Last updated Saturday 29th April 2017
Hello and welcome!
Maartin Allcock is a multi-instrumentalist born in Manchester in 1957. After an apprenticeship in folkclubs and dancebands, he ran away to join the Bully Wee Band, a Celtic folk group, which led on to an 11-year stint with folk-rock leg ends Fairport Convention, four years with rock band Jethro Tull and a session career which has included over 300 albums and now also lends his experience to record production. Now read on...
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I am very proud to be an endorser for D'Addario Strings. I use them on all my instruments, as they really are the best.
WHY TWO A's IN MAARTIN?
I was born with one A in Martin. Around 1978, I was spending a lot of time in Dublin, and there was a bar/restaurant called The Onion Field in Ranelagh, where all the musicians used to gather after their gigs. It often didn't kick off till about 1am. I was sitting there one night when in walked the great fiddler Kevin Burke (Bothy Band, Patrick Street, Celtic Fiddle Festival) and he sat right by me. Someone called for him to get the fiddle out and give a tune, so he did, and it was, of course, sublime.
I said to him, "Kevin, I've admired you for years on your recordings, I've seen you play onstage many times, but to hear you this close is a real treat."
He asked my name. "Martin", I replied in my own accent.
"North Manchester", he said.
"How do you know that?"
"I have an ear for these things. I shall call you Maart, and from now on you must spell it with two A's."
So I do. It's one of the best presents I've ever had, because I use it every day, and it cost him nothing, and everyone knows it's me. Thank you Kevin, you are not only one of my favourite musicians, but also still one of my heroes :)
NEW TRIO - MANCUNIA - SOUNDBITES NOW ON THE WEBSITE
There is a new trio afoot. Three Mancs playing all kinds of stuff. Tim O'Connor is a great songwriter and Andy Dinan's fiddle playing is awesome. This is eclectic. We're tackling some home-grown songs, some folk music, some self-penned instrumentals, and rescuing some great songs from their previous cage of a prog-rock heritage. We've started putting material together now for demos and towards an album. We've been booked for Peter Chegwyn's excellent Wickham Festival in August, and we will be playing a few warm-up shows beforehand. The new website is up and running now, with music snippets and up-to-date news being added all the time.
SPRING CLEARANCE SALE MUST END TUESDAY
I've been exposed to far too many ads on TV in the last six months and in a moment of madness I have decided to have a (non-sofa) Spring Sale of my own. As a result my solo albums OX15 (1999) and Serving Suggestion (2004) are currently available for just £5.00 (or local equivalent) plus p&p (sorry, I can't influence postal costs) and Chilli Morning is available 50% off at just £6.00 (or local equivalent) plus p&p.
Also until Tuesday 2nd May, the Dave Swarbrick Fiddle Tunes book is available at £35.00 (£10.00 off - or local equivalent) plus p&p.
DAVE SWARBRICK FIDDLE TUNES BOOK
The 240pp book features the work of Dave Swarbrick from his contributions to the Ian Campbell Folk Group in the 1960s and the first solo album Rags, Reels and Airs (1967) through the solo albums of the 1970s, 80s and 90s, his work with Martin Carthy, Fairport Convention, Whippersnapper, The Band Of Hope and Swarb's Lazarus right up to some as yet unrecorded tunes of Swarb's composition. The copious notes on the tunes were proofread and added to by Swarb. There are over 300 tunes in all. It's yet another mammoth task in the series (three Fairport Convention Songbooks, Sandy Denny Complete Songbook, three Richard Thompson songbooks, three Beth Nielsen Chapman songbooks, three Kieran Halpin songbooks...)
Swarb and Maart signing copies of the Dave Swarbrick Fiddle Tunes book, December 2015
PS. How ironic that this volume now covers his life's work. I'm so glad that he got to see it, and that it went into profit while he was alive.
50% of all profits now go directly to Swarb's widow, Jill Swarbrick-Banks.
"Seeing this book of all the tunes I have ever recorded is a bit like leafing through a family photograph album. Some sepia and curling at the edge, some familiar and others not remembered (“who’s that?”). Firstly I have to thank Maart for giving me the pleasure. He has attacked what seemed to me a daunting task with humour, expertise and patience. The early days with the Beryl Marriott band gave me the basis of a repertoire, and many of the dance tunes picked up then are on these pages. It strikes me that I chose my material ‘by ear’, playing and recording the ones I liked, be they Irish, Scottish, English, American or Canadian. Fiddle music has no frontiers or customs officers, and it travels the world without hindrance. This is how I played them for better or for worse. You can play them like I do or did, or you can use this book as a springboard to take them further, or go back into the past and find out for yourselves how they started life. These melodies have been food and drink to me all my life." - Swarb, winter 2014
"What a beautiful book in every way. Even for a non-player, this collection of tunes and photographs is a joy to own. It is Dave Swarbrick's musical history so far. A true labour of love and a gift to the world of music" - Peter Knight (Gigspanner, Steeleye Span)
"If you are like me and were inspired by Swarb’s playing when learning the fiddle and never quite got around to cracking all those great tunes, this is the book for you. Brilliantly transcribed by Maartin Allcock, it is the ultimate fiddle tune reference, a must have!" - Ian Cutler (Feast Of Fiddles, Bully Wee Band)
"A while back, Maartin Allcock asked me to write a paragraph or two about the Dave Swarbrick Fiddle Tunes book. I hadn't done so when Dave died. Rather than give it a review, I'd like to say this instead. If anyone wants to remember Swarb, I can't think of any better way than having a copy of this tune anthology. It covers his entire career and it's clearly a labour of love on the part of Maart who has done a wonderful job. That's all folks. Dave Swarbrick RIP" - Phil Beer (Show Of Hands, Feast Of Fiddles, Mick Jagger, etc)
MIRABILIA NOW AVAILABLE
At long last this remarkable album is available. I met singer Lisa Starnini in Napoli when I played at Goodfellas club with Jerry Cutillo and OAK in February 2014. She gave me a copy of an EP that her band, Cirque des Rêves, had just released. I listened to it while driving home from Manchester airport. Twice in succession. I was really taken with it. It reminded me of quite a few things that had excited me in my life – northern European folk music, deep rock music, violin based rock like Curved Air, and above it all a great vocal.
Lisa and her guitarist husband Gianni Ilardo bought the old Massive Attack studio in Napoli and spent months cleaning it out, plastering the walls, rewiring it and so on and getting it to the point where it was good enough to be considered a professional facility once again where great albums could be recorded. Mirabilia was the first album to be recorded there in the studio’s new guise. Lisa invited me to go and produce it. It was one of the best musical journeys of my life, and Lisa is such an amazing force of nature. I spent nearly a month there in early summer 2015 and fell in love with the place - the city, the weather, the food, but most of all, the people. We had a lot of laughs making this record, and I'm very proud of it. I brought it home to Wales to mix and master it with my friend Siôn Jones.
Given the current state of the music industry, it's no surprise that an album of such depth and musicality did not find an immediate release, but it's finally available on iTunes. Please have a listen. It costs about the same as a good bottle of wine, but this will last much longer...
UPDATE: Gianni Ilardo was the victim of a fatal scooter crash on the way home from work in January 2017, in a hit-and-run incident. Gianni had set up a music school in the same premises as the studio in Posillipo, and every day it was great to see so many young kids coming through the doors to learn our language. Gianni was just 39, daddy to two wonderful kids, taken too young. RIP. My love and thoughts are with Lisa and the beautiful bambini and with Gianni's parents.
LISA STARNINI & MAART DUO ALBUM
Work on a duo album with Lisa, from the Napoli bands Cirque des Rêves and Elyza Jeph, of cover versions and folksongs, was obviously put on hold due to recent events. Meanwhile I'm working away on it because I know that it is a great project, and I know that people who like my stuff and Lisa's stuff will get what we're doing. I am so proud of this album. We firstly recorded a version of Richard Thompson's song A Heart Needs A Home, for Mike Harding's internet radio show #171 (about 44:17 into the show), and which has now transformed into something else, and we decided to try some other material too. Our album is tentatively titled Two Bays:Due Baie, as it's being recorded in the bays of Tremadog and Napoli. We're almost done recording now, so it's due for editing, mixing and mastering next. This album will probably be available as a download only. More news as it happens.
I am very proud to have played a bass session for this new album from Amy Sky, Olivia Newton John and Beth Nielsen Chapman, available now.
I arranged and played on a track on the new album Imbolc, for an old friend, Mike Billington. Also features Tír na nÓg and Mike Harding. Available from www.eponarecords.com
I played keys on a track for my old chum, fellow ex-Fairporter and Telemaster Jerry Donahue, who is currently recovering from a stroke. The Ashgrove Sessions album also features ace uilleann piper Davy Spillane. Available from www.ashgroveband.com
YUSUF CAT STEVENS
I was delighted to record an album, The Laughing Apple, with Yusuf at ICP Studios in Brussels a while back, which will hopefully appear this year. We've already started work on the follow-up album, this time at Benny Andersson's RMV Studio in Stockholm. Both albums are produced by my favourite producer Paul Samwell-Smith, who I worked a lot with in the 1980s and 1990s. I worked on Yusuf's comeback album, An Other Cup, in 2006. It was a brilliant time and Yusuf is a musical genius and such a nice man. While I was in Stockholm I heard of the death of my mother, and Yusuf was very supportive to me. Yusuf's long-time sideman Alun Davies was on acoustic guitar, singing and general support, Kwame Yerboah was on drums and percussion, and I was on basses, acoustic and electric guitars and keyboards. The engineer was David Hefti from Hansa Studios Berlin.
I've been working on an album for singer-songwriter Deborah Rose and her friend Mari Randle. Some of it has been recorded in the house next door, some further down the coast, and some at Canolfan Sain near Caernarfon. I was very lucky to record a blackbird singing very beautifully in the back garden and I signed him up immediately as a guest vocalist on one of the tracks, but I haven't been able to get him to sign a release form as yet. We have six or seven tracks well on the way now. It's very different, very beautiful, very interesting music.
My most recent album, Chilli Morning (2014), is my first since 2004's Serving Suggestion. The cover painting was done by my old schoolchum Dave Gleeson. There are some quite folky acoustic things on there, some of my more raucous rock-folk stuff, some prog-ish tuneful things and an acoustic version of King Crimson's Discipline, probably the hardest thing I've ever done. Guests include 10cc's Paul Burgess on drums, Banbury bass player Mick Bennion, Scots keyboard whiz Angus Lyon (Blazin' Fiddles, The Halton Quartet), The Wonder Stuff's Martin "Fiddly" Bell and Jerry Cutillo from Rome on flute. The album is only available from my website shop.
Some nice quotes I've had about it:
"It's a well-sounding album. Maart is a much more versatile player than I ever was" - Robert Fripp, from his DGM Diary
"Love the album, didn't know what to expect. Very musical and inventive and out there. Deserves to do well and I hope it does. V special old chap, congrats" - Dave Swarbrick
LAST FEW COPIES OF OX15 NOW ON SALE
Still a few copies available of my 1999 album, OX15, which includes a special guest flute appearance from Ian Anderson, late of Jethro Tull.
My second solo album, "Serving Suggestion" (2004) is also available. Just click on the picture above.
I am a very proud endorser of G7th capos. I was talking to that nice Mr Campling, and he sent me the new engraved version of the Performance 2 capo. Thank you Nick :)
That's me at the front of the Fontana del Moro, Piazza Navona, Rome. I wonder who I was?
I am known to many in the UK for my connections to folk music and folk-rock. However, my musical taste is very eclectic, having played with rock bands, dance bands, ballad singers, songwriters, jazz bands and symphony orchestras, and when I was young, even a reggae band! After some bad experiences in Italy in the 1990s I had given up on the country until I met Jerry Cutillo in Barcelona a few years ago as a guest of Los Tullianos, the Spanish Jethro Tull appreciation society. He invited me to go to Rome to play there with his band OAK, and I have become a regular visitor to Italy, and have made many friends there. I will always be grateful to him for showing me a different side. It was through Jerry that I met Lisa Starnini and Cirque des Rêves, which has opened doors for me in Napoli. In fact I'm having to learn Italian now as I have run out of excuses not to speak the language! It's hard to find a tutor in Snowdonia though, so if anyone has any info which could help me there, I'd be very grateful.
This is where people email me a track, I do my bits and email it back. I've been studying the Apple Pro Certification curriculum for Logic Pro X and I pretty much know the program inside out now. It's like having the keys to the best studio around. I love this century! Well, most of it anyway. Clients include Beth Nielsen Chapman, Olivia Newton John, The Bar-Steward Sons Of Val Doonican, Ashgrove Band (featuring Telemaster Jerry Donahue), Butch Kincaid, my old friend Paul Abbott, his cousin Pete Abbott, Jerry Donahue's daughter Kristina Donahue, Belfast band RunawayGO, songwriter Peter Byrne in Sark, Blandford Forum-based songwriter Rod Jenkins and long-time chum Mike Billington. Also visitors to record here in Harlech include Beth Nielsen Chapman, Ralph McTell, Sarah Smith, and Deborah Rose and Mari Randle.
I live on the west coast of Wales, near Harlech in Gwynedd,
and it's a very beautiful place.
Have a look here at some pictures.
Website by Maartin Allcock