RIPPONDEN, WEST YORKSHIRE HX6 4DB
I’ve always been interested in musical instruments. There is a photo of me somewhere, aged 1, with a dulcimer that my father built and things escalated quickly from there. After joining the National Youth Choir at 16, for a while it looked as though I was going to be an operatic baritone. However, seeing Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick at St Neots folk club in 1992 gave me other ideas.
Following a degree in timewasting (with honours), I worked briefly in music theatre before getting a job as a recording studio engineer, and moonlighting as a folk singer. In 2005 I made a solo album for Fellside records and had my 15 minutes of fame. According to the album reviews I was the great white hope of British Folk music but you shouldn’t believe everything you read.
My first instrument, a fiddle, was made at Cambridge (studying with Juliet Barker and Robert Thornhill). I made my own varnish. I can’t recommend making your own varnish. I moved to Yorkshire and spent a few years working part time in a music shop until a casual remark from Martyn Banks of Oakwood Instruments prompted me to leave in order to become a “proper” luthier.
Ultimately, Loomes Instruments exists largely because of the extraordinary kindness, generosity and patience of one man who took it upon himself to teach me the necessary skills to make bits of wood and wire into top quality musical instruments. He consistently makes truly exquisite sounding things (I have two of his guitars and a mandolin, not to mention the stuff we’ve built together.) I couldn’t have wished for a better role model, teacher and friend. Colin Kendall: Thank you.