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Sam Carter's Unsung Heroes

Mike Harding | 10:46 UK time, Friday, 28 August 2009

It is interesting - although not surprising - that the most widely lauded guitarists in folk music are all accompanists.
Although they have all recorded wonderful instrumental guitar pieces, the likes of Nic Jones, Martin Simpson and Martin Carthy are, in the main, revered for the way they use the guitar to provide the musical backdrop to songs.

Instrumentation in folk song (as opposed to tunes) is there primarily to enhance and support the singing and storytelling, rather than as an end in itself. This musical value system of holding the song and story as primary, and the music as supportive, has had a profound influence on my own songwriting and the way I think about music.

For solo guitarists at least, being unsung seems to go with the territory when you don't sing. There are however many incredible players arranging traditional material for solo guitar - Pierre Bensusan, Tony McManus and Steve Baughman have provided me with loads of inspiration as well as listening enjoyment.

I discovered Steve Baughman's album 'The Angel's Portion' four or five years ago and fell in love with it. His playing is wonderfully percussive with a strong melodic presence and a sonorous, classical guitar-like tone. As well as arrangements of Celtic, English and Appalachian tunes he is a leading exponent of the use of banjo frailing technique on the guitar, a relatively recent development in guitar playing. 'Sandy River Belle' from his new album 'The Almost Whisky Waltz' is a great example of this.

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