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The Vortex City Sessions at Bishopsgate Institute: Michael Chapman + James Blackshaw
The Vortex returns to the Beautiful Bishopsgate Great Hall for an evening with two of the most interesting guitarists, spanning two generations.
Championed by John Peel in the 1970s, Yorkshire-born Michael Chapman has already been rediscovered in the US courtesy of his connections with No Neck Blues Band and the late Jack Rose. An extensive interview by fan Thurston Moore in Fretboard Journal in 2009, where Moore compared Chapman's style and influence with that of John Renbourn and Bert Jansch (both of whom Chapman knew from his early days), has opened Chapman up to a whole new audience and generation. Following a UK tour last year with Thurston Moore, audiences here are now quite rightly giving Chapman the wider recognition he deserves for his uniquely English melancholic perspective and emotive guitar style.
"Just as John Fahey and Robbie Basho were belatedly sainted by a slew of avant-garde musicians eager to enrich their experimental fields with old primitive tradition, so the same enclave have reached out to embrace Yorkshire-born minstrel Michael Chapman."
Spencer Grady BBC Music website
James Blackshaw performs celestial and spirit-lifting guitar-led compositions. Meditative in quality, cinematic in scope, his music spirals gracefully across complex patterns, motifs and harmonics. He made his name as a 12-string acoustic guitarist, and his relationship with the instrument is near perfect. With an extensive back catalogue to his name on labels like Young God, Tompkins Square and Important Records, he has developed a unique playing style that takes Takoma school finger-picking into an entirely new place. Swirling overtones, cascading notes and a thousand points of light cascade from his guitar and create ever-shifting textures that bear the influence of contemporary classical composition, post-rock dynamics and invisible soundtracks as much as the American folk guitar tradition.
“…one of the best and most original instrumentalists in the new, acoustic renaissance.” Rolling Stone
“There’s an indecent ease to James Blackshaw’s guitar playing. His fingerpicking mantras are as melodic as a music box, gliding through dizzying tempos like clockwork… Such is the silky control he exerts over his instrument, Blackshaw often sounds more like a court harpist than a backwoods strummer.” The Wire