Here you will find information about last year's (2013) show. Details of Acoustic Avalon 2014 will be made available soon.
TICKETS AVAILABLE FOR ACOUSTIC AVALON 2014 HERE (exact date still to be confirmed).
An annual event run by Sheehan's of Leicester, Acoustic Avalon provides a unique opportunity for enthusiasts to see, play and buy a huge selection of the world's best acoustic guitars. The show attracts visitors from all corners of the UK and beyond. Now in its 20th year, the show has become a landmark event in the acoustic guitar world, regularly featuring world class artists as well as world class instruments.
The 2013 show will take place on Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th November at Leicester Racecourse Conference Centre. Opening hours are 10:00am to 5:30pm with regular demonstrations throughout the day, plus workshops, cafe / bar, evening concert and a large selection of guitar accessories all at knocked-down prices.
You can see many past Avalon performances on YouTube. To open a new window and go straight there click here. (Videos courtesy of Kev Stevenson)
Venue - Leicester Racecourse
Leicester Racecourse is easily accessible from the Midlands Motorway Network. Situated near junction 21 of the M1/M69 and close to the A6/main outer ring road (A563). Three miles away from the centre of Leicester and only two miles from the main Railway Station
Leicester Racecourse Co ltd - Oadby - Leicester - LE2 4AL
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Chris Woods Groove, Toy Hearts, Chris Newman & Stella, Thomas Leeb, Steve Fairclough, Katey Brooks, Natalie McCool.
Chris Newman and Stella Hensley (Mike Vanden Pickups) 11am
Steve Fairclough (Go To Guitars) ( Masterclass ) 12pm
Natalie McCool (Yamaha) 1pm
Chris Woods Groove (Stones Music) ( Masterclass ) 2pm
Toy Hearts (G7th Capo Company) 3pm
Thomas Leeb (Lowden Guitars) ( Masterclass ) 4pm
Saturday Concert 8pm
Chris Woods Groove, Katey Brooks, Thomas Leeb
Kaylen Castle (Crafter Guitars) 11am
Katey Brooks (Alvarez and Go To Guitars) 12pm
Toy Hearts 1pm
Chris Woods Groove 2pm
Natalie McCool 3pm
Thomas Leeb 4pm
Thomas Leeb picked up the guitar for the same reason as every thirteen-year-old boy: he wanted to meet girls. He soon fell in love with the instrument, played his first solo concert at the age of fifteen and released his first acoustic guitar album at seventeen.
Leeb is a frequent performer at concerts and festivals in Asia, the Americas and Europe and has been featured in numerous guitar magazines all over the world. Every year, he teaches workshops and master classes in universities and colleges and his album “Desert Pirate” was voted one of the essential albums of the last twenty years by Acoustic Guitar Magazine.
His peculiar guitar style owes as much to percussive techniques as traditional fingerstyle guitar. What sets Thomas Leeb apart from some of his contemporaries is his ability to make pyrotechnics serve the music and three years studying West African traditional music give him a sense of timing and groove that is unusual in a guitarist.
All this has earned him a loyal world-wide following and influential fans such as Eric Roche who was his guitar teacher, “for about five minutes and then I heard him play”, Jon Gomm awarded him “ten out of ten Gomms” and Guthrie Govan who thinks that “what Thomas does on an acoustic guitar probably shouldn’t be legal.”
'Changing the perceived boundaries of the acoustic guitar'
PLAY MUSIC MAGAZINE
'Creatively stunning compositions'
SOUNDING BOARD MAGAZINES, USA
'A tour de force of original technique'
'An absolute crowd pleaser'
Chris Woods Groove is one the UK's most exciting instrumentalists. His performances are a blend of endearing stories and inspirational focus. His music is a neo-classical fantasia, driven by ear bending drop tuned grooves.
The last 12 months alone has seen Chris extensively tour the UK, Ireland and Switzerland, as well as performances in the USA, and a host of European destinations. With his own regular techniques section in Acoustic Magazine, his own signature stomp box, and a publishing deal with Hal Leonard, he is the in demand guitarist.
The next 12 months are set to be even more exhilarating with yet more UK, Irish and Swiss tours, the release of his new album, the world wide release of his TAB book, and performances across the globe - and that's just for starters!
'So what's all the fuss about a father and two daughters from Birmingham playing American roots music? Make that Birmingham, England. And make that some of the most skillfully and joyously played American roots music on either side of the Atlantic Ocean, and you start to see why The Toy Hearts are so special.'
AUSTIN MUSIC JOURNAL, TEXAS USA
'Yet more fine music from one of the best British bands... An album that reaches out beyond the band's bluegrass roots and should see them consolidate their position as among the best of British.'
'One of my favourite bands.'
Fresh home after a summer of touring in the US it's our pleasure to welcome back the fabulous Toy Hearts to Avalon.
It isn’t easy to completely categorize The Toy Heart’s sound; their music is a mixture of bluegrass and western swing with a dash of continental jazz. They aren’t just mimicking American roots music; they are genuinely innovating and developing the genre from a British perspective. Any preconceptions about what at first might seem to be an odd combination, two British girls and their father playing an essentially American form of music, are dispelled as soon as you see them perform. They have been proving the old adage about how you get to the Grand Old Opry? Practice! The years of honing their craft on the road has given them an enviable reputation as great singers, songwriters and instrumentalists, whom always deliver on a live show. Their tour schedule is regular and robust, including gigs across the UK and Europe, with an annual winter tour of Germany/Switzerland/Austria.
In the UK they have opened for diverse artists such as Robert Plant, Imelda May, Chris Thile, Ricky Skaggs, Tim O’Brien, The Hot Club of Cowtown, The Quebe Sisters, Kitty Daisy & Lewis, Gene Watson, & Peter Rowan. They can also count The Rolling Stones’ Ronnie Wood and veteran BBC broadcaster Bob Harris in their fans. The Toy Hearts aren’t from Texas, but they got there as soon as they could!
Chris Newman, Blues, rock, slide and ragtime guitarist teams up with the velvet vocals of singer songwriter Stella Hensley. Their recent collaboration has culminated into a collection of 15 beautifully crafted original songs co written by the pair.
Their album "Tantra Blues" is receiving great reviews:
Chris Newman is an outstanding guitarist who started performing in the mid 70's. He has an impressive musical C.V. He has been a member of the "John Slaughter Blues Band" and toured as support for" The Climax Blues Band." Later he joined "The Gravy Train," a band formed by Colin Cooper (front man of the Climax) which featured Pick Withers on drums (Dire Straits) He has worked with Russell Gilbrook (Sabbath/ Uriah Heap) on a national Mapex drum tour. In 2003 he played at The Cambridge Folk festival with Steve Lockwood and Eric Roche. 2005 he headlined at the Rory Gallagher Tribute Festival in Philadelphia, performing songs from his Acoustic Tribute to Rory Gallagher album. (Redball Records) Chris composes music for TV adverts and film, and has been featured on BBC Radio 4.
Stella Hensley trained at the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts. Worked on sessions for Mark Shaw (Then Jericho), Ricki Wilde, various film and radio work alongside her own gigs on the London circuit.
She has been songwriting all her life working with various musicians. She recorded her first original album "Ben and Me" with Guitarist Ben Smith in 1997. 2001 saw her opening up for "Uriah Heap" at "The Magicians Birthday Party " at The Shepherds Bush Empire. Her album "Six Hours Notice" followed . Stella went on to record a further two albums with guitarist Johnny Wright ; "Strong" and "Glass Bridges". Her voice is mellow and soulful and the lyrics are quirky and heartfelt.
“…love this lady’s voice…she really means what she’s singing. Lovely.”
“Already on my shortlist for album of the year.”
“It’s lie-down-in-a-darkened-room-to-drink-it-all-in good.”
“Katey’s rich, sonorous voice is strongly reminiscent of the great June Tabor, and her material is similarly wide-ranging…yes, it’s that good…Definitely a name to watch.”
Born and raised in a commune setting between Bristol, London and Arizona, to hippy music-loving parents, Katey’s unique sound and style epitomizes the culturally diverse environment in which she grew up. Drawing influences from artists like Johnny Cash and Kate Bush, her voice is often compared to the likes of Joan Armatrading, and Annie Lennox, and has best been described as a voice “…to melt glaciers” (Venue Magazine 2012).
Katey released her debut album ‘Proof Of Life’ on her label True Speaker Records in March 2010, the album reaching No1 in the Amazon Folk Chart soon after and has had radio plays on BBC Radio 1 and 6.
Since then Katey has gone on to play at the London Paralympics, Glastonbury, WOMAD, a BBC Introducing Stage headliner at Wychwood, and support a host of credible artists such as Newton Faulkner, Mercury nominee Lou Rhodes, Mike and The Mechanics, Grammy nominees Cutting Crew, and BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winner Chris Wood.
Besides her own works, Brooks’s “John Martyn-esque” (Manchester Evening News 2011) lamenting tones have earned her features on BBC Radio 2 Children in Need album ‘Bandaged Together’, recorded at Abbey Road with artists such as Bill Wyman, Nick Mason, and Paloma Faith, as well as compilations with Ane Brun and Anais Mitchell.
Most recently, Brooks was added to the Starbucks playlist worldwide, and signed an endorsement deal with America guitar makers Alvarez, joining the ranks of Grammy Award winner Ani Difranco, and Joe Bonamassa. She is currently touring her brand new single ‘Back To Light’ which is due for release later this Spring, with plans set for an album release at the beginning of 2014. With the summer festival circuit and a string of exciting dates coming up, 2013 is set to be an exciting year!
'Natalie McCool is understandably, and simply, one of the greatest female musicians of this time'
TILT SHIFT MUSIC
'Calm and collected, her anthems act like a calling. Summoning you inside, closing the door and engulfing your being'
THE MUSIC MANUAL
'Natalie’s music crafts such a beautiful soundscape that you can get lost in the layers and layers of content'
'McCool has that extra something that makes her a cut above even her most talented peers'
BBC RADIO 6 MUSIC
Her childhood years spent drawing together a fine fabric of influences from Jeff Buckley, Cocteau Twins, PJ Harvey & The Stone Roses, McCool rose up, and with a daggers aim, unleashed a formidable body of work- an enthralling sonic panorama that dislocates you into its gravity: at times controversial; yet always delivered with absolute conviction.
A singular voice surrounded by a constellation of guitar; shifting from delicate fingerstyle beginnings to chorus drenched Johnny Marr-esque riffing, Natalie is lauded by every single music luminary that crosses her path- including recent acclaim from BBC 6 Music’s Chris Hawkins & BBC Radio 2′s Janice Long, Guardian and ‘Louder Than War’ journalist John Robb, and Liverpool’s own arts, music and film magazine The Double Negative.
A long list of National and local radio stations have already recognised her undeniable guitar artistry including BBC 6 Music shows such as Chris Hawkins, Tom Ravenscroft, Shaun Keaveny, Steve Lamacq and Huey Morgan; also the BBC ‘Introducing’ show; XFM’s John Kennedy and Hattie Pearson; and BBC Radio 2 shows including Dermot O’Leary, Janice Long, Steve Wright, Richard Allinson and Claudia Winkleman.
On top of all this, not only did Natalie McCool's cover of Kavinsky's Nightcall feature on the hollywood smash-hit Drive, this year Natalie won Female Artist of the Year at the Liverpool Music Awards!
“Steve Fairclough is a collage of some of the Worlds Greatest Guitar players, and as such he’s one of my favourite players”
BUSTER B. JONES
“Steve is a superbly accomplished player at home in both the Jazz idiom and the Fingerstyle world, and playing with him is always a pleasure”
“Lots of variety,environments,textures and just plain good tunes, this is a Refreshing, Musical, Unexpected guitar player”
“Steve is a unique fingerstyle guitarist, he plays lots of different styles, different moods with a lot of talent, furthermore, he is a real gentleman”
Steve Fairclough spent most of the 90's as the International Demonstrator for Takamine & Parker Guitars and KORG keyboards.
He toured throughout Europe and America playing at all the major Music Industry Shows, and built a reputation as a consummate musician and composer. His work featured on many promotions and features. His demonstration tracks were featured by leading Sound Magazines in England and America, and he was involved with the voicing of the early "Toneworks" range of Effects from KORG.
He stopped touring in 2000 after being invited to play at the "Muriel Andersons All Star Guitar Nite" in Nashville, and in his career has worked alongside such diverse musicians as Brian May, Pat Martino, Billy Cobham, James Burton, Martin Taylor to name but a few.
After 6 years heading his own highly successful Sound Design company (www.stevefairclough.com), he still continues to write for TV and Film, but now he has now returned to the Music Industry.
Kaylen is Acoustic Avalon's youngest ever performer! At just 16 years old, Kaylen displays the skill, technique and talent of a guitarist with decades of experience. And he is self-taught! You really have to see it to believe it. Take a look at his session with Phoenix FM where you can see him in action.
Kaylen is definitely one to watch out for, and you can see him here first at Acoustic Avalon 2013!