11 episodes

With each episode of Life on the Fretboard, British guitarist, filmmaker and writer Michael Watts interviews extraordinary individuals from the world of guitars.

Life on the Fretboard is part of the Fretboard Journal podcast network.

Life on the Fretboard with Michael Watts The Fretboard Journal

    • Music
    • 5.0 • 12 Ratings

With each episode of Life on the Fretboard, British guitarist, filmmaker and writer Michael Watts interviews extraordinary individuals from the world of guitars.

Life on the Fretboard is part of the Fretboard Journal podcast network.

    Derek Gripper

    Derek Gripper

    Derek Gripper plays Malian Kora music on a vintage Hermann Hauser classical guitar...and if that doesn’t get your attention, nothing will! 
    John Williams himself describes feeling that this was, and, I quote, "absolutely impossible until I heard Derek Gripper do it." So that’s pretty cool. 
    We talk about his work translating the music of this beautiful African harp to the nylon string guitar, and the extraordinary instruments he has used in his quest to make the music in his head come to life including 8-string guitars, fanned frets and interchangeable magnetic fretboards. Yes, he has gone deep here! 
    Also discussed are Derek’s visit to the Hauser Guitars workshop to choose a career-defining instrument from their archive, his trust in embracing the "less good idea" and his love of single purpose technology, from Rolleiflex medium format cameras to his vintage Nagra reel-to-reel tape recorder. 
    Speaking of recording, I also managed to record Derek playing my new guitar using this beautiful piece of technology and mics by Microtech Gefell and Royer. The results are right here:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpYW9sq0aR0

    Derek Gripper is a true iconoclast - as comfortable with Bach as he is with Toumani Diabaté. He has a truly orchestral sound when playing solo and fills concert halls around the world regularly. He is also one of the most quick-witted and funny people I've met. I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did.
    Learn more about Derek Gripper
    https://www.derekgripper.com

    https://www.instagram.com/derek_gripper/?hl=en

    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsINJ-6YFJvRbxFbJd0z4_g

     
    Your Host, Michael Watts
    https://www.michaelwattsguitar.com

    https://www.youtube.com/user/michaelwattsguitar

    https://www.instagram.com/michael.watts.guitar/

    To support this podcast please donate here https://michaelwattsguitar.com/tip-jars/4745
    A Fretboard Journal Podcast. 
    https://www.fretboardjournal.com
     

    • 56 min
    Jocelyn Gould

    Jocelyn Gould

    Canadian-born Jocelyn Gould is a JUNO award-winning guitarist, vocalist, composer and professor of jazz studies who performs at the highest international levels.
    Jocelyn is one of those musicians that I could listen to for hours. She is a force of nature, too. She tours constantly. I was delighted to fly back from Norway in time to catch up with her in the days around her debut at one of London’s top jazz venues in Soho. 
    Like many people, I first encountered her work online and was impressed with her lyrical phrasing and beautiful touch. However, it was at the Rocky Mountain Archtop Festival in 2022 - when I filmed a session with her on Bob Benedetto’s contribution to The Blue Guitar collection - that I got to experience her extraordinary musicality firsthand. It left a lasting impression and here is the resulting video. 
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A102bF5BS88
    We started what was to become an epic three-day hang in London but then took a train to the picturesque market town of Frome at the end of the Mendip hills in Somerset. 
    After a wonderful afternoon with Mick and Dan of That Pedal Show, we took a walk through the cobbled streets of Frome before enjoying a frankly sensational dinner at a French brasserie. After that, we made our way back to our accommodations - a slightly eccentric pub slash castle affair - ideal conditions for recording this in-depth podcast interview. 
    We talked about Jocelyn’s childhood fascination with guitar, the challenge of learning to learn individuality in music, setting lofty goals, and the almost telepathic levels of communication enjoyed by jazz musicians at the highest level. And then, just like that, Jocelyn was off to Barcelona to play with another pickup band before returning to Winnipeg to launch her new YouTube podcast. Like I said, it’s non-stop! 
    Jocelyn is up for another Juno award for her latest album, Sonic Bouquet. You should check it out...it’s wonderful. For now, you join us for a moment's reminiscence about the cherry clafoutis we had just encountered. 
    https://www.jocelyngould.com
    https://www.instagram.com/jocelyngouldmusic/
    This episode of Life on the Fretboard was brought to you by the kind sponsorship of Elixir Strings https://www.elixirstrings.com. I use Phosphor Bronze 12-53s on all my acoustic guitars
    To support this podcast please use this Tip Jar link https://michaelwattsguitar.com/tip-jars/4745
    Your Host, 
    Michael Watts
    https://www.michaelwattsguitar.com
    https://www.youtube.com/user/michaelwattsguitar
    https://www.instagram.com/michael.watts.guitar/ 
    Learn more about the Fretboard Journal and our new, 53rd issue here: https://www.fretboardjournal.com
     

    • 53 min
    Adrian Utley (Portishead)

    Adrian Utley (Portishead)

    Adrian Utley is one of the most versatile and creative musicians the UK has produced. His work with artists such as Jeff Beck, Patti Smith and Glenn Branca is testament to this. 
    Shooting to prominence in the mid 1990s with Portishead, Adrian’s beautifully judged, nuanced playing - with its unique jazz and soul sensibilities - set the band apart from their contemporaries in what would become known as the trip-hop scene. 
    Dummy, Portishead’s debut album, would go multi-platinum. The band continues to have a lasting influence in terms of production values, musicianship and sheer style.  
    Adrian accepted an invitation to join me for this episode of Life on the Fretboard after an online conversation about our shared love of the work of Fred Frith - a pioneer in the improvised and exploratory music scene. 
    Shortly after, I was invited to film an original 1958 Gibson Flying V. Those of you familiar with my work will understand my trepidation to go it alone with a guitar that was so far out of my comfort zone, so I asked Adrian if he’d like to join me in exploring one of the rarest and pointiest electric guitars known to humanity. I was a little taken aback at the speed with which he accepted. I made a video of us exploring that Flying V: https://youtu.be/VM95mN7eDC0
    Once we had finished with the pointy beast, we sat down to record this conversation. Adrian shares his memories of working with Jeff Beck and Glenn Branca and we talk about Adrian’s love of all guitars, from vintage L-5s to dumpster-find acoustics. We also chat about learning to love limitations, the Fender Jazzmaster, the best footwear for wah-wah pedal usage, and that solo from the song "Glory Box." 
    Here's a reminder if you need one https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MnMTK8EdsOc
    I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did. Be advised there is adult language throughout. 
    This episode of Life on the Fretboard was brought to you by the kind sponsorship of Elixir Strings https://www.elixirstrings.com. I use Phosphor Bronze 12-53s on all my acoustic guitars
    We are also brought to you by Microtech Gefell Microphones https://www.microtechgefell.de 
    I used a pair of their M300 small diaphragm models to record this interview and you’re hearing my voice on the M930 model.
    To support this podcast please use this Tip Jar link https://michaelwattsguitar.com/tip-jars/4745
    Your Host, 
    Michael Watts
    https://www.michaelwattsguitar.com
    https://www.youtube.com/user/michaelwattsguitar
    https://www.instagram.com/michael.watts.guitar/ 
    Learn more about the Fretboard Journal and our new, 53rd issue here: https://www.fretboardjournal.com



     

    • 1 hr 5 min
    Little Barrie Cadogan

    Little Barrie Cadogan

    Barrie Cadogan (also known as "Little Barrie") is one of the world's first call electric guitarists when it comes to classic soul, rock, punk, and rhythm & blues. He has worked with some of the biggest indie artists performing today including Morrissey, Paul Weller, Edwyn Collins, Liam Gallagher, and Primal Scream.
    That’s a hell of a CV by anyone’s standards, but Barrie is perhaps best known for the theme music from the Netflix show 'Better Call Saul.' That glorious guitar intro? That was him!

    Quite simply, he is very cool. He inhabits a world of pristine big E vintage Levis, Cuban heels, and 1960s Jazzmasters; bespoke hatmakers name their latest designs after him; and, if you are planning a global stadium tour and you need a guitarist that will bring the goods, then you had better make sure that you have Little Barrie on speed dial.

    I caught up with him at the private, by-appointment-only premises of Guncotton Guitars in London. (More from them later as they have generously sponsored this episode!) 

    We talked about our shared love of seminal Manchester band The Stone Roses and watching 'Sounds of The Sixties' on British TV which for many musicians of our generation had a similar impact as that of the Ed Sullivan show in the USA.

    Barrie shares his experiences as a young musician moving to London some 20 years ago, his realization that a Marshall half stack may not be the ideal bedroom practice amp, the dangers of applying a Jackson Pollock-style paint job to a guitar, and Bobby Gillespie’s eccentric hiding place for demo CDs.

    He also shares his love of Japanese architecture and his recent reunion with a guitar that got away from him years previously. I think we can all relate to that.

    This interview was recorded on a hot summer’s day in London. As I sank into the vintage Charles Eames furniture and pressed record, I remember feeling very happy to be there. I hope it shows...and I’m glad to be able to share this with you.

    Barrie Cadogan

    https://www.littlebarrie.com
    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVn9XB03wI5dM4d0Vbl-i2A

    https://open.spotify.com/artist/5ozUXaDjc4mfVyDIWCJH4E?autoplay=true
    https://www.instagram.com/littlebarrie/
     
    This episode is brought to you by the kind sponsorship of Guncotton Guitars in London
    https://www.guncottonguitars.com
    https://www.instagram.com/guncottonguitars/

     and Microtech Gefell Microphones https://www.microtechgefell.de

     Your Host Michael Watts
    https://www.michaelwattsguitar.com
    https://www.youtube.com/user/michaelwattsguitar
    https://www.instagram.com/michael.watts.guitar/ 
    To support this podcast please use this Tip Jar link https://michaelwattsguitar.com/tip-jars/4745


     

    • 1 hr 1 min
    Wizz Jones

    Wizz Jones

    Bruce Springsteen and Thurston Moore adore his work and rightly so...Wizz Jones is a lynchpin of the UK folk blues guitar scene and has been since the early 1960s. When London was an epicenter for artists from the USA such as Big Bill Broonzy, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, Paul Simon, James Taylor, Jackson C. Frank, and Bob Dylan - Wizz was right there.
    Wizz was also there to hear some of the first notes Davey Graham played in DADGAD tuning, to witness the impact of a young Bert Jansch on the UK guitar scene, and to run sessions at the legendary Les Cousins club in Soho’s Greek Street. It’s not there anymore, of course. That end of Soho is now a preponderance of private members clubs and bijoux eateries but back in the day things were a lot less salubrious and, judging from how Wizz tells it, a hell of a lot more fun.
    Wizz talks about the early days of his life on the fretboard: When he was a young bohemian, the influence of Jack Kerouac on his generation, London’s Soho in the sixties when you could bump into everyone from Cat Stevens to Quentin Crisp, his travels around Morocco and France, and offers the benefit of his experience and wisdom with one important caveat.
    Now in his 80s, Wizz can still be seen playing around London with his trademark 1963 Epiphone Texan. I caught up with him at RMS recording studios in London where Wizz has made several albums in the past. He was in characteristically fine form (the conversation is somewhat peppered with adult language). To my everlasting disgrace, I may have joined in, too. But that can happen when you’re hanging out with the cool kids.
    You can support this podcast here: https://michaelwattsguitar.com/tip-jars/4745
    Donate to Maui Strong here:
    https://www.hawaiicommunityfoundation.org/maui-strong
    Thank you to my sponsors for this episode:
    Microtech Gefell Microphones https://www.microtechgefell.de and, you, the listener! 

    • 1 hr 15 min
    Emma Tricca

    Emma Tricca

    Emma Tricca is a massively talented singer-songwriter, a poet, and beautiful fingerstyle guitarist. 
    Italian by birth, Emma works between Rome, London and New York making gorgeous psychedelic folk rock records - her latest is called 'Aspirin Sun' it is out now and it’s rather wonderful. 
    You may have seen Emma on tour with such luminaries as Robyn Hitchcock, Dinosaur Jr. or Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets - that wonderful band put together to play early Pink Floyd songs.  If not, then I hope this interview may serve as an introduction to some very beautiful music.
    What I really enjoy about Emma’s work are the amazing textures she creates with her full band that also includes Dream Syndicate’s Jason Victor on electric guitar as well as Steve Shelley of Sonic Youth on drums and Pete Galub on bass. That is quite a line-up...in many ways the cream of the New York art rock scene. 
    This interview was recorded on a hot day at the beginning of summer and I had invited Emma to visit me at home to get her out into the countryside and away from the heat and grit of London. And, In a Life on the Fretboard first, I had the pleasure of making some music with a guest - in this case one of Emma’s songs which I have been semi-obsessed with since I first heard it. The link to that is in the description below. I’m on Telecaster and Emma is playing my Gretsch White Falcon - I hope you enjoy it! 
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CK71DfcHPOc
    You can support this podcast here: https://michaelwattsguitar.com/tip-jars/4745
    Download Emma Tricca's latest record here https://emmatricca.bandcamp.com/album/aspirin-sun
    Thank you to my sponsors for this episode:
    Microtech Gefell Microphones https://www.microtechgefell.de
    Mirabella Guitars https://www.mirabellaguitars.com

    • 1 hr 19 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
12 Ratings

12 Ratings

Hughese1 ,

Love this podcast!

Diving into the world of musicians of this caliber is an incredible gift!

Curtissjohnson ,

Michael Watts, My Guitar Guru

I love Michael’s new podcast Life On The Fretboard and very much look forward to future episodes. I stumbled across Michael’s channel on You Tube several years ago and quickly became a big fan. I find his take on pretty much anything guitar fascinating. From interviewing luthiers and players to his views and reviews on guitars, tone woods, equipment and guitar innovations it’s always interesting, educational and credible. Credible in that Michael is an amazingly inspiring player in his own right and someone who has obviously been immersed in the world wide guitar community for a long time. Michael Watts has become one of my handful of guitar gurus where I will pretty much watch or listen ti every thing he/they put out.

CalebHawkins ,

Love the show but clean might be a stretch

Love the show, love the concept, awaiting with baited breath for the next episode! There is enough swearing to make a slight adjustment to in the feed… Michael Watts is one of my favorite guitar personalities on the web. I look forward to seeing this show grow and move forward.

Top Podcasts In Music

The Joe Budden Podcast
The Joe Budden Network
100 Best Albums Radio
Apple Music
The Story of Classical
Apple Music
New Rory & MAL
Rory Farrell & Jamil "Mal" Clay & Studio71
Drink Champs
Interval Presents
A History of Rock Music in 500 Songs
Andrew Hickey

You Might Also Like

The Fretboard Journal Guitar Podcast
The Fretboard Journal
The Truth About Vintage Amps with Skip Simmons
The Fretboard Journal
Luthier on Luthier with Michael Bashkin
The Fretboard Journal
Chewing the Gristle with Greg Koch
Greg Koch
No Guitar Is Safe
Jude Gold
Wong Notes
Premier Guitar