IN his 43 years as guitarist with Jethro Tull, Martin Barre’s playing has defined the sound of the band and shaped its success.
Now 67, Barre says his love affair with the guitar is stronger than ever.
A flautist and saxophonist to boot, his guitar work has reaped him accolades, from a Grammy Award for the album Crest of a Knave to the UK’s ‘20th best solo ever’ for his finger-work on Aqualung.
On Friday, August 29, the guitar legend is gracing the Square & Compass stage at Ashill, between Taunton and Ilminster, with a concert which will have a distinctly bluesy flavour and Barre reinventing the Tull classics.
Martin spoke to the County Gazette while en route to Germany for a festival slot.
His career on strings began aged 14 on a Gibson ES330 Sunburst, but today he says a PRS (Paul Reed Smith) is his instrument of choice.
“It’s a nice guitar because it has an acoustic as well as an electric side, so it has lots of interesting sound coming out of it.
“I also play the mandolin, the bazouki, the bass clarinet . . . I just think once you can play one instrument it’s a lot easier to pick up another.”
To amplify the Barre coup at the Square & Compass, the Ashill date is also the first on the Martin Barre Band UK tour, mixing Tull classics with new material.
He says: “There’s a lot more going on in these UK shows. We’ll have some little surprises.
“It all gels together with the old Tull songs I’m more or less re-inventing in the rock-blues style we like to play in to make them more mine.
“Then we’re doing some classic Bobby Parker, Robert Johnson and Willie Dixon, which we’re reinventing.
“Theirs was a really simple way of playing, and the songs still speak for themselves.”
It’s clear that the flame of passion for his craft still burns bright in Barre.
“As a guitarist I’ve really always loved Hendrix, Gary Moore, Joe Bonamassa, Robben Ford – not particularly for the music they played, but because it all centred around the guitar.
“I like to think we approach music in the same way. I really like the power and energy you can generate.”
Tickets cost £18 in advance to see the Martin Barre Band on 01823-480467, by dropping into Black Cat Records in Taunton or visiting www.mojopromo.co.uk Alternatively, you can pay £22 on the door, which opens at 8pm, in time for the start at 9pm.