Martin Carthy has had a massive influence on the folk scene of these islands over the past fifty years, mostly as a performer but also because of the depth of his knowledge and the unstinting effort he puts into everything he does.
In his solo career, in his work with Dave Swarbrick and with bands like Brass Monkey, Steeleye Span, Albion Country Band, Waterson Carthy, The Imagined Village and Blue Murder, he has made a tranche of great albums, many of which have become landmarks within the English folk movement.
Martin was an inspiration to artists like Bob Dylan and Paul Simon in the early days of the folk revival and also influenced the work of later artists such as Richard Thompson, Nic Jones and Martin Simpson.
First and foremost, he was the benchmark against which many young folk singers judged themselves. He has brought hundreds of traditional songs to the fore and his guitar work is never anything less than impeccable – never flashy or clinical but full of fire.
As an accompanist I think he is the best of them all, because he listens and because he learns the tune; listen to some of the bass line runs he puts in when he’s accompanying Swarb and the way he’ll drag the rhythm ever so slightly to introduce more tension into the tune.
For the last half century Martin has been singing and playing, researching songs and tunes and arranging them. In every way his work has enriched the world of music and the cultural life of these islands.