Martin Simpson

Martin Simpson is one of the world's premiere acoustic guitarists and a powerful songwriter with a rich, charactered voice. His playing, which in part defined the English steel string acoustic guitar sound, is idiosyncratic, instantly recognisable, and revered among guitar fans. His body of work is very diverse encompassing all types of traditional and acoustic music, and he has toured with everyone from June Tabor to Steve Miller.

Martin was born in Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire, in north-eastern England and grew up with the benefit of rather diverse musical influences. His father enjoyed light opera and Victorian parlour ballads. From his older brothers he heard rock, jazz, R&B and blues. He started playing tile guitar when he was twelve and picked up the banjo shortly thereafter. As soon as he started playing music Martin knew that he wanted to be a professional musician and starred playing in public as soon as he could, learning as he went. He was fortunate to live in an area rich with great music. As a teenager he was hearing and working with performers like Dick Gaughan, the Watersons, Tim Hart and Maddy Prior of Steeleye Span, Stefan Grossman, Martin Carthy, Nick Jones and Christy Moore. There was a folk club near his home in Scunthorpe, and Martin started going there weekly from the age of twelve. He also hung out at blues festivals where he heard legendary blues performers and got to meet Big Joe Williams.

Martin was playing music professionally from the time he was fifteen. When he was twenty-two he recorded his first Album, Golden Vanity on the Leader Trailer label. The year the album came out (1976), Martin went on tour with Steeleye Span, opening for them in some of the biggest rock venues in England. The following year, June Tabor asked him to tour with her. It was a wonderful opportunity, and Martin ended up working with Tabor for a decade. They eventually recorded three albums together on Topic Records (A Cut Above, Abyssinians, and Aqaba). As his career progressed. Martin also worked with some of Britain's best musicians, including Martin Carthy, Ashley Hutchings and Richard Thompson.

After many years in America, featuring releases on the Red House and Shanachie labels, Martin has returned home, settled back in his native Yorkshire, and re-signed to Topic Records where he has recorded a series of critically acclaimed releases, including winning two best album of the year awards from the BBC Radio 2 Folk on 2 awards. His two Rhiannon albums are recordings made whilst Martin was based in Santa Cruz, California in the mid 1990s.

All Martin's albums highlight the elements that make his live performances so splendid - particularly brilliant guitar playing and rich emotional vocals. The diverse collection of songs includes English ballads, traditional Celtic melodies. contemporary folk, and slide-guitar driven blues. No wonder the editors of Guitar Player recently called Martin one of the world's finest acoustic players.