SCUNTHORPE-BORN MARTIN SIMPSON IS ONE OF THE MOST RESPECTED FOLK MUSICIANS ON THE PLANET. FROM MODEST STEELTOWN ROOTS IN THE 1950s, TO TRAVELLING THE GLOBE AND PLAYING WITH THE GREAT AND THE GOOD FOR OVER FORTY YEARS, SIMPSON HAS REMAINED GROUNDED AND MODEST ABOUT HIS ABILITIES AND HIS INCREDIBLE TRAJECTORY.
He’s been nominated for the BBC Folk Awards approximately thirty times – even he himself thinks he’s lost count – and he’s won several, most notably for his stunning 2007 album PRODIGAL SON and its moving paean to his father, NEVER ANY GOOD. Gibson guitars have declared him one of the greatest acoustic players of all time. The awards and accolades are, he says, with an eyebrow arched and a pinch of Northern modesty, “nice, but a bit of nonsense”… Reading like a ‘Who’s Who?’ of roots music, Simpson’s musical collaborators on the stage and in the studio have included Richard Hawley, Richard Thompson, Jackson Browne, Martin Carthy, Kate Rusby, Danny Thompson, June Tabor, Kelly Joe Phelps, Danú, Cara Dillon, David Lindley, Roy Bailey, Martin Taylor, David Hidalgo, Steve Miller, Dick Gaughan and Dom Flemons. It is fair to say he has been right in the centre of folk music for approaching five decades.
Long since departed from Scunthorpe (he left in the early 1970s to make his way as a musician), this weekend Simpson played a one-off benefit show for the local food-bank. In the afternoon he met up with The Mouth Magazine to take a trip down memory lane for this very special edition of The Mouthcast. Recorded in his car – parked outside the house in which he spent his entire childhood – Simpson opens up about his parents and his youth. He looks back at his early musical forays and his string of successes – and at what he sometimes considers to be a “ridiculous” life for a lad from these humble beginnings… Riveting stuff.
Portraits of Martin Simpson by David Angel
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