“As a kid, I became fascinated: blues, banjo playing, English traditional music, Scots music”: How Martin Simpson is reworking trad Appalachian standards and turning them into folk guitar masterworks

Martin Simpson
(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)

If you take an interest in folk, blues and other traditional styles of guitar music, you may have encountered a puzzling phenomenon when you try to understand where the styles come from. You can trace them back easily enough to the pre-war years of the 1930s and maybe a little before. But all too often, as one delves back further into the past, the trail becomes harder to follow…

Part of the reason is that the deepest roots of modern music derive from folk song, which was passed down orally from mother to daughter, from father to son. During England’s industrial revolution, many of these centuries-old musical traditions died out, as people moved from field to factory and the pattern of their lives changed utterly. 

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Jamie Dickson

Jamie Dickson is Editor-in-Chief of Guitarist magazine, Britain's best-selling and longest-running monthly for guitar players. He started his career at the Daily Telegraph in London, where his first assignment was interviewing blue-eyed soul legend Robert Palmer, going on to become a full-time author on music, writing for benchmark references such as 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die and Dorling Kindersley's How To Play Guitar Step By Step. He joined Guitarist in 2011 and since then it has been his privilege to interview everyone from B.B. King to St. Vincent for Guitarist's readers, while sharing insights into scores of historic guitars, from Rory Gallagher's '61 Strat to the first Martin D-28 ever made.