Influenced by the sounds of 1960s folk guitar, progressive rock and modal jazz, 25-year-old Henry Parker creates a modern sound from these archaic influences, writing songs that lyrically entwine landscapes, people and politics. Traditional folk music contributes strongly to his sound, whilst a distinctive finger-picked guitar style calls to mind players as diverse as Bert Jansch and Bill Frisell. Henry has recently had the privilege of supporting many of his musical heroes including Wizz Jones, Michael Chapman, Bridget St John, Lau and Soft Machine. This cross over of folk and progressive rock is where much of his influence lies, informing his writing style and guitar playing.
A piece by Henry Parker for Bert Jansch
Henry says: ‘Silent Spring’ is inspired by Rachel Carson’s book thatdeals with themes of pollution, loss of wildlife, and the stillness of a land eroded by chemical spraying. Nature and specifically birds, featured strongly in Bert’s writing and I feel this song is an apt tribute for this journey. The fast hammer-ons and pull-offs come straight from the list of hallmark Bert techniques, as does the idea of having a repeated riff in which to sing over. I filmed this at the famous old Folk Club – the Topic – in Bradford. Bert played there in November 1965. I thought it fitting to make this link with Bert by playing my song at a Folk club where he himself had performed, at the start of his career.
Henry writes about hearing Bert’s ‘blue’ CD while at college in Leeds: “I was transfixed by the dark mood that pervaded the whole album. Songs of love, loss, rambling, drugs and death, peppered with instrumentals that conjured images in my head of grimy Soho streets. His voice cut raw and honest in a way I hadn’t heard from any other folk singer songwriter. As someone who grew up listening to the likes of Slayer and Black Sabbath, this raw and dark sound forged a real connection with me as my listening tastes shifted dramatically to acoustic music.
Ever since, I have listened to Bert Jansch almost every day, marvelling at his phenomenal guitar playing whilst being moved, sometimes to tears, at his beautiful songwriting. I have spent hours learning dozens of his songs and his style has rubbed off immensely on my own playing and songwriting. I never got to meet, or see Bert play live, yet I always love hearing stories about him, and I build a real image of him in my mind as a shy, yet wild man who walked through life with a passion for music, words, the guitar and what is real.”