The recent unfortunate news of Allan Holdsworth’s passing has been a shock to the whole Guitar Community. If you are a fan of his work or not its impossible to deny the mans unparalleled skill, creativity and message with the electric guitar. Beyond the technicalities of his playing and music, there is a lot to learn from Allan’s approach to being a musician. His view of the guitar as just a took to create the music that he hears in his head and spending time working on sounding like yourself rather than copying anyone else are two ideas that resonated with me heavily since I first discovered him in my very early twenties. I am going to share with you my humble experiences of Holdsworths music in this article, I would love to hear some of your experiences of Holdsworths music.
I personally discovered him through hearing other players talk about him…this was a time where I had never listened to much fusion style music, hearing Holdsworth for the first time was a huge leap for my ears. I loved it and without really realising became obsessed with the vibe and feel his music had on me. I had no idea what he was doing, but that didn’t matter at all, he was painting unusual soundscapes that took my imagination to different places. From Holdsworth I discovered a whole world of jazz-rock-fusion guitar players who really opened up a whole world of new inspiration to me. Everything from his technical approach to his melodic/chordal approach inspired me as a technician, and his humble view of his own music and place in the guitar world really spoke to me as someone who has never really fitted in musically. I am not putting two and two together here however as Holdsworth has gone on to inspire tons of incredible guitarists.
I was fortunate enough to see him play in a local seaside town called Hastings here on the Southcoast UK. It was a small theatre and he was playing as a 3 piece band. There were probably about 20 people including myself in the audience. We had a really special low key gig with him. A tall Irish gentleman came and sat in the row of seats in front of me, it was Gary Moore. There were two incredible guitar legends in that room that night, it felt very special. Allan’s records sound excellent and I personally love his live performance recordings. However seeing and hearing him in the flesh was perhaps the best thing ever. His playing was on fire, however in between songs he would apologise for his playing and say how out of practice he was. He was very human and humble, however he had this genius ability to play guitar like he was from an alien planet, a parallel often made by people talking about Holdsworth.
As with most legendary guitarists, people often imitate but never get close. This is due to the nature of being human, but there are a whole host of modern players who have been positively inspired by Allan in creating their own unique voice in the Guitar World.
May his influence continue longer and like Allan, may people continue to push themselves to be the best version of themselves possible.
Rest In Peace Allan Holdsworth.
Mask of Judas are playing Frankfest 8th April alongside Orange Goblin and Beholder.
Get your tickets here:
I have a feeling this is going to be one heavy metal festival looking at that line up. I hope to see some faces there this weekend! We will be playing as a four piece as Reece is away with other work. I shall be grabbing my Ibanez 8 string and plugging it right into a Laney Ironheart 60 watt head and picking all the notes.
CAPTURE THE MOMENT ‘Paul Gilbert Jam’ PHOTOS
I recently received some extra photos from my jam with Paul Gilbert from upcoming photographer Jessie at Capture The Moment Photography you can find her Facebook Page here:
I am still inspired from my jam with Paul. I have been working on solidifying my technical playing and simplifying some of my more complex ideas. I have also been working on my vibrato and timing even more so since our jam. Sometimes its the simple stuff that lots of Guitarists over look, I am enjoying going back to basics!
NEW LICKLIBRARY STUFF ON THE WAY
I have been back at Guitar Interactive Magazine HQ filming some reviews and new columns but what is most exciting is that I will be working on a few new DVD’s I have a feeling that musicians looking to grab some composition concepts and tips on playing guitar in a musical context will enjoy this DVD. Of course there will be some licks and phrases to learn, but I hope to really focus on the concepts behind songwriting, creating and arranging a song in an instrumental context.
STILL GIGGING AWAY!
Of course I am still doing a lot of shows for the Freddie Butlins Tribute, and I will be back on tour in May with Lloyd Wade’s Soul Town and Beat Street. Playing live teaches me a lot, with every show I feel a sense of purpose and satisfaction with what I am part of. As you can tell by the photo above I am also able to pull a rock face whilst playing a soul tune! This photo was taken by Dan Holland, you can check out his more breathtaking photography here:
(Feature Image by https://www.facebook.com/michaelberkeleyphotography/ )
On Wednesday 22nd of March I was lucky enough to jam with one of my biggest influences and guitar hero’s Paul Gilbert. A massive thank you to Ben Robinson from UK Guitar Masterclass who is a fellow student at Paul Gilberts Artistworks Guitar Lesson website for making this amazing experience possible. The event was promoted and put on by him in association with Guitar Academy UK.
Paul gave as usual a fantastic masterclass in which he played some covers and discussed various approaches to note choice, groove and chords. Inspiring as always. He was joined by some fantastic local musicians who supported him on bass and drums, I was fortunate enough to catch soundcheck before the event was opened up to the public, they were jamming songs and learning them on the fly, and they did an amazing job!
Halfway through the masterclass Paul announced the time had come to jam with some audience members, I knew I was already on a list however everyone who had come to the event had the option of putting their name down on a piece of paper to be pulled out a hat at random. I was first up! I knew I was jamming so I was already quite nervous…I am fortunate to have a job where I play to a few 1,000 people a week at Holiday Parks around the UK, I have a fair bit of gigging experience (160 gigs in 2016 alone!), I am not usually afraid of going on stage and doing my job, but this time it was very different for me. Not only was I to be jamming with Paul Gilbert himself but the audience was packed full of Paul’s fans, most of whom play guitar! I also knew there were a fair amount of well known local musicians in the audience who I really respect as guitarists. The pressure was very different from what I am used to…I got out my seat, got my guitar out the bag and climbed onto the stage!
Paul was running a JCM800 Marshal head into a 4×12 cab, he had his usual array of pedals, a bright purple signature guitar and bright orange pants to match. He was super smiley and accommodating straight away. He gave me a few moments to sort out my sound. Turning around I noticed I had been bestowed a 1×12 single channel amp, it was a clean amp with a tone, volume and nothing much else. Someone had borrowed a bluesy style overdrive to slightly boost the amp..I am no stranger to this kind of basic set up, I am a fan of going direct into an amp…but today I feel I may have needed a bit of comfort from some familiar gear, which I didn’t have…but no time for excuses! Paul set up a cool jam that moved between a C# major and minor tonality during the chord sequence, straight away we started jamming… Whilst I am clearly nervous (you can tell mostly by my vibrato and rushed phrasing, especially towards the end) however during the jam I felt a sense of calm…I remember at one point listening to Paul and looking over and thinking to myself ‘I’m just jamming with Paul Gilbert’…then suddenly it hit me..this really was happening! It was a really fun jam and I had some nice compliments from him, his road manager and some people in the audience. Safe to say I drove home that night on a high!
I have studied Paul’s playing for years, and I know how versatile and experienced he is as a musician, showman and guitar player. But when you share a stage with someone like that, the experience is electrifying, its something that only those who have jammed with someone of his calibre would understand. Paul’s playing is indestructible…he has scary chops, and he execute them on a low slung guitar, whilst making guitar faces and most importantly make it groove and make total sense in the musical situation. It made me realise that I have a lot I need to clear out of my playing and re-evaluate how I focus on my practice and performance. Which is much needed for me as I have been feeling a bit directionless recently. I already started realising this a few years back when I started gigging REGULARLY in front of large numbers a few years ago, but listening back to my performance with Paul I can hear it and see it in plain sight. I know I can play better than I did in the jam…but its not about that, its about the fact I was able to get on stage with one of the worlds greatest guitarists and get the opportunity to communicate with him and jam.
Thank you Paul!
Recently the online guitar community received some heartbreaking news. Virtuoso Guitarist and Music Blogger Jason Spell took his own life a few days ago. Whilst I never had the pleasure of meeting the Man, he reached out to many other people and is much loved by not only his Family and Friends, but the whole online Guitar continuity. Jason was a hard working Musician, striving for the same things as all musicians strive for. Jason used to reach out to me when I was having my darker moments, he was super supportive of everyone in the community, he cared about it, he was part of it, and he added a light to it. Depression is a serious thing, nobody can ever really know how deep somebody else’s pain is, if you sense someone is struggling, reach out whilst you still can.
Rest in peace Jason.
There has been a Fund started for Jason’s wife Sarah. You can donate here:
Lloyd Wade’s Soul Town and Beat Street by Viva Productions:
Not long after I had started my Freddie Tribute contract for Viva Productions I got a call from them asking if I could hop on tour with two new productions as they had a guitarist drop out last minute. Of course I say yes! Viva Productions consists of a highly talented cast of 14 dancers and musicians, this particular tour has two shows, Beat Street, which is a high energy dance/drum/percussion based show with lots of different styles of music from RnB, Rock, Swing Jazz and Pure Pop, however this is all set to intense Latin and Hip Hop inspired rhythms and complex arrangements. The other act is Soul Town with Lloyd Wade, which features the same amazing cast however with the host being the incredibly talented Lloyd Wade. He knows a thing or two about soul music and it was an absolute honour to provide backing guitars for his set. You can catch him here singing with Take That at the O2 Arena:
I am fortunate enough to have been asked back for more dates on these tours in between my other work with the Freddie Tribute. I really enjoy playing as a sideman in different styles of music, I also really enjoy the choreography of stage performances like this, its awesome being part of it all. I hope to do lots more of this!
Mask of Judas Shows with Galactic Empire/Sithu Aye:
(Photo Credit Michael Berkeley Photography)
Before I went on tour with Viva, Mask of Judas had two shows with the amazing Star Wars metal band ‘Galactic Empire’ and the Anime inspired band Sithu Aye. We supported then at the Joiners in Southampton and Patterns in Brighton, we had a great show playing to sold out audiences. It makes me excited about our upcoming album release! Here is some footage from my GoPro at the Joiners:
NEW Premier Guitar Feature on Guthrie Govans ‘Erotic Cakes’ Album:
Premier Guitar called me up last month to make a feature on the amazing Guthrie Govan’s landmark guitar instrumental album ‘Erotic Cakes’. I had such fun creating the examples and writing the text for this feature, I break down his composition approach, gear, inspirations and technical aspects of this amazing album. I am proud of it, please check it out here: https://www.premierguitar.com/articles/25440-guthrie-govans-erotic-cakes
Paul Gilbert is coming to town
Paul is coming to the UK in March to do some guitar clinics, I have tickets to the Guildford and Bristol ones. I always feel inspired after watching Paul play and hearing him talk. One day I would love to jam on stage with him, just have fun playing phrases back and forth and cranking those Marshall’s past 5!
I recently went into Licklibrary/Guitar Interactive Magazine HQ to shoot some reviews, whilst I was there I recorded a live performance of a tune that will feature on my solo album called ‘Carry You’ here is the video!
Recording with The Sirens of Titan.
I have been in the studio over the weekend recording an ‘improvised’ album with some very talented local musician friends of mine who go by the name ‘The Sirens of Titan’. We headed to a local studio called ‘The Old Chapel Studio’ which looked amazing and had such great hosts. We only had one rule whilst we were recording ‘If it takes more than one take, its not going in’…so we had to be on our A-Game! We improvised 9 long jams and then picked the best ones. After this we had one more time to pass over all of the tracks with extras like vocals and synth pads. It was an honour to work with such great musicians and I am proud of what we created. We are going in for a mixing session in early February so watch this space!
The music we created was very spontaneous but everyone flourished at their full potential, the sounds direct at the source are amazing and it was sounding good right out of the desk. I have to say Mike Fry and I were blown away with the tone of our Eternal Guitar’s S and T types. I have found I really love the sound of my Fender Hot Rod Deluxe with Celestion Greenback (G12M?) speakers, I didn’t use much gain or over drive for the session. Just a light crunch with a bit of reverb and delay. I had my Providence Analogue Chorus Pedal and Mini Wah to play with during the take we did. Keith provided some wicked bass tones and some warm lush Analogue synth sounds with his original synths he brought along. The kit and percussion sounded amazing. Duncan Burgess and Steve Cubit provided all kinds of rhythmic sound spaces that really are the life and soul of the music we created. There is a bit of a 70s vibe to the sound as its all very real and honest, and I love that element of creating and production. Watch this space for more info on this project soon! Guitarists will love it I am sure!
And in other news…last week I had a small surge of creative energy I now have 6 tracks towards a solo album. These are just demos, I have no idea how I am going to afford to record this all properly…and I mean properly, I don’t want to do a solo album with amp plug ins and ez drummer, as great they are as creative tools and for certain productions. I recently posted about my thoughts on being a solo artist…I still feel that way, I feel like more of a side-man than an artist…but lets see where these tracks go, if I can get another two tracks on the go then I might think about heading into a studio at some point. We shall see! Until then keep an eye out on the LickLibrary and Guitar Interactive YouTube and Facebook pages for an exclusive live performance play through of the tune ‘Carry You’. Its real, its raw and it’s me.
MASK OF JUDAS SHOWS
I have just posted another news post on this website about two shows I have coming up with Mask of Judas supporting Sithu Aye and Galactic Empire which you can view here for tickets, dates and more info: http://www.sambellguitar.com/mask-judas-playing-sithu-aye-february-uk/
Mask of Judas have two shows coming up in February in the UK supporting the Star Wars themed metal band ‘Galactic Empire’ and the awesome Sithu Aye.
You can purchase tickets from these links:
Southampton Talking Heads Thursday 2nd Feb
Brighton Patterns Saturday 4th Feb
Last year proved to be an exciting year for me after completing over 140 shows, releasing 2 DVDs, finishing the Mask of Judas album recording and of course meeting and jamming with tons of really cool people. It was a blast! Now 2017 is here, I hope to share some things I am currently working on:
Mask of Judas have a couple of shows coming up in the UK (2nd/4th February in Brighton/Southampton) supporting Galactic Empire and Sithu Aye. The album has been mixed and it sounds amazing! I can’t wait for people to hear it, it features 10 tracks of what I feel is my best 7/8 string metal writing, I think its pretty different and I hope that it goes down well. More official news on this soon.
I have recently finished a new column series for Guitar Interactive Magazine on ‘The Bluffers Guide to being in a Covers Band’ which will be out in the next issue of the online magazine. I have also just finished a really cool feature on Guthrie Govans Erotic Cakes album for Premier Guitar Magazine. Watch this space!
My main task this month aside from regular teaching, Mask of Judas rehearsals and of course trying to write music for my solo album whenever I find a moment is learning Queen songs. I was recently asked to play lead guitar role in a Freddie Mercury/Queen Tribute act that is going to be exclusively playing at Butlins over the next year, I have at least 30 gigs already booked with this, and I am looking forward to playing some of Brian Mays classic solos and guitar moments on stage! There are lots of notes to learn and memorise and I find the challenge of memorising complex material really fun and rewarding!
In other breaking news, I trimmed my hair significantly…not sure why, but I need some change in my life, change can inspire new things.