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His string theory

Stefan galt is an extraordinary guitar player. His style borrows freely from jazz, blues and country, with just a smidgeon of folk.

But when he performs one of his own compositions, Galt goes beyond his influences and creates something unique and memorable. Late last year, following an appearance at the Electric Picnic, he recorded the ten tracks that make up his debut album, Before That I Did This (through Road Records).

"I played in an instrumental band called Six Degrees," Stefan explains. "Since then I have been building up my own style. It's quite specific what I'm doing. There's quite a lot in it. I suppose it's quite a niche thing for Ireland."

Virtuoso guitar players have long been a part of the pop cultural fabric. From Django Reinhardt to John Williams, Hank Marvin to José González, guitarists have continually reshaped popular music. It takes a special talent to cut it as a guitar instrumentalist.

"It was nervewracking going out on my own," reveals Stefan. "This is the first thing I've done [by myself]. That can be a bit frightening. I suppose that was part of the reason I let the album trickle out -- I didn't even do a launch for the album. But, gradually it's getting attention and people are getting to know about me. It's working."

Stefan has some high profile fans, Donal Dineen and Gay Byrne among them.

"I suppose I fit into a larger scene in England," he says. "I'll be playing at the International King's Place Festival this summer which is quite high-brow. I've been getting a great reaction from England."

Galt seems a natural on guitar. And, crucially, he appears to be developing his own distinctive style.

"Since I first picked up the guitar and learned three chords, I've tried to make something up," he says. "I had good influences in terms of creativity. When I was finished with the band I tried to find my voice again. At the moment I'm doing the same thing: I'm going back and trying to figure out the next developments in my style.

"The album was an experiment in what I can do and what I want to do. I'm doing a lot of learning lately. I'm looking at the people that influenced me and looking at who influenced them. I'm playing a lot of stuff from the Chet Atkins era and Jerry Reed and Merle Haggard. I'm going back to the roots of the style I play. I'm in a new stage of experimentation at the moment and I'm doing a lot of improvising with a band." - EC

Stefan Galt plays the Cobblestone on Sunday