Michael Chapman

Michael Chapman

"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.

Whether he is a renaissance man or not, right now Michael Chapman is enjoying a renaissance.  With a 40th anniversary edition of his much vaunted album "Fully Qualified Survivor" about to be released and a coast to coast tour of the States already booked for 2011, Chapman is now being championed by Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth) - recording for his Ecstatic Peace label.  With three more albums scheduled for release this year too, there is a lot going on chez Chapman.

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 ahd 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, "Ive 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.  His moves between acoustic and electric guitar are driven by the songs he writes or the collaborations he is involved with. Mick Ronson (pre-Bowie) appears on "Fully Qualified Survivor", Rick Kemp (Steeleye Span) played bass on all the Harvest material whilst "The Man Who Hated Mornings" showed the respect Michael commanded from fellow musicians with supporting performances from Andy Latimer (Camel), Keith Hartley and violinist Johnny Van Derek.

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, 2011 looks set to be a landmark year for him.  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 taht entails" - Q Magazine.

Reader please note - copies of articles from Uncut, April 2011 and Mojo, March 2011 are available in the PDF below.