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Page 1: Martin Simpson.pdf

Martin Simpson

For the Isle of Wight-based British paleontologist,see Martin I. Simpson. For the Whitby-based Britishgeologist (1800-1892), see Martin Simpson (geologist).

Martin Stewart Simpson (born 5 May 1953) is an En-glish folk singer, guitarist and songwriter. His music re-flects a wide variety of influences and styles, rooted inBritain, Ireland, America and beyond.

1 Biography

Martin Simpson was born in Scunthorpe, England. Hetook an early interest in music, learning to play the guitarand banjo and performing at local folk clubs. In 1970,he dropped out of John Leggott College[1] to become afull-time musician.In 1976 he recorded his first solo album Golden Vanity.In the same year he opened for Steeleye Span on their UKtour. Martin also toured and performed with folk singerJune Tabor, who did not play an instrument herself. Theywould later record three albums together.In 1985 he moved to Bloomington, Indiana and marriedAmerican singer Jessica Radcliffe, and shortly afterwardsthey relocated to Ithaca, NewYork. During the decade hecontinued recording a mix of traditional and more con-temporary material, including several entirely instrumen-tal albums.Notable work in the 1990s included, in 1995, an albumwith Chinese pipa play Wu Man, Music for the Mother-less Child. The album was produced in a single session,between 7:00pm and 2:30am,[2] and blends western andChinese improvisational approaches, although five of itssix tracks come from British or US traditions. In a simi-lar vein wasKambaraMusic in Native Tongueswith DavidHidalgo from “Los Lobos” and violinist Viji Krishnan, amix of Hindu and contemporary songs.Not until 1999 did he record several of his own compo-sitions on Bootleg USA. It was then, along with JessicaRacliffe, that he co-founded a record label called “HighBohemia”. During his 1994 visit to the UK, he recordedMartin Simpson Live in Oxford. In 1999 he was a sessionmusician for an album byWelsh singer JulieMurphy. TheBramble Briar (2001) was a turn to basics, a collection ofEnglish traditional folk songs.2003 saw the release of Righteousness and Humidity, aset focusing almost exclusively on music from the Deep

South, played on a variety of instruments and featuringSteeleye Span's Rick Kemp. This recording was a nom-inee for BBC folk awards album of the year in 2004.Simpson won the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards in 2004 inthe category of Best Musician.[3] This was followed in2005 by Kind Letters in which he mines once again therich seams of English folk music which proved so fruitfulfor The Bramble Briar.In 2007 Simpson released Prodigal Son. The 2008 BBCRadio 2 Folk Awards voted it as best album. The fRootscritics poll voted it as the 7th best new album of 2007.It is a mixture of traditional songs and Simpson origi-nals, the highlights of which possess a distinctly southernAmerican flavor. Jackson Browne, Kate Rusby and KellieWhile guest star here. In December 2007 he performedon Later... with Jools Holland.Simpson has written guitar instruction books andrecorded DVD guitar tutorials. His career came full cir-cle in 2003 when he teamed up with June Tabor again.In 2004 he surprised everyone by performing at a gig inNettlebed, Oxford, where he played banjo all evening,without touching a guitar. A readers’ poll of the magazineAcoustic Guitar voted him as number 12 in the world in2005. Martin is now married to Kit Bailey, the daughterof the singer Roy Bailey, with whomMartin occasionallyperforms. Martin and Kit now live in Sheffield and havea young daughter, Molly.Performances of note to the general public include a 2007appearance on Jools Holland's BBC show and a half hourset at the Proms on 20 July 2008 broadcast on BBC4.[4]

2 Awards and recognition

He has been nominated 23 times in the 11 years of theBBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, including nine times consec-utively as Artist of The Year, which he has won twice.His album Prodigal Son was named album of the year in2008 and a song from that album, “Never Any Good” wasnamed best original song of the year.The accompanying book to the Topic Records 70 yearanniversary boxed set Three Score and Ten lists ProdigalSon as one of Topic’s classic albums.[5]:94 Never AnyGoodfrom the album is track seven on the fifth disk in the boxedset and Masters of War from Grinning In Your Face istrack four of the sixth disk. He was a session musician onJune Tabor’s album Aqaba which is another of the classicalbums.


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Martin Simpson is regarded by many as one of the mostskilled folk guitarists currently playing on the British andAmerican folk scene.

3 Instruments

While best known as an acoustic guitarist, Martin origi-nally started out as a banjo player, and also plays the elec-tric guitar. Martin’s main performance instruments are:

• Paul Reed Smith Angelus - Martin currently en-dorses PRS acoustic guitars, and his signature modelis available to purchase

• Stefan Sobell Martin Simpson Signature Model - formany years, Martin’s main performing guitars weremade by British luthier Stefan Sobell, and his signa-ture model can be purchased to special order

Martin is also known to have owned and played guitars bya number of renowned American luthiers including ErvinSomogyi, Jeff Traugott and Bill Tippin, as well as Britishluthiers such as Ralph Bown.

4 Discography

4.1 Solo albums

• Golden Vanity (1976)

• Special Agent (1981)

• Grinning in Your Face (1983)

• Sad or High Kicking (1985)

• Nobody’s Fault But Mine (1986)

• The Pink Suede Bootleg (Limited Edition Cassette -1987)

• Leaves of Life (1989) - instrumentals.

• When I Was on Horseback (1991)

• A Closer Walk with Thee (1994) [6][7]

• Smoke and Mirrors (1995)

• Cool and Unusual (1997) - mainly British traditionalballads.

• Bootleg USA (1999)

• The Bramble Briar (2001)

• Righteousness and Humidity (2003) - collection ofAmerican blues, played on acoustic and steel guitar,and banjo.

• Kind Letters (2005)

• Prodigal Son (2007)

• True Stories (2009)

• Purpose + Grace (2011) (UK chart peak: #106)[8]

• Vagrant Stanzas (2013)

4.2 Live

• Live (recorded 1994, Oxford) (1997)

• 61 Highway (1999)

4.3 Collaborations

Martin and Jessica Ruby Simpson

• True Dare or Promise (1987)

• Red Roses (1995)

• Band Of Angels (1996)

Martin Simpson and June Tabor

• A Cut Above (1980)

Martin Simpson and Wu Man

• Music for the Motherless Child (1996)

Martin Simpson, David Hidalgo and Viji Krishnan

• Kambara Music in Native Tongues (1998)

Martin Simpson, Jessica Radcliffe and Lisa Ekstrom

• Beautiful Darkness (2001)

4.4 Other compilations

• The Collection (1992)

• The Definitive Martin Simpson (2005)

• Three Score and Ten (2009)

• The Full English (2013)

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4.8 Book 3

4.5 Martin Simpson as session musician

• Andrew Cronshaw: Earthed in Cloud Valley (TrailerLER 2104) (1977)

• Hot Vultures: The East Street Shakes (1977)

• Andrew Cronshaw: Wade in the Flood (HighwayLTRA 508) (1978)

• Hot Vultures: Up The Line (1979)

• June Tabor: Abyssinians (1983)

• June Tabor: Aqaba (1988)

• Albion Band: Lark Rise To Candleford (1980)

• John & Mary: The Weedkiller’s Daughter (1993)

• Julie Murphy: Black Mountain Revisited (1999)

• Chris Leslie: The Flow (2002)

• June Tabor: An Echo of Hooves (2003)

• June Tabor: At The Wood’s Heart (2005)

• Roy Bailey: Sit Down and Sing (2005)

• Cara Dillon: After The Morning (2006)

• Various Artists: Rubber Folk (2006) (Beatles Trib-ute)

• Lorne MacDougall: Hello World (2010)

4.6 Role in the Albion Band

He was one of the pool of musicians who played with theAlbion Band during their residency at the National The-atre, London, playing for Bill Bryden's company, mainlyin the Cottesloe theatre. He appears on the recordingof music from Lark Rise to Candleford, although the al-bum’s attributions are inaccurate.

4.7 DVDs

• Acoustic Guitar Instrumentals - Martin Simpson Vol1 (1993)

• Martin Simpson Teaches Alternate Tunings (2002)

• Instrumentals 2 (2005)

• Martins 4 (2005) - Martin Carthy, Martin Simpson,Martin Taylor and Juan Martin.

• In Concert At The Freight and Salvage (Berkeley,California) (2005)

• Guitar Maestros - Martin Simpson (2006)

• Prodigal Son - The Concert (2009)

4.8 Book

• Cool and Unusual: Creative Fingerstyle Guitar Solos(2000).

5 References[1] “Significant Alumni”. John Leggott College. 2012. Re-

trieved 27 January 2012.

[2] Music for the Motherless Child album notes.

[3] “BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards”. BBC. 2004. Retrieved 27January 2012.

[4] “Martin Simpson — Biography”. martinsimpson.com.2012. Retrieved 27 January 2012.

[5] Three Score and Ten Accompanying Book

[6] Gioffre, Daniel. Martin Simpson: A Closer Walk WithThee at AllMusic. Retrieved 24 August 2015.

[7] Martin Simpson – A Closer Walker With Thee [sic] atDiscogs

[8] “Chart Log UK: New Entries Update 17 September 2011(wk36)". zobbel.de. 2011. Retrieved 27 January 2012.

• Martin Simpson Home Page

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6 Text and image sources, contributors, and licenses

6.1 Text• Martin Simpson Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Simpson?oldid=677653316 Contributors: SGBailey, Paul A, Alison, Fer-dinand Pienaar, Ogg, Rjwilmsi, Srleffler, Diogenes00, Kazikameuk, Gaius Cornelius, Jeremy Butler, Zanoni, SmackBot, OrphanBot, BruceEsrig, Johncmullen1960, Smerus, Felix-felix, Catapult, Joshua Scott, Theshadowgallery, Istanbuljohnm, Sakurambo, Sgt. codfish, Cyde-bot, PamD, [email protected], JustAGal, Dawkeye, MrMarmite, Exclaim, Rothorpe, Luteman, Cgingold, Fourpad, The Ginge, SuW,Montgomery-Swan, BOTijo, Sealman, Cjc13, Brenont, Mr.Z-bot, KeyserSoze93, Slider1968, Aharrygill, Auntof6, Jo Weber, Reme-berozma, Berean Hunter, XLinkBot, WikHead, Officially Mr X, Tassedethe, Yobot, YeshuaDavid, Cinematograph, Sabrebd, Jcheckler,Johnsongwriter54, Msimpson607, Full-date unlinking bot, RjwilmsiBot, Subvert47, L235, Nowhereman1991, GullyWalker, VIAFbot,Pmacgiolla, Berossos, Ruggi66, Narky Blert, KasparBot and Anonymous: 41

6.2 Images

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