Martin Carthy: 9 September 2019

10 September 2019

Posted by Kevin Boyd, 10 September 2019

The Rose and Monkey Hotel is a new venue on the edge of Manchester’s trendy Northern Quarter and right next door to the historic Band On The Wall. It’s a small venue and tonight’s sold out gig was nicely crammed.

Martin continued his recent exploration of his older back catalogue and gave further hints that a new album might be on the horizon. John Barleycorn, High Germany and The Bedmaking (a request) are quite familiar by now and tonight he included the slightly less familiar (in terms of recent gigs) Bruton Town to the list of resurrected songs from his ‘60s and ‘70s repertoire. It came with an amusing intro featuring Davy Graham breaking into Martin’s 1960s flat and Martin ‘teaching’ Davy the tune Moanin’, only to subsequently discover Davy had already recorded his own version.

I hadn’t previously realised that Martin actually wrote one of the verses to Mike Waterson’s A Stitch In Time, but that appears to be the case based on that song’s intro tonight. I’m not sure I’ve heard Martin sing The Taylor’s Britches since the late 1980s, although I have a niggling doubt about that – maybe I have heard him sing it more recently? Either way, it that was a nice amusing addition. Martin expressed his indifference towards the well-worn tropes characteristic of songs such as Harry Cox’s The Barley Straw, from which Martin cribbed the tune for The Foggy Dew.

Bendigo, Champion of England has been a relatively recent addition to his repertoire and the rest of the set was fairly familiar from recent gigs. Martin abandoned Young Morgan after forgetting the words and there were a couple of other touch-and-go memory lapses but nothing that came close to spoiling the night. The first set was pretty low-key and quite short but the second was much longer and a bit less restrained.

First set:
John Barleycorn
Her Servant Man
The Foggy Dew
Bruton Town
High Germany
A Stitch In Time
Bill Norrie

Second Set:
Don’t Go In Them Lions Cage Tonight
Bendigo, Champion of England
Young Morgan
The Deserter
My Son John
The Bows of London
The Tailor’s Britches
Long John
The Bedmaking
Downfall of Paris
Oor Hamlet

Martin Carthy, 21 January 2017

22 January 2017

Posted by Kevin Boyd, 22 January 2017

Here are a few shots from Martin’s gig at the historic Band On The Wall in Manchester last night. An interesting gig in that he mentioned during the second half that he’s not made an album in ten years (actually, it’s closer to 13!) and that the frustrating thing about making albums is that you end up “leaving things behind” so he’s been actively revisiting some older material in recent times. This led to him playing Bruton Town, which I’ve never heard him play before, and High Germany, which he’s had in his current set on-and-off for a couple of years. None of this is new as he revisits old material consistently but I also recall that he played Streets Of Forbes (which he named ‘Ben Hall’) at his 2015 Band On The Wall gig so I wonder if this is a long preamble to some sort of recording project where he revisits older material. I could ask him of course, but where’s the fun in that?

First set:
Her Servant Man
John Barleycorn
The Trees They Do Grow High
Sir Patrick Spens
The Downfall Of Paris
Bill Norrie
A Stitch In Time

Second set:
Don’t Go In Them Lion’s Cage Tonight
Long John
Young Morgan
Swaggering Boney
Bruton Town
High Germany
My Son John
Funeral Party (Invitation To A Funeral)
Prince Heathen
The Devil And The Feathery Wife (encore)


Martin Carthy & Eliza Carthy, 2 June 2016

5 June 2016

Posted by Kevin Boyd, 5 June 2016

A handful of shots from Martin and Eliza’s recent gig at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester.

Martin Carthy, 3 July 2015

4 July 2015

Posted by Kevin Boyd, 4 July 2015

Martin played Manchester’s historic Band On The Wall on 3 July. Here are a few shots from the night…

Photo Gallery: Martin Carthy, 17 July 2014

24 July 2014

Posted by Kevin Boyd, 24 July 2014

Here are a few shots taken at Martin’s recent solo gig at the Band On The Wall in Manchester.

Photo Gallery: Carthy & Swarbrick, 26 October 2013

26 October 2013

Posted by Kevin Boyd, 26 October 2013

As mentioned in an earlier post, Martin has recently been playing his new PRS guitar on tour with Dave Swarbrick. I got a chance to see the pair at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester and, as usual, took a few shots of the gig. Afterwards Martin was kind enough to sit for a moment while I took a few shots of him playing the new instrument and some close-ups that I’ve used to update the earlier post.


Carthy tours with new PRS ‘Martin Simpson’ guitar

27 September 2013

Posted by Kevin Boyd, 27 September 2013
Updated: 26 October 2013


In a previous post I wrote about Martin Carthy’s signature model 000-18MC Martin guitar which replaced the 000-18 model he’d been playing almost exclusively since he bought it in the mid-sixties. The new version has continued to be his everyday guitar since he debuted it during the first 4 Martins UK tour in 2002 and if you’ve seen him play live at any point in the last 50 years you’ll almost certainly have seen him play one of these two guitars. Only occasionally is he seen playing anything other than a Martin – the blue Fender Telecaster from his time with Steeleye Span springs to mind and he still travels to virtually every solo gig with his trusty Roger Bucknall Fylde, even if he rarely uses it for more than two or three specific songs.

However, audiences on the current Carthy & Swarbrick tour will have seen Martin playing a quite different guitar. The immediately obvious difference is that this new model features a slightly larger, rounder body with a cutaway section at the top of the neck. This is in fact a Martin Simpson signature model Paul Reed Smith (PRS) guitar that has been specially adjusted to suit Carthy’s playing style. The guitar is based on the PRS Angelus model but what sets it apart is that it’s one of the ‘private stock’ builds, which means it’s made from Paul’s best woods and is only available at a premium or to his friends.

The guitar was a gift from Simpson himself to Carthy and before he handed it over he asked an old friend of mine, respected luthier Stuart Palmer, to make the adjustments necessary to accommodate Martin’s unique turning. There is no zero fret on the PRS, unlike the unusual adjustment that was built into the Carthy signature model 000-18MC (unique for a Martin Guitars model) but Stuart did recut the nut to allow for the heavier strings. He also replaced the machine heads and gave the guitar a ‘general tweak’.

The photograph below is of mine and Stuart’s friend Mick Swinson giving the guitar a trial run in the back room of Stu’s workshop at Electro Music in Doncaster, South Yorkshire in October 2012. Mick explained to me the significance of Stuart’s changes at the time, “To put things in perspective, the most common gauge of top string is probably a 12, though thats a bit heavy for some. Carthy uses an 18 – the man’s a beast! Curiously he also uses an 18 on his second string as well, which is just plain weird.”


A month after this post was first published I saw Martin in Manchester and he was kind enough to sit for a moment while I took a few shots of him with the guitar and a few close-ups which I’ve now added to this post.


Thanks to Mick and Stuart for the photograph of Mick and for providing additional information on the guitar and thanks to Martin for his time and patience. 

Photo Gallery: Carthy & Swarbrick, 29 September 2012

30 September 2012

Posted by Kevin Boyd, 30 September 2012

Martin and Dave’s 2012 tour continued on to the Waterside Arts Centre in Sale, Greater Manchester on 29 September. Here are a few shots from that gig. 

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