AFTER a mishap in a piano lesson many moons ago, Derek Gripper’s love affair with the guitar began and the South African musician has not put his loyal companion down since.

Having toured around the world and recorded nine studio albums, Gripper has taken his little wooden box to some of the biggest and most famous venues on earth.

Now he is set to give a very intimate performance for a select audience in Basingstoke when he performs at The Forge on June 16.

What makes Gripper’s use of his instrument more striking is how he uses the guitar to interpret traditional South African music and put a 21st century spin on it.

He told The Gazette: “I spent a good part of the noughties exploring South African music on the guitar, in a very abstract and indirect way.

“But eventually I embraced a wider range of music because I realised that the music that moved me came from far flung locations like Brazil, Mali, India and Europe.

“So I decided that a narrow nationality like South African just wasn’t going to work anymore.”

As well as using the music of certain countries as a reference point, Gripper also takes influences from classical music, from the likes of Bach, and the musician said he hopes these inspirations shine through. And with all that is currently happening in the world Gripper hopes people can use his unique brand of music as an escapism.

“One guy sitting and playing a small wooden box for an hour or so is about as opposite as you can get to the massiveness of life in the 21st century.

“So I hope they come away having regressed to a simpler age.”

When asked by The Gazette if he found itintimidating stepping out on stage just him and a guitar, he added: “No the rest of life is far harder than that. Walking onto stage and playing for an hour is hands down the easiest part of my life.

“It takes no energy and there is no anxiety or stress involved.”

Having played the likes of Carnegie Hall, The Forge should be no problem, but the musician said sometimes the small shows are the most memorable ones.

He said: “The best gigs are found in the oddest of places. I remember one in the middle of the Karoo (a semidesert in South Africa) that was particularly memorable in terms of audience reaction.

“And I’ve played many many great music festivals. But in terms of venue Shakespeare’s Globe with John Williams can’t really be beat.”

The South African really made a name for himself in the musical world with his ninth album, One Night on Earth: Music from the Strings of Mali, something he said is his biggest achievement to date and really got audiences to take note of his high energy and passion for the guitar.

When asked what advice he would give to any aspiring guitar players, he added: “Just do your thing and hope for the best.

“Be in a financial situation that you don’t have to give a shit about your career so that you can really play. Or play to survive and be sure that you want to survive through the music you really want to play – not just “playing guitar” which could get you into a session gig playing jingles for Christmas albums, unless that floats your boat of course.”

Gripper is set to entertain a Basingstoke audience at The Forge on June 16, for tickets and more information visit