So. September is here. We’ve neglected the blog a bit of late, and before the nights get really cold we wanted a few paragraphs to take stock.
We’re going back a little while now, but we can’t leave this one unmentioned. Back in June, we were very pleased to get an email back from Aidan O’ Rourke saying how much Lau liked our stuff, offering us a spot at the upcoming Lau-Land event at the Sage in Gateshead. Lau are a founding inspiration for us, so it was pretty surreal making the trip up north where they were curating their own weekend event. We were also lucky to be joined by long-term band friend Tom Spencer on cello, his third outing with us. After performing on the Emerging Artists Stage, we participated in a folk singing workshop with Eliza Carthy, as well as a session with concertina virtuoso Simon Thoumire looking at improvisation in folk music. We saw Irish fiddler John Carty in action, as well as a masterful duo set from Andy Cutting and Chris Wood. Kris and Martin were busy looking after and introducing other artists around the venue, but it was great to meet Aidan O’Rourke who was really positive about our sound.
Moving into summer, we’ve been very lucky to play 3 very different festivals this year. At the start of August we journeyed to Cherry Hinton Hall for the 50th anniversary of Cambridge Folk Festival. I think our festival highlights were singer-songwriting legends Richard Thompson and Loudon Wainwright III, Quebec’s Yves Lambert Trio, The Moulettes and the Peatbog Fairies on Saturday night. We played to an extremely attentive and appreciative Saturday night audience in The Den, curated by the Nest Collective.
Next up we trekked up to Northamptonshire for Shambala. None of us had ever been, but we had an amazing 24 hours there before having to pull ourselves away. Another Nest Collective selection of bands brought us into the Sankofa tipi tent, where we played alongside Will Varley, This Is The Kit, Simo Lagnawi, The Magic Lantern and Thomas McCarthy to name a few. Sam Lee was master of ceremonies, introducing everyone with his inimitable charm and panache.
Last weekend was the 4th Smugglers Festival, the highpoint of the year for many local (and not so local) bands and festival goers. Located just outside Deal in East Kent, the Smugglers crew have pulled it off again. We were a bit spoilt this year with 3 separate performances to get together; our own midnight woodland slot, but also a collaboration with Cocos Lovers on the main stage and a re-run of our performance with the Leon String Quartet back in May. It was definitely one of the most fulfilling weekends we’ve had as a band. Playing with Cocos Lovers was so exhilarating. Drawing on floor-filling songs from all their albums, including the one they haven’t released yet, the atmosphere was ecstatic. Our set in the woods was one of our best, powered by the adrenaline we got from playing with Cocos. And then the perfect antidote to the delirium of Saturday night, Sunday lunchtime we played some contemporary classical music with the Leon String Quartet featuring works by Prokofiev, Matthew Brown and our own Aidan Shepherd. In all honesty, we were somewhat skeptical about this performance. We were worried that a hung-over Sunday festival crowd wouldn’t be that up for chamber music. We were wrong. The amphitheater quickly filled up with curious onlookers who chose to stick around and take it all in. It was great to have another shot at Matt’s ‘Concord of Sounds’, its second outing after Sounds New Festival back in May. There is no better way to end the summer than at a Smugglers Festival. Long may they continue.
So what now then?
We’re heading into the studio shortly to begin work on our second record, this time with Matt Tweed engineering. This is a very exciting opportunity for us. Matt specialises in ‘mobile recording’, basically engineering band recordings wherever they want their sound to be captured. Cocos Lovers spent a few weeks over the summer down in Cornwall recording their 4th record with Matt, which is already sounding pretty special. We recently discovered a great recording location in what used to be an old trophy workshop in Maidstone which is now an arts venue.
We’ll be focusing on that in the coming weeks, and later in November and December we have a sweet selection of gigs in some great venues to mark the release of the Arlet Quartet EP. The official launch date is December 9th at the Forge in Camden; an award-winning London venue with some extremely progressive programming across many genres. We are currently finalising the details on this. More to follow very shortly!
In the meantime, we hope you’ve had a great summer, and thanks to everyone who has supported us over the last few months.
Thom, Rosie, Aidan, Ben, Owen & Lucy