About the Artist
"Chapman's expansive guitar work creates a filmic soundtrack of the American South-West that's as compelling as anything Ry Cooder might Muster" Q Magazine.
Michael Chapman is a troubadour in every sense of the word, raconteur, songwriter, astounding guitarist and a musician who just loves to play to audiences. He is unquestionably understated and downright honest. A favourite of the late john Peel, he dismisses his technical ability, saying "what I play is atmosphere" - and he is right he does play atmosphere, but atmosphere with mesmerising prowess.
This self-styled old white blues guy from Yorkshire is one of the most under-rated musical heroes of our time. With his uniquely English melancholic perspective, underpinned by an observant sense of humour, and an emotive guitar style he deserves wider recognition. You can't help but feel the recognition is finally coming.
Chapman is a highly skilled guitarist and (as has been said for the last forty years) was an early exponent of "meditative acid folk". Typically his own summary of his career and how it all began is far more pointed:
"I had an art college education and on a rainy night in 1966 I went to a pub in Cornwall, but I couldn't afford to pay to go in. So I said, I'll tell you what, I don't want to stay outside in the rain, I'll play guitar for you for half an hour. They offered me a job for the rest of the summer and I've been at it ever since."
And you find him in equally focussed mood if you ask him about "that" reputation as a folk player, "I've never called myself a folk singer. I call myself a songwriter and guitar played, but in them days folk clubs were the only place where you could play an acoustic guitar."
With a discography spanning the best part of fifty years and 30 releases (last estimate) on major labels - Harvest, Decca and more, Chapman is as prolific as he is difficult to pigeon-hole. Whether it's the surge in interest in British folk, the exposure through collaborating with Thurston more or just a re-appraising of what an amazing musical talent Michael Chapman is, there is no doubting that his work is firmly back in the spotlight. Prosaically he offers this theory "Maybe it's just my turn again."
Whichever theory holds true, and in either recordings or in live performance, Michael Chapman always delivers "the sound of a real songwriter who's lived the life and all that entails" - Q Magazine.
Michael Chapman “Live at Folk Cottage 1967” (previously unissued)
The story of how Michael Chapman turned pro as a musician, walking into a Cornish pub and offering to play a gig in return for shelter from the rain outside is both well known and well told. These previously lost recordings catch up with our hero of the piece some eight months later as he played a show at the Folk Cottage, Mitchell near Newquay in Cornwall on Good Friday, 24th March 1967.
The Folk Cottage was established in 1963 and the former granite built farm workers building had secured it’s reputation as a seminal venue on the circuit, with a host of talented local folk artists such as John The Fish and Brenda Wotton performing there as well as it proving to be a haven for the likes of Wizz Jones and Ralph McTell.
At the time Chapman was being billed as “exciting new blues artist” and that is reflected in some of the material captured in these recordings (“Baby Please Don’t Go”, “Parchman Farm” and “Kansas City”) but there is also the odd surprise in store for Chapman fans, including a cover of Buddy Holly’s “That’ll Be The Day” as well as three original instrumentals that highlight the emergence of Chapman’s guitar style.
Chapman is typically low key in his reflections on the material he chose to play in those days – “I just played whatever I could think of at the time….I had no idea then that I could actually write songs myself”.
Find out more about Michael Chapman at www.michaelchapman.co.uk