'Guitar Man' brings new era of music to area

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JIMI Hendrix once said "sometimes you want to give up the guitar, you'll hate the guitar. But if you stick with it, you're gonna be rewarded."

And if anyone is going to be on hand to help the area's budding artists to 'stick with it' and find their own religion in music, it's David Purchase.

Because deep in the hills of Claughton lives the area's very own guitar man - and he is keen to encourage local musically-inclined residents to pick up an instrument and express themselves through playing, whether it be blues, rock, classical or folk.

A blues man by trade, David got his first guitar at the age of nine, and quickly became a working musician. He played professionally with many bands between the ages of 17 and 22, and has many a claim to fame from his time as a guitarist.

But he has now played his last solo, and spends all his time developing his business, going by the name of 'The Guitar Man', which not only involves teaching, but also guitar workshops, repairs and sales.

It is clear from the outset that the driving force behind David's business is his passion for music.

Even the words on his website - 'Blues is my religion, rhythm's in my soul, guitar in hand, I take the stand and live the rock n roll' - evoke a sense of devotion and fervour about playing his chosen instrument.

But David hasn't always been so committed to the cause. At the age of 23, he decided to train to be a teacher at college in Chorley, despite his success as a professional player.

He said: "I've always been interested in guitars like lots of people. I wanted to be a working musician and that was basically what I did at first. I was in a succession of pro and semi-pro bands and travelled up and down the country playing festivals and at different venues.

"It was different then to how it is now. You could go to Lancaster University to see big name bands and stand right in front of them. We were support bands to some of those. I learned a lot from some good musicians. We once shared a dressing room with Queen at Lancaster Uni. "

At the time, David would also repair guitars, and he found a point of contact in Brian May, who had famously created his own 'Red Special' guitar with his father.

David continued: "It was during the days when you could be friendly with people and just party. It was like being on a long holiday. I enjoyed it, but it's not a job you can do forever unless you're really successful.

"My father was a teacher and I thought it would be good to do something sensible. So I finished the gigs and went to college. I love working with people so it seemed to fit."

David began his career as a guitar teacher at his first school in Wigan, and by default became acting head of music for a short time.

He was also a qualified maths and science teacher and went on to work a variety of jobs, mainly in biology and science.

But music must have been calling him back, because David soon left teaching to open his own guitar shop in Chorley.

He said: "I wanted to repair and build guitars and to sell them. A lot of people I had met when I was a guitarist became close associates, and we had a lot of good guitars."

David went back into teaching during this time, and always taught the guitar alongside his full-time jobs. But as time went on, he began to move away from teaching, both because of his waning belief in the system, and his growing family.

And so he decided to set up his own guitar teaching, repair and sales business.

He said: "Things changed and I wanted to fit round my family. It's a big task running eight kids. It's a full time job. And I wanted to do something I was passionate about.

"There are a lot of good musicians in this area, and a lot of good music going on. There is Garstang Unplugged, who are such a good bunch. Obviously I'm running a business, but I like music and want to develop it in the area. I'm interested in getting as many people together as possible, promoting music."

As well as teaching, David now holds workshops at The Priory at Scorton, where one-day sessions are held for a number of people and anything from guitar care to blues techniques are taught, with the possibility of group jamming sessions. He also recently held a successful 'Guitar Fair', to which many people travelled to learn more about guitar and string instruments, took their instruments to be repaired, and bought rare and interesting guitars.

He said: "At the end of a blues workshop, they should be able to go away knowing a lot more about what it's about, and they will have resources and materials to work with for weeks to come. The workshops aim to give people an interest for developing their musicianship.

"It's serious stuff. You can just twang a few chords or you can learn to play properly.

"I'm very heavily into blues, but I teach all styles. Blues is all about feeling, and music is a tremendous way of expressing yourself. The only thing with music is whether you communicate or not. I try to get my students to listen to as much music of a wide range as they can.

"First you need to teach guitar technique, but then you need to bring out whatever they have in their heads. As long as the music is delivered with feeling it's okay."

A lot of young kids approach David for lessons. But he has been surprised by the number of older people who have come forward with an interest in guitar. One of his students is nearly 60, and yet wants to become a rock star.

David said: "There must be a hidden gene there, because he just picks up a guitar and it's there. It's something that people like to aspire to. I have two or three successful business people, and people who have retired, who want to pursue something for themselves."

With influences like Buddy Guy, BB King, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix and Gary Moore, David might have expected to follow in the footsteps of his beloved rock and blues legends, living life on the edge.

But his modest new-found life at his former farmhouse in the countryside is suiting him perfectly.

David said: "Will I play my music in public again? Yes. But not professionally.

"I'm passionate about nature and wildlife and about environmental issues in particular. There is always something to look at up here. It's a beautiful place to live and there are fantastic sunsets.

"I do think there is a hotbed of musical talent in the area and I want to develop it. I would love to see a music festival in this area and I want the business to grow for the future."

l For more information on 'The Guitar Man', visit www.guitarmandcp.co.uk