Beckfoot Guitar Weekends: A Tribute to Malcolm White
I heard on the grapevine that Malcolm ‘Chalky’ White is handing over his Beckfoot Guitar Weekend business to the Farncombe Estate. I felt that I should write a few lines in tribute to Malcolm, his family and staff who have worked tirelessly to make the Guitar Weekends a fun and educational experience for all who have attended over the years.
As a guitarist (and self-confessed ‘Shads’ fan) himself, Malcolm understood the difficulties experienced by players of all ages when they reach the dreaded ‘plateau’: the point where no amount of practise seems to improve our playing! He spotted a niche market and worked hard to develop it and make it a success. Employing tutors from around the UK, he sought to gather groups of players together in his lovely home in the Lake District and provide first class tuition and advice over a weekend of great food (thanks Lesley!), good company, first class hospitality and the odd libation!
I was lucky enough to be his Country Guitar tutor for about ten years, teaching on both the Country 1 and Country 2 Guitar Weekends, and remember those times fondly. I left, not for better things, but to do more playing and less teaching. Whilst working for Malcolm I met many players from all over the UK and farther afield. Some are now friends! I hope that Malcolm will distribute this via his considerable media communications network and say a big thanks to all.
There were some remarkable times at the Beckfoot Guitar Weekends, with appearances by players like Albert Lee, Tommy Emmanuel and many more. I will never forget the day that I was helping a student learn the intro to ‘Country Boy’ and Albert walked into the room! The Saturday night jams were something to behold also. Singers, players and anyone who could do anything at all packed into Malcolm’s front room to share music with each other. Great!
So Malcolm thanks for the chance to meet so many great folk. Not just the legends but the ordinary people that we were hopefully able to help regain enthusiasm or confidence to move on from where they were. I know that Gary Dunn and Rod Sinclair will join with me in wishing you all the best in your semi-retirement. Enjoy it mate, you have earned it! (Jim Hornsby, December 2011)