Leo lives in Antwerp, Belgium. As well as performing alongside the best of solo fingerpicking guitarists, he has taught a lot over the years. He has made some of the best arrangements of ragtime music in the world.
Leo Wijncamp was part of the 1970’s Kicking Mule Label which has been instrumental in promoting and preserving the best in blues, ragtime and contemporary picking. He featured alongside artists such as Dave Evans, Ton Van Bergeyk, Happy Traum, Duck Baker, Bert Jansch, John Renbourn, Davy Graham and of course Stefan Grossman one of the co founders of Kicking Mule Records. He toured along Grossman, Marcel Dadi and Dale Miller.
Leo, born 1951 in Amsterdam, Holland, started playing the guitar at the age of 10, taking lessons for half a year, got bored with it and put the instrument in a closet. But when the Beatles, Kinks, Byrds etc started the pop music it was quickly taken out of that same closet. In the late 60’s musical taste twisted towards the Cream, Jimi Hendrix and the white blues and he picked up the electric guitar. Passing to the black Chicagoblues he discovered one day the acoustic blues: Robert Johnson was a strike of lightning: that was it ! And the next years were spent with learning by ear from the records the old blues from the 20’s and 30’s. He started to fingerpick. An instrumental guitar record by Stefan Grosmann had a strong influence on Leo; the discovery of Ragtime music. Originally composed for piano it could perfectly be adapted on the guitar, using the fingerpicking style, learned from the old bluesmen. So the early 70’s were filled with making arrangements from piano rags to the guitar. In the same period he started preforming in Holland; cafe’s, youth centers in the –those days existant- “folkcircuit”.
In 1974 or so, Stefan Grosmann made him an offer he couldn’t refuse; to record some of the guitar rags on a just started American label “Kicking Mule Records”. The first rags appeared on a sampler record “Contemporary Ragtime Guitar” with other guitarists from USA.
From 1974-1978 he followed a classical guitar education at the Conservatory in Utrecht (mind : till so far Leo was an autodidact !), but quit with dignity before getting kicked out. The release of his first solo lp “Rags to Riches” came out in 1975, and started a period of touring in Belgium, France, England and Italy, often together with other guitarists of the KM label: Stefan Grosmann, Bert Jansch, John Renbourn, Davy Graham, Marcel Dadi, Duck Baker, John James and others. Slowly other influences slipped in; the classical piano music of Debussy and Ravel (the so called musical “Impressionism”), he started to transcribe their- as well as others – music on the guitar, without the aim of being a “classical” guitarist, using steel strings instead of nylon, and using his Gibson guitar. He also started to write pieces himself. Another few tunes appeared on 2 sampler records, before the 2nd solo album came out in 1980: “the Return of Dr Hackenbush”.
Leo moved to Antwerp, Belgium, in 1988, as the musical leader of a theatergroup, the “Internationale Nieuwe Scene” (now defunct) 4 years of lenght and did a lot of teaching at various music schools.
These days he is playing solo again as well as duets with an oldtime mate Cees van der Poel, who played in the legendary duo “Wolverlei” preforming old Dutch folkmusic in new arrangements.
Now the lads joined together after a 40 years lapse in the duo “Ragtime Guitar Parlour” Their repertoire goes from old blues (Blind Blake and others), to Ragtime to Jazz standards and even O’Carolan’s Celtic harppieces to end up with the strange music of a Czech composer from the 1920’s. Instrumental and vocal, solo and duets.
As a duo they released an EP-cd, last year, and Leo is preparing a solo cd with some live recordings and others, hopefully ready for september!