Known to many an aspiring guitarist for his tutorial books, CDs and DVDs, Stefan Grossman began his own studies aged 15 at the feet of bluesman Rev.Gary Davis. Since then he has played with many of the biggest names in business, and has never stopped learning, teaching, recording and performing all over the world. This is a rare chance to catch one of the world’s greatest acoustic blues, fingerpicking and ragtime guitarists. Don’t miss it!
We open our autumn season with an unusual treat from the world of contemporary folk music, with the father-and-daughter line-up of Steve and Martha Tilston. Both of them are well-known and popular performers, but it is rare that they appear on the same stage so this is a chance not to be missed. They will perform separate sets but will also perform a few numbers together.
Steve Tilston has been described as “a complete guitarist,” “a singer songwriter of rare talent” and “absurdly accomplished.” He’s the writer of the classic The Slipjigs and Reels, The Naked Highwayman and Here’s to Tom Paine and his songs have been covered by a who’s who of the folk scene. His career was marked by the release in 2010 of Reaching Back, a 5-CD boxed-set retrospective, and he’s also published a powerful historical novel. Celebrating 40 years in the business, he’s on as great form as ever. His last album The Reckoning garnered him the “Best Original Song” accolade at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards last year, plus invitations to appear on Later with Jools Holland and BBC4’s Songwriters’ Circle. Perhaps best known for his song-writing prowess, Steve is also a blinding, dazzling guitarist with a style echoing the elaborate rhythmic “folk baroque” of Bert Jansch and Davy Graham, but also drawing from classical, roots and the tradition to create a sound that has been called quintessentially Tilston.
- A great narrator on top form. The Observer ****
- …dominated by Tilston’s exquisite guitar work … The Guardian ****
- …songs of great heart, delivered with authority and instrumental panache. The Scotsman
- Another superb set from the good Mr Tilston, who just can’t seem to put a finger wrong. FROOTS
STOP PRESS: Steve’s latest album Happenstance is due for release on September 3rd and should be available for you to buy at the venue.
Martha Tilston displays a comparable originality with lyrics and an equally compelling stage presence as her father, but her musical style is totally different. She originally trained as an actor, but the tug of her musical lineage set in, and by her late teens, she had taken up the acoustic guitar and taught herself the fine art of fingerpicking, finding her voice — a shivering, autumnal bird-song evocative of a young Joni Mitchell — along the way.
She released her lo-fi debut, Rolling, in 2003, while touring Ireland as support for troubadour Damian Rice. Tilston’s earthy compositions and delicate melodies earned her a growing audience, but she declined the lucrative offers from established record labels, choosing instead to set up her own label, Squiggly Records. She funded the pressing of her next record, 2005’s Bimbling, through the sale of the album’s canvas-painted artwork. By 2007, she was opening the Acoustic Stage at Glastonbury with songs from her album Milkmaids and Architects, garnering a nomination for Best New Act at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.
Her songwriting eschews the hoary ‘moors and maids’ folk imagery of old for gentle, probing meditations on modern concerns such as consumerism, urbanization and unheard voices, but she also finds space for haunting love songs, and one-off originals such as Old Tomcat, her sensual personal paean to Leonard Cohen. She’s performed at demos and marches, and played a set at Climate Camp in 2009, but Tilston considers herself too nomadic to hitch her star to any wagon. “I feel strongly about not getting stuck in any one scene; I try to weave my music through the world without becoming ingratiated to any one group.” And as her latest album, Machines of Love and Grace confims, it’s a creative independence that pays off.
From reviews of Machines of Love and Grace:
- “eloquently explores the relationship between technology and the human condition” BBC
- “her voice is as lovely as ever…a fine and evocative album” Folk Radio UK
- “Tilston’s tough personal approach makes for an engaging, unusual album” Guardia
We can safely expect an engaging, unusual evening from the two Tilstons.
Tickets £10/£9 concessions
Pre-concert meals available at our cafe, pre-booking essential.
With The Dawn Tour 2015 – supported by Routes South West, Bristol Music Centre and Arts Council England.
Bella Hardy, BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards Singer of the Year 2014, tours her eagerly anticipated new album ‘With The Dawn’; a heartfelt collection of self-composed songs which tell a story of travel, of choices, of lessons unlearned, and also of hope. One of the most creative, prolific and original singers in the UK, her captivating voice inhabits her music and spins her narratives with an equal balance of strength and sensitivity.
The ‘With The Dawn’ Band complement Bella’s breath-taking vocals and narrative fiddle with a powerful and evocative mix of banjo, piano, electronics and drums. With roots firmly within the folk tradition, songs written straight from the heart, and bold steps into a new world of sound and expression, this is a performance not to be missed.
“…unveiled, committed, uncontrived, persuasive, passionate, empowering, and utterly wonderful” – Colin Irwin, fRoots
The Tolmen Centre is thrilled to be presenting world renowned guitarist, singer and songwriter Martin Simpson. The remarkable intimate solo performances Martin gives go from strength to strength – every gig is a masterclass. He travels the length and breadth of the UK and beyond, giving rapt audiences passion, sorrow, love, beauty, tragedy and majesty through his playing. In this show, he will be playing songs from his brand new album, ‘Trails and Tribulations’, to be released on September 1st, as well as older material.
40 years after he recorded his first album, Golden Vanity, in 1976, Martin is known as a guitarist of formidable talent. Equally at home playing English traditional folk, American folk and blues and his own compositions, he is consistently named as one of the very finest fingerstyle guitar players in the world. He is listed in Gibson Guitars’ Top 30 Acoustic Guitarists of all time, and Acoustic Guitar readers voted him number 12 guitarist in the world in 2005.
Universally acclaimed as one of the finest ever acoustic and slide guitar players, and a fine banjo-picker to boot, his solo shows bear witness to an artist at the very top of his game. Whether interpreting material from tradition or singing his own potent self-penned songs, Simpson is a remarkable storyteller: captivating and profoundly moving. His own songwriting produced the poignant ‘Never Any Good’, from Prodigal Son, 2007’s Folk Album of the Year.
Martin continues to collaborate with a dazzling array of people from across the musical spectrum: Jackson Browne, Martin Taylor, June Tabor, Richard Hawley, Bonnie Raitt, Danny Thompson, David Hidalgo, Danú, Richard Thompson and Dom Flemons are among the great musicians he has worked with.
He has had the most nominations of any performer in the 15 years of the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, an astonishing 31 times, 12 of those as Musician of the Year, winning that particular accolade twice.
A virtuoso player without question, but above all Martin Simpson conveys his diverse treasure trove of material from the heart, performing with rare subtlety, intensity and honesty. A true master of his art.
“Martin is in a class of his own. He is such an expressive player; he is ingenious in his use of the guitar. You can listen to one of his songs and three or four minutes in, he has only used the top four strings and not even played a bass note yet, and when he does, it feels like an orchestra coming in. His clarity of playing is just amazing.” Jackson Browne
“One of the virtuoso instrumentalists of the English music scene” ‘Sounds better than ever’ **** 4 Stars The Guardian
“Simpson has become a fine interpreter of traditional and other songs, as well as a notable writer of his own.” The Times
‘Simpson’s latest is a potent blend of the highest calibre…Simpson has never sung or played better’ Acoustic MagazineBook Online
Brought to us by the amazing combined talent of Constantine, a great annual treat to round off the festive season.