Q&A September 2011, Part II
10/5/2011 (updated 2/11/2013)

Apologies in advance for this long-winded "question". Attended your Sept 7 show in Ottawa - beyond excellent as always. As a big fan, I was distressed at the fact the hall was only half full - hopefully, it doesn't turn you off the city. I was also distressed in the weeks before the show at the complete lack of publicity - at least via old media. People sitting around me echoed the same view - one found out about the show that afternoon. Being that you're an independent artist, I'm curious as to how your tours are put together & who's responsible for promotion. Do your "people" (Nancy?) send out feelers through a concert network? I'm also intrigued by the variety of locations you play - NYC & Toronto to Middlebury & Champaign - and the wide variety of venues. (That hall in Toronto looked pretty nifty!) It must make for an interesting excursion. Do you find your audiences as widely diverse as your locations & venues? Do you generally fill most places? Do people generally recognize your entire catalogue or do you encounter large numbers of "newbies"? Any other tour tidbits greatly appreciated! Brian Hayes - Ottawa ON

I've been over the general processes by which we book, promote and play concerts before, so forgive any repetition. I have a US agent, Frank Riley at High Road, who handles all US bookings. He takes incoming calls from promoters asking for me specifically, or for acts in general, for concerts, clubs, festivals, etc. If any of these make sense time-wise and geographically, then they will be offered to me and my management for consideration. He also makes outgoing calls to promoters on our instruction, for certain time periods and geographical areas, to put together tours that make sense for routing. This is a difficult juggling act, because consecutive venues have to be drivable or flyable, some venues don't have the right days of the week available, some are the wrong size, etc., but amazingly tours get booked. The Ottawa show was disappointing, and I still don't really know what happened. The following night in Toronto we sold out 1200 seats. Was there competition in town from other music or a sporting event? Or did the promoter miscalculate? Or do the people of Ottawa really dislike me intensely?

Audiences in the same country tend to follow a similar demographic, but there are big age differences from country to country - the UK is probably my oldest audience, continental Europe the youngest - it's all how you are perceived.

At a couple of your concerts I've been to in Edinburgh I've seen Runrig guitarist Malcolm Jones in the audience and at the end of one show I saw him going backstage. I wondered if the two of you have played or recorded anything together or if you have any plans to do so. Thanks. Colin Bertram - Lancaster UK

If I met Malcolm, it was very briefly. When we get better acquainted, who knows?

1. What sort of care/maintenance do you give your Lowdens at home?

Care? Maintenance? Oh, that stuff. I keep a humidifier in the signature model, because the zircote can move around. I adjust necks and give refrets when necessary. I really should polish them…what my mother used to call 'a lick and a promise'.

2. I have always been intrigued on your inspiration for the liner notes on "Full House" (ex: AT ALL FOURS Dick o' Tuesday  a clear winner, despite concussion inflicted by heavy blow." Etc.)

I was just riffing off of Hazlitts 'Faith and Folklore of the British Isles', which I'd been immersed in at that time.

3. You have mentioned in this space that you paint. What style, media, etc.? Who are your favorite painters over the last 1000 years?

I did art at school, and got fairly good in oils. The only time I do art now is on holiday, especially somewhere tropical, where I like to capture the flora and fauna, so I do pen and ink with coloured pencil. Recently, I've taken up watercolour, as something very portable that I can do in hotel rooms. I'm still learning, and looking for my style, but I've given myself 10 years to come up with something I like. I have a long list of favourite painters, lots of Brits from my formative years, like Ravilious, Pasmore, Nicholson, Heron, and a good sprinkling of others through the ages - Rembrandt's not bad.

4. In addition to icing, stretching and finger/hand/wrist exercises, have you ever been forced to modify your technique to compensate for the natural effects of aging and your aggressive picking style, e.g., tendinitis, bursitis, etc.?

Not yet. I do the preventatives you mention.

5. Are you a fan of Bertolt Brecht and his oeuvre, such as Threepenny Opera?

Big fan, love all the Brecht/Weill.

A few of your songs, most notably "Killerman Gold Posse," sound very Brechtian melodically.

Definitely an influence on me, and many others.

6. You have talked about growing up listening to your father's Django Reinhardt and Charlie Christian records. You mention Charlie Parker and Mingus in your songs.  I'm curious to know what are your most memorable jazz concert experience/s? Who of the greats have you been fortunate enough to see over the years?

Of the guitar players, Les Paul, George Van Eps, Tal Farlow, Thumbs Carllile, George Benson, Barney Kessel, I'm forgetting a few…I missed a lot of good jazz because I was too young to get into Ronnie Scott's. I've seen a lot of jazz over the years, too many great artists to mention.

7. Any plans to use your archtops, the Eastman Uptown or Peerless, on future projects?

I've been using them here and there. The tailpiece just broke on my Eastman.

8. If you have been following F-1 this season, I am curious to know if you think Sebastian Vettel has the stuff to be the next Michael Schumacher? Are you bored by Red Bull's dominance in both the Drivers and Manufacturers standings?

I think there have been times when you could say certain drivers were the greatest - Stirling Moss springs to mind, and Ayrton Senna may have been the greatest ever - but right now I think it is closer, and I think Vettel just has the best car. Another season, and it could all change again - Lewis Hamilton next year?