John Renbourn & Neil Hogan Play Snap A Little Owl at The Los Gatos Guitar Gallery
As many of you might know, John Renbourn was one of the biggest influences and inspirations on my musical journey. I certainly had not entertained the idea that I would ever meet him, or if I did have the chance I had no idea what we might talk about. Due to a random conversation with Mark Hanson, I arranged for John to come to Los Gatos and do a small workshop for my students in September 1998. This seemed like a great way to meet him and get close to my musical idol. We scheduled two nights with about ten students each for a very intimate glimpse into this living legend’s musical life.
I was very apprehensive and nervous about meeting him, as I had no idea what to expect from him, personally or professionally. Who knows, he could have been a complete jerk and full of himself like many superstars. I was thrilled when we met to find a genuine, caring man who was down-to-earth and a joy to be around. We went out to dinner and went over some thoughts on his upcoming workshops, and dozens of other subjects.
The next night, September 24, he came into our shop, full of nervous students, and immediately had everybody feeling like they were sitting around with an old family member talking about fond memories. Of course, these stories were about his musical evolution, leading into some hands-on suggestions for guitar students. We have a rough video from that evening that I may try to edit a bit and share with everybody later.
After the first workshop, most students had left and John and I sat down to chat and play a bit. I asked him if he ever played any of the duets he had recorded over the years and he said not very often, as he didn’t really know anybody who could play them. I mentioned that I really enjoyed a couple, but particularly Snap A Little Owl, a song he had done with Stefan Grossman on the same album that included Stefan’s tune Bermuda Triangle Exit. He said, “Let me hear it”, or something to that effect. I grabbed a guitar and a few measures into it he picked up his and started playing along.
We finished the song, with a very random, improvised ending, looked at each other with big smiles and laughter, and headed into a few others for good measure. Needless to say, this was by far the biggest event in my musical life, to this point.
We talked a bit about the next night’s workshop and said goodbye for the evening. I made a quick mental note to do a better job of recording and documenting the second workshop, on September 25.
The next night John did another wonderful job entertaining and educating the group, leaving some time for us to play a few duets for them. We started with Snap A Little Owl and the tape has recently surfaced. I was thrilled to find it and happy to share it with our TG Community.
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