james blackshaw

Blackshaw's first instrument was piano. "I used to play 12-string a bit like playing the piano with the sustain pedal held down—lots of open strings, never really bending the strings—and using similar kinds of chord progressions and arpeggio patterns."

Photo by Tim Bugbee / Tinnitus

On his new album, the British fingerstylist embraces nylon strings, songcraft, and vocals.

British musician James Blackshaw is one of the brightest new voices to emerge in the fingerstyle solo guitar resurgence of the last decade. In 2003 he made his solo debut with Apologia, which he self-released on CD-R and sold at the record shop where he worked in London. Reissued digitally and on limited-edition vinyl last year, the album finds Blackshaw playing 6-string tributes to American Primitive guitarists John Fahey and Robbie Basho, as well as country-blues pioneers like Mississippi John Hurt and Reverend Gary Davis.

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