Michael Alexander speaks to guitar prodigy Chantel McGregor ahead of a tour which will bring her to Kinross later in the year.
If there’s one thing that female guitarist Chantel McGregor has learned about the past year, it’s been the need to be creative and proactive with music to keep connections alive with her fans.
Chantel was in the studio working on an acoustic album with her band when the first Covid-19 lockdown began in March 2020, and that had to be paused.
However, the inability to perform in front of a live audience hasn’t prevented her from keeping busy.
She’s been performing solo on a weekly live stream, the ‘Shed Sessions‘, which streams every Saturday at 5pm UK time on her official social media channels.
She released a rock cover of Lady Gaga’s single ‘Stupid Love’ through US record label, Cleopatra Records, in May last year, and just weeks later was asked by Hard Rock Hell Radio to present a two hour show on the Bank Holiday Monday which has led to her becoming a regular weekly presenter, with a breakfast show once a month.
Last year, she also started working with David ‘Nova’ Nowakowski co-writing and recording tracks remotely over the internet.
However, despite all this creativity, she can’t wait to get back performing in front of live audiences, starting on May 21, with a scheduled headline appearance at Backstage At The Green in Kinross on November 25.
Return of live gigs will be ‘really weird’
“I think that gig has been moved three or four times now,” laughs Chantel.
“I did two socially distanced shows in August, but the last show I did with my band was in February. It’s a very long time ago! But other than that it’s been non-stop really!”
Chantel’s tour will resume once the Covid restrictions have been lifted.
Some of the shows are a little different. Chantel is performing some exclusive solo acoustic shows.
She will be performing new songs, reworking tracks from her previous two albums and playing some rare cover versions.
But she also knows it’s going to be “really weird” going back to gigging.
“If it’s socially-distanced gigs it’s not got that same atmosphere of a sweaty room where all your feet are sticking to the floor and everyone is pressed up against each other,” she says.
“It’s going to be strange with people sat down. I read a thing this morning about no intervals and everyone having to wear masks all the time.
“I was worrying, what if the tickets don’t sell? Will people be wanting to get back out?
“But the first show I’ve got in May is sold out – we’ve had to make it socially distanced because it’s before June – and I think the others are doing pretty well.
“I think people just need to get back to watching live music and getting out a bit more normal!
“I think it’s quite nice I’m easing back in with the solo gigs, because if I went straight back in with the band it might seem a bit loud!”
A female guitar prodigy, at 14 Chantel was told by major labels that she had a “great voice, but girls don’t play guitar like that!”
Wisely ignoring the comments, she enrolled at the Leeds College of Music and became the first student in the college’s history, to achieve a 100% pass mark, with 18 distinctions.
Chantel left with a First Class Honours degree in popular music and a coveted prize, the college’s musician of the year award.
In previous years, Chantel stepped out in the pro-musician world and her live performances demonstrated that she had the ability to perform rock for the new age, played by a musician born with an effortless virtuosity.
Since then, she has built a loyal and growing fan base who follow her every move.
Early in her career, Chantel was invited to perform with Joe Bonamassa, on two of his UK tours.
When Chantel released her 2011 debut album, Like No Other, one critic said, “Chantel McGregor deserves to be held up as a messiah of blues-rock and given her own mountain.
She doesn’t strum or pick her guitar but almost bends and distorts it, as if she’s channelling the ghost of Hendrix through her fingers”.
The album was produced by Livingstone Brown, whose production credits include Ed Sheeran, Robin Trower, and Shakira. The end result was a beautifully crafted debut album that showcased Chantel’s versatility and talent as a singer-songwriter.
Chantel’s follow up album, Like Control, again produced by Livingstone Brown, was released in October 2015 to critical acclaim.
Chantel is writing for her third studio album, and was debuting some of the new tracks on her tour which, pre-covid, was taking place throughout the UK and Europe.
To book tickets for the November 25 gig at Backstage at the Green Kinross, go to