With each episode of Life on the Fretboard, British guitarist, filmmaker and writer Michael Watts interviews extraordinary individuals from the world of guitars. Life on the Fretboard is part of the Fretboard Journal podcast network.
Adrian Utley (Portishead)
1:05:53Adrian Utley is one of the most versatile and creative musicians the UK has produced. His work with artists such as Jeff Beck, Patti Smith and Glenn Branca is testament to this. Shooting to prominence in the mid 1990s with Portishead, Adrian’s beautifully judged, nuanced playing - with its unique jazz and soul sensibilities - set the band apart from their contemporaries in what would become known as the trip-hop scene. Dummy, Portishead’s debut album, would go multi-platinum. The band continues to have a lasting influence in terms of production values, musicianship and sheer style. Adrian accepted an invitation to join me for this episode of Life on the Fretboard after an online conversation about our shared love of the work of Fred Frith - a pioneer in the improvised and exploratory music scene. Shortly after, I was invited to film an original 1958 Gibson Flying V. Those of you familiar with my work will understand my trepidation to go it alone with a guitar that was so far out of my comfort zone, so I asked Adrian if he’d like to join me in exploring one of the rarest and pointiest electric guitars known to humanity. I was a little taken aback at the speed with which he accepted. I made a video of us exploring that Flying V: https://youtu.be/VM95mN7eDC0 Once we had finished with the pointy beast, we sat down to record this conversation. Adrian shares his memories of working with Jeff Beck and Glenn Branca and we talk about Adrian’s love of all guitars, from vintage L-5s to dumpster-find acoustics. We also chat about learning to love limitations, the Fender Jazzmaster, the best footwear for wah-wah pedal usage, and that solo from the song "Glory Box." Here's a reminder if you need one https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MnMTK8EdsOc I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did. Be advised there is adult language throughout. This episode of Life on the Fretboard was brought to you by the kind sponsorship of Elixir Strings https://www.elixirstrings.com. I use Phosphor Bronze 12-53s on all my acoustic guitars We are also brought to you by Microtech Gefell Microphones https://www.microtechgefell.de I used a pair of their M300 small diaphragm models to record this interview and you’re hearing my voice on the M930 model. To support this podcast please use this Tip Jar link https://michaelwattsguitar.com/tip-jars/4745 Your Host, Michael Watts https://www.michaelwattsguitar.com https://www.youtube.com/user/michaelwattsguitar https://www.instagram.com/michael.watts.guitar/ Learn more about the Fretboard Journal and our new, 53rd issue here: https://www.fretboardjournal.com
Little Barrie Cadogan
1:01:09Barrie Cadogan (also known as "Little Barrie") is one of the world's first call electric guitarists when it comes to classic soul, rock, punk, and rhythm & blues. He has worked with some of the biggest indie artists performing today including Morrissey, Paul Weller, Edwyn Collins, Liam Gallagher, and Primal Scream. That’s a hell of a CV by anyone’s standards, but Barrie is perhaps best known for the theme music from the Netflix show 'Better Call Saul.' That glorious guitar intro? That was him! Quite simply, he is very cool. He inhabits a world of pristine big E vintage Levis, Cuban heels, and 1960s Jazzmasters; bespoke hatmakers name their latest designs after him; and, if you are planning a global stadium tour and you need a guitarist that will bring the goods, then you had better make sure that you have Little Barrie on speed dial. I caught up with him at the private, by-appointment-only premises of Guncotton Guitars in London. (More from them later as they have generously sponsored this episode!) We talked about our shared love of seminal Manchester band The Stone Roses and watching 'Sounds of The Sixties' on British TV which for many musicians of our generation had a similar impact as that of the Ed Sullivan show in the USA. Barrie shares his experiences as a young musician moving to London some 20 years ago, his realization that a Marshall half stack may not be the ideal bedroom practice amp, the dangers of applying a Jackson Pollock-style paint job to a guitar, and Bobby Gillespie’s eccentric hiding place for demo CDs. He also shares his love of Japanese architecture and his recent reunion with a guitar that got away from him years previously. I think we can all relate to that. This interview was recorded on a hot summer’s day in London. As I sank into the vintage Charles Eames furniture and pressed record, I remember feeling very happy to be there. I hope it shows...and I’m glad to be able to share this with you. Barrie Cadogan https://www.littlebarrie.com https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVn9XB03wI5dM4d0Vbl-i2A https://open.spotify.com/artist/5ozUXaDjc4mfVyDIWCJH4E?autoplay=true https://www.instagram.com/littlebarrie/ This episode is brought to you by the kind sponsorship of Guncotton Guitars in London https://www.guncottonguitars.com https://www.instagram.com/guncottonguitars/ and Microtech Gefell Microphones https://www.microtechgefell.de Your Host Michael Watts https://www.michaelwattsguitar.com https://www.youtube.com/user/michaelwattsguitar https://www.instagram.com/michael.watts.guitar/ To support this podcast please use this Tip Jar link https://michaelwattsguitar.com/tip-jars/4745
1:15:01Bruce Springsteen and Thurston Moore adore his work and rightly so...Wizz Jones is a lynchpin of the UK folk blues guitar scene and has been since the early 1960s. When London was an epicenter for artists from the USA such as Big Bill Broonzy, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, Paul Simon, James Taylor, Jackson C. Frank, and Bob Dylan - Wizz was right there. Wizz was also there to hear some of the first notes Davey Graham played in DADGAD tuning, to witness the impact of a young Bert Jansch on the UK guitar scene, and to run sessions at the legendary Les Cousins club in Soho’s Greek Street. It’s not there anymore, of course. That end of Soho is now a preponderance of private members clubs and bijoux eateries but back in the day things were a lot less salubrious and, judging from how Wizz tells it, a hell of a lot more fun. Wizz talks about the early days of his life on the fretboard: When he was a young bohemian, the influence of Jack Kerouac on his generation, London’s Soho in the sixties when you could bump into everyone from Cat Stevens to Quentin Crisp, his travels around Morocco and France, and offers the benefit of his experience and wisdom with one important caveat. Now in his 80s, Wizz can still be seen playing around London with his trademark 1963 Epiphone Texan. I caught up with him at RMS recording studios in London where Wizz has made several albums in the past. He was in characteristically fine form (the conversation is somewhat peppered with adult language). To my everlasting disgrace, I may have joined in, too. But that can happen when you’re hanging out with the cool kids. You can support this podcast here: https://michaelwattsguitar.com/tip-jars/4745 Donate to Maui Strong here: https://www.hawaiicommunityfoundation.org/maui-strong Thank you to my sponsors for this episode: Microtech Gefell Microphones https://www.microtechgefell.de and, you, the listener!
1:19:46Emma Tricca is a massively talented singer-songwriter, a poet, and beautiful fingerstyle guitarist. Italian by birth, Emma works between Rome, London and New York making gorgeous psychedelic folk rock records - her latest is called 'Aspirin Sun' it is out now and it’s rather wonderful. You may have seen Emma on tour with such luminaries as Robyn Hitchcock, Dinosaur Jr. or Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets - that wonderful band put together to play early Pink Floyd songs. If not, then I hope this interview may serve as an introduction to some very beautiful music. What I really enjoy about Emma’s work are the amazing textures she creates with her full band that also includes Dream Syndicate’s Jason Victor on electric guitar as well as Steve Shelley of Sonic Youth on drums and Pete Galub on bass. That is quite a line-up...in many ways the cream of the New York art rock scene. This interview was recorded on a hot day at the beginning of summer and I had invited Emma to visit me at home to get her out into the countryside and away from the heat and grit of London. And, In a Life on the Fretboard first, I had the pleasure of making some music with a guest - in this case one of Emma’s songs which I have been semi-obsessed with since I first heard it. The link to that is in the description below. I’m on Telecaster and Emma is playing my Gretsch White Falcon - I hope you enjoy it! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CK71DfcHPOc You can support this podcast here: https://michaelwattsguitar.com/tip-jars/4745 Download Emma Tricca's latest record here https://emmatricca.bandcamp.com/album/aspirin-sun Thank you to my sponsors for this episode: Microtech Gefell Microphones https://www.microtechgefell.de Mirabella Guitars https://www.mirabellaguitars.com
1:06:30Will Ackerman is a visionary composer, fingerstyle guitarist and producer. As the founder of Windham Hill Records, he achieved international success with his own music and that of artists such as Michael Hedges, George Winston, Alex De Grassi and others. Windham Hill’s sumptuous, detailed sound is widely acknowledged to be a milestone in the evolution of the acoustic guitar. Let’s face it: When the first D-28 rolled off the Martin Guitar Company production line, they were hardly expecting Michael Hedges! In fact, no one was...least of all Will Ackerman. In this conversation, he shares some beautiful stories about meeting Michael for the first time and the recording sessions for Aerial Boundaries! We also get some extraordinary insights about the early days of Will’s career, hanging out with the Kingston Trio, kayaking with Steve Jobs, the correct way to kick priceless digital mastering equipment, and much more. Many of you doubtless know that Will Ackerman was touched by tragedy at an early age. He talks candidly about this when we discuss his beautiful piece, "The Impending Death of The Virgin Spirit." Once again - this is REAL LIFE on the fretboard - but listener discretion is encouraged. I caught up with Will Ackerman during his visit to the beautiful English town of Royal Tunbridge Wells. The hotel where he was staying had been a favorite of Queen Victoria and its staff continue to uphold fastidious levels of excellence...even at one point interrupting the recording with a session of vacuum cleaning right outside the room. While I dealt with this Ackerman was left with a hot mic; I have kept the results for posterity. To contribute directly to Life on The Fretboard please use this Tip Jar link https://michaelwattsguitar.com/tip-jars/4745 This episode was brought to you by the kind sponsorship of Mirabella Guitars https://www.mirabellaguitars.com/ , Microtech Gefell Microphones https://www.microtechgefell.de/, Fretboard Journal and, you, the listener. To learn more about Will Ackerman visit https://williamackerman.com/ Join me next time where I will be spending time with the extraordinary talent that is Italian singer/songwriter Emma Tricca. You may have seen her on tour with Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets or Dinosaur Jr. It's a fantastic conversation that I can’t wait to share with you.
1:11:31Welcome to Episode 3 of Life on the Fretboard: A series of face-to-face conversations between British guitarist, writer and filmmaker Michael Watts and exceptionally talented individuals who live a life on the fretboard. For this episode, Michael’s guest is the frighteningly gifted Australian fingerstyle guitarist Alan Gogoll, whose gentle, whimsical music is given voice via one of the most intriguing, perplexing and musical techniques developed for the acoustic guitar in recent years...bell harmonics. With an audience that numbers over a million subscribers worldwide and celebrity fans clamoring for the chance to collaborate with him, Alan Gogoll decided to start a new chapter in his life by moving to Berlin for inspiration and a new and calmer state of mind. This podcast was recorded in Alan’s apartment - some six weeks after he made this leap of faith. He discusses the joy of luthier-made guitars, those trademark bell harmonics, protecting innovation and creativity from the acceptance of plagiarism in other cultures, the writing process, and how to add other artistic disciplines to a guitar piece...as well as his recent ban from the social media platform TikTok. Scandal right here! To contribute directly to Life on the Fretboard please use this Tip Jar link https://michaelwattsguitar.com/tip-jars/4745 This episode of Life on the Fretboard is brought to you by the kind sponsorship of Microtech Gefell Microphones https://www.microtechgefell.de/ and the Fretboard Journal magazine https://www.fretboardjournal.com/. Thank you to Alan Gogoll - please do visit alangogoll.com and enjoy his music on YouTube, Spotify and Instagram. (But not TikTok.) https://www.youtube.com/@AlanGogoll https://www.instagram.com/alangogoll/ https://open.spotify.com/artist/7MOxmVjcx5HWoEu9pBWXT3?si=-BhBJIbrRjKHkL7uoh1bGg Next month’s guest is legendary guitarist and founder of Windham Hill Records Will Ackerman - it’s an astonishing conversation that we look forward to sharing with you.
56:50Jon Gomm is a virtuoso singer-songwriter whose astonishing command of extended acoustic guitar techniques is coupled with thought-provoking lyrics and a dry, often anarchic sense of humor. In this episode of Life on the Fretboard, Gomm shares his thoughts with host Michael Watts on having the guitar as part of his identity as well as a sanctuary, his horror of sonic paradigms and deeply dodgy guitar shops, the importance of Kurt Cobain, Michael Hedges bootlegs, and the vulnerabilities of practicing in airports. Gomm also talks about the role the instrument has played in his life as a cathartic, healing element - particularly in times of loss and sadness. Something we can all perhaps relate to. There is some adult language and listeners outside of the Leeds/Bradford conurbation may benefit from this brief glossary of terms: "To be het up" - to be highly excited, even agitated. "To wazz about" - To travel at great speed, often without a clear destination. Life On The Fretboard is a Michael Watts production for Fretboard Journal and this episode would not be possible without the kind sponsorship of McNally Guitars and Microtech Gefell Microphones. Links: https://www.jongomm.com/ https://mcnallyguitars.com/ https://www.microtechgefell.de/ https://michaelwattsguitar.com/ https://www.fretboardjournal.com/
46:54The Fretboard Journal is proud to welcome you to the very first episode of Life on the Fretboard, a new podcast hosted by British guitarist, filmmaker, and writer Michael Watts. For his first episode, Michael talks with the astonishing Scottish guitarist Tony McManus. Described by the late John Renbourn as “The Best Celtic Guitarist in the World,” McManus has toured the world delighting audiences with a combination of extraordinary musicianship and a deep connection with the music of Scotland. The conversation flows from an impromptu meeting with the most famous man in Scotland; to heroes such as Renbourn, Bert Jansch, and Isaac Guillory; taking the stage after John McLaughlin and Carlos Santana; adapting Scottish bagpipe pieces for solo guitar; the unforeseen effects of meeting Pat Metheny; and what it means to live a Life on The Fretboard. Life on the Fretboard is sponsored by The Archtop Foundation www.theblueguitars.com and Microtech Gefell Microphones www.microtechgefell.de and brought to you by the Fretboard Journal magazine. https://www.tonymcmanus.com/ www.michaelwattsguitar.com https://www.fretboardjournal.com/
1:33Life on the Fretboard is the newest addition to the Fretboard Journal's family of podcasts. With each episode, British guitarist, filmmaker, and writer Michael Watts interviews extraordinary individuals from the world of guitars. For his first season, Watts will focus on some of his favorite acoustic fingerstyle guitarists. Episode one with Tony McManus launches on January 9, 2022.