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GONZO WEEKLY #16: Jon meets Dave Bainbridge

I have never been a fan of overly complicated lead guitar soloing, with the possible exception of Frank Zappa, and even then I have to be in the right mood to listen to things like Shut up and Play your Guitar. Even when I was a boy, and all my friends were idolising yer flashy guitar heroes, I much preferred the solider work of people like David Gilmour whose quiet professionalism perfectly fitted the songs his band were playing, and functioned truly as part of a vision of ensemble playing, even when he was playing something that no-one else in the known universe was able to do.

A couple of years ago I was introduced to the music of Dave Bainbridge. Perhaps best known for his work with the pioneering UK based Celtic folk/rock/ambient band Iona, which he co-founded in 1989 with David Fitzgerald, Dave's multi-faceted career as a musician, composer, arranger, improviser, producer and engineer has led him into many musical genres and work with numerous artists including; Troy Donockley, Jack Bruce, Buddy Guy, Gloria Gaynor, Mae McKenna, Moya Brennan, 'Snake' Davis, Paul Jones, Pete Brown, Phil Keaggy, Bryn Haworth, Graham Kendrick, Fenton Robinson, Lurrie Bell, Louisiana Red, The All Soul's Orchestra, The Emperor String Quartet, The St Edmundsbury Boys Choir, Sheila Walsh, Adrian Snell, Emiko Shiratori, Robert Fripp, Nick Beggs (Kajagoogoo / Steve Hackett Band), Martin Smith & Stuart Garrard (of Delirious) and many others.

Now, Dave is one of those musicians that I admire very much, technically brilliant he opts for a quiet professionalism rather than overt showing off, and his songwriting is elegant and often elegiac.

As a solo artist Dave Bainbridge is a relative newcomer, only taking the plunge when Iona had a sabbatical in the early noughties.   This break was due to the band's vocalist taking time out to concentrate on her family. In late 2003 Dave wrote and recorded his debut solo album ‘A Veil Of Gossamer’. The album was critically well received and this encouraged Dave to begin work on another album. Dave, using the very 21st century business of Crowdfunding, then released a remarkable new album – Celestial Fire – and he was kind enough to send me a copy.  I listened to it late one night with what my ever useful amanuensis calls an expanded mind…..and bloody hell it’s good.

In the meantime Dave has formed a working partnership with Troy Donockley, also of Iona.  The duo has made two albums and a live DVD recorded at Lincoln Cathedral. They also toured Japan in late 2004, performing a mixture of their own solo material alongside traditional and newer songs, plus selected items from Iona's vast back catalogue.

He is one of those hard working chaps who always has something interesting to impart, so last week I gave him a ring to find out what he has been up to..


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