Acquire piano, plug in fancy wiring, now Joshua Burnell is ready for virtual concert

Joshua Burnell: Living room concert tomorrow night. Picture: Elly Lucas

THE future of folk, alias York multi-instrumentalist, singer and composer Joshua Burnell, will be joined by his partner, vocalist Frances Sladen, for a one-off online concert organised by the East Riding Theatre, Beverley, tomorrow night (October 17).

“We’ll be playing acoustic versions of songs old and new,” says Joshua, who released his futuristic new album, Flowers Where The Horses Sleep, on September 4.

What can viewers expect when they head to ERT’s Facebook page for the free 7.30pm concert? “I’m still figuring out exactly how it’ll work!” said Joshua, when first announcing the folk-fused baroque’n’roll virtual gig.

The artwork for Joshua Burnell’s new album, Flowers Where The Horses Sleep

“But we’ll definitely be sharing tales that influenced the songs, as well as reflections on how the lockdown affected our musical process.”

Here Joshua, winner of the Rising Star award in the 2020 Folking Awards, answers Charles Hutchinson’s questions on this weekend’s Live In Your Living Room concert.

How did this living room gig come about?

“We were supposed to be playing a live show at East Riding Theatre as part of the album launch tour, which couldn’t go ahead. Then, Chris [music and comedy programmer Chris Wade] sent me an email out of the blue, asking if we’d like to do an online show in anticipation of a real show next year. Of course, we were delighted and said yes!”

“There’s a handful of new songs we’ve been desperate to share with an audience,” says Joshua

“I’m still figuring out exactly how it’ll work!” you said initially when contemplating playing an online gig. Have you figured it out yet?

“Just about. I’ve invested in some fancy wires that I can plug into my normal wires and then we’ll be on the internet. If that fails, we’ll just have to go round to every audience member’s house, stand in the garden and perform two metres away from their window.” 

Which instruments will feature?

“I’m glad you asked! Especially for this show, I have acquired a piano. A real piano. With actual strings and wood and everything. I figured it’d be a relief having one thing I can’t forget to plug in… and it sounds beautiful too. I’ll have my trusty acoustic guitar to hand too.” 

“For the first time, I’ve had a real affinity with the 17th century minstrels,” says Joshua

How prominent in the set list will be songs from the new album?

“We’ll be opening the set with some favourites from Flowers Where The Horses Sleep. There’s also a handful of new songs we’ve been desperate to share with an audience: lots more stories and characters. Some of them are so new, it’ll be my first time hearing them live as well as the audience’s. I can’t wait!”

What do you most enjoy when performing as a duo rather than with your band?

“The first thought that comes to mind is that there’s less gear to carry. And now the commute consists of along the landing and down our staircase, it really is a dream. 

“Especially for this show, I have acquired a piano,” says Joshua

“On a slightly more sensible front, it’s a completely different show, so that brings different styles and genres and arrangements to the table. When we approach material that we usually play with the band, it’s good fun finding stripped-back arrangements that work for us, as opposed to just playing them without the other instruments.”

Do you have any other shows in the pipeline?

“Nothing else online planned yet, but there’s a whole album-launch tour that’s been waiting to go for a while. It was meant for this autumn but has been postponed to next spring. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens with the ol’ Covid.

“For the first time, I’ve had a real affinity with the 17th century minstrels. Just imagine what it must have been like trying to rearrange a tour in the middle of the bubonic plague!”

When will East Riding Theatre in Beverley re-open? Decision announced

Spring in its next step: East Riding Theatre is planning its safe re-opening

EAST Riding Theatre, in Beverley, is to re-open…but not until next spring with safety measures in place.

“We are delighted at the Government’s announcement that theatres can now begin indoor performances [from August 15] with socially distanced audiences,” the theatre’s statement reads.

“The priority in East Riding Theatre’s decision to re-open next spring is the safety of our audiences, artists and the volunteers, without which we would not be able to operate. 

“Our goal in moving forward is that when we do open our doors, we can say with the utmost confidence that all ERT visitors will be safe, comfortable and able to fully enjoy the entertainment on offer.”

East Riding Theatre is addressing all the safety issues involved in re-opening without ignoring how the theatre must be financially sustainable while operating with a reduced socially distanced audience.

“As an independent theatre with limited resources, ERT must mitigate financial risks as much as possible and we remain cautious about re-opening too soon while the health situation remains unpredictable,” the statement continues. 

“Please bear with us. Of course, we would love to open as soon as possible but we will only do so once we are confident of your safety.

“In the meantime, please keep an eye out for our wonderful ERT creative community as they continue to provide a colourful and entertaining online programme with plenty of new delights planned for the autumn. Your continued support is much appreciated.”

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