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Simon Mayor & Hilary James

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The mandolin has been transformed into a highly-eclectic instrument by Simon Mayor. Although he also plays fiddle and guitar, Mayor has built his reputation through his five albums of mandolin instrumentals and his BBC2 radio series, Marooned With A Mandolin. A self-trained musician, Mayor played ukelele as a youngster. Presented with a guitar on his eleventh birthday, he switched to the six-stringed instrument. His interest in Irish fiddle music was sparked by a recording he heard as a teenager. Although the school music teacher discouraged his taking up the fiddle, calling him "too old," he taught himself to play the fiddle and mandolin from recordings he acquired. Within eighteen months, he was playing well enough to win a national music championship. He strengthened his skills by playing with a variety of Celtic and rock bands while attending Reading University where he studied Russian. Forming a duo, the Musical Mystery Tour, with mandobass player and vocalist Hilary James in the early-'80s, Mayor co-wrote and performed more than 60 children's songs between 1985 and 1991. Together with James, Mayor also performed with a western swing band, Slim Panatella and the Mellow Virginians. Mayor and James have continued to explore a wide variety of musical genres. Together with classical guitarist Gerald Garcia, ex-Fairport Convention multi-instrumentalist Maartin Allcock and Richard Collins, they formed the Simon Mayor Quintet. ~ Craig Harris

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