These days guitar workshops have taken precedence over road tours. The idea being that they’d help me cut down on the travelling. They haven’t — but somehow the schlepping feels different now.

Workshops have already been held in the Dordogne, the foot hills of the Pyrenees, Andalucia and southern Crete. Picking nice locations was a consideration.  I’ve taken to booting along in a travelling van — suits me fine. The contrast between being cooped up in a plane and hurtled along in hire cars brings on a mild euphoria at times. Not least parking up on the top of Mont Cenis and savouring a glass of Sidi Brahim.

The workshops themselves have turned out really well. The settings and cuisine certainly help matters. Our chefs have tended to steal the show, which  I guess is the nature of good chefs. But the best aspect has been the big mix of musical citizens who have come along for the ride — an international mingling with a common (maybe not the best word) musical sensibility. To eavesdrop on the interaction between characters who have hobnobbed with royalty and those that have been busted for vagrancy feels somehow rewarding. Wives, girlfriends, whole families are more than welcome.  It’s pretty much open house.

The music staff consists of myself and two venerable old stagers who have been set on a mutual musical direction for too long to actually remember — Remy Froissart  my old friend from way back in Paris,  whose role has tended to be in the development of technique and approach to harmony, and Mike Walker who focuses on the ‘lost art’ of recording the acoustic guitar. As senior mastering engineer at Trident studios Mike worked on my early recordings and shows how it can still be done with a couple of mics and a lot of know-how. At the end of our stay together there is a cd in the can.

The slides should convey the general idea.   I’m hoping we keep rolling.

There’s plenty more info on the workshop website at

John Renbourn at the Cortijo Workshop 2012

John, Mike & Remy at the 2011 Spain workshop with helpers Alfie, Manu & Leila