Bert Jansch, legendary songwriter and guitarist, is widely acknowledged as one of the most influential musicians of all time. Since the mid 1960s generation after generation have been held spellbound by his extraordinary ground-breaking guitar playing and classic emotive songs. Jimmy Page, Neil Young, Nick Drake, Johnny Marr, Bernard Butler and Beth Orton have all been devotees, and now yet another new generation of musicians and fans, led by Devendra Banhart, are discovering Jansch for themselves.
Bert began performing his unique synthesis of folk, blues and jazz on the folk club scene of the early 1960s, having hitch-hiked to London from his hometown of Edinburgh. His first album, Bert Jansch, (played on a borrowed guitar and recorded on a reel-to-reel tape deck) was legendarily sold to the Transatlantic label for £100. On its release in April 1965 Bert Jansch caused a sensation for its innovative guitar technique and powerful songs and it has been phenomenally influential to this day, cited by legions of guitar players (famous and otherwise) as a major inspiration.
Bert Jansch was followed by It Don't Bother Me , and the also hugely influential Jack Orion , where Bert was already exploring innovative treatments of the traditional folk ballad form - something he took further with Pentangle, the unique acoustic supergroup he formed with John Renbourn, Jacqui McShee, Terry Cox and Danny Thompson. Pentangle made six albums and enjoyed an unprecedented degree of success for an acoustic band, touring the world including several appearances at The Albert Hall, Carnegie Hall and the Fillmores East and West.
After Pentangle split in 1973, Bert returned to a prolific solo career. His twenty-first solo album, Crimson Moon (on which he worked for the first time with long-time fans Johnny Marr and Bernard Butler) appeared in 2000 to a torrent of press and TV attention, accompanied by a Channel 4 documentary, Dreamweaver, and Bloomsbury's publication of a major biography: Dazzling Stranger: Bert Jansch and the British Folk and Blues Revival by Colin Harper (reissued in August 2006 in an expanded new edition with foreword by Johnny Marr). A double CD tribute album, People On The Highway: a Bert Jansch Encomium, featuring Bert's songs specially recorded by other artists, was also released in 2000. In 2001 Bert was awarded a BBC Radio 2 Lifetime Achievement Award at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. His next album Edge of a Dream (featuring Bernard Butler, Hope Sandoval, Dave Swarbrick and Ralph McTell), was released in October 2002 to widespread critical acclaim across Europe. In November 2003 Bert celebrated his 60th birthday with a BBC TV Special shown on BBC4, and a triumphant sell-out birthday concert at London's Queen Elizabeth Hall with special guests.
In 2006 Bert worked with some of the latest musicians to emerge on the scene on his highly acclaimed new album The Black Swan, (released 18 September 2006), including producer Noah Georgeson (Devendra Banhart - Cripple Crow, Joanna Newsom - Milk-Eyed Mender), and musicians and vocalists Beth Orton, Devendra Banhart, Otto Hauser (Espers, Vetiver), Helena Espvall (Espers), and Kevin Barker (Currituck Co.). In February 2006 Bert was involved in the major BBC TV series Folk Britannia, and appeared in the associated concerts at The Barbican in London. In May he shared a bill at All Tomorrow's Parties with Devendra Banhart, Vetiver, Espers, Jandek and others. Bert also featured in Will Hodgkinson's book, Guitar Man (published by Bloomsbury March 20). On 5 June 2006 Bert received the MOJO Merit Award from MOJO magazine at their Honours List ceremony. The award is "based around an expanded career that still continues to be inspirational" and was presented by Beth Orton and Roy Harper.
Today Bert is still as active, innovative and influential as ever. Most of his classic solo back catalogue has been beautifully reissued - digitally remastered and sumptuously re-packaged with facsimiles of all the original artwork plus new sleevenotes and photos. In February 2007 Pentangle received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2007, and in March 2007 a four CD box set, The Time Has Come 1967-1973, featuring Pentangle's seminal work plus much previously unheard material, was released to extensive critical and commercial acclaim. Bert was also recently the special guest of Peter Doherty - another young admirer - at Doherty's solo shows at the Hackney Empire, and in November 2007 received an honorary Doctorate of Music from Napier University in Edinburgh.
In a live setting, Bert's performances are still a rare opportunity to see one of the British music scene's true legends play. His understated, low key approach eschews hollow show business routines, and the audience is treated to a guitar playing master class and an impressive catalogue of some of the most haunting songs in the British canon.