I have a confession.
I don’t like acoustic guitars. Especially the ones that have over earnest young men attached to them, singing songs of lost love in this cruel, cruel world. It’s trite, generic and worst of all, so fucking boring. Give me a brutal wall of noise (Divorce are my current goto) or spectacularly polished pop (Nicola Roberts’ solo album Cindarella’s Eyes is majestic) any day over the self indulgent whining of some wee prick in a waistcoat and flat cap. You know the type, makes a beeline for the acoustic guitar sitting in the corner of the room, primed to ruin an otherwise great party with his dire renditions of long loved songs or even worse, his own turgid compositions. I hate him. I fucking hate him. Worse than that, I fear him. I’m afraid of becoming him.
I’m aware that this may come as somewhat of a surprise given that I am myself a (close to) middle aged man that spends the majority of my time either writing, recording or performing music on the acoustic guitar. The irony has not escaped me. My general dislike of acoustic music is one of the things that drew me towards it in the first place. I wanted to take the constraints of solo acoustic guitar and make it sound different, unexpected. Unusual. I have no idea if I’ve succeeded. To be honest it doesn’t matter. As long as I don’t end up being that prick playing Wonderwall on the couch.
So then, I suspect you are wondering, why have you helped program the Shhhh! Festival? A self proclaimed festival of quiet, predominately acoustic music, none the less? There’s two reasons.
Firstly, it gave me the chance to book some of the brilliant musicians that I have had the privilege of sharing a stage with over the last few years. People like Wounded Knee, Laura J Martin, Woodpecker Wooliams and Finn LeMarinel constantly surprise and inspire with their innovative and imaginative use of normally staid, straight laced instrumentation and tropes. Likewise with Emma Pollock, Craig B, Rick Redbeard and I Build Collapsible Mountains who write some of the most beautiful, moving music and words I’ve known.
Basically, These people make outstanding music. Music that makes me smile, cry and contemplate. The kind of songs that I wish I had written. Despite being acoustic. Despite my first instinct being to dismiss it. That makes it twice as powerful for me.
Secondly, the Shhhh Festival is based around the idea that it is okay to tell people in the crowd to shut the fuck up if they are talking during the show. Now, that is an idea I can get behind.