“..hard to believe there’s only one man on stage.” (Rock Society Magazine)
“…a superior fingerstyle troubadour.” (Guitar and Bass Magazine)
“..a prodigiously talented fingerpicking guitarist.” (R2 Magazine)
"...an acoustic guitar master." (Maverick Magazine)
In conversation with Rodrigo Y Gabriella, John Henry Studios London UK. 2015
"Adrian Nation reminds me of a young Martin Simpson - blessed with boundless boldness and unrestricted flair"
(Roddy Campbell editor Penguin Eggs)
John Henry Rehearsal Studios, London. UK 2015
with Rodrigo Y Gabriella
Bush Hall, London. UK 2015
You can find official Biog for promo use along with other material in the Media Pack in The Office
It was a cold and wintry Sunday afternoon, but with the fire alight and my Mum, Dad and sisters all together I felt the safety and warmth peculiar to early childhood. In fact I could only have been 4 but I remember the day even now for one particular moment. It was the moment when for the first time, a piece of music affected me. The Adventures of Black Beauty were on the television and as the theme tune rose and I saw that jet-black horse galloping across the fields through the long grass, I could feel the melody swirling inside, creating a longing, but for what, I didn't know.
That was the start of it for me I believe. A lifetime seeking out music that didn't only make my foot tap and my body respond but changed the way I felt inside, made me see the world slightly differently, helped me to connect to something bigger than me. At that young age I had no idea that music would become such a huge part of my life but as I look back I can recognise moments that led me to where I am today. Moments such as being in the Royal Albert Hall one Easter Monday hearing four thousand voices singing in celebration and knowing that although my mum wasn't always singing the same notes as everyone else it sounded so beautiful (my first taste of harmony). My Dad occasionally played Beethoven's 5th Piano Concerto 'The Emperor' and some days when everyone was out I would put it on the record player and turn the volume up full and want to be the conductor. Then there was the time I first heard 'Bat Out of Hell' and was able to see the story of the song in my own mind's eye. The guitar solo at the end of Dire Straits' "Where d'you Think You're Going" filled me with more emotion than the lyric. Isaac Guillory ripped up any ideas I had about the limitations of the acoustic guitar and then Bruce Cockburn, combined the guitar with an eye that could see and a vocabulary that could report on a world that slowly unfolded and changed my view forever.
When I was first encouraged to pick up a guitar at 16 by my great friend and artist Steve Perry it didn't come easy. Every chord was a struggle, every finger wanted to be somewhere it shouldn't be but I had got a taste and wanted so badly to be able to play freely and maybe one day well enough to play to other people. Some folks have told me I'm talented, I tend to think that it's more a question of determination than talent! And determined I certainly was. Before the days of Youtube, I would sit listening to records trying to figure out bits and pieces and I wasn't very good at that, I didn't have the knowledge. I recall many many nights learning the solo section of Mark Knopfler's Tunnel Of Love, never did really nail it.
But I never really wanted to play other people's songs, I wanted to write my own and it was again my friend Steve who never let me relinquish the idea that I could do just that. Steve also went on to provide me with the beautiful painting that so appropriately became the cover of my first album Sowing Seeds. Sure, I wrote some songs early on, but I don't recall any of them being any good! Certainly not good enough for me to be proud of. And I did a few gigs in my late teens singing songs by another inspiration, the Canadian Michael Bennett (now better known as The Wordman of Alcatraz) but again, no great shakes as they say. I stopped gigging pretty soon.
But in my late 20's having never stopped playing my guitar and searching to take my playing to the next level I was introduced to an amazing guitar player, Tim Whitnell. Now this guy could do anything on a guitar and he taught me so much. I always think that he was the guy who helped fill my toolbox with the tools that allowed me to go and build my music and that's what I did. We played as a duo for a brief while, Six Feet Above was our name and we even released an EP called Tide's Up that got some radio attention but it was the draw of playing my own songs on my own terms that drew me away again.
I remember the day well that I wrote Wait For Me. It was the first song of mine that I felt proud to call my own and it was the catalyst that saw a whole album of songs written, recorded and released within a year. Sowing Seeds was my first album and one I am proud of to this day. I look back at that time now and see all the places along the way, the venues I've played, the great musicians I've met and played alongside, the countries I have had the opportunity to go to with a guitar and I owe it to determination and friends.
I have 3 albums released now and in the intervening period have played all over the UK, I have toured in Greece and the Netherlands and even got my face on TV. SkyArts' Guitar Star to be precise (although the first time I appeared on TV was 10 years ago when I jumped in front of a camera on the Tyne Bridge in Newcastle during my only Great North Run!) I have shared a stage with John Renbourn, Wizz Jones, Wishbone Ash, Eric Bogle, Boo Hewerdine, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, Stephen Fearing, and Craobh Rua amongst others and played some incredible venues like The Sage in Gateshead, The Cambridge Folk Festival, Alnwick Castle, Durham Cathedral, The Acoustic Festival of Britain to name a few. I have also had the honour of recording with some wonderful people, Gerry Conway played drums on my second album Fall or Fly along with Troy Donockley, Brad Lang, Nick Holland and the frankly amazing Colin Linden who graciously added some slide guitar to The Heart Beats On.
It has been however my lastest album that has garnered the most reaction. Recorded live and solo whilst on tour in the Netherlands in 2013, Live at Crossroads has produced the best reviews of my career and opened up greater opportunities than ever before. At the heeding of Stephen Fearing, I sent a copy of the album to the CKUA Radio Network in Alberta, Canada. Within a week it was being featured on Andy Donnelly's Celtic Show and I had the joy of a time-zone-induced late night interacting with Andy's listeners over the internet with a Q&A session. One thing has led to another and now I am delighted to be preparing for my first Canadian Tour. This November will see me undertake a 16 show tour of Alberta. My delight at this is all the more satisfying because of the strong Canadian influences on my early guitar and songwriting experiences. Bruce Cockburn, Michael Bennett, Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, Gordon Lightfoot, the list continues.
So I find myself looking forward much more than back but of course always enjoying the now and I have many things yet to do. I dream of playing solo at the Royal Albert Hall, but that will be something you can read about elsewhere on the site sometime soon. I am working toward the next album always with a hope that I can write songs that can affect people the way the songs that have shaped me have had their effect. Canada will be a great adventure and I will be writing a blog on this site whilst I am on the road over there. We are currently booking a tour in Scotland for March 2016 along with other dates and festivals in several countries. The journey continues, it will be lovely to have some of you join me along the way. Please do feel free to join the Newsletter list, to send in messages, requests, questions. When I was asked recently why I do what I do, my reply was that it was to make me feel connected to something bigger than myself and I guess that means all you lovely people out there who are willing to listen, to interact, to let your world mix with mine. So let's do it together....
"The Circle spins and around we go..."
"No Question" ( Sowing Seeds / Live at Crossroads )