Q&A: Jun/Jul/Aug, Part VII
9/1/2010 (updated 1/3/2011)

Hi Richard: I hope this doesn't irritate you - your command of the language would ensure me a swift death (I'm already worried if that should be a semi-colon or a colon rather than a dash. My old English teacher told me never to trust anyone who misplaced a semi-colon). Anyway, my two favourite musicians are Richard Thompson and Neil Young. Have I detected in the past that you are less enthusiastic about my second choice? Also, have you ever read The Deserted Village by Oliver Goldsmith? I think you'd love it - but then I also love Neil. Very best wishes for the future.

I hate it when people say of me that they only like the earlier stuff, so it is with some unease that I declare that I do prefer early Neil Young, with the Springfield, and then the first 2 solo albums. Definitely some great stuff since, but it seems more concentrated back then. My head suitably laid on the chopping block. Haven't read the Goldsmith, I'll search it out, thank you.

Do you get tired of so much emphasis being put on your guitar playing? While it is amazing, you also write the most beautiful songs. bright moments, Philip

I'm glad of any listeners, for what ever reason.

My wife and I attended the show of political songs included in your Meltdown Festival. Can you tell me please who the excelllent backing musicians were? I think the guitarist was Neill MacColl, but I have no idea who the bass player and drummer were. Thanks. Bob Dubery - Johannesburg, South Africa

Musicians in the band at the Political Night, Meltdown Festival:
Martyn Barker on Drums and Cajon.
Ben Nichols on bass
Neill MacColl on guitar
Chaim Tennebaum on mandolin, banjo, harmonica and sax
Kate St. John on oboe, cor anglais, accordion, sax and piano

I would like any info as to the story behind the lyrics of Miss Patsy, been a R.T fan since his Fairport days, cheers. Dave Hiles

There is no story, it's just a girl song.

Are you ever going to post or release the song you played at Appel Farm Folk Festival in Elmer NJ about erectile dysfunction? The translation to sign language was magnificent! Colin

It didn't seem to go over too well - maybe too explicit - so I don't do it any more. I agree about the translation!

You frequently use a capo, so I figured I might as well seek advice from one of the best before trying elsewhere - I'm in the market for a new capo (the one I've been using for years now seems to be losing it's grip at times; it's one of those old steel capos with the bar that swings around) What is the best type (or brand) of capo that you have used? Any recommendations? Thanks in advance, Alex Layne

The old steel ones with the bar that swings round, if I'm getting the right picture, tend to make holes in the neck. They are a bit slow, too. The Shubb is an excellent, inexpensive capo that's easy to use, has good tuning, and the rubber parts can be replaced. My favourite is the G7, more expensive, but really the Rolls Royce of capos, easy to apply, very in tune, and fast release. Looks sexy too, and will earn you admiring glances at any folk night or hootenanny. Beware of capo envy with this product - I lose a few.

I've tried "Foxes" in Drop D, Open D, DADGAD, you name it, but I'm afraid I'm sadly outfoxed. Help! Thanks, Jon Sensbach

This was played on Henry Kaiser's "Nashville high-strung" guitar, which has the bottom 2 (or 3?) strings replaced with strings tuned an octave higher. This gives that very jangly sound. I think I played it drop D.

Re: Touring N. Ireland
In response to a previous email you indicated you might tour this neck of the woods in 2011. Is this still possible as I note that your tour dates [Dream Attic] for UK seem to be complete? Oliver

Sorry, it looks unlikely.

Did you ever meet Bob Marley? Jim

Alas, no. Did you know he was half Scottish?

At the Meltdown Six String gig earlier this year, I noticed that a RAT had returned to your pedalboard after an absence of a few years. For those of us obsessed with these things, would you mind running through the rig you will be using for the upcoming band tour? Many thanks. Paul Solman

I keep my "old" pedal board in the UK as back up. Normally for a band tour, I'll ship over my nice new one, but for Meltdown, it seemed sufficient. The Rat is OK for overdrive, but I prefer the Barbour these days. Please see the Gear and Tunings page for my current stage set up.