With his trio, Peter Knight breaks new ground and is second to absolutely nobody...ground-breaking, engaging, frequently astonishing,
Gigspanner deliver a quite simply superb set **** Maverick Magazine
"Gigspanner work together in musical genius...there is no track that won't rope you in and buzz you like drinking a barrel of coffee **** EFDSS Magazine
A glorious musical tour de force...simply exquisite **** Spiral Earth
"Peter shows a willingness to turn the expected inside out and to place it back as neat as it was before being taken" **** fRoots
"Magnificent...a feast of imaginative music" **** The Telegraph
"The trio de-construct and transform the music into an original blend of the exotic and often eclectic" **** Louder than War
"The development of Gigspanner over their time together is astonishing..... an album of the year without doubt" **** R2 Rock n Reel
"An extraordinary gem...rich in both texture and atmosphere" **** Northern Sky
"Another remarkably imaginative and eclectic sequence of arrangements....entirely captivating on first hearing." **** Living Tradition
"Just by the first track you know this album is something special" **** Folk All
"The musicianship on this album is outstanding" **** Bright Young Folk
"Imaginative arrangements of traditional folk numbers. Knight's evocative and
lyrical violin playing is the heart of the sound, full of
melody and emotion" **** Where Worlds Collide
"Well worth the wait - a real showcase for Peter Knight's virtuosic playing and the band's diverse influences. An album to relish" **** FolkCast
"The Club Tent was spectacularly good this year. But without hesitation, I take my hat off to Gigspanner for providing the musical highlight of not just the Club Tent, but the whole damn festival. Fresh, vibrant, fantastic reworkings of Traditional English music" Bernie Kedge, Mayflower Folk, Cambridge Folk Festival 2013
"Peter Knight's Gigspanner showing that instrumental virtuosity can be compelling" Americana UK review of Cambridge Folk Festival.
"WOMAD quality...a fantastic gig"
Jon Pasco, Festival Director, Hastings Jack in the Green 2012
"One of the best sets came from Peter Knight's Gigspanner. Beautiful instrumentals and fine treatments of traditional pieces"
R2 Magazine, Review of The Great British Folk Festival 2012.
“We in the folk world should be justifiably proud to count this artful cartel as one of our own" (5 Star Review) Pete Fyfe, Maverick Magazine
“The highlight of FolkEast...a revelation” Mick Jenkinson, Doncaster Folk
“Gigspanner are marking out a distinctive zone of their own, melodically folk-rooted yet open and inventive beyond constraints of genre” - Julian Cowley, The Wire
"The music reverberates with Anglo-Celtic lilt and melancholy, robust Balkan accents, Middle Eastern and African intricacy and exuberance, Western classical poise and mainstream jazz balladry. It is Intelligent, multi-lingual music making" ('Lipreading the Poet' was listed as one of The Wires top 15 Global Albums of 2009)
Julian Cowley, The Wire
“With Gigspanner, Peter Knight has put together a tight trio with which to let his playing fly…stepping lightly through folk, classical, baroque and jazz, Gigspanner produce music of intelligently crafted brilliance”.
Andy Letcher, Songlines Magazine
“Altogether gorgeous…music to sustain the spirit. Rarely have I heard such insistent calls for encores"
Dai Jeffries, Rock 'n Reel Magazine
“The Trio co-create a depth of multi-textured melody that belies the pared-down instrumental line-up. Exceptional stuff, and not to be missed”
Noel Harvey, Acoustic Magazine
“Peter Knight can spin the World on his Bow"
Sir Terry Pratchett
“Heavenly music, truly inspiring and what it's all about…
I've been to the well and feel nourished"
Marion Fleetwood, Violinist and Cellist/Colvin Quarmby
“Brilliant, moving and inspiring"
Chris Leslie, Fairport Convention
“Gigspanner entranced the audience...they brought the house down"
Peter Cripps for The Gloucestershire Echo
"Thanks so much for the performance, it was just brilliant and goes down in my book of all time greats"!
Chris Maddocks, Farnham Maltings
"Gigspanner turned out to be one of the best bands I have ever booked at Ruskin Mill, I’m not sure that we’ve had better musicians. Peter Knight’s fiddle playing is as beautiful a combination of skill and love as I have ever heard. Vincent Salzfaas on percussion and Roger Flack on guitar were perfect, equally excellent.
The music Gigspanner creates crosses all boundaries. The experience left the audience blown away, we all had the most fantastic night.
I have never had such courteous negotiations with any band, and it didn’t change. The guys were lovely to know, grateful for all our efforts to make them feel at home and they had an easy rapport with the audience. I’m booking them again for next year".
Sue Smee, Ruskin Mill, Gloucestershire.
"One of the most magical evenings we've ever had at Folk in the Barn, and we've had a few! Peter, Roger and Vincent entranced us with their sublime musicianship and no-one wanted the evening to end. Can't wait to have them back.Its hard to put into words just how great it was"!
Debs Earl, Promoter, Folk in the Barn, Kent.
"Gigspanner are an unassuming trio, but when they start to play – WOW! The audience are grabbed by a performance of dazzling musicianship with breathtaking, virtuoso fiddling from Peter Knight, backed by superb guitar work and Afro-percussion from Roger and Vincent. All were won over by the emotion that these performers put into their music and the love they show in sharing it with people.
A member of the audience summed it up with the words, ‘I don’t have the superlatives to describe it. It was a performance of the highest degree"!’
John and Jan Culf, Promoters, Harberton Folk, Devon
“I knew with their pedigree Gigspanner would give the Bridport audience a good night out. What I wasn’t prepared for was how fantastic they are live, and how much I personally would enjoy the evening. When I found myself on my feet dancing with the audience to the last few numbers, I was delighted I had booked them"
Margie Barbour, Program Manager, Bridport Arts Centre.
"I was absolutely delighted with Gigspanner's performance, it was one of my Festival Highlights and I will certainly be booking them again in future. One can only describe Peter Knight's performance as virtuoso, with Vincent Salzfaas and Roger Flack both powerful and intelligent musicians in their own right".
Geoff Boudreau, Rye Arts Festival organiser.
Review of 'Layers of Ages' from the EFDSS Magazine.
Gigspanner surprised me greatly. I don’t know what exactly I was expecting, but I was caught off guard as soon as this album started to play.
This is certainly not a simple music album, it is a story telling album. A book to music. I should not have been so surprised really considering the style of Steeleye Span, with whom Peter Knight played for over 40 years.
It is magical to hear the kind of music that is so carefully planned and arranged that the images the music creates in your mind assist the words to the song so thoroughly.
Having said that, Gigspanner also present wonderful instrumental tracks such as ‘She Moved Through the Fair’ that do a fantastic job of telling a story, even without words.
Gigspanner work together in musical genius to throw many different sounds at you from all different directions and sources, but in a way that fits together and works perfectly. ‘Death and the Lady’ is a track certain to give you goosebumps, with chilling music and mysterious vocals charging through the song.
The entire album presents us with a large mix of different instruments and sounds to captivate the listener and keep things constantly changing and flowing. This makes each and every track on the album special without any risk of repetition.There is no track that won’t rope you in and buzz you like drinking a barrel of coffee.
A lot of energy flows from every element of this album and it shows how much care must have been injected into the music. I can only imagine how much atmosphere there must be at a Gigspanner concert.
Review of 'Layers of Ages' from Spiral Earth
Layers of Ages is Gigspanner’s third album and it is a glorious musical tour de force from the opening glissando of Bows of London to the final pizzicato in Hard Times of Old England. Titled in full Peter Knight’s Gigspanner, this trio is the creation of Peter who, since he left Steeleye Span in 2013, joined forces with guitarist Roger Flack and percussionist Vincent Salzfaas to produce brilliantly crafted and inventive music. Unhindered by the limits of technical ability, they take music rooted in the British Isles and with the flick of a bow, a finely chosen chord or slip of a beat, produce hypnotic arrangements layered in Eastern European, French, Cajun, African and even Aboriginal influences, touching on baroque, classical and jazz along the way.
Peter Knight has a wonderful voice with a variety of timbres, magically combining lightness with the heft necessary for the often dark and disturbing themes of broadsides and ballads. It is with such a tale, Bows of London, an unsettling story of sister murdering sister, that the trio open their account on the album. In an ironic twist, the ill-fated sister’s remains are fashioned into an enchanted violin which, despite being able to play only the one tune, has the power of speech, and the denouement is set. Such is the stuff of nightmares and Knight’s voice lays it bare while his fiddle darts through intricately beautiful improvisations and counter melodies, underpinned by the lightest of percussive touches. Simply exquisite.
Light and energy tumble out of She Moves Through The Fair, with embellishments that lead the tune wilfully astray along different tempos and moods, with notes seemingly plucked from the stars and rhythms from the equator as the band move through airs, jigs and reels before touching down again on home soil. The mood changes for Death and The Lady, a menacing tale akin to the medieval morality plays, wherein we learn that the Grim Reaper cannot be bought off with gold. The scene is set with rhythmic double-stopping from the fiddle, Salzfaas’ beckoning drumbeats and Flack’s bass. The fiddle sometimes sings, sometimes growls and reverberates with menace. The outcome is inevitable. Knight’s fiddle and Flack’s guitar solos cut like blades. There is no escape, not for the Lady nor the listener.
What makes Gigspanner unique is the variety of musical colours on their palette. What makes them brilliant is how they blend them without ever muddying the landscape. Their arrangements are crystal clear throughout, from the voyeuristic Mad Tom of Bedlam, complete with howling guitar and multi-layered vocal harmonies to the pastoral A Week Before Easter and Down by Sally Gardens with simpler accompaniments, thematic variations and classical embellishments. In King of the Fairies they set hornpipe against rumba, add a dash of Hot Club, sharpen it up with some tenor banjo and let the fiddle soar above it all. Salzfaas’ conga work is outstanding, shifting pace, beats and flavours while Flack shows us his jazz chops and dancing above it all is Knight’s fiddle. They follow it with Knight’s own tune, Louisiana Flack, a ‘four hands on the fiddle’ number which is fast, flashy and hot as gumbo.
Hard Times of Old England is a valedictory masterpiece with raindrop-like pizzicato fiddle to set the mood against the trio’s range of delicate textures and touches, with Flack’s guitar ringing bell-like over Salzfaas’ deftly-placed beats. Knight’s vocals are heartfelt and the fiddle shimmers with variety.
Gigspanner is band slang for a bottle-opener. Produced by the band and Edward Blakeley, who also gets a well-deserved banjo credit, Layers of Ages is music of the very finest vintage. Get a bottle now, spring the top and savour the flavours.
The George Hotel, South Molton, Devon 15th July 2013
As part of their current tour Peter Knight’s Gigspanner stopped off at The George Hotel in South Molton and gave a superb display of musicianship to an enthusiastic audience. We were treated to an eclectic mix of bluesy, jazzy, folksy, ethnicy tunes from three of the finest musicians I have seen in a long, long time. They take their influences from all parts of the world from France to Africa via the U.S. and the UK. I think my favourite was ‘Sharp Goes Walkabout’ but it is difficult to pick one favourite amongst so many varied and wonderful songs.
With his success playing fiddle with Steeleye Span Peter Knight has a deserved reputation as one of folk music’s finest exponents of the violin but last night he seemed to at times; defy what is possible. With his deftly played tunes he mesmerised the crowd. It is often the case that you will see an outstanding musician stand out from the rest of the band. Although he was indeed outstanding he was not alone. Gigspanner is made up of three top notch musicians, Peter being one of course but more than ably supported by Roger Flack on guitar and vocals and Vincent Salzfaas on congas, djembe and vocals. Roger, as with the other two members, is a virtuoso performer and deals with intricate guitar playing with consummate ease. As a guitarist myself I was in awe of his assured ability. As for Vincent, his conga playing was just sensational and when he was allowed to showcase his ability with solo spots the crowd were amazed and at the same time mystified as to how someone with just two hands could play as though he had several. Just amazing!
I urge anyone with an interest in music no matter what your genre to go and see them live and see for yourself what you get when you put three talented musicians together. Oh and did I mention they are nice people? Well they are.
Millenium Memorial Hall, Laugharne July 2013
Legendary fiddler Peter Knight and his two exceptionally talented friends wooed and captivated a large audience at Laugharne’s Millennium Memorial Hall last Wednesday evening.
Peter Knight’s Gigspanner is a band that started about eight years ago in Hastings, where the three members were living at the time. The band features Roger Flack on guitar, percussionist Vincent Salzfaas on congas and djembe, and Peter Knight on the violin.
Best-known for his involvement in the folk rock group Steeleye Span, Peter’s ability to turn the fiddle to dozens of uses has to be seen to be believed.
The audience, consisting of adults of all ages, were spellbound and intrigued as Peter conjured butterflies from his bow, plucked the violin like a banjo, moved so gently it sounded like woodwind, or vivaciously in keeping with a lively folk tune.
The set was a fusion of Celtic, British, American and World sounds; sometimes contemplative, sometimes energetic, but always intricately performed. There was plenty of singing, too, with songs penned by Peter as well as traditional fare. His soft, melodic, ‘reedy’ voice sounds as good as ever, the others making well-tuned harmonies without the exaggerated accent associated with folk clubs of the past. For a band of just three musicians and a minimum of amplification, the sound was surprisingly full, and songs like ‘Seagull’ and ‘Tom of Bedlam’ had instant appeal.
It is clear that the band have a unique ‘chemistry’, each member intuitive to the others. And this was put to the ultimate, crowd-pleasing test when Roger downed his guitar, picked up a pair of drumsticks and proceeded to beat rhythmically against Peter’s violin as he bowed furiously. The result - a Wild West take on a hurdy gurdy - was flawless. It’s not hard to imagine Peter spinning the world on his bow, now Terry Pratchett has pointed out the possibility.
It was refreshing to see how friendly the musicians were, both on stage and off it; they were happy to chat with anyone and offered to sign CDs.
Peter, Roger and Vincent did our area an honour by agreeing to play at Laugharne. I hope they enjoyed the welcome and are eager to return on their next tour.
Peter Knight's Gigspanner, Harberton Parish Hall.
At a time when the big-band sound is the order of the day, and a separate brass, woodwind and string section seems to be de rigeur to qualify for headline billing at any festival of note, it’s interesting to see Peter Knight – Steeleye Span’s legendary fiddle player and an early exponent of the folk-rock style – doing a neat about-turn and boldly heading in the opposite direction.
But while Gigspanner may be a return to the traditional skills of close harmony and tight, intricate accompaniments that once characterised Baroque Folk, this is no mere retro offering.
Joined by Guitarist and composer Roger Flack and the formidable energies of Afro-Percussionist Vincent Salzfaas on Conga’s and Djembe, the Trio co-create a depth of multi-textured melody that belies the pared-down instrumental line-up.
It’s fair to say that folk is at the bed-rock of their repertoire, but only just. Mrs. McGrath and The Water is Wide were familiar enough, but it was the delicate, lyrical ‘The Butterfly’ and ‘Dave Roberts French Waltz’ (wittily merged into a gloriously overplayed ‘La vie en Rose’) that opened the evening of virtuoso playing that ranged across genres and styles for the better part of two hours.
For Flack, a consummate musician in his own right, less was decidedly more, with his fine, fluent playing emerging out of the background – like the best of waiters – whenever it was required, and never more so than when adding a much needed edge to the blues standard ‘Sitting on top of the World’.
Salzfaas’ work was no less finely balanced, coming to the fore with a rattling solo on the African inspired ‘Too Late for Shadows’ and even threatening to upstage Knight’s deft Pizzicato work.
Exceptional stuff, and not to be missed.
Noel Harvey, Acoustic Magazine.
Peter Knight’s Gigspanner, Nettlebed Folk Club
Peter Knight is probably one of this country's best known and loved fiddle players. And I include the general public in that as even the non-folkies have heard Steeleye Span and most recall the band's charismatic bowman. During a fallow period in Steeleye's history Peter concentrated on other projects that included many solo guises sometimes with others involved. The resurgence of Steeleye Span, which celebrates it 40th anniversary this year, has not stopped Peter exploring new avenues for his music. Just one of these is Gigspanner.
The concert at Nettlebed Village Hall - a venue with an enviable reputation for the quality of its acts - was part of a short tour before Peter and his Steeleye colleagues got stuck into their anniversary touring in earnest. Quite simply, this band is stunning. It provides by far and away the best platform for Peter's playing in his many professional endeavours. His cohorts are absolutely on the money with their expressive and sensitive accompaniment of Peter's soaring violin sound. The overall balance is perfectly pitched but the sound just mighty.
The set included traditional as well as self-penned pieces and the whole was an entertainment of the highest order and a musical experience that anyone with even a passing interest in the violin and its music should see, hear and enjoy.
Roger Flack's guitar playing is the perfect foil for Peter's lead achieving every musician's dream of making your own mark whilst providing excellence in support of the main melody line. Alongside this Vincent Salzfaas extracts such a breadth of tone from his percussion set and immaculate rhythmic accompaniment. Just a joy to listen to.
I doubt this year will be out before festival organisers are queuing up to book this sensational band.
You can tell I was impressed - and I take some impressing. But my advice to you is simple: go see this band as I guarantee you'll enjoy it and be impressed too, mightily!
Peter Knight’s Gigspanner - Preston Guildhall
Blistering Pace in Flamboyant Musical World Tour
Is Peter Knight the Jimi Hendrix of the fiddle world?
Phil Widdows, Lancashire Evening Post
Just like the late guitar god, Knight sports an iconic ‘tache.
More importantly, he can be just as inventive and flamboyant musically – although he resisted setting his instrument on fire.
Knight has been the fiddle player with folk-rock founders Steeleye Span for 40 years, but Gigspanner seems custom built to support the more fluid side of his musical personality – one that is necessarily suppressed in his work with Steeleye or as part of the massed violin ensemble known as the Feast of Fiddles.
Backing him here are talented rock guitarist Roger Flack and percussionist Vincent Salzfaas, a two-man engine room that produces the revs.
And Capt Knight does like to let the music roam where it will, improvising wildly through tunes and songs drawn from a world of cultural influences.
There’s Irish folk in the shape of slipjigs such as the delicate opening piece, The Butterfly. There’s French style Jazz in a Stephane Grapelli-style Hot Club number. And there’s African beats and rhythms on Walking With Shadows (actually ‘Too Late for Shadows’) which pushes Senegal trained Salzfaas to the fore for a stunning solo, playing with hands on a collection of Conga’s and Djembe Drums.
Knight takes a deep breath before launching into The Water Carriers, and if he had been playing the Guitar rather than the fiddle this piece would equal a heavy metal solo, before it melts into a gentle Middle Eastern air. There’s even a touch of American Blues in a version of Chris Smithers Sitting On Top Of The World.
But whatever the style, Knight’s the star – skipping and slipping with the bow or seamlessly switching to pizzicato finger picking – his head back and transfixed, and occasionally singing too. This show is certainly worth catching.