Troubadour Martin takes a totally solo LP route
Martin Simpson celebrated his 60th birthday earlier this summer and he celebrates his fifth decade of music-making in the only way he knows – by releasing a new album and sharing it with his fans old and new, with two dates coming up in the Westcountry next weekend.
Called Vagrant Stanzas, it's a beautifully intimate offering, recorded completely solo and released on Topic Records two months ago. This new approach was encouraged by his award-winning close Yorkshire neighbour Richard Hawley, on whose hit album Standing At The Sky's Edge Martin played guitar.
The ambition was to record just one man and his guitar (or banjo), microphoned up close to capture the atmosphere of evenings spent swapping songs across the kitchen table. Played and sung live, most of the performances are first or second takes.
This posed no problem for Martin, who is widely acknowledged as one of the best acoustic and slide guitar players in the world, and frequently passes on his skill and knowledge to others in regular masterclasses. With a remarkable and unsurpassed 26 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards nominations. His 15 years living in the US were well spent and he now successfully combines the diverse elements of traditional British, Afro-American and old-time music.
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His many collaborators include the great and good of the folk and roots world – names like Richard Thompson, June Tabor, Jackson Browne, Danny Thompson, Martin Carthy, Cara Dillon and Martin Taylor.
But for now, it's just the man, his guitars (maybe a banjo) and his songs... what more could you ask for?
Martin Simpson plays Hall at South Zeal, near Okehampton (liveandacoustic.co.uk) on Friday, September 13 and Calstock Arts at The Old Chapel, Calstock (01726 879500) on Saturday, September 14.