Middlesborough guitar show

Autumn leaves

Autumn leaves

It is a bright morning and the leaves are moving to their autumnal hues. This tree is glinting in the sunlight as I wait for my lift to the Middlesborough Guitar Show. I see the 4×4 approaching. It is so off-the-road rope and pitons might be helpful. Clamber… grunt… clamber.. I am seated in the back. Sigh of relief and some good humoured banter with my mates as we make the drive to the show. We swing into the car park of a brick built 1960s hotel, gleefully savouring the ambience.

We pay in  and reconnoitre the stalls.  The unanimous conclusion is that the fair is smaller than the one we went to in Gateshead about six months ago. At this point Alan dives off to buy pots and bits and pieces for the mandocaster he is building (don’t ask). I mooch around in a much more leisurely fashion with Tom and he talks me through some of the ukeleles that are on display. There are some very nicely made wooden ukes going for about GBP 100 (the baritone does look good). They do come in a case, although the salesman keeps apologizing for the fluffy pink lining. Me and Tom quite like the lining. I move away from the stall, since this would amount to a major purchase and I did not come out prepared for that. I content myself with buying a 10 foot guitar lead for GBP 6 and a steel bottleneck for GBP 3. Tom snaffles some Elixir strings for a snip at GBP 6, too. Suddenly we are standing in front of another uke stall and listening to a much more extroverted sales pitch and demo. The ones on display here are made of plastic, sound passable and are going for GBP 17. The issue is no longer whether I buy, but rather what colour to opt for. I reject the yellow and red and plump for the blue. And off I toddle, the owner of a little uke.

Bacon Banjo

Bacon Banjo

We meet up with Alan again and decide to get coffee. As we join the queue, I notice a makeshift menu and am attracted to the idea of a bacon butty. Tom and Alan inform me that another name for that is a bacon banjo, and this seems highly appropriate for this occasion. I present a pic of the said banjo for your inspection. It is a bit dry in the eating; I should have taken a pat of butter for it but I can’t be bothered to go back to the counter. We discuss the show and our strategy for the remainder of the day. We decide to got to a demo of guitars by a company that makes vintage guitars but with contemporary design and equipment improvements.


Gavin Coulson

Gavin Coulson

The demo hall is almost full; I leave Tom and Alan and find a single free seat. A very pleasant and unassuming young man with extremely long hair takes the stage and starts to explain what the company he represents (he is Gavin Coulson of John Hornby Skewes & Co  Ltd) has to offer. Gavin then starts playing the guitar and an awed silance descends upon the audience. At one point he plays a bass guitar, fingering the bass notes and picking out a classical  tune with harmonics on the higher strings. He finishes his demo by playing a Gary Moore piece on one of their flagship guitars. I have heard some good guitarists in Second Life but this guy just puts all that into a very parochial context as far as I am concerned. The demo ends. I go up to Gavin and ask him if I can take a pic for my blog and then hook up with Tom and Alan again. They could barely speak; they seemed almost stunned by the brilliance of Gavin’s technique and the emotional quality of his sound.

We shuffle out and make one final lap of the exhibition. Then it is a case of hauling on the rope and pitons once more into the back of the 4×4. A leisurely pint of Guiness in a delightful hostelry down by the river wraps up our day out. When I get home I mess about with my uke for a while and soon have enough chords to do a very basic accompaniment for Girl of the North Country and I play that at my Cascadia show. Speak to you later, my dear blogophiles.

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