Jonathan Kemp is bassist with Teannaich rock ceilidh band, guitarist and bandleader at St Andrews Fusion. He teaches music at the University of St Andrews and researches musical acoustics including the physics of guitar strings. His primary instruments are bass guitar, guitar and mandolin and he is also a music producer and recording engineer. His solo output includes British fingerstyle acoustic guitar works ‘Spawn of Sporran’ and ‘Treeman’, and an electric album, ‘Electric Bothy’ inspired by the Scottish folk song tradition.
Duffle Coat for Bert
A piece by Jonathan Kemp for Bert Jansch
This is my new original composition for acoustic guitar with looper pedal inspired by Bert. The main cross-string E minor Dorian scale loop is one I’m retuning to as it was also used in my composition ‘The 3 String’ from my ‘Spawn of Sporran’ EP from 1999. That riff always makes me think of Bert’s pieces (such ‘Veronica’ from his first album). The title is based on Bert introducing a song (almost certainly “Strolling Down the Highway”) at a gig by saying that he once went hitchhiking round France in the blazing hot sun wearing a Duffle Coat.
I saw Bert Jansch playing at Edinburgh Folk Club and was greatly inspired by his music. My interest in fingerpicking began with country blues but Bert, along with John Renbourn, Davey Graham and Isaac Guillory provided a spectacular link beyond. My recorded output at the time (late 90s to early noughties) was very much influenced by Bert’s style. I met Bert briefly at the book signing for his biography and was able (somewhat cheesily) to let him know that I was playing some of his tunes in cafes around Edinburgh at the time and to say “thank you for the music”.