Sunday, 12 April 2015

Britain is no longer a country for and says "Farewell" to its old and best blind artist, Sargy Mann

Sargy, an artist whose work with sight and in blindness featured both landscapes and portraiture and whose life provides an inspiring example of human resilience and ingenuity, has died at the age of seventy-seven.

What you possibly didn't know about Sargy, that he :

* was born as Martin, son of Maisie and Stanley, in Hythe, Kent in 1937 and at the age of 13 was packed off  to Dartington Hall School, Devon, a 'progressive', co-educational boarding school opened in 1926, based on the ideas of Rabindranath Tagore, without corporal punishment and uniforms, with an emphasis on student self-government and where he broke up his wooden bed with the axe bought for his 8th birthday and mastered the art of playing chess in blindfold.

* developed a keen interest in maths, physics and sports and adopted the stage name 'Sargy' when "there were some older boys in the school in the school and our music master who were very much into jazz. They didn't have a drummer so I started playing, unbelievably badly, but it became a big passion for me."

* later recalled : "Growing up, my sister was the artistic one. My great passion was sport and I wanted to be a professional footballer or cricketer. The school we went to was very liberal – the kind of place where you didn’t have to go to lessons – and I barely spent any time in the art room. Though I remember once wanting to draw a man chopping down a tree: I stood in front of my mother’s full-length mirror and swung a walking stick so I could get the action right. It was the first time I’d ever drawn directly from nature, and tried to understand something by really looking hard."

* left school at 16 in 1953 and was taken on as an engineering apprentice at Morris Radiators in Oxford where, after his "somewhat unworldly childhood, the world of the factory was totally mysterious to me. I was a terribly self-conscious boy and rather scared of people. But I began to develop a bit of an arty personality" and furthered his music by playing drums at the University Jazz Club, on occasion in a trio with pianist Dudley Moore, himself studying music as an undergraduate at Magdalen College and occasionally sketched the musicians and dancers.

* at the age of 21 in 1958 enrolled at Hammersmith Polytechnic to study for 'A' levels as entrance qualifications for a university maths degree, but instead of attending lectures went to the Natural History Museum to draw, met an art student who saw his work and said "I ought to be at art school and, in that instant, I realised that was what I wanted, more than anything else in the world, I’d just never admitted it to myself."

* in 1960, together with an old school friend, Colin Howard, did up a house in Maida Vale and met his 37 year old sister, the novelist, Elizabeth Jane Howard and in the same year prepared a portfolio, got into Camberwell College of Art and once at study "had some wonderfully inspiring teachers there – Frank Auerbach (left), Euan Uglow, Dick Lee and Anthony Eyton – who very much believed that, right from the first day, you weren’t learning the craft of art, you were already doing the real thing."

* graduated in 1963 and had his painting 'Karen I', featured in the annual show of the newly formed 'Contemporary Portrait Society' on Bond Street, but found commercial success slow, returned to Camberwell in 1967 to become the first post-graduate student in their Painting School and stayed on as a tutor with lessons focused on the transformative powers of light and colour and later recalled : "the idea that you’d leave art school and find a gallery was laughable. You had to earn your crust somehow and I was lucky enough to do it by teaching at Camberwell and the Camden Arts Centre."

* moved to Tottenham Court Road in 1964, where he lived with a number of 'creative individuals' and in 1965 with his artistic interest in perception, experimented with LSD and obsessed with ways of seeing, felt that the eye was an entirely passive collector of visual stimuli and 'seeing' was a learned activity that went on in different, discrete parts of the brain
an imaginative exercise which collated form, colour and light into an understandable picture of the world and one constantly made up as you went along.

* in 1967 at the age of 30, as a result of his friendship with Elizabeth Jane Howard, became house guest at 'Lemmons', the Georgian House in Barnet she shared with her husband, the author, Kingsley Amis and spent all of his free time painting in their garden and more importantly found they "knew lots of interesting people. So from fairly early on, my paintings were being bought by people like John Betjeman and Iris Murdoch."

* in 1972 found himself under the same roof as the Poet Laureate, Cecil Day-Lewis and his 15 year old son, Daniel, when home from attendance at Bedales School, who would later become a collector of his work with its "supreme mastery of structure, light and colour" and later recalled : "I remember well Sargy's vigour and sense of purpose as he set out for a day of painting. Box and boards, a long stride, eyes aglitter. And I looked forward to the fisherman's return, which was never empty-handed."

* in 1973, at the age of 36, successfully exhibited at the 'Salisbury Festival of Arts', organized by Elizabeth and Geraint Jones and  featured his 'Lemmons Bathroom' works and followed this with his 'Sketchbook Collection' but found his career placed in jeopardy when he developed cataracts in both eyes.

* having read about Monet's cataract operations, was most interested to discover was whether he had colourless cataracts or the yellowy-brown ones that had progressively informed the changing palette of the artist at Giverny and asked : 'would he, like Monet, see the world saturated in blue again after the operation?' and found, to his joy, he did, and his painting for a while reflected this new cobalt dazzle.

* greeted his altered vision with artistic curiosity: "my world had become greyer and hotter. I was a human spectroscope such that I could see that a sodium streetlamp was monochrome because it only had an orange halo whereas a car tail light of the same colour had a spectral halo", but was also left with one eye seeing differently to the other, forcing him to experiment with 'single eye' versus 'double eye' vision and finally, after retinal detachments and burst corneal ulcerations was left almost blind in one eye.

* in 1979 at the age of 39, left Lemmons when he married former student Frances Carey and continued to teach at Camberwell and Camden Arts Centre and through the 80's, to have eye operations after which he saw differently : "I had to keep rediscovering what the world looked like and how to engage with it. Actually, I liked this because the great thing for an artist is not to repeat yourself. I was always trying to use my art to see more deeply, to be more involved in the world."

* at the age of 50 in in 1987, recalled : "my really big break came when the dealer Christopher Burness (and gallery owner of the Cadogan Contemporary) saw some of my work and, amazingly, gave me a whole show. Suddenly, my paintings were selling at fantastically higher prices than I’d been charging and I was able to give up teaching, which, because of my deteriorating eyesight, was getting to be a bit ridiculous anyway. I once turned up late to a life drawing class and failed to spot the model standing nude about 12 feet in front of me."

* gave up teaching when officially 'registered blind' in 1988 and as a full-time painter, sought to support his young family with Frances in their South London home and pieced together bits of the world with his one 'good' eye by looking through a specially modified telescope and when he went painting, often took a white stick, which on one occasion prompted his son's friend to suggest that : "your dad is probably the best blind painter in Peckham".

* remained professionally active in the art world and served as co-curator for the 'Bonnard at le Bosquet' Exhibition at the Hayward Gallery in London and throughout the 1990s, as a visiting lecturer in Italy at the 'Verocchio Art Centre' and in Britain at the 'Royal Drawing School' and exhibited extensively at the Royal Academy, Royal College of Art and the Mall Galleries.

* in 2005 visited CadaquĆ©s in Northern Spain with his son Peter, to make a documentary film, 'Sargy Mann' in the seaside village, chosen for its vertiginous streetscape since "blind people above all hate flatness, they have no way of understanding it" and its startling white buildings, sharp contrasts of light and shade which he could still just about decipher and would move about tapping surfaces with his stick, measuring lengths between walls and objects trying to work out visual coordinates to be filed away for future use. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7F_DURj-A84&t=0m49s

* acknowledged Peter's reflection that :"The film I ended up making about my father was very different to the one I had in my head when I started it. I had wanted to make a film about visual perception, I thought that watching a 'blind' man talk so passionately about a visual experience that most people would imagine was a useless mess would be an interesting insight into fundamental ideas about what 'seeing' is. What complicated this was that he went completely blind before I had really started to make the film. In the end I made a film about a particular moment, that is, I think, in its own way quite an interesting story." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XNteWnGXRaU&t=2m10s

* planning to paint scenes as soon as he got home, returned the day before his 68th birthday, but woke up the next morning with a strong pain in his left eye, which when his wife, Frances, looked at it, said : "Oh my God, it's bleeding" and was faced with the certainty of what he had been dreading for a long time: the ulcer on his cornea had perforated causing the eye to collapse marking the start of his total blindness. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7F_DURj-A84&t=0m33s

* wondering what he would do with the rest of his life and feeling his way to his studio by the river, reconsidered the light and space of Cadaques he'd been planning to paint and recalled : "Well, I thought. I have got a ready stretched canvas and all my paint and brushes that I had imagined giving away, so why not have a go?" and put the canvas on the windowsill outside his studio, carried out his painting trolley to the usual place and started to feel the canvas and imagine his subject: a bar scene already painstakingly mapped out. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7F_DURj-A84&t=1m4s

* continued : "After a bit I thought: 'Well here goes,' and loaded a brush with ultramarine. What followed was one of the strangest sensations of my life: I 'saw' the canvas turn blue as I put the paint down. Next I put my Schminke magenta, and 'saw' it turn rose. The colour sensation didn't last, it was only there while I was putting the paint down, but it went on happening with different colour."

* invented new methods of working and "I mark certain points on the canvas with Blu-Tack, so I know where I am, but I’m still trying to capture the experience of the external world, and I can still move freely in it, through the imagination. Looking back, I don’t think I’d have liked the life of a professional sportsman, not nearly as much as I’ve liked being an artist" and having considered himself primarily a landscape painter, now became more oriented toward portraiture and the easier comprehension of depth in figures. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7F_DURj-A84&t=1m51s

.* reflected that : "Once I had started painting blind, there was no stopping me. It just became the new way of doing it. It was difficult, but art had always been difficult, and having a new set of difficulties was no bad thing" and thought that it was a bit like a deaf composer hearing orchestra parts in his head and in 2006 co-wrote with Peter 'Sargy Mann: Probably the Best Blind Painter in Peckham' to accompany the film which Peter had made.

* had played drums over the years in performance with distinguished jazz musicians Dave Holland and Don Rendell and in 2007 played with saxophonist Bobby Williams in at the Fisher Theatre, Bungay of whom he said : "We knew each other distantly in the 1960s and have played together occasionally since. I idolised him from afar" and "blindness is only a slight disadvantage when playing with others. Because of the way it is structured you can get people who have never played together and straight away, without ant rehearsal, you can put on a very good performance. My only terror is that like all very good jazz musicians he likes to play very fast and if he does, it is obviously a matter of hanging on for dear life !"

* had four solo shows at 'Cadogan Contemporary' :  in 2008, a series featuring his wife, 'Frances', who he saw through touch : "As I tried to understand her position and the chair in my totally blind state, by touch alone, I found that my brain was busy turning this three dimensional understanding into the view that I would have seen and the two dimensional pattern this would give” ; followed by 22 colourful, abstract 'Gouaches' in 2009;  17 'New Paintings' in 2010 with Daniel Day-Lewis, in the catalogue, describing his work a s 'gorgeously sensual' and 12 new portraits and landscapes in his 2013 collection. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7F_DURj-A84&t=2m58s

* in 2014 featured on the BBC News 'Real Life' story as 'Blind painter Sargy Mann : Painting with inner vision' and had continued to practise on his drum kit in the studio he shared with his canvases and in January this year played with the 78 year-old Bobby Wellins for the last time in a special 'One for Sargy' gig at the Fisher Theatre, inspired by news of his illness and at which
he was strong enough to play two medium tempo numbers and said : “It was one of those rare occasions when everything comes together and everyone excels.” http://ow.ly/LvbWS

* beyond his brushes provided Britain with a lasting and inspiring example of optimism and fortitude  :

"I was saying to someone at the private view how incredibly lucky I have been. I had about 25 years' apprenticeship for going blind. It was a bugger, but I kept working out how to paint over those 25 years, and my brain kept finding new ways to see the world, if you like."

"I played a bit of cricket as a boy and I've always likened picking up a brush to a cricketer picking up a cricket bat, just that act fills you with possibility of hitting it out of the middle. There is not so much of that for me now, but it's still more than enough to get me up in the mornings."

"I haven't really spent much time at all being miserable about my loss of sight. I haven't grieved for it. I have a moment every few days when I am painting, when I think 'Oh fuck, I wish I could see that'. And when my daughter has her baby, soon, I may have some moments of wishing I could see it, but I will hold it and smell it and that's the way my life works now, and it's a good life."

Monday, 30 March 2015

Britain is no longer a country for and says "Farewell" to an old English guitar player called John Renbourn

John, who redefined folk music in the 1960s by introducing elements from classical, jazz and blues into his soulful guitar playing and is remembered for his career with 'Pentangle', has died at the age of seventy.

What you possibly didn't know about John, that he :

* was born John McCombe in 1944 during the Second World War in Marylebone, West London and grew up for his first six years without a father, killed in action in the War, in a middle class family where, "everyone played something or other" and one wealthy enough to own and house a classical piano, indicated when he recalled : "My Mother played light-classical pieces on the piano, which also served as the family bomb-shelter during the air raids. I recall her playing with great fondness and still play an arrangement of Schumann's 'Im Wunderschonen Monat Mai' on the guitar." http://ow.ly/KY8NN

* by the age of 5 was playing a banjo and at 6, gained a step-father, Edward Renbourn, an Army physician, when his Mother remarried and moved to his new home in Surrey and despite his stepfather's disapproval of his love of Roy Rogers, the 'Singing Cowboy' https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WLoYFvbR0XY&t=1m5s , got his first guitar at 11 and had private 'classical guitar' lessons at the age of 12 from a woman who taught him to play "with my thumb and three fingers in a very orthodox way" and at George Abbot Secondary School, in Guildford and recalled : "I took music lessons with a patient man named John Webber who introduced me to Early Music which had yet to become part of the curriculum. At the same time I sat my grade exams on classical guitar at the Guildhall, presided over by Adele Kramer."

* recalled, when he was 11 : "I heard Josh White the blues singer about 1955. I used to go hear him play and that’s what got me going. I wanted to play just like Josh White” who, with his left-wing views, was in Britain , in exile for five years from a USA in the grip of anti-communism and no doubt heard him play his 1947 hit, 'House of the Rising Sun'. http://ow.ly/KYaym

* and in his early teens in the late 1950s, came under the influence of the 'skiffle' musical craze which swept the country with its amalgam of American folk, blues, bluegrass and jugband styles and enthused teenagers with its big hit, 'Freight Train' by the 'Chas McDevitt Skiffle Group', when he was 13 in 1957. http://ow.ly/KWsXi

* in the backstreets of Guildford, bought his  'first playable steel-string guitar. It cost me five pounds and was an object of wonder and beauty. It was a Scarth...It had its little idiosyncrasies - the action went up and down according to the weather, which could be counteracted by wedging a lollypop stick under the neck - a feature that merely added to its mystique' and filed down ping-pong balls to use as artificial nails and give his sound more resonance and fifty years later said : "People tell me I'm living in the Dark Ages. I'm scorned for using these old ping-pong balls, but they work, there's nothing much wrong with them, apart from the fact they're flammable."

* at the age of 17 in 1961, after mounting fiction with his step-father, who disapproved his pursuit of a career in music, left school and left home : “He’s the reason I had to clear out and leave home early, just to get out of that bad environment", went hitch-hiking and ended up in the north of Scotland, making money working in kitchens, peeling potatoes, before moving to London, where he began mingling with budding young guitarists like Mac MacLeod.

* living on an old boat on the River Thames, in the early 60's, attended, 'fairly frequently' , but failed to graduate from Kingston College of Art and later reflected : "The Art Schools seemed to be turning out more musicians than artists at that time. The Yardbirds were at Kingston, as were Eric Clapton and Sandy Denny. The R 'n' B craze had replaced skiffle and the best band was considered to be Alexis Korner's 'Blues Incorporated' " and played in, a College R 'n' B band, 'Hog Snort Rupert's Famous Porkestra', using a borrowed electric guitar and "found that some of the band's riffs sounded interesting played fingerstyle on an acoustic guitar and pieces like 'The Wildest Pig In Captivity' came out of that." http://ow.ly/KWMhv

* left Kingston, lived in a flat in West London with what remained of the band, but found that : "Things were not looking too promising. Though the British 'Folk Revival' was underway, most of the clubs had a heavily traditional bias and guitar players were often frowned upon. It took the collaboration of Davey Graham and Shirley Collins to start to change that, but it was a rocky process."

* by good fortune, was taken to the Roundhouse in Soho which had a more 'open' musical policy, played a few tunes and met Dorris Henderson, a blues and gospel singer from Los Angeles, looking for a guitar player with a trusty Scarth and as a result recorded 'There You Go' on the first of two albums as her accompanist. http://ow.ly/KWusk

* secured a regular spot on an ITV weekly children's show, 'Five O'clock Club' with Alexis Korner's house band, met his bassist Danny Thompson and drummer Terry Cox and at the same time found 'Les Cousins Club' in Greek Street, a meeting place for the guitar players and song writers unwelcome in the traditional clubs and with the added bonus of continuing his education by meeting visiting American artists and recalled : "I had the chance to hear some great players. Derrol Adams, Sandy Bull, Jackson Frank, Paul Simon, Spider John Koerner, Danny Kalb and Stefan Grossman all showed up at some stage and there was a healthy interchange of ideas."

* in 1964, "came across a poster for a Bert Jansch gig in 'Bunjies Coffee Bar', advertised as  ‘THE BEST BLUES IN TOWN' while having a drink with Wizz Jones, who was already well established and asked him : "Who's this guy that plays the best blues in town? We’re supposed to be the best blues in town." He said it was "Bert Jansch and he’s really good" and coming from Wizz that was unheard of. So we went along to see him and he was fantastic. Not at just playing blues, which he could play like Brownie McGhee, but the stuff he had written, which was way ahead of anything else being done in London. He was really, really out there.” http://ow.ly/KYjBr


* in 1965 at the age of 21, when he was "trying to play a bit and not getting anywhere because nobody wanted me in the folk clubs", met Nat Joseph who, at 21 in 1961, had founded 'Transatlantic Records' as  importer of American folk, blue and jazz records and recalled : "my prettiest girlfriend came with me for good luck and we walked up to the boss's home in highest Hampstead from deepest Kilburn" and recalled : "when Nat took that record of mine, it really helped me in life, so I was very, very grateful to him” and "It was a great moment for me when that record came out - a big smudgy brown LP with my picture on the front of my five quid guitar with a lollypop stick holding the neck up, and my name in letters, spelt right. It set me on the road to fame and fortune, even if it didn't get me more than the statutory two per cent." http://ow.ly/KYlmx

* by 1966 had joined forces with Bert Jansch, who had played a couple of tracks on his first eponymous album and with whom he shared a flat and together they created a style which became known as 'folk baroque' and recalled "the domestic record companies were getting interested in what was going on in the world of 'Folk' and Transatlantic sent out their recording engineer with a tape machine to capture the 'authentic' sounds on location in deepest South London and recorded 'Bert And John' http://ow.ly/KWgE6 with blankets tacked up in the hallway to keep out the noise of their neighbours" and remembered Bill Leader "coming over to a pad I shared with Bert, setting up the tape machine in the sink and having us play in the broom cupboard."

* was now playing a 'Gibson J-50', bought from an American serviceman at an airbase and by the time he released his second solo album, 'Another Monday' in 1967, had started to play with Jacqui McShee, who in addition to American material, sang versions of British traditional songs as well as playing with Bert at 'Les Cousins' "where Alexis would come down with a trio and it was a natural progression to ask Danny and Terry to join and we found that we had a lot of musical common ground and we became a band. We called ourselves 'Pentangle' after the emblem on Sir Gawain's shield in the story of the Green Knight. The music was a loose mixture of all our influences, initially much of it improvised on the stand."

performed "public rehearsals" with 'Pentangle' in the Horseshoe Hotel in Tottenham Court Road and made their concert debut at the Royal Festival Hall in 1967. http://ow.ly/KWy37 and http://ow.ly/KWykP

* saw 'The Pentangle' album "picked up by Warner Bros. in America and things started happening fast. We toured America in 1968 playing prestigious gigs like Carnegie Hall" and in 1969 played with his semi-acoustic Gibson 335 at the Newport Folk Festival "which was nice as we finally got to meet some of the old timers including Jesse Fuller himself. We also played the Fillmores, East and West, working alongside James Taylor and The Grateful Dead."

 * found that “from potato peeling to staying in one of the most wonderful hotels in New York on an expensive campaign by Warner Brothers was a change" and "We were so amazed by the whole thing it was like funny really, a joke. Mock-English airs and graces we were wondering around pretending we were Lord Fauntleroy”, but also “that touring lifestyle is very gruelling and it didn’t take long for everyone to be absolutely wrecked.”

* continued to pursue his solo career with his album, 'Sir John Alot' in 1968 with its mixture of jazz, folk and blues and “Since I could already read and write music and had an academic background, I threw in some things that sounded a lot different. Nat didn’t exercise any control over what you recorded, so those pieces like ‘Sir John A lot...’ stood out from the rest as being a bit different from the folky-blues things, and it was a direction that felt much more me.” http://ow.ly/KWA6x

* in 1969 saw Pentangle's third album, 'Basket of Light', take them into the charts when the opening track, 'Light  Flight', chosen as theme tune for the BBC TV series, 'Take Three Girls' http://ow.ly/KWzfG but unwilling to be classed with the emergent group of 'folk artists', used 'The Lady And The Unicorn' in 1970, to express his interest in 'Early Music' and "made instrumental arrangements of songs that I had learned from Jacqui." http://ow.ly/KWANE

* recalled that in 1971, at the age of 27 : "When I thought I was about to leave 'Transatlantic' for good I made a sort of "goodbye and thank you" album 'Faro Annie' - folk-blues side of me ten years on, as if to round things off "
 http://ow.ly/KWBjm

* by the time Pentangle split up in 1973, after their last album, 'Solomon's Seal', http://ow.ly/KWDYZ ,had seen the group's career span six albums, tv appearances, three movie soundtracks, including Roddy McDowall's 'Tam Lin' in 1970 http://ow.ly/KYrfI as well as several American and world tours and continued his solo career and interest in 'Early Music' with 'The Hermit' in 1976. http://ow.ly/KWEbc

* worked again with Jaquie McShee to form 'The John Renbourn Group' which integrated Indian tabla with guitar and jazz reeds, produced 'A Maid in Bedlam' in 1977 and then after three years, 'Enchanted Garden and 'Live in America' http://ow.ly/KWGGn in 1980 and later recalled : "We were taped playing at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco and the recording 'Live In America' earned us a 'Grammy Nomination' in the Folk Music category. We were pipped at the post by Queen Ida but we all felt that was fair enough."

* returned to 'Transatlantic' in 1979  playing a Guild D-55 : "when I came wandering in again, new shoes and all, it seemed right to start with an album of the other type of music I had been encouraged to pursue. I called that album 'Black Balloon', mainly because that was the logo of the Transatlantic label. It was a way of saying it was good to be back." http://ow.ly/KYtLk

* in the late 70s collaborated with American guitarist Stefan Grossman and recorded  two albums which recalled his baroque days with Bert. http://ow.ly/KWELJ
 
* in 1982 started a three year degree couse in 'Composition and Orchestration' at Dartington College of Arts in Devon where :" the most wonderful aspect was the range of music covered by the course, much of which I had scarcely been aware of. It was an awesome experience but not without its lighter side. To keep my hand in I still took the occasional gig whenever I could. These usually passed without comment but special dispensation had to be applied for in order to re-sit my second year exams when it was discovered that they clashed with a concert with Doc Watson at the Carnegie Hall."

* in 1984 formed a partnership with guitarist Wizz Jones and added acoustic guitars to the soundtrack of the Michael Winner movie,  'Scream For Help', http://ow.ly/KYwbz a studio project with his neighbour, John Paul Jones, and in 1988, at the age of 44,  returned to the ensemble format and  his interest in Celtic music when he "was asked to put together a band for a concert in New York's Central Park. Maggie Boyle (vocals) and Steve Tilston  (guitar) joined Tony Roberts (flute) and myself and we called ourselves 'Ship of Fools' after Sebastian Brant's early moralistic commentary, recording one album under that name for Flying Fish." http://ow.ly/KWHE2

* in 2005, at the age of 61, made his 'fifth' tour of Japan with Tokio Uchida and Woody Mann and the following year played venues in England and made appearances with Robin Williamson "whom I had known from the early days before the Incredible String Band and the Pentangle took to the road" and with Jacqui McShee collaborated on the score for the film 'Driving Lessons' starring Julie Walters. http://ow.ly/KWI3D

* in 2010 was honoured by the Martin Company with their production of a new guitar, his "own signature model. It’s a gem. The specs sheet tells a lot, but not all. The playability and sound are in the hyperbole class. I’m one lucky plunker."

* in 2011, released, what was to be his last album, 'Palermo Snow', featuring clarinetist Dick Lee with the title track a complex mix of classical, folk, jazz and blues and a Arabic/Mediterranean sound evoked by his stay in the city  while in concert, during a rare snowfall in the Sicilian city when : "Everyone seemed to be entranced, going about like sleepwalkers as a spooky silence hung in the air. It is hard to forget being there and witnessing a big, bustling city held in thrall by a fall of snow." http://ow.ly/KWILI

* had taught guitar at Dartington College and  settled into the role of guitar tutor, able to demonstrate guitar styles of the 1960s with consummate ease : https://vimeo.com/71981025 and had workshops in picturesque locations : the foot hills of the Pyrenees, Andalucia, Dordogne and  Crete and commented that : “It’s just total bliss. I’m doing more or less what I wanted to do and now I do workshops rather than shows” and “If someone wants to come in their Bentley and stay in the Hilton they can, or if they want to hitchhike and sleep rough they can do that."


* since 2012, had toured with Wizz Jones, playing a mixture of solo and duo material and played nine gigs with him at table Lodge in Derbyshire in March http://ow.ly/LBrgY and was set to return to Crete for a guitar workshop in May when he died at his home in Hawick, Scotland. : http://ow.ly/KWJeT

* was paid tribute by John Cole in his review of 'Palermo Snow' in 2011 :

' In his remarkable duets with Bert Jansch and their work together in Pentangle, he could travel effortlessly from Renaissance music to jazz. He could play a salterello and he could play Mingus. In everything he did, Renbourn was a soulful player. He made it easy to be a fan.'

What better epitaph might an old guitar player have than :
                    'He made it easy to be a fan.'
Looking back on his life at 69 said : “What stands out for me was meeting the musicians I adore myself. I can’t believe how fantastic it was. One of my first gigs was with Jesse Fuller, the 12 string guy, I remember every second of it. Years later I met Doc Watson and that was just out of this world. I also met T-Bone Walker and John Lee Hooker.”