Q&A February 2011, Part II
3/19/2011 (updated 3/19/2011)

Your mention of classic radio comedy in December's Q&A (yes, wasn't the "Clitheroe Kid" just plain awful?) reminded me of a broadcast I heard a year or two back with yourself and Boothby Graffoe on BBC Radio 7. I seem to remember that you were blackmailed into praising his latest CD for the safe return of your gazelle which sounded remarkably like a strangled sheep when it was abducted. Has the gazelle recovered from its trauma?

A more serious question, are you playing at Cropredy this year? Best regards and hearty congrats on your gong, Barry Wilbourn

I enjoyed Boothby's show, and hope he might return to the airwaves soon. It was a nice combination of Goonish surrealism and music (I suppose I was in the Max Geldray role). The Gazelle says:

Nice to be back. Grub's better here. No, Mr. Thompson won't be at Croppers.

I was due to see you in Brighton last week but the queue resulting from an accident on the A2 put paid to that. Three questions - Are you touring the UK again soon? If so can you come to Canterbury? Are you at Cropredy this year? Hope you can answer yes to all three!! Thanks, Julian

A few UK dates this summer. Canterbury not on the list yet. Consult Tour Dates section of this site. Croppers see above.

Are you returning to Montalvo in 2011?

Hoping to in December - dates being discussed now.

Having just acquired a worthwhile guitar in a second hand Taylor DN3, and discovered how liberating a better (pricier) guitar can be to play, and given that the limitations to my pocket are exceeded by the limitations to my talent,  would you say that the RT Signature model Lowden was going to have a noticeable improvement over a "standard" George Lowden model? Like many, I lust after owning and playing a great guitar, and I take as read that these are among the very best, but the thing worse than not affording one is now affording one and trying to justify one as an indulgence! There's a premium on the RT model, and material differences. Are these reflected in the playability and sound? The Taylor made a big difference. Is a Lowden (any Lowden!) further progress? And thanks for a great website, and many fine gigs. Bob Fry - Dorset, UK

You're talking to the biased here. I would personally prefer Lowdens to Taylors, but that does not mean you won't find some really good Taylors knocking around. I find Lowdens very consistent - they rarely fall below a very high standard. I would say they are the best-made small factory guitar out there. The RT Signature instrument is excellent, and could be the last guitar you ever need to buy (again, I'm biased). If you can afford it, why buy a succession of TR7s when you really want a Ferrari? It really is a step up, and has been very well reviewed in the guitar press.

Saw your Dream Attic show in Oxford, UK at the end of January. Absolutely stunning, as always. For those who weren't there, as Richard and the band were putting on their instruments and tuning up for the encore somebody in the crowd yelled "Hey Joe!". Richard looked puzzled, said something like "Hey Joe? OK...." and launched into the song. The band stumbled a bit but then caught up and they proceeded to play a searing version that I think even Hendrix would have tipped his hat to. Richard brought the song to a stunning climax, the crowd went wild, at which point Richard dryly said "We don't know that one". OK, now the question: Did you and the band really never practice that tune before the night? If you didn't you should get some sort of Grammy for improvisation. I thought the Dead were great at making it up as they went, but I have never seen anything like that. I hope there is a tape somewhere.... Cheers, Dave Wark

I think that was the first time we ever played it - together anyway. But isn't that song something everybody learns at some point, so even if you never play it, you have most of it in your head?

I have been thinking recently that as a guitar player, Hank Marvin may be well be the most influential player of all time...he directly influenced many of the 60s greats, and then they in turn had a huge impact on millions more..and so forth....of course, Marvin himself must have been influenced by someone and you can take these things as far back as you want to go....but who would be your choice? Thanks for a great show at the Royal Festival Hall in January. Adam

Hank was a huge inspiration to a particular generation. I certainly spent a few years playing Shads numbers in school bands. Sad, by the way, to see the passing of Jet Harris, the Shadows' first and finest bassist. Those records still sound fabulous today - so well produced at EMI. For guitarists growing up in the 60s, I would agree with you, also remembering The Shadows' influence in places like Japan, Scandinavia, and Germany. But just a few years later, it all changed, and you might pick Eric or Jimi. How about Les Paul? Hugely influenced all those rock and roll players. Chet Atkins? Absolutely world famous. Going back a bit, Eddie Lang and Lonnie Johnston influenced everyone who subsequently picked up a jazz guitar. Django? Charlie Christian? Also people we don't immediately think of as great guitarists like Maybelle Carter or Gene Autry? Everyone who plays classical follows in Segovia's footsteps.

Pharaoh's tower of steel could bring to mind Canary Wharf for Londoners. Now we have a taller building on the skyline. Any thoughts on the Shard? Best wishes, Derrick Leigh

The shape isn't too thrilling, judging from the plans, but I'm hoping it will have some nice shimmery quality to it. I'm prepared to be dazzled.