News — Interview

Artist Spotlight: Justin Johnson The Guitarist Who Plays A Shovel

Justin Johnson with shovel guitarThis is home (when he’s not touring the globe) for Justin Johnson, leading emissary and scholar of blues and roots music, also known as ‘The Wizard’ and recognised as International Slide Guitar Champion. Thanks to the wonders of Skype I get a tour of Justin’s house.

It’s the heart of Tennessee… picture the scene: The sun bleached porch with the creaky old rocking chair, the rusty old redundant tractor (now home for the farmyard rooster), chilled beers, an amp and the dilemma of which guitar to play.

Artist Spotlight: Remco Hendriks - A World's Elite Bass Player

RemcoUntil I actually met Remco Hendriks, I was one of thousands upon thousands of people who have watched him work his funky bass guitar grooves on YouTube, totally mesmerized by his sheer speed, accuracy, dexterity and phrasing on a fretless bass. I’d read all the quotes folk leave at the bottom… “Is this guy for real?” “Nah, can’t be done, it’s been sped up.”

Remco likes his privacy and own space so, as fans of his videos will know, he’s rarely seen full-face on screen. So I’m dragging my camera gear around Musikmesse, the annual trade show in Frankfurt, Germany earlier this year, when I notice familiar blonde dreadlocks. I’m thinking... is it or isn’t?

Witnessing Remco play live at the show, squashed all the rumours I’ve read, none of the videos are sped up and yes, I would say he is probably in the 1% of the world’s elite bass players.

Over a beer, Remco talks in his Dutch dialect about ‘all things bass’ and that until he checked it out, didn’t realise viewing figures for his videos were in the millions.

Artist Spotlight: Stephen (Mojo) Mougin, Nashville Bluegrass Player

MojoWhilst at the Summer NAMM show in Nashville, Tennessee in July 2017, I spotted an unmistakable, distinct green Fusion acoustic guitar gig bag, drifting periscope-like above a sea of heads at this year’s crowded event. Following said gig bag led me to the Fishman stand, arguably one of the world’s leaders within acoustic instrument pickup design, pre- amps and amplification.
It’s here that no other than Stephen Mougin multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, producer, engineer, teacher, label owner and one of the finest bluegrass players, casually perched himself on a stool and played some fine bluegrass acoustic guitar. In typical American style, crowds whooped and cheered as Stephen finished his set and started to pack away his favourite Collings CJ-35 acoustic guitar in his trusty Fusion case.

Artist Spotlight: Victoria Vox - Singer-Songwriter / Ukulele Artist

Victoria Vox

Victoria has the ability to effortlessly rub her tummy and pat her head at the same time. In a musical perspective that means, not only does she have a stunning ukulele playing style, a voice that can effortlessly adapt to any musical genre, operate a pedal board with precision...she still has a secret weapon... the mouth trumpet.

Victoria has perfected a vocal technique that imitates the sound of a trumpet by blowing air through her lips, an incredible effect that at first raises a smile from the audience, often ending up with a standing ovation.

Artist Spotlight: Gil Norton - Respected And Influential Record Producer

Gil NortonAs a highly respected and influential record producer, Gil Norton has worked with some of the biggest names in rock. A large list of Internationally acclaimed artists trust Gil at the controls. These have included Foo Fighters, Counting Crows, Echo &The Bunnymen, Feeder, Pixies, Marmozets, Band Of Skulls, JOANovARC and Jimmy Eat World, to name but a few. He takes up the story…

“I distinctly remember at the age of 12 how I wanted to be a sound engineer or a TV camera man. I felt so strongly about taking this path throughout my school years, that I left the 6th form after a year to take up an Audio Visual youth opportunity scheme that Knowsley Council were offering to promote the borough.

Artist Spotlight: Madonna Mallon - Trombonist at London Metropolitan Brass Band

Madonna Mallon Trombonist at London Metropolitan Brass Band

Cold Play. There’s something about Christmas carols being played live by a brass band, the soothing dreamy purr of a French horn, the wispy liquid slur of a mellow trumpet to the throaty drawl of the trombone, then there’s the joyful thrum-pump parp parp sonic characteristics of the big brass tuba.

A congested London Paddington Station on the Eve of said festive occasion, was indeed looking like a train strike had just been announced as I arrived. My first thoughts were, at least I have relaxing music to listen to while they sort it out.

Artist Spotlight: Shane Ó Fearghail - It's All About The Song

Shane Ó FearghailDefining the word ‘Nomad’ can be partly described as: ‘A person at one roaming about for pasture, pastoral tribe, a member of a community of people who live in different locations, moving from one place to another. Let’s add a sprinkling of: ‘Seriously good singer songwriter, solo artist and musician’ and we have Shane Ó Fearghail.

In an interview from his base in Vienna, Austria, Shane talks to me about performing live and his uncanny ability to write songs with catchy hook lines and melodies that are heavily influenced by his Irish background.

Artist Spotlight: Zoë Bestel - Award Winning Artist With Haunting Vocals

Zoë Bestel

For centuries, some of the finest songs, poems and books have been written by authors who have taken to the hills for inspiration as they wander ‘lonely as cloud’ or watch the mist role in from the ‘Mull of Kyntyre’.
Scotland’s Galloway Hills and surrounding coastline is indeed the landscape from where award winning nu-folk singer-songwriter and musician, Zoë Bestel draws motivation and creativity.

“I live on a farm in a pretty remote area with forests and mountain views from my windows”, says Zoë, “So a lot of my songs are themed about nature. I’m also close to the coast here and I’ve written a lot of songs about the sea which features on my new album set for release around the Spring of 2017”.

Artist Spotlight: Chris Buono - Multi Media Guitar Madman

Chris Buono

Chris Buono’s name can be found on numerous guitar instructional media. From book titles published by Hal Leonard, Alfred and Cengage Learning to myriad bylines as a contributor and columnist for Guitar One, Guitar Player and Just Jazz Guitar to his industrious output with TrueFire and Guitarinstructor.com, Chris Buono is everywhere.

You need only watch one of the hundreds of videos of Chris that have been viewed millions of times over on YouTube to witness his immense knowledge of comping techniques, complex harmony, neck visions as well as his mind-numbing soloing techniques.

Along with Chris’ tenure as a Berklee professor his best selling books, TrueFire courses and Guitar Gym online classroom and course series have earned him respect all around the world as one of the finest teachers on the subject of high-level guitar playing.

 

Artist Spotlight: Bagpiper Craig McFarlane - A Journey Around The World

Craig McFarlane Bagpipe Everest Base CampWhen it comes to piping the distance, Scottish piper Craig McFarlane is literally miles ahead of the pack. We interviewed Craig about his life long connection to the bagpipes, which has taken them both on a journey around the world: 
“Hearing a piper in the hills is very atmospheric, especially in the highlands, or anywhere for that matter. I lived at Glastonbury for 10 years and I used to go up the Tor at night and play at sunset and in the morning at sunrise, especially when there was a full moon or a storm. It’s very evocative and just seems to fit in. The sound is instantly recognisable and designed to be played outside for raising the blood or the gathering of clans, as heard back in the battle days of the pipes.