FEATURE: Ian Bartholomew – My Inspiration | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Ian Bartholomew is a vocalist and guitarist in local folk band Peg Powler. Ahead of playing as part of the Nick Drake tribute show at The Georgian Theatre in Stockton on Saturday 19th May and The Cluny on Sunday 20th May. Ahead of that Ian told us why Nick Drake is such a big influence.

I first came across Nick Drake through the pages of the musical periodicals of the early 80’s. Long before hearing any of his music and thoughts of even picking up a guitar myself, his name featured regularly in the interviews of upcoming Post Punk/Indie stalwarts such as R.E.M, Julian Cope and The Cure. They would cite his name alongside his contemporaries Bert Jansch and John Martyn, the latter of whom after hearing his album Bless the Weather first inspired me to take up the Acoustic Guitar.

As with a lot of people after hearing a style of music for the first time, I opened up Pandora’s box in the Acoustic Guitar/Songwriter Genre and traced the lineage back from Martyn to Jansch, Martin Carthy, Wizz Jones, Davey Graham and of course Nick Drake.

Around this time 87, I bought the compilation album Time of No Reply consisting of outtakes and alternate versions of his studio albums and was a world away from the current musical climate of 1987’s over produced pop and after my own musical birth coinciding with 1977 and all that went after that up to this point, songs like Black Eyed Dog and Hanging on a Star were like nothing I’d ever heard. The uneasy time signatures and melancholic themes of these songs seemed to coincide with the transition of your teen years into adulthood, of immediate crushes to experiencing deeper emotions of love and loss.

My own playing was very tentative to begin with and to anyone who knows, learning Nick Drake songs are not for the faint hearted. Apart from the weird tunings there is also the intricate often impossible picking patterns littered through the majority of his songs and for a novice player they were soon dropped in favour of simpler forms.

But the one thing that has stuck with me after re-visiting his outtake albums and home recordings in search of the right songs for the upcoming tribute gigs is how much that lineage and influence of the older generation guys like Bert Jansch and Davey Graham are evident in his playing and of course a lot of their influences came from the rural acoustic Blues pickers of the 30’s 40’s and 50’s.

I see music as a great big old tree and Nick Drake songs are another branch with many off shoots that have grown through time but the roots run deep and are somehow all connected.

Ian Bartholomew performs as part of the Nick Drake tribute show at The Georgian Theatre in Stockton on Saturday 19th May and The Cluny on Sunday 20th May.

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