October 2011

October has been a busy month with a preparations for my up-coming recording going well. Aside from that, the highlights include a new video of Celandine shot outside on the South Downs on what proved to be one of the last sunny days of the year! Once again this was filmed and recorded by Bradley Steenkamp who did a fantastic job. This is the first footage shot using my new Kostal guitar and suffice it to say, we're getting on rather well!
The gig supporting Erik Mongrain was a lot of fun. It was nice to catch up with Erik here in the UK as I often bump into him in Montreal. He's touring a new album at the moment and it's got to be said that he's playing beautifully, check him out if he plays near you, you should definitely check him out.

I closed my set that night with a new piece "Ukulele Nocturne" which was played on a "Hornet" model by Californian luthier Jake Maclay of Hive Ukuleles I met Jake at this year's Healdsburg Guitar Festival where he was exhibiting. I played him the piece and he very kindly offered to loan me his own personal uke for performing and recording. What a nice guy! And it's a great instrument, it responds like a fine luthier-built guitar and has a gorgeous tone like a tiny harp! I love it to bits and will look after it well. 

Here it is in action

5.10.11 Bert Jansch RIP

I was walking through the North Laine in Brighton when I heard the unmistakeable sound of Bert Jansch's "Rosemary Lane" pumping out of a small record shop. Reasoning that any shop cool enough to play Bert's music at such high volumes was worth exploring I walked in and had a look around. I found a couple of older Fairport Convention albums and took them over to the counter. It was here that a chance remark led to me finding out about the passing of one of my first influences and one of the finest musicians this country ever produced. 

I grew up with Bert's music, his extraordinary guitar playing, ethereal vocals and poetic lyrics have had a huge impact on my life and I am very grateful not only for this but also for the fact that I met him and had the chance to thank him personally. 

Thanks again Bert, for every single note

September 2011

September was a busy month with a private event at London's Soho House with The North American Guitar and then a gig with Jon Gomm and Amrit Sond at the Theatre in The Mill in Bradford. This was my first time at this venue and it was a real pleasure, great sound, lovely audience, huge amount of fun!
Screen shot 2011 10 06 at 19.48.57

July/August 2011 Montreal/Healdsburg

 The Greatest Shows on Earth!
This Summer's Montreal Guitar Show and Healdsburg Guitar Festival  were superb, it was great to play the work of some of my favourite builders again and meet several internet friends in the flesh!

It was also a fantastic opportunity for me to play some new material for the first time in North America, here is a spectacular guitar by Brent McElroy  and a spooky six-stringed "Gitjo" by Jeremy Jenkins of Lame horse Guitars

The Unfair Funfair (Version 2)

Misirlou on a Lame Horse Gitjo in Montreal

Other highlights of the Montreal show included hanging out with Paul Richards of the California Guitar Trio , playing Linda Manzer's astonishing arch-top Pikasso, a wonderful afternoon at Michael Greenfield's workshop and the first outing for my new guitar by Jason Kostal 
The Healdsburg Guitar Festival with its more easy going rural feel as opposed to Montreal's urban excitement was a very different event. This was my first time playing in the USA and I thoroughly enjoyed it. 

The Virtuous Circle

Evergreen at the Healdsburg Festival

As well as playing a featured concert outside in the shade (great way to play my first notes in the USA!) I gave a lecture on choosing a luthier built instrument which was a lot of fun and very well received. Thanks to all who came. 

June 2011

This month kicked off with Guitarist Magazine's Acoustic Guitarist of the Year competition. I was invited as a member of the judging panel which brought back all kinds of memories from when I had won the title in 1999 at the Wembley Exhibition Centre. A lot has happened since then! The competition was excellent and without exception the finalists were extremely talented musicians. In the end it went to Will McNichol who performed his sensitive nylon-string piece "Emma" beautifully. 

The highlight of the day was an excellent lunch with two of my favourite people (who just happen to be guitarists) Tristan Seume (Guitarist Magazine acoustic techniques columnist and a fellow judge for the day) and Grammy-hogging supremo Amrit Sond (look out for the Acoustic Dialogues gig on Sunday 5th) 

Screen shot 2011 10 07 at 17.55.26
 In other news I have been asked to open for Erik Mongrain this October at the Brighton Komedia. Go to my Live page for details of this and other gigs.
Erik mongrain festival de jazz de montreal

May 2011

 I am now an endorsing artist for the wonderful G7th Capos! The good people at G7th had seen a video of me labouring with the shortcomings of an inferior brand and have very generously decided to supply me with a pair of their limited edition gold performance capos to keep me in tune all along the neck of my guitar. Bling! Thanks to all involved, I look forward to getting my clamp on in the studio and on stage this summer!

Click on the pic below for more info


My friend the London-based luthier David Antony Reid's workshop was burgled last month and amongst the items stolen was David's personal guitar. This instrument is one of David's "Vault Back" models and is a unique piece that represents months of one man's life building the thing by hand. If you are reading this because you have the instrument and are researching on the internet or have been offered the guitar please, please do the right thing and get it back to the man who built it. 

The guitar was being fully set-up in preparation for this year's Montreal Guitar Show where it was to take pride of place alongside other examples of David's work. Not only that but this was going to be the instrument I played in a demo mini-concert for David's gutars. This is a terrible, unfair thing to have happened to David and he is obviously devastated. If anybody reading this can help bring this guitar home please do get in touch with David. 

Gloss vaultback shoulder
White rose upper bout


April 2011

I'd like to start this months news by thanking Jon Gomm and the WONDERFUL Leeds audience for making the "Jon Gomm presents... Michael Watts" a truly unforgettable gig. It was such a joy to share a bill with Jon after well over a decade since we first played together at Dr Wu's...

Shortly before I travelled up to Leeds I recieved some new pictures of my guitar currently built by Jason Kostal including some rather special position markers...
 White dots in a brass surround, sort of Larson bros style kind of thing, nice! Wait, what? Yup when the lights go down they glow blue!

Coolest. Thing. Ever.

Now I have landing lights...

"Kostal dots"

Love it. 

Looks like I'll be getting them just in time!

February/March 2011

 Very, very busy this past month! The gig with Amrit Sond was wonderful, great space, fantastic energy on stage and a Kostal guitar! It was filmed in 4-angle HD by Bradley Steenkamp, the first video "La Tolita" is now on my video page.

Times and dates for my appearences in North America this summer have been confirmed with more to come, you can check out the "Live"  page for more details. 

In the meantime here are some grainy iphone shots of the stage for the "Acoustic Dialogues" and some lovely crisp stills from the video Bradley shot! It went so well Amrit and I are planning to take it on a small tour this autumn, watch this space!

January 2011

 2011 started with a video shoot with "Sound on Sound" magazine's Bradley Steenkamp.  We did a few different mic tests before shooting two clips, both of which are now on my Video page. It was a hell of a lot of fun! I had borrowed the "Great Wave" OM by Michael Bashkin for the shoot and it sounded glorious. 

Click on the pic to go straight to the videos.

 2011 promises to be an exciting year with performances at the Montreal and Healdsburg guitar shows as well as UK gigs with Amrit Sond and Jon Gomm. I'm looking forward to it already.

Previous News

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