El McMeen


Format: CD

Genre:  Folk/Celtic

Tracks:  17

Playing time:  45 minutes

Availability (out of 3):  2

Related website(s):  http://elmcmeen.com

My rating: 9/10

I like…  The clean, adept, sonorous, evocative playing

I’m less keen on…  Nothing really, though some would prefer the addition of other instruments and/or the inclusion of other genres


 I first came across El McMeen through guitar tutorial material produced by Stefan Grossman. Many of the tunes on this album are featured on an El McMeen guitar instructional DVD.

The CD  is a selection of Irish music, mainly traditional, played solo on acoustic steel-strung guitar. Continue reading “El McMeen”


A tongue-in-cheek blues!

Despite having retired recently, and despite my resolve to wait until early September before looking for some part-time work, life seems to have been busy – a frail mother to keep an eye on, two new musical instruments to get to grips with (a koa-wood tenor ukulele and a quality high Irish whistle)…


Apologies to visitors to my blog who have found nothing new here in three weeks!

I’m working on another music review to post, but for now here’s a light-hearted (well, fairly light-hearted!) blues lyric that I’ve jotted down to give mild vent to some of my frustrations. I’ve recently turned 60, so am entitled to be grumpy! Continue reading “A tongue-in-cheek blues!”

Rev Gary Davis: From Blues To Gospel


Format: CD

Genre:  Blues/ragtime

Tracks:  13

Playing time:  50 minutes

Availability (out of 3):  3

Related website(s):  http://reverenddavis.org/

My rating: 10/10

I like…  The impassioned singing, the energy and variations of the guitar playing

I’m less keen on…  Nothing – this is authentic blues – allowance needs to be made for the lack of polish! 


I first encountered Rev Gary Davis’ name in guitar tuition books in the early 1980s. I bought a vinyl album containing some of his 1960s recordings (some of which feature on this CD) and, although I wasn’t keen on some of them, others blew me away. I have a number of CDs of his recordings from this period, but I think that this one makes an excellent starting point for his music, especially given the album’s price.


Although blind from early childhood, by the age of eight or nine, Rev Davis had learned to play guitar, banjo and harmonica. He played and sang on sidewalks to make a living, and mentored Blind Boy Fuller, even claiming that Fuller owed him everything he knew, which seems a little exaggerated. He also made some recordings in the 1930s, but remained aggrieved for the rest of his days about the lack of remuneration he received. This affected his attitude to making recordings in later life. He died in 1972.

As with a number of other black bluesmen who had recorded in the 1920s and 1930s he was rediscovered in the American folk revival of the 1960s.

Rev Davis and Gibson SJ200 guitar

Continue reading “Rev Gary Davis: From Blues To Gospel”

Sorry for my absence!

Apologies if you have been kind enough to have followed my blog. I’ve had the excitement and unbridled joy of a family wedding in June, and the care and anxiety of a family hospitalisation and rehabilitation on my plate – as well as finalising plans for (semi-) retirement!

Even posting this apology didn’t quite make it to the top of my “to do” list – I guess I kept telling myself I’d be back here sooner than I was!




Kate Rusby: Hourglass


Format: CD

Genre:  Folk (trad, vocal)

Tracks: 11

Playing time:  46 minutes

Availability (out of 3): ***

Related website(s):  http://www.katerusby.com

My rating: 10/10

I like…  Kate’s natural voice, poignant lyrics, minimal arrangements, the combined sound  instruments, tunes, and Kate’s voice

I’m less keen on… Nothing really


I first came across Kate Rusby in a guitar magazine. A few months later she was scheduled to perform a gig nearby. I booked a ticket and decided to sample some of her music beforehand. I settled for this, her first album.



Kate Rusby comes from Barnsley, Yorkshire. Prior to her solo work she had worked with Celtic girl band Continue reading “Kate Rusby: Hourglass”

John Renbourn: Live In Italy


Format: CD

Genre:  Folk/jazz

Tracks: 8

Playing time:  47 minutes

Availability (out of 3): **

Related website(s):  http://www.johnrenbourn.co.uk

My rating: 9/10

I like…  The variety of genres, the evocative and deft guitar playing

I’m less keen on… Nothing really, although ideally I’d have liked the inclusion of some of John’s interaction with the audience


I first came upon the late John Renbourn’s music through references in guitar tuition material. Not long after, I obtained a vinyl copy of “John Renbourn”.  Years later I added a CD or two to my collection, then, after hearing him live twice with harpist/multi-instrumentalist Robin Williamson, added a few more. I count myself honoured to have had my copy of this album autographed – complete with a pentangle symbol – by John at one of those gigs, where I bought it.

Continue reading “John Renbourn: Live In Italy”

Don McLean: Tapestry


Format: CD

Genre:  Product DetailsFolk/pop

Tracks: 11

Playing time: 42 minutes

Availability (out of 3): **

Related website(s):  https://don-mclean.com

My rating:  10/10

I like…  Don’s voice, the thought-provoking lyrics, the range of tunes, arrangements and sounds

I’m less keen on…  Nothing really, though as with any album I like some tracks more than others


In 1971 suddenly, and seemingly out of nowhere, an American singer-songwriter captivated many listeners with an epic but enigmatic song, “American Pie”, and the following year with “Vincent”. Much as I was tempted at the time to buy the “American Pie” album, I opted instead to buy Don’s debut album, “Tapestry”. Although the album, and its title track, shared the same name as Carole King’s better known “Tapestry”, Continue reading “Don McLean: Tapestry”