The great Michael Chapman has enjoyed a love affair with Cornwall dating back to the time he busked for supper at the Count House in Botallack, where he came across a character known as John The Fish, to whom this solo acoustic recording is dedicated. In many ways the two men were fish out of water: Chapman travelling from landlocked Hunslet, the Fish from North London, but the call of the wild drives the art down the A30, with musical contours marked as Pyramid points – Northumberland, Kernow and…Nepal. Despite his lonesome, defiantly melancholic nature, Chapman’s star remains high.
Michael Chapman — Fish (Tompkins Square)At 74, Michael Chapman could be forgiven if he decided now was the time to hang up his guitar and settle down into retirement, or at least take a step away from the limelight. Fortunately for music lovers worldwide, however, Chapman is more inspired than ever, and unlike many of his peers, is still so adventurous and bold that he’s more likely to be found sharing a bill with or being praised by the likes of The No-Neck Blues Band and Thurston Moore than going on a nostalgia trip with Fairport Convention or Steeleye Span. His recent output is mostly instrumental and draws from a deep well of tradition that starts in Britain and stretches across the globe and through a myriad traditions, encapsulated by the largely improvised 2011 electric guitar masterpiece The Resurrection and Revenge of The Clayton Peacock.
You haven’t heard of Michael Chapman. Perhaps that’s patronising. Maybe “‘Postcards of Scarborough” soundtracks your minutes before sleep and Rainmaker sits on your mantel. But I hadn’t heard of him. His name was dropped, modestly,occasionally, by my effusive Lancastrian guitar teacher ….