz… I would drink that in for a whole weekend.”

12

acoustic magazine december 2016

James first got into music when he was 10 years old. His dad was playing in a wedding band on the weekends when he saw a news bulletin about drumming being good for stress and bought a kit for his son. “My first call of duty was when the drummer of my dad’s band couldn’t make a gig last minute. They thought ‘do we let the ten year old play,

“When playing in pubs I found that if I could make more noise, people would pay more attention” or do we cancel the show?’ and they ended up letting me step in. That was really the first time I’d ever felt incredibly passionate about anything – there was something about being in front of people, making people dance and making people happy.” A couple of years later, after literally discovering his voice, James picked up a

guitar and started to write his own songs: “My two favourite albums when I started were Damien Rice’s O, which is obviously very acoustic driven, and Songs About Jane by Maroon 5, which got me interested in kind of the more funky thing, but I went for the acoustic thing because that felt most natural to me.” When you listen to his lyrics it’s so easy to imagine a man who has seen and done it all – his words about love, heartbreak and emotional turmoil are widely relatable – but, as he admits, he took a bit of time to find his feet as a songwriter. “When I started writing songs, I was like ‘Come on, I can write songs, man’ and then I look back at my first songs like ‘Oh, James!’” Though he left school after his AS Level exams, education still plays a major part in his life, as he spends some of his nowprecious free-time time teaching guitar. One of his students was the inspiration behind recent single ‘When You Love Someone’. “I found out that his parents were getting divorced before he knew himself,” he says. “I was just thinking how on earth do you go about explaining something like that to someone so young, someone who has no idea of the concept of love and relationships, and how do you tell him in a way that won’t make him upset? So I wanted to write a song that he could listen to – and that other kids could listen to – and make them realise that it’s actually for the best.”


Profile for Future PLC

Acoustic 125 (Sampler)  

You can subscribe to this magazine @ www.myfavouritemagazines.co.uk

Acoustic 125 (Sampler)  

You can subscribe to this magazine @ www.myfavouritemagazines.co.uk