"Dazzling" - Acoustic Guitar (USA) “Nothing short of brilliant” - Dirty Linen (USA)
“In the virtuoso class” - The Guardian (UK)
ABOUT THE ARTIST…
“Chris Newman, brilliant English master of the acoustic guitar” (Daily Telegraph) began to play guitar at the age of four, and at fourteen gave his first paid concert in a folk club. He dabbled in the jazz scene in his teens, playing with and learning from people like Stephane Grappelli and Diz Disley. A foray into the commercial music world resulted in a silver disc for producing The Oldest Swinger in Town - to which he also composed the tune and which reached No 2 in the charts in the UK and No 1 in several other countries. One day in 1985 he decided he'd really rather play interesting music than pursue interesting paychecks and now concentrates on playing the traditional music of Ireland and Scotland and on composition in a number of different styles. Fretwork is his third solo album.
In 1987 he established a duo with Irish harper Máire Ní Chathasaigh (they made their début at the 1987 Cambridge Folk Festival) and together they’ve played in twenty-one countries and given TV and radio broadcasts on five continents. Of their six albums together, The Living Wood (1988) was the Daily Telegraph’s Folk Album of the Year, Out of Court (1991) was "stunning: one of the most refreshingly innovative releases in recent years" - Folk Roots, The Carolan Albums (1994) was “a masterpiece of virtuosity” - Daily Telegraph, Live in the Highlands (1995) showcased their “blazing guitar and dancing harp” (Dirty Linen) and “captures the essence of these remarkable performers in a rare and priceless way - absolutely essential.“ - Folk Roots and Dialogues was “Terrific: brilliant, beautiful, rich, virtuosic, delightful, classic, perfect! ” The Sunday Tribune (Ireland); their new CD, Firewire, has just been released to critical acclaim: “An eclecticism and spirit of adventure that is quite thrilling… Virtuoso playing… bewitching string fantasies and a wonderfully clear and expressive voice…" The Times "Maire Ni Chathasaigh is in a class of her own…" The Guardian “Dazzling virtuosity... guitar-playing to be marvelled at... exquisitely delivered... delightful” The Daily Telegraph
In addition to his work with Máire, Chris toured for three years until August 1997 as a member of Celtic band Boys of the Lough in the USA, Canada, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Estonia, Denmark, China and Italy. The Scotsman said of his performance with them: "His fluid, wonderfully assured expansiveness produced a burst of quick-picked harmony here, some dense, resonant undercurrents there and flashes of snazzy, jazzy syncopation all over the place"; "His brilliant grasp of the idiom and swingy, authoritative playing give a tremendous rhythmic and dynamic lift". As a respected record-producer and arranger in the field of traditional music, he’s been responsible for such ground-breaking albums as Brendan Power’s New Irish Harmonica and band-mate Christy O'Leary's critically-acclaimed solo release The Northern Bridge.
“Chris is one of the best flat picking guitarists in the UK, with a remarkable sympathy and feel for traditional music” - Folk Roots (UK)
“Guitar players don’t come any better than Chris Newman” - The Living Tradition (Scotland)
“Stately Carolan tunes, jazzy Django-ish numbers, dazzling Doc Watson style flat picking fliers, driving Irish dance tunes - he can nonchalantly do the lot. Guitar players applauded and went sadly home to burn their instruments!” - The Belfast Telegraph (Ireland)
“Revered” – Taplas (Wales)
“The John Williams of folk guitar” – The Inverness Courier (Scotland)
REVIEWS OF FRETWORK…
"What do you get when an acoustic guitarist of this stature asserts total quality control over his first solo album in 15 long years? ...The answer is, of course, total quality. This CD is delightfully accessible: not just for pickers and pluckers but for heart and feet as well as head and fingers. A cerebral, guitar tutor approach would never have stuck the foolish grin on my face, or had me dancing round the room bashing into furniture... I’d blithely cross snow-capped mountains and ford raging rivers to see Chris play...” - The Living Tradition (Scotland)
"Chris Newman has…produced a stylistically-varied and stunning bunch of tunes...In the company of long-time collaborator, harpist Máire Ní Chathasaigh and her sister, Nollaig Casey (incredible fiddler, but you knew that), he tackles many of own tunes and a couple of well-known ones. This lot ranges from flat-picked swing, through delicate airy picking and jolly mandolin to some ear-boggling, finger-tangling flat-picking on the challenging Scott Skinner medley. Having watched fiddlers struggle with Skinner's deliberately-difficult “Mathematician”, it's a little depressing to hear Newman's apparently effortless guitar gallop through it, articulating each note with clarity and punch. In fact, this whole set's depressing - to hear someone play in as many different styles so well. Unusually for a largely self-penned set, this collection is heaving with good tunes - probably helped by Chris's own admission that he's not made a solo album since 1983, so there's 15 years of accumulated writing here!
The UK has produced some staggering and influential acoustic guitarists in the past few decades - no sign of any let up here." - Folk Roots (UK)
“The John Williams of folk guitar combines elements of Celtic, country and swing on his first solo album in 15 years - but it’s been well worth the wait. All three musical styles are seamlessly combined on “Pass the Pick”, the intricate lines of the title track are given a gentle rock beat, “The Arctic Goose” is a lovely slow air, marimba adds a tropical touch to “The Last Call” and the fingerpicking on a bluegrass medley takes the breath away... Newman wears his virtuosity lightly and his music has immense vitality and charm.” - The Inverness Courier (Scotland)
"A neatly understated title! Chris Newman's first solo release since 1983 is, as anyone who has seen or heard him would expect, a dazzling display of guitar virtuosity. It's also a thoroughly tasteful and enjoyable varied affair... Chris's background in jazz and swing is evident in the pace and invention of his plectrum-work but, apart from in the breezy opening number and the title track - not in his choice of material. There's a Swedish Polska, two American reels (Tell Her Lies And Feed Her Candy and a gloriously ornamented Old Joe Clark), a set of Scott Skinner fiddle tunes - and the rest of the pieces are self-penned. .. The playing is, by turns, lively and reflective, energetic and expressive: the whole album is a delight." – Folkwrite (England)
“Chris Newman’s third solo album, his first since 1983, is a veritable feast of immaculate guitar playing. You’re picked up with a racy bluegrass opener and straight into a ragtime blues. Then, just as you think you’re in for fifty minutes of country folk, he unleashes “The Riverside”, a sweet track on classical guitar. After only six tracks, it feels like an album full. Yet, there are seventeen slices of very rich guitar forest gateau to get through - a marvellous achievement. The moods change throughout, from the yearning and soulful “Arctic Goose” to the evocative Mediterranean-sounding “Where’s the Bar?” Newman adds detailed sleevenotes on all the tunes, almost all original compositions. Not a single word is uttered or sung throughout - a testament to Newman’s ability to make the guitar grab your attention and never let you go. A great album from a respected and revered folk guitarist.” Taplas (Wales)