Biog: I started playing guitar at age 14 after falling in love with this sound and my parents getting me my first electric guitar (which I still use and gig with regularly). Luckily, my parents always had really good taste in music and I have a lot to thank them for in their influence and encouragement.
My first experience of playing live was at jam sessions in London when I was 15. This was a great experience for me. Even though I was a lot younger than everyone else, it gave me a feel for a music scene and a chance to play with some great musicians who I could also learn a lot from. Todd Sharpville was one of the regular leaders of these sessions and was very encouraging to me as a young player.
I met David Migden when we were 17 and began a great musical relationship and friendship. We started a duo (Migden & Gibson) which we still gig with regularly. With our duo we have had some great experiences including support for artists such as Sherman Robertson and Herbie Flowers, praise from Paul Jones and a phone call from Bert Weedon!
As well as working with David, my development as a musician and experience in the industry has led me to meet and play with some great musicians including, Andy Newmark, Corrine Bailey-Rae, Charlotte Church, Daniel Pearce, Derek Mackenzie, Andrew Roachford, Jamie Cullum, Hamish Stuart and the one and only James Brown!
I have performed in venues including Jazz Café, Ronnie Scott’s, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Jamie Oliver’s ‘15’ restaurant, 606 Club and the Edinburgh Festival.
I consider playing with The Twisted Roots to be as much a privilege as any of these experiences and it really is the most musically fulfilling project that I could wish to be part of.
Gear: Very high guitar geek content to this but I feel no shame!
It is crucial to me to have a great tone and it’s a funny thing with amplified electric guitars. It can be a wonderfully expressive, organic and powerful thing but it can also sound pretty awful to the extent of masking the qualities of what is being played. To really get the most out of it and to get all those lovely nuances of this great instrument to really shine, it takes a bit of doing – learning, experimenting and spending! What you put in to it with your playing is definitely at the source of it all but to me, gear really does play a part in how this can be expressed to the full.
Through years of searching, and trying different things, this is what I am currently using and loving:
1986 Fender Japan ’62 reissue Strat (Surf Green):
I got this Strat after having owned and tried so many that were functional but just not great. I went to Chandler guitars in Kew for a day and tried a load of Strats with no preconceptions on price. I just wanted to see if I could find one that really stood out as a great guitar and that felt right to me. Luckily, this one was not that expensive and it was, and still is, the best I’ve tried. This one just came alive as soon as I plugged it in. It also has Lindy Fralin Blues special pickups.
1986 Fender Japan Squier E Series Strat (Blue):
This was my first ever guitar! It always felt and sounded great. Partly because I first learnt to play on this but also because I got lucky with this guitar that my parents got me, as a ‘starting out’ instrument that just happened to be a great one. These are now very highly regarded as consistently great Strats and, like my other main Strat, these Japanese Fenders in this year of production were apparently among the best being produced at the time, seemingly due to the closure and relocation of the American plant and meticulous quality control of the Japanese made Fenders at the time. I now use this guitar almost exclusively for slide playing, as I have it set up for this and it really feels good for me in this style. This guitar is fitted with Van Zandt Blues pickups.
Dr Z EZG50 Head with Dr Z 4 x 10 cab:
I have always loved Fender amps, from having used them and from listening to great sounds from players I love and admire. I have been through a few amps in search of this sound, including a Twin Reverb, 1970s Pro Reverb, Super Reverb reissue and a Vibro-King. These amps all gave something of the sound I wanted but never really hit the spot with what I wanted to hear. I considered going down the route of searching for an original Super Reverb but realised this would be something of a gamble with a 50 year old amp that may need replacement parts etc. Then I discovered this Dr Z amp that is based on all the great aspects of these amps that I love. It is described as the ultimate Blackface Fender sound in a current production amp.
I went to the only UK dealer to try one and after trading in almost everything I owned and paying every penny I had, I have never looked back. This amp is awesome and I still feel lucky to own it and am amazed at how good it is every time I use it!
Korg Pitchblack tuner: Works really well and looks like Knightrider in the dark!
JAM Pedals Tremolo: Simple three knob, Sine wave, analogue tremolo. I love tremolo. Such a cool sound when used right and this pedal really nails it.
Mad Professor Ruby Red Booster: I have owned and tried so many boost pedals and this is the best for me. It is transparent, sweet sounding, and the three controls of boost, master and treble boost are perfect and really interactive. Most importantly, it works perfectly as part of the sound of the guitar and amp.
There is so much great music that is hard to pick out a list. There are many more that I could add but here are just some that I love and that have influenced me:
BB King – Worry Worry – Live at the Regal:
Amazing Blues guitar playing. So expressive and a real sense of joy from the audience.
Stevie Ray Vaughan – Live at the El Mocambo – The whole thing! When I first saw this I couldn’t believe it. He pretty much interrupts the introduction with the first riff and the whole thing is absolutely unstoppable. A special talent just bursting out with such energy.
Jim Campilongo – Monkey in a Movie: Dirty, Funky and with a Country influence. Love his guitar playing but the whole thing is wonderful. Great sounds and filthy playing!
Howlin’ Wolf – Back Door Man – As soon as you hear him you know he means business! Really powerful music.
Lou Rawls – In the Evening When the Sun Goes Down: I have a live version of this. Not sure about the album title as I had it on a cassette copy from quite a while ago. Great vocals and great band but also just shows how good live music is. You can’t listen to this without a big smile!
John Martyn – I Couldn’t Love You More: One of those love songs that shows tenderness in a really genuine way. There are so many John Martyn songs that I love. Apparently a scary and pretty tough guy but could just tap into something so emotive and pure in his music.
Ry Cooder – Dark End of the Street – Ry Cooder’s slide playing is such a big influence for me and his version of this song, particularly the live version is so good! Also amazing vocals on this version from ‘Show Time’.
James Brown – Funky Drummer: I love Funk! I love funky drumming! Need I say more?!
Miles Davis: Flamenco Sketches: Kind Of Blue was one of the albums that first turned me on to jazz and I still love it. One of my favourite things about this tune, Flamenco Sketches is Bill Evans’ piano playing. It is always sublime and absolutely perfect for the music. His solo in this is a thing of beauty!
What do I Think Of Animal & Man?
This album is a real accomplishment for me and everybody in the band but most important is how we have worked together to express the songs and the music. We’re very proud of this.