Adam Summerhayes

Adam Summerhayes & David Gordon

Alternative worldfolk fusion
How it started. Click to read...

I first remember suggesting this to Dave on a tiny plane leaving Kodiak Island, Alaska, between fog banks - on a morning when only our plane got to the island. Jets couldn’t land (or get through the fog? I forget), but because this plane was old, slow, and had propellors, it was successful.
Anyway, after a short silence, DG gave the requisite “Let’s do it” - and the long process began.

We have collaborated for some years on various projects - and I can’t imagine respecting any musician more highly. That said, his towering moment of genius was loitering with his heavily loaded trolley under the “NO MEAT - NO FISH” sign halfway through Gatwick customs. His large polystyrene box frozen Alaskan halibut was conspicuously positioned on top and clearly labeled with the word FISH all over it in large red letters.

“The Lightning Thieves” arose fully fledged in my mind; getting our ducks in a row took a little longer.

The Lightning Thieves is an unlikely, but inspired, musical union that unites the ancient with the ultra-modern in an alternative worldfolk fusion that can only be delivered by its two perpetrators, virtuoso violinist Adam Summerhayes and baroque superstar harpsichordist David Gordon.

The Lightning Thieves, brainchild of Adam Summerhayes, is a unique pairing of electric fiddle and supercharged harpsichord - the equivalent of putting a rocket engine in a Morris Minor!

The ultra-modern vibrancy of the electric fiddle sparks off the ancient, funky sound of the harpsichord, making a union across the ages. Sounds that have cast a spell for centuries morph and explode with creative energy, creating a crackling cosmos of sound.

As the Hendrix of the harpsichord and magician of the electric fiddle, David and Adam create a world of celtic inspirations, romanian influences, supercharged grooves, beautiful melodies, bulgarian blues and medieval pop tunes; a programme where creativity is bounded only by the limits of the imagination.

The Lightning Thieves weave a sonorous web of sound – from the transcendentally subtle to the thrillingly vibrant. New in concept, but instantly accessible, this unusual experience is an energy-filled toe-tapping musical timewarp!

Promoter and audience plaudits
“Adam Summerhayes and David Gordon are well-known for their extraordinary talent and diversity, but, in their latest incarnation as The Lightning Thieves, they surprised and delighted a packed audience at the Swaledale Festival. Their specially composed music - brilliantly played on electric violin and harpsichord, plugged into a myriad of electronic devices - was refreshing and exhilarating. Grooves and melodies containing influences from around the world were spiced with bursts of spontaneous improvisation, resulting in an unfamiliar but wholly accessible feast of sound”.Malcolm Creese - Director, Swaledale Festival

"Stunning and exciting performance", "technically dazzling", "very good that we took the chance on them for the opening concert, and the choice was fully justifued", "superb musicians - I knew they could be guaranteed to give a good entertaining evening even though i did not know what sort of music to expect!", 'i was on the edge of my seat with a smile on my face for almost the whole performance", "It was amazing. first two were so brilliant! I then thought it might all be a bit samey, but how wrong i was!", "Brilliant", "AMAZING!"
Wymondham Festival Committee

"Brilliant!!", "Eye-opening/mind-opening, very enjoyable, fun and uplifting", "immense talent. Unfamiliar sound, but engrossing", "I'd never heard an electric violin before and the music and showmanship of the two Lightning Thieves was fantastic - really excellent", "... remarkable intuitive skill ... one could only admire the sparkling keyboard skills of David Gordon and the dexterity of Adam Summerhayes in coaxing an astonishing range of musical sound from his violin. Both David and Adam are clearly performers of the highest order and it was a pleasure to hear and see them display their skills together in this performance", "a stunning evening's entertainment - how many hands does David Gordon have?"
Audience comments from Carlisle and Wymondham Festivals

Who is David Gordon? Click for some career facts.

David Gordon studied mathematics and logic before embarking on a career as jazz pianist, harpsichordist and composer.

As jazz pianist, he tours and records with his own international jazz trio, including festival appearances in the UK and Denmark, BBC on Radio 3 and a debut at London’s King’s Place in December 2011. In addition he regularly collaborates with violinist Christian Garrick and singer Jacqui Dankworth, and with spoken word in the jazz/poetry collective
Riprap. He is also joint musical director of, and an explosive pianistic force in, the gypsy tango band Zum, which has toured Croatia, Finland, France, and the United States. Future plans include a concert with his trio with the London Chamber Orchestra in Spring 2013, and a host of forthcoming CD releases with his various groups.

As harpsichordist, he plays with many of the leading baroque orchestras, including appearances at the BBC Proms, the Musikverein in Vienna, and Carnegie Hall, New York. He has also performed with violinists Andrew Manze and Nigel Kennedy, and leads the early music/jazz group
Respectable Groove, whose most recent project, their ground-breaking version of Purcell’s Dido & Aeneas has been critically acclaimed both in the jazz and early music press. His solo harpsichord recitals usually include a large element of improvisation including, on occasion, fugue on an unseen theme. He was invited as soloist to the Risør Chamber Festival, Norway, in June 2012, in which he performed with counter-tenor David Hansen, the Brodsky Quartet, and clarinettist Martin Frøst amongst others, in addition to directing the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra in a Handel keyboard concerto.

As composer, his jazz style interweaves with his knowledge of the baroque and vast understanding of innumerable diverse musical influences, and his works appear on around 20 CDs, with regular commissions to write for various groups, the award-winning community opera
Semmerwater, written and premiered in 2009, and winner of an AMI award, being the result of one of these. A firm advocate of the power of improvisation, he believes that improvising – in groups or alone – allows us access to parts of the human spirit other forms of music-making cannot reach.

Check out some Lightning Thieves tracks on the video page