Resort’s guitar master is back on home turf for gig

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A Blackpool lad should be well used to a rollercoaster ride or two - but perhaps not the kind sparked by a tweet of praise from the world-famous Stephen Fry.

When the actor described John Gomm’s music with a simple “wow” to his more than six million followers on Twitter it sparked a bare-knuckle rollercoaster ride for the resort’s guitar master.

Fry’s tweet to his legion of followers on the social networking site saw Gomm’s single, Passionflower, viewed millions of times on online video channel YouTube while an American magazine described him as the “future of acoustic guitar playing”.

No pressure there then for the musician who is back on home turf again following a global tour.

“My previous life has suddenly changed dramatically,” said Gomm, who performs at The Grand, Clitheroe, tomorrow night.

“It’s been crazy, but I felt lucky enough before, just being able to make my living as a musician, so anything more is a bonus.

“Since that one word recommendation from Fry, who is Mr Twitter really, I’ve been invited onto national television in Turkey, Portugal, Holland and Germany, and I’ve toured in Africa, China and South America.”

Gomm (pictured), who refused a place at Oxford University to pursue his music, previously slept on sofas and the floors of people’s houses as he regularly clocked up a marathon 250 gigs a year.

“I did a gig in a car park in Barnsley – but that’s pretty normal,” joked Gomm. “I’ve played some weird gigs I can tell you. I headlined the Acoustic Gathering Festival on a boating lake in Scarborough.

“The stage was on an island, so I had to pedal across the lake on a swan shaped pedalo with my guitar strapped on my back.

“I paid my way through guitar school by playing in cafés and pubs - and I even did a few country music gigs in working men’s clubs for line-dancers.”

Part of that is his independence and refusal to sign for a major label and his willingness to work with independent promoters in rural venues and theatres instead of playing chain venues and corporate festivals.

Yet, despite his international success, he remains far from a household name in this country.

Much of his appeal is down to Gomm’s rare ability not only to play the guitar, but to detune and retune it while playing, and hit different parts of the guitar’s body to produce the sounds of a percussion section.

Gomm, who started playing ukulele at the age of two and took classical guitar lessons a couple of years later, is a disciple of American composer and guitarist Michael Hedges.

The tattoo on his right arm is from the cover of Hedges’ album “Oracle”.

And the tattoos on his wrist are a nod to the Blackpool skyline.

You can take the boy out of Blackpool...

* Jon Gomm plays The Grand, Clitheroe, tomorrow. Tickets at £15. Call 01200 421599 or 
www.thegrandvenue.co.uk