Wow what a year 2015 was!! Where do i start? well for me and TWiE it all started on new years day 2015 with the launch of the new website..... 

I had got to the stage where the Facebook page was getting a bit overwhelmed by all the posts and valuable information was being buried deep with its depths and so the inevitable transition from a Facebook page to a website was finally realised. I had plans to start special “in house” articles and in-depth interviews with leading slide artists around the world but never did i think i would end up doing features and interviews with over 31 different artists and luthiers in just its first year! 

It all kicked off with my first TWiE interview with the brilliant John Wilde, the interview launched the website with a bang and attracted lots of visitors and I’ve not looked back since….until now haha. This was quickly followed by an interview with Martin Harley and then what i consider to be the sites most important interview to date, Thomas Oliver. This interview was so in-depth and so informative that even Thomas had to admit its comprehensiveness himself when he said on his own Facebook page….

“If you've ever wanted to know anything about me and my music making processes, this might be the most comprehensive interview I've ever done. Thanks to The Weissenborn Information Exchange for the insightful questions, and thanks to everyone who takes the time to read it”.

That was a huge thrill for me but after a very pleasurable chat with 2014 TWiE award winning weissenborn player John Merrill i had the absolute pleasure of interviewing no less than the legend and personal inspiration himself, Ed Gerhard. I was seriously on a high after this mad start to the website. Interviews with Chris Haugen and Alex Roberts soon followed by Bad Temper, Aussie slide legend Jeff Lang, Troy Brenningmeyer and the great Cindy Cashdollar. As first years go that was pretty amazing. I must not forget the successful and intriguing “On Track” special features i did with artists Knut Hem, Andreas Rydman, Pat Tierney, Roberto Diana, Adam Bay, Marco Bartocionni, Aron Radford (hehe), Jacob Rågård, Barney Kenny, Andreas Aase and Ivo Meijer.

I must also not forget the articles i did with leading weissenborn luthiers too, Iseman Guitars, Anderwood Guitars, and the ones still yet to publish with Neil Russell from Celtic Cross, Michael Rusen from Rusen Hollownecks, and also many thanks to Andy Volk for donating his amazing interview with Bill Hardin of Bear Creek Guitars.

All this achieved in the websites FIRST year in existence wow! thanks to all who participated their time and effort into making these interviews and features happen, without you this website and weissenborn community wouldn’t exist.

Musically speaking 2015 has exploded! so much wonderful music has been put out there this year that i hope i don’t forget anyone.

After last year’s “YouTube" domination was firmly in the hands of Johnny Merrill this year two names shone bright, first Mat Ango. His obvious new found love and passion for the instrument shone bright for the first part of the year when he recorded and released no less than 20 weissenborn music videos in short succession. The man has a talent for covers and originals and had many plaudits for his hard work. The second youtuber who has caught my eye is that of Luis Ferreira. His amazing instrumental covers of popular songs, U2’s “With Or Without You”, Bob Marley’s “Natural Mystic and Vangelis’s “Chariots Of Fire” to name a few were simply amazing and he was kind enough to donate the tab for “With Or Without You” to the website for all to download and use themselves. So this year i award the “The Must See YouTube Channel Of 2015” to BOTH Mat and Luis. Congratulations guys i hope to be hearing more of your wonderful weissenborn compositions and arrangements in 2016.

Last years winner of the “Best Weissenborn Cover” Knut Hem was a serious contender this year when he casually played an inspired version of the Beatles “Here Comes The Sun’ in his kitchen on Facebook but this was in my opinion over shadowed by two other great covers. The first was Martin Harley's amazing version of Kelly Joe Phelps arrangement of “Goodnight Irene” which was included on his “Live At Southern Ground” album. But for me the cover i enjoyed the most was U2’s “With Or Without You” by Argentinian weissenborn player Luis Ferreira once again. His transcription and looper technique was a joy to witness and hear and his generous donation of the tablature to the website was very welcome indeed. So i award “ Best Weissenborn Cover Of 2015” to Luis. 

The runners and riders for this years “Best Original Weissenborn Instrumental 2015” were all simply blown out of the water when a certain Danish young man released a goliath of a track that instantly nailed him this award. I am of course referring to Jacob Rågård’s amazing “Sundown Slide” composition. An extraordinary talent who had only recently discovered the weissenborn on his musical journey. The instrumental was packed full of complex technique and silky smooth execution, the melody and arrangement matched his playing skills combining in a tune that will stand tall for many a year in the weissenborn community. Once again in a great act of kindness from another weissenborn player he too donated the tab for this song to the websites archives, thank you Jacob. Congratulations we all hope this wonderful instrumental leads to a defining collection of weissenborn tunes not unlike your greatest inspiration Thomas Oliver. So the award for "Best Original Weissenborn Instrumental" goes to you.

"Best Weissenborn Album" has always been an obvious choice in recent years as there is normally always one release that stands head and shoulders above all else just like last years winner John Wilde and his album "After 8”. This year was promising to be a three horse race but alas two fell at the last hurdle. I am referring to Adam Bay and his debut ALL weissenborn album (all recorded, mixed and ready for mastering I’m told), and Knut Hem’s long promised and now even longer overdue third solo album (a preview track “Frost” and a “Teaser” video have been uploaded on YouTube so I don’t think it will be too much longer to wait). 

So not by default (far far from it) as the winner was very worthy indeed goes to Martin Harley and his “Live At Southern Ground” album. Martin has always been a great advocate of the weissenborn and on this release his weissenborn really takes centre stage on most of the tracks. Martin has been arguably the best British weissenborn player for some years now and it's no real surprise that this release has won massive acclaim from the blues and lap steel community alike. Be sure to catch him on tour next year with the great Daneil Kimbro on double bass. Congrats Martin. Some notable candidates worthy of mention must go to Giovanni Bailo and his album “Not So Fast” and Chris Haugen's "Falling Water Shimmering Lights" and lastly Faris's "Mississippi To Sahara” all strong late entries in this category and in another year might well have won.

"Best Weissenborn EP 2015” is a new award this year but one which had two strong contenders. First was Scottish guitarist Neil Warden who released a brilliant debut weissenborn EP called “Adventures In Weissenborn Land”. It was a great mix of delta blues (ala Ry Cooder) and some dreamy soundscape arrangements, a real bluesy sonic treat and extremely commendable for a first time release. The second release and winner of the inaugural “Best Weissenborn EP 2015” goes to Sally Van Meter and her truly divine EP “Tre Mistiche”. “A collection of weissenborn ballads with friends” accompanying her along the way the sleeve notes say. The EP was in my humble opinion was THE stand out highlight of the weissenborn year. Congrats Sally the EP was a work or art.

"Best Weissenborn YouTube Video 2015” goes to a man that is a leading light in the world of weissenborns today, the affable Irishman John Wilde. The man is without doubt one of the worlds best players and with a string of amazing videos on his and his instrument sponsors (Anderwood Guitars) You Tube channel he has continued to wow us with his sublime playing technique and traditional covers. The winning video for me has to be his wonderful cover of the traditional Irish tune “Si Beag, Si Mhor”. Simple note combinations played with amazing technique, the man makes all look way too easy, but as we all know it isn’t (sadly). I have been lucky enough to meet John twice this year and watched him close up and had good bumps watching him. I must mention i was torn between this track and his other divine traditional cover of “She Moves Through The Fair”. Please keep up the great work John we all enjoy your videos so so much.

Lastly “Best Weissenborn Single 2015” a bit of a difficult one because to qualify you have to have released the track as a single for public digital download and not just on YouTube. So i have decided to bend the rules slightly on this one by also qualifying any track on an album that is available for digital download as a contender as well. So here are my runners….

Sally Van Meter - “Na Geadna Fiadaine"

Martin Harley - “Cardboard King”

Pat Tierney - “Love We’re Looking For”

Faris - “Hard Times Killing Floor Blues”

Chris Haugen - “Falling Water Shimmering Strings"

Ivo Meijer  - "For Maria”

The winner is Sally Van Meter for her divine version of “Na Geadna Fiadaine”. It was quite simply the best weissenborn instrumental i have heard in recent years, please please promise us another EP soon Sally :-)

And lastly i wish to present a few “Outstanding Achievement Awards” for people who have made a notable and valued  contributions to the weissenborn community either this year or past years.

First recipient is “A long service to weissenborn playing award” and goes to Japanese dobro/weissenborn player Kawamura Seiji, aka “The Cover King”. We ALL have marvelled at his near perfect covers of the best players and best instrumentals over many many years with over 500,000+!!! YouTube views. Thank you Kawamura for sharing your wonderful playing with us all and I can speak on behalf of everybody here at TWiE when I say you’ve been a source of inspiration for all of us down the years :-)

Second award I would also like to give goes to Faris and is an “Outstanding Acheivement Award” for his “Mississippi To Sahara”album, a truly unique application of the weissenborn. Algerian Tuareg dessert blues applied to the weissenborn sounds a bit off the chart and it is, but it's also showcasing and pushing this instrument into new and diverse avenues which have to be applauded and respected. I look forward to interviewing Faris in the New Year.

Plans for 2016? i would love to get interviews with the god fathers of weissenborn David Lindley and Ben Harper and that will happen one day fingers crossed all in due course i suppose, i am trying and if you try hard enough for long enough things do happen i believe. I would also love to chat to Greg Leisz, Xavier Rudd and Knut Hem  as well as Adam Bay of course. An interview with Sally Van Meter is near completion and a Faris interview is already verbally agreed and I’m pleased to say i have been chatting to the great Weissenborn historian Tom Noe about doing some spot light features on the sites from time to time. But if you have any requests or contacts you would like to put forward please do as the site is here to serve weissenborn fans, if want to see it then it’s something the site should be covering.

I would love to hit a 1000 followers on the Facebook page in early 2016 and with 5000 people a month visiting this very site i'd like to reach 100,000! site visits by the end of 2016.

Weissenborn musical highlights to look forward to in 2016? Well there’s the aforementioned all weissenborn instrumentals albums from Adam Bay and Knut Hem to look forward to, and i myself (Aron Radford) should have my next weissenborn album finished and pressed by late spring. I have heard rumours that Bill Walker is planning a weissenborn looping/soundscape CD and my good friend and past TWiE Award winning weissenborn player John Merrill will have his debut ALL weissenborn CD out too. So lots to look forward to in the first half of the year for all you weissenborn fans :-)

All that remains for me to say is a big big "thank you" to you all for supporting the site and i look forward to hearing from you all in 2016, Happy New Year :-)

2015 - "A Year In Review" By Aron Radford