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Predicted to be the next Irish guitar hero in the footsteps of Rory Gallagher and Gary Moore, former Young Guitarist of the Year Simon McBride has undeniable guitar artistry combined with a fine voice, excellent songwriting and a knack for creating great melodies.
His latest CD Crossing The Line is a fiery amalgam of guitar skills, songcraft and character-soaked vocals, spinning tales of girls, gambling and corporate avarice. Recorded in Northern Ireland and The USA, mixing of the album was placed in the experienced hands of New York-based Peter Denenberg, the veteran producer and engineer whose CV takes in everyone from Deep Purple to the Spin Doctors and Robert Cray. Industry critics reckon this is the album that truly delivers on McBride’s potential and kicks out a chair at the top table of blues-rock.
Rewind to the early-’90s, and you didn’t have to squint to spot future greatness in the unassuming kid from Belfast, who picked up his first guitar at ten and eschewed formal lessons to bend his fingers around the music of Free, Jeff Beck and Hendrix. Aged 15, Simon won Guitarist’s hotly-contested Young Guitarist of the Year competition in a Wembley Conference Centre showdown, and at 16, he turned pro, leaving education behind to wow the world as a hired gun in projects than ranged from metal with Sweet Savage, to R&B and soul with ex-Commitments vocalist Andrew Strong.
Even by the lofty standards of Northern Ireland, where drinkers still raise a toast to the audacious talent of the late Rory Gallagher and Gary Moore, this young maestro’s name was soon starting to be dropped in the same reverential breath. Certainly, Simon is a fan, and the energy and aggression of his live show recalls those much-missed Irish masters, but when he released his debut album Rich Man Falling in 2008, it was clear this musician was nobody’s heir, but rather his own artist. This is the sound of a world-class talent.