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Bluesbreakers: Tristan Mackay

The West Country ex-busker unplugs in style with album two.

He compares it to a ‘third arm’, and short of cuddling up to it in bed every night, you doubt Tristan Mackay could have a much closer bond to his acoustic guitar. But the title track of his second album, Wire & Wood, explains just why this instrument was such an important friend to him as a teenager seeking shelter from domestic turbulence.

“It happens to a lot of people,” he says. “My family broke down and Wire & Wood is about how the guitar became a solace for me.”

Having taught himself by playing along to Eric Clapton’s 1992 album Unplugged, Mackay later graduated to busking after moving from his native Devon to Leeds University. “Then one day I met another busker and he asked why I didn’t play with an amp. So I borrowed his and I made £500 in a couple of hours!”

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