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Folk pioneer in Penzance

By The Cornishman  |  Posted: August 22, 2013

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PENZANCE is lucky enough to be able to witness John Renbourn's extraordinary playing abilities on Sunday.

Hot on the heels of an appearance at Cornwall Folk Festival at Wadebridge he is visiting The Acorn.

Renbourn is one of the finest exponents of finger-style acoustic guitar, a 1960s' survivor and someone who has made a major contribution to the development of acoustic music across the world.

With Big Bill Broonzy as a major influence, Renbourn's first album (1965) was heavily into blues guitar, but with his second, a year later, he'd made some interesting shifts of emphasis.

For one thing, he'd met a fellow guitarist on the West End club circuit, Bert Jansch, and for another, both had been knocked out by the work of guitarist Davey Graham.

In 1966 Renbourn recorded what was to become a classic album with Jansch entitled Bert & John, in which jazz and folk elements mingled with blues in what the critics were quick to label "folk-baroque".

This new development reached its apogee with the formation of Pentangle in 1967. During and after the band's five-year life, Renbourn had been following up another, totally different direction, producing an album in 1968 which on one side offered a selection of jazzy uptempo blues and acoustic rock'n'roll numbers, and on the other, folk tune arrangements, authentic Tudor pieces and some extended self-penned tunes in the Tudor style.

This album proved to be the starting point which led him to making the many classic solo albums for which he has now become famous, and which will give him the basis for Sunday's concert in Penzance.

A John Renbourn concert takes the listener into a rich musical landscape of warm vocals and witty asides about the history of the songs. At the core is a revolutionary guitar style that explores the instrument's potential in unusual and beautiful ways, created and performed by a consummate master.

Tickets: 01726 879500, West Penwith Music and Music Box, Penzance.

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