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The Rhythm Reiver

World-famous guitar innovator Preston Reed revolutionised acoustic playing techniques and inspired a generation of new talent. His new album is set to change things again; iScot visited him at home in Girvan for a sneak preview.

PRESTON Reed wouldn’t be Scottish if it weren’t for the size of his cigars. That’s what gave his now wife, Catherine, cause to speak to him after she saw the US-born star play at the Kirkmichael Guitar Festival in 2000. Cath remembers, “I saw him in the beer tent while I was queuing to try to win a guitar.” Preston continues, “I was speaking with John Renbourn, when I spotted this beautiful woman standing in line. A little later she came over while I was smoking. “That’s an awfully big cigar you’ve got,” she said. He chuckles. “I’m still surprised she wasn’t turned off. In the US, women tend to recoil from cigar smoke, it’s seen as sleazy.” “I didn’t win the guitar, by the way,” Cath says with a rueful grin.

What she did win was the heart of a living legend. Preston Reed expanded the limits of acoustic guitar playing.

He uses either hand to drum a multi-component beat by means of percussive hand-slaps and hits on the guitar body. These he layers with notes and chords on the strings, again using either hand to strum, pick, “hammeron” and “pull-off” (notes enunciated by the finger(s) while fretting them). But he’s no one-trick pony. Whether the style is rock, blues, folk, jazz or funk, this cowboy has lassoed it, branded it, and rode out of town on it, leaving the saloon ladies swooning.

As a youngster, he had a habit of mentally composing new segments of tunes he’d heard on the radio. He credits this to the boredom familiar to anyone who grew up before peak gadgetry. “I still see boredom as an opportunity. Creativity is not only about manifestation – it’s about gestation. You don’t use a battery while it’s recharging, but that’s still part of the creative cycle. So if you’re feeling tired, give yourself a break. We all need to recharge at the moment after everything that’s happened politically.”

This cowboy has lassoed it, branded it, and rode out of town on it, leaving the saloon ladies swooning

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About iScot Magazine

iScot August 2017 Edition The one with Three Powerful Politicians who happen to be women and David Mundell. 116 jam packed pages of the best craic in Scotland from the only truly independent pro Scottish magazine, and if you chose not to buy this we're coming round to your house with big Sylvester and the lads - you've been warned!