6th April 2017
Phil's article on open tunings for guitar is published in issue 118 of Living Tradition Magazine.
30th July 2016
Since I last talked to those of you who are interested we have lived through tumultous, shape-shifting times. Jeremy Corbyn has become Labour leader, Britain has voted to leave the EU, France seems to have become a hotbed for random terror attacks and Wales nearly reached the final of Euro 2016! This is far more interesting than anything I have done. Having said that Steph and I spent some time in Berlin in August 2015. Apart from visiting the magnificent Brandenburg Gates - symbolic of so many seismic changes in the country (and across Europe) - much of Berlin is modern and dynamic and not very German - save for 11-pint home brew machines and schnitzel. I'm sure they probably try to blame that on the EU!
Back in flighty Blighty, I was back teaching guitar at the Cambridge colleges in September as - well as doing a handful of folk club gigs. October continued in much the same vein but with the welcome addition of my new album 'The Twilight Tone' (order here!) to sell at the gigs. This is the solo acoustic guitar/vocal set that I recorded with my good friend Jon Harvison in late June 2015. After a final mastering session, Clipstore in Leeds put out a limited run, which we officially released on our own label due to logistical problems with 101. We sold - and are still selling this product for a £5 (£6.99 with postage for the first year). The first outlet for the new CD was the Beamish Mary Acoustic Club in Durham where we sold a healthy amount of the new product. The following day we went round the museum (in Beamish) which is essentially an area of reclaimed land that has been developed and operated as if it were the 1920's - complete with open-cast mine, trams and schools, shops etc. fitted out in a post-Edwardian style. Fabulous value for money.
Anyway, I digress. October's tour took us up to Lancashire and down to the South Coast with one of the highlights in between being the Under The Bridge 4 concert at March Town Hall. This time we got Steve Tilston to serenade a packed house. Steve and myself sold 87 albums between us. (I've still got his!) No, seriously, a fab night. Look out for the return of Jacques Stotzem in 2016.
We went into 2016 having received some of the best reviews for an album release since 'Common Ground'. After a successful February tour - including new 'gigs' in Loughton, Nottingham and Northampton, along with visiting old North West haunts - we landed ads, interview and review in the estimable R2 magazine. We then upped our game and utilised the publicity skills of PR guru Jim Soars and 'Twilight Tone' was subsequently played on almost every major folk/acoustic radio programme in the UK. In critical - and exposure - terms it is currently my most successful and enduring album. Check out the reviews on this very site.
Whilst I continue the touring and teaching pattern, the remainder of 2016 looks very interesting. I play solo gigs in the Channel Islands, Northern Ireland and Scotland (all very EU places!) as well as starting some duo gigs with the fabulous Scottish ballad singer Heather Innes. After meeting the legendary Sheena Wellington in Dundee in May 2015 and, following the referendum result, we may well move to Scotland!
But before we do I shall be more than likely recording another album towards the end of 2016. Watch these spaces as I am also hoping to make the site a bit more interactive and be more up to date with the 'news' etc. Cheerie bye for now. Phil. July 2016
25th July 2015
Holy Moly. I am writing this as we sit halfway through 2015 whilst realising I haven't posted any 'news' about 2014. Was there any? Well, fortunately there was.
Although the year itself was busy with guitar lessons (271 in all), one or two residential courses and several workshops (including one on songwriting - what do I know?!), gigs were very much 'catch as catch can'. At one point in 2014, I was contemplating packing up performance altogether. That is not to say I wasn't enjoying performing anymore - in fact I'm enjoying it more than ever. No, it is more to do with making sense of going down brilliantly somewhere, getting offered subsequent gigs and then when trying to confirm them, people reneging on their promises. Sometimes I accept that this is not always the 'fault' of the organiser(s). I think we are in the midst of music saturation. Many older performers are still treading the boards, while there has never - in history - been so many young people harbouring the once ludicrous notion of becoming a professional musician. It is hard to make money from recordings now that that everything is streamed and downloaded online for silly money, so the revenue is in gigs and merchandising.
That having been said, once I had announced that I was contemplating giving up gigging, emails came in, the phone rang and 'Sod's Law' was out there in full swing! In 2014, after trying to get a gig there for 25 years, I finally guested at the legendary Llantrisant Folk Club in South Wales. Pat and Ned held sway over what was a fab night in front of a good crowd. Hopefully I'll still be alive when they invite me back! Thanks to Patty 'Spoons' Smith and the versatile Mr Ned Clamp. I also played at the Broadstairs Blues Festival in February. It was cold by the sea, but Broadstairs is rarely less than exhilarating and many thanks must go Mike and Annie Deavin for linking us up with Julian for gigs not just in Broadstairs but also in Margate.
I also guested at the famous Whittlesey Straw Bear Festival in early January (never mind chronology!). I had been promised this about 7 years ago (see what I mean?) and finally I was able to give a great, guitar-driven performance at a concert in the Library. Whittlesey is only 10 miles from where we live in the Fens so expenses were minimised, but I was well remunerated and it was a great weekend culminating in the ancient ritual of the Straw effigy being burned in the town centre in front of excitably bemused locals. This Winter festival has ancient connections going back to the elimination of disease and the protection of the poor in the 15th century. However, the 'celebration' we now know was only introduced in the 1970s by a Geordie living in the town! Hurrah for Brian Kell MBE!
Anyway, after a summer spent knocking down walls in our house during the process of redecorating the ground floor, we still found time to head over to Amsterdam with my daughter Caitlin and her partner Sean. This was during the (Brazil) World Cup and after a visit to one of the coffee shops, the whole world turned into a multicoloured collage drifting along winding tram lines. Never again - not at my age!
I was back on the road again in October playing an inaugural gig at the famous Village Pump Folk Club in Trowbridge. The folk club clubbed together in the 1960s and bought the old pump house that stands next to the Lamb pub in the town centre. It has remained there ever since and played host to everybody from Paul Simon to Kate Rusby. Long may it continue!
This was preceded by the addition of my name to the guest list at Llyn Acoustic Guitar Festival in an extremely picturesque part of North Wales. This festival focusses on the acoustic guitar as an end in itself and it was great to catch up with Steve (Tilston) as well as meet legendary organiser, dealer, collector and player Mr Paul Brett. Doing the sound was Tom Newman. He was the principal engineer/producer on Tubular Bells and now lives a chilled existence in this beautiful part of the UK (which of course it remained following that 'calm-before-storm' vote in Scotland!)
Apart from the glorious music of Muriel Anderson it was also fabulous to catch up with Richard Knott, Leo Roberts & Co and share guitar stories and tunes with them. One of the festival finds was a guy called Ben Smith. Ben plays funky fingerstyle guitar, looks like a cartoon character but sings R & B like you've never heard before. Along with Mr Tilston, Ben will be our guest at the annual Under the Bridge concert in March (the town) in 2015.
However, one of the undoubted stars of the Llyn festival was the mercurial 'Welsh Tornado' Gareth Pearson and he, along with the evergreen Mancunian soul poet Pete Ryder were the guests (along with moi) at the 2014 UTB event which took place a couple of weeks later. We all performed well (if I say so myself!) - including local stars Tom Harlock and Aimee Peart-Webb and we are all looking forward to the next (afore-mentioned) 2015 gig. Gareth and Pete were also guests at our - newly-decorated - gaff, and a marvellous time was had by all. To conclude for now, we have had problems with my new album but 2015 has seen it all sorted. I shall be back with more news soon.
Several people have been asking me when/if my 'new album' will be released, why it took so long etc. Well, I can now provide you with a little more information. Basically, I have (almost) just returned from a recording session at the Keighley studio of my old friend - and legendary folkie songwriter - Jon Harvison. The session was just a day long, during which time I recorded 7 guitar instrumentals (including a version of Keane's 'Somewhere Only We Know', 'The Preacher' by Horace Silver and 5 traditional tunes) and 9 new songs of (mainly) my own material. The sound is stark, guitar-driven folk-blues and is pretty much what I sound like live.
We are currently sorting out the PPL/MCPS codes etc for licence application, (messing with) artwork & text and, all things being equal, the album will be 'released' on September 10th. It will be a limited run and circumstance and contract have dictated that they will retail for £4.99 (& £2 P & P). There will be more details fairly soon. There will also be some available through the distribution channels and individual pieces will (hopefully) be available to download from September. I shall be back gigging in October and I am currently sorting out dates for early/mid 2016. Obviously the guitar teaching has meant that - to some extent - I can't go hell-for-leather on the gig front (not sure I'd get that much anyway ha ha!!) so this is partly why I'm doing a limited-run recording on a fairly low-budget. The reason this album has been incubating so long has very little to do with music. I originally recorded some basic tracks with my regular record company 101, but logistics, contractual barriers and time constraints meant the 'project' became semi-mothballed.
I was very keen to do just a guitar/vocal album and I needed to nail some of the stuff while it was fresh and have something new to sell when I go out and about again. I will hopefully be doing something with 101 in the next year or so, but in the meantime make a deal to support your small-trading independent acoustic guy by pre-ordering the album!
Thank you for your time and patience. Much love. Phil
'It wouldn't have taken too much for 2013 to be better than 2012 - but how much better?! Over the next few weeks/months I will 'serialise' some of the events of 2013. Yes, some of them certainly deserve that treatment!
Basically, for sheer diversity and 'firsts', 2013 will be hard to beat. During the year, I learned - and then started to teach - ukulele, as my college commitments increased beyond just guitar classes. In April we made our first trip to the USA where I performed a solo gig in a beautiful weatherboarded church near Vermont, stayed with one of America's top luthiers, met up with old friend and Irish fiddle genius Eamon Coyne, did some house concerts/sessions on the East Coast (with place-names that they nicked from us: Ipswich, Haverhill, Peterborough - home from home!), and jogged around Boston two days before the ill-fated marathon. In May, I met up with guitar legend Terry Lees - and ended up exchanging a1970 Martin 00028 which I had acquired, for a £10k Petros! (Now, to move that one on.....hmmmm)
In June, I returned to do a great show at Chepstow Acoustic - thanks to Mike and Ness Lewis. I also started work on my new album which is likely now to be an ongoing project as I add more songs and tunes to the mix. Mike and I will sit down at some appropriate moment and decide what is worthy of inclusion. Said album will be in limited CD form and also available for download. Gigs and lessons continued at a steady rate through the year, but two particular highlights occurred in August: one was seeing my daughter performing at the Edinburgh Fringe in a fabulous small-theatre production of 'Shake The Dust', a play which deals with teenage depression. All the actors were exceptional and really inhabited the characters - but Caitlin was the best (ha ha !). The other event was a guitar concert in Stockport with world-renowned 'Celtic' fingerstylist Tony McManus. Tony was superb and gracious to a fault, resulting in us finishing the night with a duet on the Irish tunes 'West Wind/ March Of The KIng Of Laois'. Many thanks to the legendary 'Cliffster' Lee for promotion. Priceless stuff. Also in August we found two great new chums in Mike and Annie Deavin who we were lucky to meet at the Bishops Stortford Mini-Festival. September saw us in Portugal where I locked us out of our hotel room (on the balcony) to escape from incumbent lizards, negotiated with non-English speaking Police, had a blazing row with Steph in Lisbon, and played guitar at two Fado events, meeting some great Portuguese folk musicians in the process. October brought my biggest club tour for nearly two years and - the UK aside - included two short spells in Holland and Belgium. Thanks again to Karin, Richard, Mark , Willy, Uri, Gert and Johanna. In the famous T'Ey Folk Club in Belgium we sold all our 100 CDs in one hit!
I was adopted, but grew up with two very supportive parents who are now both dead. I vowed to myself that I would never take steps to find anything out about my birth family until my adoptive mum and dad had passed on. So, events being what they were, we started to look for my family in 2013 and - to cut a long story short - I met up with my biological brother and his family in November. Fabulous guy, amazing experience. More on that one in time!
Just to say that in 2014 I shall be busy with music teaching and workshops and so I am scaling back on my gigs. I shall start to contemplate more tours etc in 2015. In the meantime, I shall endeavour to finish and to release the album. However, keep your eyes peeled for a guitar concert featuring the amazing 'Welsh Tornado' Gareth Pearson, Manchester blues legend and songwriter Pete Ryder and myself in March (the town) in October (the month). Check site and local press closer to the time. All the best to all for the rest of year. Keep tuning in and turning on and thanks for your support and interest. Love. Phil
3rd January 2013
I am glad to see the back of 2012. Whilst the UK may have been basking in the positive short-term effects of our Olympic efforts (particularly the magnificent Para-Olympians), the truth from just under the surface is that austerity got a whole lot worse for the majority of us. The money was/is simply not circulating to provide in the way that Coalition supporters may suggest, and anything else appears to be little more than the media and the 'establishment' papering over cracks.
This lack of financial fluidity affects everything - not least, the music industry at grassroots level. I spoke to several Festival organisers during 2012 and almost all of them said they had experienced their lowest ticket sales ever. I spoke to several artists over the course of the year, and almost all said that downloads had severely hit their 'hard-product' sales. Obviously we are in a position of saturation, with many artists flooding the market with products that no one appears to want. It's tight out there, and that's exactly how I found 2012.
Anyway,To summarize: I dug myself out of the February snow to head up to the Wirral to record a themed, story-boarded song/jingle for a pizza company called Baffitos. This new venture is run by an old college-friend of mine called Pete Thompson, so it was exciting to take on a different kind of project, as well as resume my communications with Pete (Check out the 'Ballad Of Frankie & Alessia' on YouTube).
I did a successful short club tour in April, a couple of small Festivals in June - one of which was the Boars Bridge in Hampshire, which was captured on (commercial) DVD and features old friends Bram Taylor, Mike Silver and the brilliant songwriters Paul Milns and Terry St Clair. Then In July we went up to Scotland for a short tour, including an appearance at the Melrose Folk Festival where I was lucky to hear the lilting voice of Alison McMoreland (accompanied by Geordie McIntyre, of course) and got to meet and share the stage with the legendary Scots band the Tannahill Weavers. A couple of days later, I met their fiddle player in the Bow Bar in Edinburgh. We got chatting, I asked his name: 'John Martin', he said. Well, apart from the slight misfortune of sharing a phonetic name with one of my favourite acoustic artists (the late, great word-slurrer John Martyn), it didn't take too long for me to realise that I was talking to a Scottish fiddler who had been the mainstay of Contraband, Ossian, Easy Club, Jock Tamson's Bairns, Iona etc - some of the top Celtic bands of all-time! Great bloke, good conversation, memorable moments. Talking of memorable moments (sponsored by Echo Falls!) I was asked by a good friend in Cambridge to be the 'entertainment' in a July Episode of the ITV-made 'Come Dine With Me'. Television obviously has to be planned, or the ensuing chaos would be insurmountable, but the extent to which it is planned never ceases to amaze me. CDWM were almost helping my mate (whose night it was) to cook his main meal, (they were) restricting guests to what they could say and how to generally behave for the sake of good telly, and editing everything to within an inch of any semblance of reality. 'Reality Television' is an oxymoron. I just felt like a moron as they kept me waiting damn- near 4 hours in order to shoot 10 mins of filler! August brought some much-needed corporate work and of course, more rain!
September saw me continue the trend, but then spectacularly break it with a concert at March Town Hall featuring the British guitar virtuoso Clive Carroll in concert with myself, as well as great local performers Tom Harlock and Aimee Peart-Webb. Some of this concert has been edited and posted on YouTube and was a great success. There is a similar event planned for late-2013.
October brought another short tour including a great gig with Keith Donnelly at Chesterfield Folk Club in aid of the Breast Cancer Trust (set up by good friend Martin Sumpton to raise money in memory of his late wife who died of the disease) Some of this tour was compromised by my requiring hospitalisation to identify a stomach problem which was later confirmed as diverticulosis (check the medical dictionary). I need to change my diet and monitor my activity in general - otherwise nothing too worrying. I had obviously had this condition encroaching for some time, but only in August did I first decide to get it investigated. Glad I did. The rest of the month saw me - amongst other places - at the Two View Gallery in Liverpool at the great Liverpool Acoustic Club. Thanks guys for a great night.
November saw me at Bedworth Folk Festival where I once again resumed live liaison with the great Keith Donnelly, as well as doing a workshop with the estimable Warwickshire guitarist Dave Parr. Good one chaps!
In December, I went down to Sussex to do some gigs. Long time, no visit. Brighton is still as envigorating, tacky, liberal, and bohemian as it ever was - thankfully - and many thanks must go to Ian and Mary Barr for hospitality. Also great to meet East-Coast guitar legend Terry Lees, another overlooked music hero!
The rest of 2012 was taken up teaching guitar: four nights a week at colleges - plus up to 10 private students per week, tends to leave little time for much else. One has to live, dear boy! 2013 brings a Coffee House' tour in the USA plus a load a dates later in the year, including a return to Holland & Belgium. Sincerely wishing you all a peaceful and fulfilling 2013. I'm hoping for better health, better weather and better communication!. Keep watching the videos and buying the products! xx Phil - January 2013
19th January 2012
What does one say about 2011? Just gone ten past eight? The Arab Spring, (Summer, Autumn and Winter?) More austerity!? From my own point of view it marked an increase in my college guitar class commitments to three (and occasionally four) nights a week during term times, as well as an increase in the numbers of private clients. This has meant that my general gig haul has not been as great but of course that could change just as quickly.
The year saw me take delivery of the 'Phil Hare Signature' guitar by Gary Nava ( see various links and YouTube videos). This OM sized instrument was designed by Gary and myself - although I would use the word 'design' in a more benign that active sense! Anyway, once tested and out of the traps I embarked upon 2 months-plus of solo gigs, including one little spell where my car broke down for the third and final time! (Thanks to Mr Cliff Lee) During this 'on-off' tour, I played a few small folk clubs I had played before - along with a couple of new acoustic venues - culminating in an appearance at the Chester Folk Festival in May where it was great to catch up with old friends in the art of being bibulous.
All in all there were about 15 gigs and the first thing I noticed about the top of the 'French-polished' Nava was how scratched and gouged it was. This had been done primarily by my thumb-pick occasionally digging into the veneer in a variety of percussive flourishes. So be it. It was made to be played - and that was what I was doing. Thanks once again to Gary for a wonderful instrument. Check out YouTube for more fretboard battering!
The summer months arrived with my daughter Siobhan turning 21. We had a great little party at our house. Thanks to splendid efforts made by Don May to provide some duly celebratory fiddle music. Following swiftly on were to be several (final) ceilidhs by Three Point Turn, which, by the end of the year had decided to call it a day in it's current form. This is partly due to age, partly due to fatigue, partly due to money, partly to do with geography, partly, partly, partly Mr Hartley. Anyway, I'll say a thanks on here to people who have supported myself, Mick, Don and Paul over the years and be happy with the many great memories of playing in some of - and at some of - the most bizarre gigs and venues the world could offer up. I'm hoping that a 'new' Three Point Turn will rise - Phoenix-like - consisting of myself, Don and Siobhan. Watch these spaces.
Also in 2011, my album continued to progress a few on-line sales and also notched up some good reviews - including one in R2 Rock 'n' Reel where the song 'Hedge Fund Shuffle' was featured on their complimentary CD. Although, it appears that the magazine FRoots has decided not review my album on 'singer-songwriter' grounds....whatever that means. Best ask them. Thanks to Liz Franklin in Durham for some sterling support and radio play. Some of this may have followed a great gig at Jack Burness's 'Live Acoustic' which I did in October. Before we go there (October) full-tilt however, I'd again like to than Lynne Barnes for her help in 2011. This included another Nantwich Food Festival appearance as well as a gig in a pub in Crewe where it felt like I was in a Ken Loach film. Whaddaya mean, I was? Good luck to Ernie, Lynne's partner. He continues to entertain and amuse everyone, in spite of declining health.
YouTube has a phenomenal amount of power because it has such a wide remit. I have had offers of gigs in the USA, Thailand and Australia as a result of the 'Tube' and I'm still weighing up offers (ha ha!). Well, I may laugh, but in October Steph and myself took the (A) train from our little Fenland town and ended up in Antwerp, Belgium where I played a gig in the former HQ of the Belgian Communist Party. Two gigs later - one in the beautiful mediaeval market town of Lier in the Flemish part of the country - I was reminded that all of this had come from people watching my videos on YouTube. It was great to meet up with and spend some time with the urbane, talented and accommodating Mr Mark Somers. Many thanks to Mark, hope to catch up again at the end of 2012. We then took the train from the marvelously grand and gothic Antwerp Central, to the Hague on the coast of Holland. A short tram ride from the station is an ordinary domestic dwelling occupied by the lovely Karin Pronk. Once a fortnight, her living room is transformed into a bijou concert venue where she presents the best in folk and acoustic music. (So, how did I get it, I hear you say?! 'YouTube', came my reply) After a lovely set by Paul O'Brien and Kate Huber, I played through all my club stuff and much of it was filmed and is out on DVD and serialised on the Tube. Many thanks to Karin and to Maarten Willems, for great warmth and hospitality. I shall be back at Karin's house concert in 2013 - assuming we're all still alive. (ever the optimist!)
2011 was also the year that we resumed contact with the great Irish flautist Terry Coyne. We went to visit him in Wales and I ended up in Liverpool at the Hope Street Feast playing a few impromptu sets around the place including one on a rolling concert bill at the Liverpool Phil. That was a great experience. I normally play to audiences of 20-70 in little folk clubs. There were about 1500 in this grand, classical concert hall. It was great, fish-to-water stuff. One of the highlights was a jam session with the great Liverpool writer Ian Prowse on his new classic 'Does This Train Stop On Merseyside. Cheers Ian, Cheers Tel. Hope to see you in 2012.
2011 was also the year my youngest daughter started Uni in Sheffield. I was made up when she went. The first of our family /friends etc to go to Uni in some while. I'm very proud of her and hope she succeeds there - as well as having a great time. The latter will definitely come true!Thanks to all who made 2011 interesting. From the people I have mentioned to Cameron, Julian Assange, Murdoch (go down!), street rioters and the Falklands under threat. It's like 1981 all over again! Have a good year and keep listening to - and buying - my music.......you buggers! Phil Hare.
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