Global guitarist in town

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For someone who has played concerts in Afghanistan and North Korea, among dozens of other countries, performing in Southsea might seem a little sedate.

But Jason Carter’s show tonight is a rare hometown performance for the acclaimed classical guitarist. Jason, who currently lives in France, grew up in Fratton, and says: ‘Most of my family still live here and I still call it home.’

It was here at the age of nine that he first started playing guitar after being inspired by seeing Australian guitarist John Williams on TV.

But it was as he hit his late teens and was working as an apprentice engineer that Jason realised he needed to make the leap into being a full-time musician.

‘I was on a YTS scheme earning £35 for a 70 hour week, and earning about £50 a night playing classical guitar in restaurants, and this was in the late 1980s.

‘I had this life of sitting in a factory stinking of Swarfega or getting out with my guitar and seeing where I could go with it. It was kind of a no-brainer. That’s what I did and that’s what I’m still doing.’

And it has so far taken him to more than 90 countries around the world.

In 2008 it took him to Kabul in Afghanistan.

‘I’ve always loved music from the Middle East and central Asia. I’ve worked alongside the British Council at times, and Afghanistan was the last project I did with them. In those days it was very intense in terms of the security situation.

‘I taught guitar to boys at university for almost a month, and in the evenings I would meet with the old musicians who had been ousted because the Taliban banned music, and they had then come back. We put on three concerts in Kabul in secure compounds – at one we had to have a ring of soldiers around us, but it was a great experience.’

A year earlier he had played in Pyongyang, North Korea

‘I played five concerts to 3,000 people a night and I wasn’t allowed to collaborate with local musicians, but just being there as a foreign musician was a big deal. We were very heavily monitored.

‘People said before I went I was being naive and it would be used for propaganda and every dollar I spent would go to the government, and I agree on a number of levels, but if everyone stayed away there’s no chance a difference can be made.’

The concert is on Friday, September 12 from 7pm at St Simon’s Church, Southsea.

Tickets are £10 including a glass of wine/juice and nibbles. Call St Simon’s Office (023) 9282 9440 – you can leave a message, or email jayne.holland1@btinternet.com