So much more than a fine blues guitarist

"SELF-STYLED old white blues guy from Yorkshire" is a phrase that's been used to describe Michael Chapman, but there's a lot more to him than that.

Chapman returns to the Calder Valley for the latest Steve Tilston Trades Roots gig at Hebden Bridge Trades Club next Thursday, November 20, and although he is a fine blues guitarist, that's only one of the many strings to his bow.

Technically I rate him in the same bracket as the great folk blues guitarists Davy Graham, Bert Jansch, John Renbourn and Wizz Jones.

But first and foremost, he is a superb songwriter, with a 40 year track record to prove it, from Rainmaker through Navigation to Twisted Road and the bookending Still Making Rain, and still they keep coming!

Although he usually plays acoustic, his music styles over the years have taken in his electric band Savage Amusement and the use of sequencers and samples on the hard hitting 90s creation Geordie's Down The Road.

Chapman began his career as labelmate to Pink Floyd, Deep Purple and Roy Harper on EMI/Harvest and almost a decade later was still releasing works for major label Decca.

It's a journey that's now easy to trace as the independent reissue specialist label Beat Goes On (BGO) has released double packs of his first two peerless albums, Rainmaker and Fully Qualified Survivor, and works three and four, Window and Wrecked Again, plus his Deram album Millstone Grit.

Secret Records have issued a triple CD gathering together Deal Gone Down, Savage Amusement and The Man Who Hated Mornings. And only a couple of months ago international music industry giant Universal made sure their latest triple CD pack of 60s and 70s alternative rock material, Strange Pleasures Of the Underground, went out on a high with the wonderful guitar workout New York Ladies from Millstone Grit remastered in pristine quality.

With most of Chapman's more recent works available from the man himself (or at least his website) his work is more widely available than it's ever been, populated by superb instrumental workouts like Naked Ladies and Electric Ragtime and sublime songs like Postcards Of Scarborough, The Mallard and Rabbit Hills.

He's poetic but down to earth with it - Shuffleboat River Farewell sounds American but it's his eulogy to leaving Hull (although he can do blues and Americana too), where he lived in the 60s and early 70s, and where the polar bear of Polar Bear Fandango instrumental fame was his local, The Polar Bear pub. And photographs are more than that for Michael Chapman - they're Kodak Ghosts.

The Chapman live experience usually incorporates more tales and stories than you can handle too, a good few of them providing wonderfully savage amusement indeed.

He's on stage at around 9pm and tickets are 10 (7 non-members), when you can discover (or rediscover) him for yourself.