Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Shhh! Don't tell BBC Scotland this kid was one of the three finalists on Sky's "Guitar Star" just a few weeks ago! the word "plucked" seems a trifle disingenuous. Still, the kid's always worth listening to, whoever's claiming to have "discovered" him. Here - when he was just 14 - Billy Watman plays his own arrangement of "Bohemian Rhapsody" for three enraptured Guitar Star mentors: Tony Visconti, George Benson and Miloš Karadaglić:

Talented little sod. And before the BBC claims to have discovered 57-year blues/country/folk/rockabilly Travis-picker Steve Morrison - another of Guitar Star's three finalists, and my personal favourite - here he is in the first episode of this year's series: you'll find him at 20'15":

Here, because my favourite guitar style is Travis-picking (where the thumb lays down the rhythm while the other fingers do the fancy stuff - including, in Steve's case, play bottleneck) is a terrific live performance of J.J. Cale's "After Midnight", captured on a phone:

Sadly, neither Billy nor Steve did themselves justice in the final, when they had to perform in a side-tent at this year's Latitude Music Festival. The guitarist who won, and, as a result, got to perform on the main stage, was Zayn Mohammed (you can see him playing for Tommy Iommi here). I didn't disagree with the judges - the winner was clearly the most technically and musically gifted entrant - but his particular form of show-offy, self-pleasing, multiculti jazz fusion noodling makes me want to stab myself in the knee with a fork after about thirty seconds. Anyway, I expect the BBC will be discovering Zayn any day now.

One of the contestants this year was the acoustic guitarist Becky Langan, who was really good, but who didn't seem to progress as a performer during the series, and was eliminated at the semi-final stage. Her striking looks - the broad, low forehead and the enormous, widely-spaced eyes - reminded me of somebody:

It drove me mad for most of one episode - and then the penny dropped: Lucian Freud would have begged Becky Langan to sit for him:

Here's Becky performing her original composition, "Aurora":

I've got the same guitar as Becky - a Taylor: but they're not cheap, and I'd be terrified of treating mine quite as robustly! 

1 comment:

  1. Hi, for the record the arrangement of Bohemian Rhapsody is by Edgar Cruz. Billy has never claimed it to be his own - Sky TV neglected to credit Edgar despite being told by Billy before he played it ;-)