Michael Woods is a Fingerpicking, Ragtime, Bottleneck & Blues guitarist who has been performing for about 31 years, inspired by the great country blues guitarists like Blind Blake, Blind Boy Fuller & Rev. Gary Davis.
His first floor spot was at the Big Jug folk club in Durham, England. He has since guested in clubs across the UK, from Cardiff, Ashington, Gainford, Consett and Cramlington to more high profile appearances,sharing the stage with Dave Peabody & Brendan Power at the Blue Front Blues Room in the Forest of Dean and supporting the internationally renowned Belgian Jazz Guitarist Jacques Stotzem at Cambridge folk Club.
The latter was described, alongside the week featuring Woody Mann and John Renbourn as:
“two nights that will inspire any guitarist” (Guitarist, (Nov2000).
At the Colne Blues Festival (1996), reviews included:
“…sensitive East Coast guitar blues ... The stand out was a haunting Weeping Willow Blues from Blind Boy Fuller. Beautiful, Mike!”
(Acoustic Blues Magazine)
In 1998 he released his first CD “By a River”, ten original solo guitar instrumentals incorporating elements of country blues & ragtime. The title track has a more traditional flavour and earned him a place as one of only six finalists in the Acoustic Guitarist of the Year competition (1998), held at the National Music Show, Wembley Exhibition Centre where his performance was described as:
“full of lilting passion”. (Guitarist magazine 1998)
“sounds like two guitarists” Julia Hankin during a live interview on BBC Radio Newcastle
He has just released his second CD "Fingerpicking Ragtime, Bottleneck and Blues", - 14 solo acoustic blues songs which illustrate another facet of his current live set.
Following a brief spell in a blues duo and later in a bluegrass band, Michael has incorporated more songs into his repertoire. He has been a professional musician for the last 15 years. Recent bookings include The Blue Front Blues Room (Whitecroft), Cramlington Folk Club, The Bridge Hotel(Newcastle upon Tyne),The Black Swan Inn (York) and The Beamish Mary (No Place)
“He is an exceptional guitarist” Folk Roundabout (Iss.136) -Club News (Beamish Mary)
Review of Fingerpicking, Ragtime Bottleneck and Blues (Folk Roundabout March 2009)
Very much a “does exactly what it says on the tin” disc, this – and all the better for it. This is an exemplary CD, notable for its consistency of vision and its clear-sighted, unpretentious musicality. It was recorded in just one three hour session and sounds like a genial, relaxed and confident live performance in the intimacy of your own living room- one that you would actually like to hear again.
Michael’s fingerpicking has an infectious sense of the pulse of the music, making light of his technical perfection. The disc takes us through a well balanced mix of uptempo numbers (ragtime instrumentals and rolling country blues) and more leisurely paced Delta Blues, and Michael displays equal skill in both. I liked his take on “I know you rider” with its particularly well-considered accompaniment, and it’s interesting to hear another artist cover the obscure Grateful Dead track “Dupree’s diamond blues”. Michael also gets the chance to shine on some bottleneck-dobro, though on just the one track (Sleepy John Estes Brownsville blues).
Michael’s dexterity and overall sense of oneness with his chosen idiom is never less than impressive. On the more expressive numbers, maybe Michael’s singing tends to lack the last vital ounce or two of grit, but a degree of understatement can be a virtue in this field too. So if you’re seeking a convivial, straight-down-the-line album of country-blues classics done with skill, directness, flair and true feeling for the idiom, then get your hands on this thoroughly pleasing disc. (which by the way pleases the eye too with its aesthetically satisfying art-deco sleeve artwork)