Percussive fingerstyle guitarist Becky Langan
The inaugural Manchester Guitar Festival is celebrating all things six-stringed at The Stoller Hall - and Rochdale percussive fingerstyle guitarist Becky Langan cannot wait for her show during the event.
Becky has established a name for herself in the music scene after originally coming to public prominence appearing on Sky Arts television programme Guitar Star in 2016.
She will now take to the stage at the state-of-the-art concert hall which is part of the Chetham’s School of Music complex across the road from Manchester Victoria station alongside well-known guitarists from fields including classical, flamenco and folk music.
Becky says it is “surreal” to be in such illustrious company and spoke about her rise to musical prominence.
What has Becky Langan said about being in the first Manchester Guitar Festival?
The first Manchester Guitar Festival takes place at The Stoller Hall from Friday 20 May to Sunday 22 May with the bill including top names such as Scottish musician Sean Shibe known for playing both acoustic and electric guitar and flamenco star Daniel Martinez.
Becky has spoken of her pride at being included in such company in the three-day celebration of guitars and how much she is looking forward to the high-profile event, especially after two years in which Covid-19 has severely curtailed live performance opportunities.
She said: “It’s quite surreal, I didn’t expect to be in this position, playing on stage alongside these really well known musicians from around the world. I’m just going along with it.
“I can’t wait for the festival. I went to play at the venue and it’s absolutely beautiful.
“I’m excited because I haven’t been on stage much with the pandemic. This is a really nice gig and a nice way of getting back into things. It’s going to be good.”
What was Becky’s route into music and percussive fingerstyle guitar playing?
Becky first picked up a guitar aged 11 and for the first few years learned chords and strumming and was particularly interested in folk music and playing the blues.
However, she discovered what would turn out to be her own musical path when she came across a video online aged 14.
That was her introduction to percussive fingerstyle, which features a huge range of techniques and musical ideas including tapping the strings with the fingers, experimenting with alternative tunings, providing both melodies and rhythms and using the body of the guitar, all done by a single performer.
Becky said: “I didn’t know the style existed until I saw a video of a guitarist called Andy McKee online. At first I questioned whether he was a robot, I had never seen anything like it.
“I just started writing from there. I’m basically a self-taught musician and play by ear. I really enjoy writing and with this style of playing there’s more freedom and creativity.”
What happened when Becky went on TV show Guitar Star?
The next important stage for Becky as a musician was when she went on Sky Arts programme Guitar Star just after she had graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU).
She found herself playing for some of the biggest names in the guitar world and described what it was like being catapulted into the musical big time.
She said: “The whole experience was very strange. I went from being a student spending a lot of time in my room to playing guitar in front of George Benson.
“It was absolutely amazing, Tony Visconti was on the programme and they had Jon Gomm, who is one of my biggest inspirations, to represent my style.
“There was obviously a bit of impostor syndrome because it was a very high standard and it was surreal to be considered at that level.”
As part of the programme she got to record at the world-famous Abbey Road Studios and received mentoring from a host of iconic guitar players.
Since then she has been developing her career through attending guitar festivals and shows, posting videos of her playing on YouTube and releasing EP Parallel Paths in December 2016 after recording it at Blueprint Studios in Manchester.
She is hoping to get her debut full-length album out towards the end of this year or the beginning of next year to further increase awareness of her musical style, which balances melodic with percussive elements and unusual techniques and has a storytelling style of instrumental writing in which themes and ideas are developed throughout pieces rather than being repeated.
Becky says Manchester has played an important role in her journey through the music scene.
She said: “At uni I was playing the open mic nights and I just found Manchester very welcoming. It has a really rich cultural heritage and you can gain inspiration from so many angles.
“I felt at home in Manchester and the open mic nights were vital for me to gain the confidence for what I do today.”