About Chris Newman

Chris Newman is a “brilliant English master of the acoustic guitar” (THE DAILY TELEGRAPH) and the UK’s premier flat-picking guitarist. A “dazzling player” (ACOUSTIC GUITAR, USA), whose work is “nothing short of brilliant” (DIRTY LINEN, USA), he is one of the very few guitarists who excel in Celtic, European swing jazz and American bluegrass styles. He was Live Ireland’s Male Musician of the Year 2009 and 2019.

He began to play guitar at the age of four and at fourteen played his first paid gig in a folk club. A prolific composer, arranger and record producer, he’s played with luminaries of many musical worlds: folk (harper Máire Ní Chathasaigh, Boys of the Lough, Aly Bain, Kathryn Tickell), jazz (Stéphane Grappelli and Diz Disley) and comedy (Fred Wedlock) – receiving a silver disc for producing Fred’s international hit ‘Oldest Swinger in Town’, to which he also composed the tune and which reached No 6 in the charts in the UK and No 1 in several other countries. As Fred’s Musical Director and bandleader, appearances on such iconic national TV progammes as BBC’s Top of the Pops followed.

One day in 1985 he decided he’d really rather play interesting music than pursue interesting paychecks, so turned his back on the commercial world and returned to his folk roots. He has since concentrated on composition and on playing the traditional music of these islands and beyond. In addition to his work with Máire, Chris toured until 1997 as a member of Boys of the Lough in North America, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Estonia, Denmark, China and Italy.

Chris is a revered teacher with an impressive star-making record: he was principal guitar tutor for Newcastle University’s Folk Music Degree course for 21 years since its inception, and several of his alumni are now established names in the UK and international acoustic music world. He has been a visiting tutor at the University of Limerick, the University of Ulster and the Carl Nielsen Institute, Denmark, and is a popular instructor at guitar festivals and camps around the world. His book of guitar compositions and arrangements, Adventures with a Flatpick, was published in 2001.

His fifth solo album, Breaking Bach, featuring his arrangements for steel-strung flatpicked guitar of sonatas and partitas written by JS Bach for solo instruments, was released on 23 July, 2021. The project is quite ground-breaking – a recording of this music on steel-strung flatpicked guitar has not been attempted until now.

“Audacious and eminently enjoyable”


“A groundbreaking project… a magnificent tour-de-force… a toweringly impressive achievement”


“Life-affirming… (Newman’s) achievement is colossal… Elegant, stylish and unmistakeably from the heart.”


“Dazzling… utterly breathtaking… a triumph.”

* * * * * FOLK WALES

“Unplugged splendour… Chris Newman is in a class of his own.”


His fourth solo album Still Getting Away with It, a celebration of his 40-year career, was:

“Astonishing – a joy- filled romp through blues, back-porch pickin’, Quebec reels, Django swing jazz chordings, bluegrass, African high- life, ragtime, latin, Irish jigs and beyond, and a must-buy for any guitar player”


“Amazing… One of our greatest musicians”

Mike Harding, BBC RADIO 2 

“Beauty and virtuosity from a master craftsman at the peak of his abilities… I couldn’t recommend an album more highly”

* * * * MAVERICK

“A triumph… I’m fully conscious that I’m in the presence of greatness here… one of the top guitarists of his ilk anywhere”


“Precision-engineered, lovingly crafted tunes… Playful and incredibly dextrous”


“Dazzling… A genuinely uplifting album of some of the most remarkable – yet accessible – guitar playing you’re going to hear all year.”

* * * * * ROCK N REEL

His third solo album Fretwork was:

 “A stunning and stylistically-varied album, heaving with good tunes, from one of the UK’s most staggering and influential acoustic guitarists”




“Nothing short of brilliant”


“The John Williams of folk guitar…takes the breath away. Newman wears his virtuosity lightly and his music has immense vitality and charm”


“A veritable feast of immaculate guitar playing – a marvellous achievement… A testament to Newman’s ability to make the guitar grab your attention and never let you go. A great album from a respected and revered folk guitarist”




“Guitar players don’t come any better than Chris Newman.. I’d blithely cross snow-capped mountains and ford raging rivers to see him play”