John Fairhurst
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John Fairhurst

Band Folk Blues


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"BBC Album Review"

"Instrumental guitar albums can be hard work. A preconditioned desire for songs to have a lyrical element means that they can feel as if they have something missing, like trying to find beauty in a picture of a tree painted without the colour green.

The credit for John Fairhurst’s debut feeling different to that expectation is down not just to his talent but to the life that led up to its release.

It is music formed across the globe, from his travels to the Far East and beyond to his meanderings outside Wigan and it is shaped by everyone from Nick Drake to Miles Davis to K.Sridhar, the Indian Sarod master who stayed with his family when he was growing up.

The result is a mix of music that sounds both born in delta swamps and in wailing sub-continental mountains. It is part blues and part raga, as far removed from the English North West as you could get and yet oddly perfect for a region that thrives on its multiculturalism.

That mix makes for music that is intriguing, unexpected and ultimately satisfying. From the opening toe-tapping barnstormer, 'Obnox Stomp', to the closing, rolling splendour of the title track, there are moments of enormous subtlety and fascinating obliqueness, as the 11 tracks twist away from what you expect such an album to be.

Add to that the fact that it is difficult not to love an album where the instruments played include tin cans, a washboard, some pliers, a pan lid and chains, and whose only vocal contributors are "the avifauna of Billinge and Dalton", and you have something that sounds exactly as the title suggests – an unbridled joyous explosion of simple textures, thrilling musicianship and handsome melodies.

Interestingly, the cover of 'Joys Of Spring' is a striking picture of a tree in full blossom, with not a green leaf in sight. It just goes to show that sometimes, what you expect is not what you get and that beauty, and music, can come in unlikely hues and shapes."

Chris Long, BBC Manchester.


"Is This Music Album Review"

"For a man who spent many years playing in heavy rock bands and recorded this debut album in his self confessed “arsehole of a hometown” of Wigan, Joys of Spring sounds nothing like what you might expect. It’s only when you understand that John Fairhurst has spent more recent times travelling in Asia and beyond and spent much of his childhood listening to Sarod maestro K. Shridar that the music starts to make some sense.

Entirely instrumental, this beautifully played album takes you on a journey around the world to the point where your senses can make you believe you are there. John is a master of a huge number instruments, the liner notes list 21 that he plays during the course of the album, but it’s the brilliant playing of so many types of guitar that really grabs you.

Opener ‘Obnox Stomp’ has a country/blues feel, reminiscent for me of the instrumentation on Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Devils and Dust’ album. Elsewhere ‘Blues for Bill’ makes you feel like you are in some down run bar in the Deep South of America drinking whiskey and listening to a local band.

In some parts the track titles really make you think of places and beautifully describe the music being played. The best examples of this are on ‘At the River’ where you can believe you are lying in a meadow next to a river on a lazy spring afternoon and on ‘Dawn’ where you can hear rain falling slowly in the background.

Standout track ‘How Far is East’ involves some phenomenal instrumentation and bring India directly to you. The title track, which is also the last track on the album, represents spring fantastically with birds chirping over what again can only be described as an amazing piece of folk inspired guitar playing.

Even if instrumental music isn’t your thing you should own this album. John Fairhurst deserves to go far and if people are willing to give this type of music a go then there is no denying that they’ll be drawn in by it. Buy it now."

Gordon Neil -

"Whisperin' & Hollerin' Gig Review"

"...Spirits were flowing, the sofa was full, and gravelly guitarist JOHN FAIRHURST was unleashing merry hell in the middle of the living room, backed only by a harmonica and a pair of clicking spoons.

The Wigan-born picker is a laid-back guy buried under a curtain of hair, but he savages his guitar like a hyena unwrapping a Christmas present. John is a blur of fluttering fingers, full of raw, sandpapery authenticity, with a foot tap you can hear under your knees from several rows back, never mind in a room so cosy that you can get paper cuts from his eyelashes.

His performance jangled into life with a Delta-bluesy flavour before surging into an epic Indian classical melody, dropping jaws from kitchen to corridor with his speed and style. Every now and then, he'd pause to re-tune his bruised instrument, like a frustrated dad nefariously stroking the cat before suddenly drop-kicking it off the sofa.

After a run like that, there were more than a few guests happy to shake his hand, or whatever was left of it. But this evening, John was busier than riot police during a World Cup.

He said: "I'm just about to head to Bristol. I've already played a gig in Bolton tonight, and I came to the flat straight after that. My record was about six or seven gigs in a weekend, but that was all in Manchester. It's been pretty mental this year, but I'd be happy playing gigs every day of every week of the year."...

John Hill -

"Student Direct Feature"

"Virtuosity is all too often substituted for catchiness in popular music. And to see John Fairhurst’s debut reach its deserved summit would turn the above theory on its head. For behind Joys Of Spring there lies years of waiting for musical ideas to evolve. “I first picked up a steel stringed guitar when I was ten, so I’ve arrived at my current playing after twenty years of practising and listening to loads of music.” It’s hard to put your finger on a guitar-based genre whose stone has remained unturned by John, who lists Indian classical, western classical, African withcraft and ritual, metal, flamenco and gypsy jazz among his favourites.

“My current playing is a melting pot of the ideas that have come from the different approaches I’ve encountered over the years. My biggest influences have been K. Sridhar, the Indian classical Sarod master who stayed with me as a kid and inspired me to play music.”

John’s listening experiences and hard work have led to music that shimmers with a delicate aural caress, he acknowledges the people around him for helping his musical adventures come into fruition. “I got involved with Humble Soul through Denis Jones and I’m about to go on tour with Denis – I think the way he uses his equipment is cutting edge and anyone who hasn’t seen him play should remedy that as soon as possible.”

An ambition to support himself purely through music drives John, who admits he’d be happy to tour and write new music constantly. “I’m waiting on festivals such as Glasto and Green Man and I’m about to start recording my next album. Roll on 2008!”

Ian Pennington - -

"Music Dash Live Review"

"...The second John of the night was John Fairhurst, who played slide guitar of the jangly variety and occasionally sang like he needed to clear his throat. With a voice like that though, I hope he never does. Fairhurst took the whole of The Carlton Club up a gear when he began to play with his collection of wandering musician types (other people would call it a band) and all of a sudden we were strapping our grooves on and getting down. A love of Indian music shone through this set; tablas provided the beats and something that looked liked a mandolin but sounded like a sitar tinkled its way right to your core. This was what the Old Crow Medicine Show would sound like if Ravi Shankar became their musical director; a drum circle-cum-barn dance. After yells for an encore peeled round, and more intense rhythms joined a bluesy hoedown, any newcomers to John Fairhurst certainly won’t be forgetting his name in a hurry."

Megan Vaughan - -

"Electric Ghost/Yellow Moon Album Review"

"This extraordinary debut album arrived unannounced in our offices one morning.
Playing a bewildering array of instruments, John Fairhurst has produced an instrumental record of immense power and creativity that blends eastern melodies with brilliant guitar dexterity.
He exudes a zest for life and being that is nothing short of intoxicating. We predict a very bright future for John Fairhurst."



"Imploding Acoustic Inevitable Live Review"

"John Fairhurst began the night with some skilled guitar work, moving his furious finger picking and slide guitaring through blues and folk to an eastern styled, climatic finish. Taking influence from the sarod playing of K.Sridhar, who appears to be a mentor of sorts to Fairhurst, it was in this mode that Fairhurst took hold of the packed basement of the Rampant Lion, setting the standard for this new monthly night."

Seán Dagan Wood - BLOGSPOT -

"BBC Feature"

"Joys of John
John Fairhurst is not the average musician. Where others learnt their craft holed up their bedroom, he honed his guitar skills in such far flung places as New Zealand, Thailand and, of course, his native Wigan.

Those varied influences have come together on his debut album, Joys Of Spring, a rich and varied collection that, according to John, takes its title from his experience of finding simple pleasures in life, be that from his own meanderings or that of his friend’s dogs.

"At the time I was recording, my mate had a couple of border collie puppies who couldn't believe how exponentially better every day got for them; the weather was warming up, there were a thousand new smells and things to chew on, and they were getting bigger and stronger by the minute it seemed. They had the joys of spring.

"Along with this, me and Rick Dickinson, who did the artwork and in whose shed I was set up to record, spent a lot of time outside near where he lives, walking, talking and smoking.

"His and my work were moving along together, him painting blossoms in a very Chinese and Japanese style, and me considering the blossoming of the world around us.

"After returning from travelling and experiencing what can only be described as a disgusting first winter at home for years, I was personally overjoyed at this experience. I too had the joys of spring, along with the birds."

'Blown away'
That joy shines through the album and has seen John receive some very good reviews, not that he’d let them go to his head.

I try hard not to expect anything. To be honest, I had no idea how well or badly the album would be received, but I have been blown away with the response so far.

"Naturally, there is always the desire to push things further and play better and to progress. The thing with appreciation and praise is that I personally have no control over that whatsoever, and all such things depend entirely on the subjective point of view of other people.

"My dad, always one to keep feet firmly planted, reminded me how I could easily have got terrible reviews and my music could have been as well received as a dose of syphilis!"

'A master at negative encouragement'
His dad isn’t just there to provide a dose of reality, he’s also one of the major influences on John’s music, alongside his mum and the Indian Sarod master K. Sridhar, who stayed with the family when John was a child.

"There was and always is music around at my folk’s place and my dad plays guitar better than he will accept if you tell him. That’s what got me into slide guitar and the blues so much.

"Also, he is a master at negative encouragement and I'm a sucker for it. He's an extremely intelligent, focused and to-the-point guy and really dedicated to getting things done. You can always rely on him too, even if he can be a miserable moaning b****** at times.

"My mum also deserves a huge thanks for her support and just for being her. As an artist, she knows how difficult and trying it can be to get your work done and out there and has been the person I turn to for positive support and lengthy discussion on the nature of our particular chosen madness.

"Sridhar I met as a kid and as a person; he fascinated me, my brother and sister and our cousins, because we are all about the same age. He’s a real character and the only guy I ever met who could clap with his feet!

"It was later on that I really started to appreciate his music. It is the dedication, focus and technical mastery that continues to blow me away every time I listen to him play. Music is, I think, as much of a state of mind as it is actually physically playing an instrument."

'Vocals have never really appealed'
That fascination with Sridhar’s music is one of several reasons why John made an instrumental album, not that it was particularly a conscious choice.

"It wasn't so much a decision, but that I have always played mainly instrumental music. Until very recently, vocals have never really appealed to me. I suppose that’s because to clearly state something in words can lack a certain subtlety, to me at least. It’s a feeling of a situation or place that fascinates me most, and I have tried to capture the emotion of such things.

"The next album is, however, going to have singing on it. Well, more guttural grunting in my case. I have never liked my voice either, which is also a good reason to make instrumental music. It’s about time I gave it a go though. I'm interested to see the response!"

'A log cabin type affair'
Whether he’ll be recording that album in a shed again remains to be seen, though John is quick to point out that it’s not quite the standard plywood affair that most people would recognise.

"To be exact, it’s the aforementioned Rick's studio. Basically a log cabin type affair and quite nice it is too! Nothing very fancy, but the fairly bare wooden interior is great acoustically for guitars.

"I moved in for a few weeks with all my ve -

"Spril Earth Live Review"

"John Fairhurst brings the weather to Bristol

Just prior to John's set tonight Bristol's skyline is illuminated by thick shards of lightning, the fluorescent strip outside the venue starts to flicker madly and the humidity closes in on us. However, the elements only heightened our excitement as we huddled into the small side room of The Eldon.

John's opening gambit is a frenzied improvisational raga piece. It lasts a good ten minutes and creates a mixed reaction. Some people whoop and cheer and the wags make comments along the lines of, 'When are you starting?'. Others sit back slack jawed, trying to assimilate what they have witnessed, putting it into their mental in tray to deal with at another time.

As the audience sit shoulder to shoulder John shoves back a heap of pedals and cables to give himself sufficient room for 'Obnox Stomp'. His foot pounds the floor as he searches out the places on the fretboard for the colossal catchy slide riff the piece rides on. The landlady's intro of, 'the best guitarist you'll ever see' could be possible.

Spontaneity and improvisation have to be based on something and John has a wealth of musical knowledge to draw on. He adopts his best Tom Waits's growl for a cover of Mississippi John Hurt's 'Payday'. It slots into the set well, a stark contrast against the instrumentals.

The atmosphere remains jovial but laced with the anticipation of John's next move. He delves deeper into his bag of tricks to collaborate with a saxophonist on 'The Shrew' and further explorations give us a myriad of grooves. Some with a Spanish flavour and others drawn straight from the wellspring of the blues.

Stretching the guitar to seek new possibilities it's the power of surprise that is on John's side. He also plays with such gusto and verve that we leave bolstered by the power of music, happy to walk into the rain with a trillion notes ringing in our ears."



'Joys Of Spring'

Released on the 24th March 2008 on Humble Soul.


1. Obnox Stomp
2. Passing Time
3. Yew Tree Blues
4. At The River
5. Blues For Bill
6. Shivver
7. On The Run
8. Friends
9. How Far, How Fast
10. Dawn
11. Joys Of Spring



Energetic, gifted, ambitious, charming and artistic: these are just a few words that spring to mind after listening to John’s debut album Joys Of Spring. After much acclaim and plenty of jaw-dropping live shows John has established a reputation for being one of the most intuitive and creative musicians the UK has to offer. Yet it is John’s extensive travelling and raw musical experiences which have truly informed his eclectic taste and technically awe-inspiring live shows.

Having met Indian Sarod master K. Sridah 25 years ago John was instantly inspired by his musical fluency, rare intensity and exciting links with musicians from other cultures. A few years later, and John headed to South Asia and beyond to develop a fearsome live reputation around the world. While working alongside Maori gangsters and playing slide guitar in Bangkok blues bars, John committed himself to a life of music reflecting different genres, moods and personalities that when performed live is perfectly woven together by the powerful thread of John’s outrageous guitar playing talent.

After returning from his travels, John set about distilling his experiences, pouring all he had learned into a melting-pot of an album, the stunning Joys of Spring, steeped in a sense of the worldwide music community. This beautiful debut has seen John hailed as a “one man explosion of blues, Indian ragas and baroque folk”, which in turn has propelled John into more mainstream circles, earning him the opportunity to perform in front of audiences who wouldn’t normally get the chance to encounter such wonder. Over the last year John has played over 100 stunning live shows across the globe. This year’s UK festival season saw John perform four times at Glastonbury and each night at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, as well as shows at The Great Escape, Venn Festival and finally at End Of The Road Festival with a show-stealing performance in the Bimble Inn. With countless more shows to come John will continue to take new audiences through a range of psychedelic landscapes, challenging the listener with melodies, arrangements and foot stomping rhythms that haunt you long after they are experienced.

After noticing John’s deeper understanding of music and the way in which his live performance can capture any audience, K. Sridhar recently invited John to discuss the nature of being a musician and his outlook on the world. After realising how serious he was about his music, Sridhar told John he would be willing to teach him in order to take John’s music as far as it could go.

“To be under the tutelage of a master is a truly humbling and magical prospect, especially having a direct link to an ancient and somewhat mystical form of music, ideas and approach to life and existence,” explains John. “I have to fully dedicate myself to this”.

John has already been booked for the 2009 Jodphur International Folk Festival in India and has also been invited back to play next year’s Kuiperfest festival in Spain. Combine this with his extensive work in the studio and John’s live reputation is clearly well on the way to achieving even greater heights. Let’s face it, if a legendary Indian Sarod master believes in John Fairhurst then who are we to argue?