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Martin Simpson

Martin Simpson is one of the most visible examples of the relationship between the Celtic folk of the United Kingdom and American musics such as country and the blues, which branched away from their British sources as American immigrants became distant from their past countrymen. Simpson's life charts a similar journey -- one of the most technically gifted guitarists alive in the 2000s, he was born in South Humberside, England, but moved to the United States in the late '80s (after recording several solo albums and appearing with many major British folk-rock figures) to absorb Stateside forms of guitar playing, meanwhile recording both as himself and with his American wife, Jessica Radcliffe Simpson.

Born in the Humberside town of Scunthorpe in northern England, Simpson began playing guitar at the age of 12, and just two years later was playing local pubs. Well-known on the regional circuit by the early '70s, he recorded his debut album, Golden Vanity, in 1976, for Bill Leader's Trailer Records. Instead of aligning itself with the new contemporary folk songs or their traditional precursors, Golden Vanity borrowed elements of both, with Dylan covers alongside ancient ballads. He toured with Steeleye Span and the Albion Band during the late '70s, and began a long relationship with June Tabor, working on her solo albums and earning a co-billing for 1981's A Cut Above. His next three albums, released from 1981 to 1986, were quite good, and though they generated little fanfare, Shanachie Records signed him just after his move to the U.S. in 1987. That same year, he released a duet album with his wife Jessica entitled True Dare or Promise. His first Shanachie release, 1989's Leaves of Life, signaled another period of artistic excellence, exemplified by its follow-ups When I Was on Horseback, A Closer Walk with Thee, and Red Roses, again recorded with Jessica. During the mid-'90s, the Simpsons played with a group called the Band of Angels and recorded for such labels as Rhiannon, Red House, and Water Lily Acoustic. A new collection of British traditional folk songs called Bramble Briar arrived in 2001, followed by Righteousness and Humidity, a bluesy set inspired by the deep south featuring Steeleye Span's Rick Kemp. 2005 saw a return to English folk with Kind Letters, followed by the award-winning Prodigal Son (2007), the genre-hopping True Stories (2009), and the star-studded Purpose & Grace (2011). After the embellishments of Purpose & Grace, Simpson stripped everything back to just banjo, guitar, and vocals on 2013's Vagrant Stanzas. ~ John Bush
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Vagrant Stanzas

1. Diamond Joe

2. Jackie And Murphy

3. Shepherds Rejoice

4. Come Down Jehovah

5. Molly As She Swings

6. Palaces Of Gold

7. Blue Eyed Boston Boy

8. Delta Dreams

9. Waly Waly

10. North Country Blues

11. Lorena

12. Lady Gay

13. Stranger Song

14. Come Write Me Down

x

Track List: Purpose + Grace

1. The Sheffield Apprentice

2. Bold General Wolfe

3. Brothers Under The Bridge

4. Little Liza Jane

5. Brother Can You Spare A Dime

6. Jamie Foyers

7. In The Pines

8. Strange Affair

9. Banjo Bill

10. Barbry Allen

11. Don't Leave Your Banjo In The Shed Mr. Waterson

12. Bad Girl's Lament

13. Lakes Of Ponchartrain

x

Track List: True Stories

1. Look Up Look Down

2. Sir Patrick Spens

3. Grey Stones

4. Home Again

5. The Wind And The Rain

6. One Day

7. Will Atkinson

8. Kielder Schottische

9. Lord Thomas And Fair Ellender

10. Done It Again

11. An Englishman Abroad

12. Swooping Molly

13. Stagolee

x

Track List: Prodigal Son

1. Batchelors Hall

2. Pretty Crowing Chicken

3. Lakes Of Champlain

4. She Slips Away

5. The Granemore Hare

6. Mother Love

7. Little Musgrave

8. A Love Letter

9. Duncan & Brady

10. Never Any Good

11. Good Morning Mr. Railroad Man

12. Louisiana 1927

13. La Rivolte

14. Andrew Lammie

15. Kit's Tun / When A Knight Won His Spurs

x

Track List: Kind Letters

1. The Cruel Brother

2. Love Henry

3. Bareback To Bullhassocks

4. Here's Adieu Sweet Lovely Nancy

5. Adieu, Adieu

6. Creeping Jane

7. The Flying Cloud

8. House Carpenter

9. A Blacksmith Courted Me

10. When First I Came To Caledonia

11. Peggy & The Soldier

12. Clerk Sanders

x

Track List: Music Of Ireland: Airs, Jigs, Reels, Hornpipes And Marches

1. The Dark Plaintive Youth

2. Swedish Jig

3. Medley: Lord Mayo; Lord Inchiquin

4. Pretty Girl Milking A Cow

5. Frieze Britches

6. Bloody Fields Of Flanders

7. Minh Na Heirann

8. The Seas Are Deep

9. Hardiman The Fiddler

10. Blind Mary

11. O'Carolan's Concerto

12. Fanny Powers

13. Farewell To The Creeks

14. Charles O'Connor

15. The Fairies' Hornpipe

x

Track List: The Definitive Collection

1. Moonshine

2. I Can't Keep From Crying Sometimes

3. Dives And Lazarus

5. James Connolly

6. Roadkill

7. Lakes Of Ponchartrain

8. First Cut Is The Deepest

9. Boots Of Spanish Leather

11. The Keel Row

12. Rounding The Horn

14. Shawnee Town

15. Horn Island

x

Track List: The Bramble Briar

1. Polly On The Shore

2. The Lover's Ghost

3. Fair Annie

4. Dives And Lazarus

5. The Four Angels

6. Betsy The Serving Maid

7. The Bramble Briar

8. Banks Of Sweet Primroses

9. Rounding The Horn

10. The Princess Royal

11. Sammy's Bar

12. Leaves Of Life

13. Air For Maurice Ogg

x

Track List: Bootleg USA

1. Plains Of Waterloo/James Connolly

2. One More Day/Boots Of Spanish Leather

3. Roadkill

4. Strange Affair

5. Granmore Hare

6. Icarus

7. Highway 61/Highway 61 Revisited

8. Delia

9. Jasper Songbird/Spoonful

10. Fool Me Once

x

Track List: Sad Or High Kicking

1. Jazzman

2. Shawnee Town

3. Moth

4. Living Without You

5. For Jessica, Sad Or High Kicking/My Dearest Dear

6. Icarus

7. No Depression In Heaven

8. Let It Be Me

9. Stillness In Company

10. Lakes Of Ponchartrain

x

Track List: Live

1. Dreamtime (Live)

2. Forgotten The Blues (Live)

3. Medley: Donal Og/My Generous Lover/The Coo Coo Bird/Santa Cruz (Live)

4. Betsy The Serving Maid (Live)

5. Hard Love (Live)

6. Broke Down Engine (Live)

7. Medley: Rosie Anderson/The Shearing's Not For You/Bogie's Bonnie Belle (Live)

8. The Company You Keep (Live)

9. Lord Gregory (Live)

10. Lilith (Live)

11. Pretty Saro / Long Steel Rail (Live)

12. Medley: The First Cut Is The Deepest/Will This House Be Blessed (Live)

x

Track List: The Collection

1. Shawnee Town

2. First Cut Is The Deepest

3. Roving Gambler

4. This War May Last You For Years

5. Reuben's Train

6. Green Linnet, Grinning In Your Face

7. Moth

8. Moonshine

9. For Jessica, Sad Or High Kicking, My Dearest Dear

10. Stillness In Company

11. Essequibo River

12. Handsome Molly

13. Lakes Of Ponchartrain

14. Doney Girl

15. No Depression In Heaven

16. The Keel Row

17. Masters Of War

x

Track List: A Closer Walk With Thee

1. Palms Of Victory

2. Wash In That Beautiful Pool/Waiting For The Boatman

3. Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down

4. Wondrous Love

5. O, Jerusalem / Go Down Moses

6. Wayfaring Stranger

7. What A Friend We Have In Jesus

8. Down In The Valley To Pray/Continue To Roll

9. A Psalm Of Life

10. There's A Great Change

11. A Closer Walk With Thee

12. In The Wilderness

13. What Are They Doing In Heaven Today

14. To Be A Pilgrim

15. Bright Morning Stars/Watch The Stars

16. I'll Fly Away

x

Track List: When I Was On Horseback

1. Pretty Saro, Long Steel Rail

2. Garryowen

3. Bonny At Morn

4. Bob's Song

5. The Flower Of Sweet Erin The Green

6. Vaughan's Jig

7. Granuaile

8. When I Was On Horseback

9. The Keel Row

10. Shallow Brown

11. Plains Of Waterloo, The Bonny Bunch Of Roses

12. Young Man

13. The Shearing's Not For You, Bogie's Bonny Belle

x

Track List: Leaves Of Life

1. Intro, Lord Gregory

2. Jock O'Hazeldean

3. Lucy Wan

4. Streets Of Forbes

5. Bantry Girl's Lament

6. Leaves Of Life

7. Banks Of The Bann

8. Greenfields Of America

9. The Fairflower Of Northumberland

10. Bonny George Campbell

11. McCrimmons' Lament

12. Rose Anderson

x

Track List: Grinning In Your Face

1. It Doesn't Matter Anymore

2. Little Birdie

3. First Cut Is The Deepest

4. Roving Gambler

5. This War May Last You For Years

6. Masters Of War

7. Reuben's Train

8. Your Cheatin' Heart

9. Handsome Molly

10. Townships ~ Biko

11. Moonshine

12. Green Linnet / Grinning In Your Face

Comments

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so beautiful and comforting.
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Or E gone
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nesa.clark91
This brings back sweet memories of my Grandfather and his uncle and cousins playing hymns on Sunday afternoons with their banjo, guitars and steel guitar.
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cgldvm
Praised be The Lord I love you Jesus!
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cgldvm
Listening to this to help me sleep..,.... . . YAAAAWWWNN!! ! ! ! It's working!
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Just what I needed this morning... Take it to the lord in prayer.
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nesa.clark91
That music always touches my heart and makes me wish for heaven even that much more.
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Makes me want to learn to play the guitar
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Martin played at the great blue hero festival in Sherman NY twice.
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I like the idea of thinking about what they are doing in Heaven today. Our son is a fabulous musician and is now there at the tender age of 24. What a joy it will be to hear him play one day when I arrive!
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Very soothing
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Hania7 I like it :o :) (|_|)>
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I like his stuff with the band of Angels.
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connection to Kottke - guitar virtuosity
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has anyone ever made a connection to Leo Kottke?
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campensj
Beautiful
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Very comforting so far as I've been listening to Martin
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tressilver
My favorite - Smoke and Mirrors. He used to do blues gigs on Wed. eve at a local bar in Ithaca - unbelievable . . .
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slapshot1894
The guitar is magic!
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In a word...wow
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sweet
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jeholton
where have you been all my life?
Report as inappropriate
Has good fingers on the guitar
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one cool dude

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