Exit York, Rachel Croft heads into a Hurricane as she settles into London life

Rachel Croft: Storming ahead as she answers to “the force-of-nature pull felt by dream chasers everywhere”

LEAVING York behind her, singer-songwriter Rachel Croft is kicking up a Hurricane with her stormy new single, released today.

Combining an ominous fusion of indie-rock attitude and bluesy Americana energy, the track pairs dark, rootsy swagger with thunder-and-lightning vocals, painting a picture of an artist who will not be tamed.

“It’s a risk-taking anthem about straying from the beaten path, highlighting the force-of-nature pull felt by dream chasers everywhere, embracing who you are at any cost,” says Rachel, who moved to London in early 2022.

She has spent a year honing her sound, venturing deeper into the Americana genre heralded by her 2021 EP, Reap What You Sow, for her most energised song to date, written just before her relocation to pursue her musical path in new waters.

“York has been my home and safe space for so long, and I’ve loved living there,” says Rachel, who first moved to the city to study at the University of York. “Throwing myself into a new place has been at the same time intimidating and liberating.”

Here, Rachel discusses her London move, her new single and the path ahead with CharlesHutchPress.

What made you take the leap from York to London? Had lockdown given you the chance to reflect on the need to move on to new ground for fresh stimulation and new experiences?

“An opportunity came up for a chance to live in the capital, which I never thought was going to be possible for me as a full-time indie artist. I had to take it or I wouldn’t have forgiven myself.

“It was terrifying but so exciting at the same time. Certainly lockdown gave me itchy feet, the stagnation, and lack of evolution – it felt at the time – caused so many people to be bold in their lives, and I was the same!”

How has life choice become a powerful motivator for your song writing?

“Thinking about my journey and choice in life to be a creative person and independent artist has been something I dwell on a lot, whether it’s the right path. But I am so glad I chose to take the chance.

“The move has really supercharged me, giving me a new energy to grow and explore my creativity. Hurricane is for anyone who ever dared to stray from the beaten path, and the torn feelings about that, which come with you many steps of the way. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.”

“Where’s the folk?”, as you said at the outset of your Forty Five Vinyl Cafe gig last year! Hurricane represents the strongest shift yet, embracing indie rock as much as a natural progression to bluesy Americana. Discuss…

“Folk was my starting point into music; I grew up around it but I’ve always been inspired by heavier music, lots of different genres in fact. I found folk and singer/songwriter styles only showed a small part of who I am, and lockdown gave me the go-ahead to say, ‘you know, stuff it, I’m going to try and make the music that I love but never thought I could’. This has always been me. I’d just not shown it during my folk era!”

You have embraced jazz, folk, blues, now Americana…

“I allow my songs to speak to me, and follow my intuition. This release shouts Americana all over, but the song I’m working on next steps in a slightly different direction. It’s so empowering to truly explore the sounds I’m inspired by and find what feels totally right for me and true to each song deep down, without compromise. I can’t wait to delve even deeper.

“What remains a strong trait is the cinematic feel of my compositions. I’ve always loved soundtracks and songs which instil clear imagery in the mind of listener. I want to transport people, and really make them feel something when listening to my music.”

The artwork for Rachel Croft’s new single, Hurricane

Do you consider yourself to be a force-of-nature dream chaser?  Does that strengthen through the years, despite the harsh reality of your song We Are’s expressions of being “so tired”?

“Ha-ha, that was someone else’s quote! I would say, though, that I’ve been relentless in pursuing my career (and dream) of being a full-time musician. I haven’t had another job since deciding on this path a good few years ago, and I’m proud of that achievement when I think on it.

“it’s been extremely tough to withstand the pressures it comes with for so long, especially independently. I would say now I feel pressure to keep growing, I don’t want to plateau – so I suppose the desire to keep going is stronger now to deflect the doubts that come and go on my journey.” 

How have you settled into performing on the London scene?

“I’ve really loved it, and I was amazed at how welcoming people are here, so open and full of new possibilities that have really helped my drive to continue what I’m doing.

“I’ve played so far at St Pancras Old Church, The Green Note, Pizza Express Live Holborn, and I’m headlining at the legendary Troubadour on Saturday, August 6. So, a bit of a flying start really. I hope I can keep it going!”

Is there anything you miss about York?! Playing with Karl Mullen on Phoenix jazz nights, for example? 

“Yes, of course, it was my home for so long and I do consider it the place that made me into a musician. I’ll miss Karl – he’s practically family – and the musicians and creatives and just the general amazing community I was so lucky to have there.

“It was time to try something new, though, as easy and lovely as living in York for the rest of my life would have been! Plus, I’m always back around so no-one has chance to miss me, ha-ha!”

When are you next playing up here?

“I’m arranging a show in September in central York. I’ll add everything onto my socials and live tab of my website though when I can announce more details.” 

What will be the other tracks accompanying Hurricane on your upcoming EP?

“That’s a bit of a secret, but so far Hurricane and the next single, set for autumn, will be on there.” 

Any plans for a new album? 

“Anything’s possible…”

Any tips on whose music we should be discovering?

I have a recommendation! One of my favourite bands and a big inspiration for me when switching genres was Kaleo. Totally underrated. They are as good live too; I saw them in Manchester just recently. Check them out, so good.”

Hurricane is available everywhere for sale and streaming. Smart link for streaming from today: https://ffm.to/rachelcroft-hurricane

More Things To Do in and around York, as Levelling up, peas and wickedness this way come. List No. 54, courtesy of The Press

Ben Moor and Joanna Neary: Mini-season of stand-up theatre and comedy at Theatre@41

MOOR, Moor, Moor and much more, more, more besides are on Charles Hutchinson’s list for the week ahead.

Surrealist stand-up theatre of the week, Ben Moor and Joanna Neary mini-season, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, today until Saturday

BEN Moor and Joanna Neary combine to deliver five offbeat comedy shows in three days in their Theatre@41 debut.

Moor contemplates performance, friendship and regret in his lecture about lectures, Pronoun Trouble, tonight at 8pm. Tomorrow, at 7.30pm, Neary’s multi-character sketch show with songs and impersonations, Wife On Earth, is followed by Moor’s Who Here’s Lost?, his dream-like tale of a road trip of the soul taken by two outsiders.

Saturday opens at 3pm with Joanna’s debut children’s puppet show, Stinky McFish And The World’s Worst Wish, and concludes at 7pm with the two-hander BookTalkBookTalkBook, a “silly author event parody show”. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.

Gunpowder Guy in Horrible Histories’ Barmy Britain. Picture: Frazer Ashford

Alternative history lesson of the week: Horrible Histories’ Barmy Britain, Grand Opera House, York, today at 1.30pm, 7pm; tomorrow, 10.30am and 7pm; Saturday, 3pm, 7pm; Sunday, 11am, 3pm

WHAT if a Viking moved in next door? Would you lose your heart or head to horrible Henry VIII? Can evil Elizabeth entertain England? Will Parliament survive Gunpowder Guy? Dare you stand and deliver to dastardly Dick Turpin?

Questions, questions, so many questions to answer, and here to answer them are the Horrible Histories team in Barmy Britain, a humorously horrible and eye-popping show trip to the past with Bogglevision 3D effects. Box office: atgtickets.com/york

Hannah Victoria in Tutti Frutti’s The Princess And The Pea at York Theatre Royal Studio

Reopening of the week: York Theatre Royal Studio for Tutti Frutti’s The Princess And The Pea, today to Tuesday; no show on Sunday

YORK Theatre Royal Studio reopens today with a capacity reduced from 100 to 71 and no longer any seating to the sides.

First up, Leeds children’s theatre company Tutti Frutti revive York playwright Mike Kenny’s adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s story, set in a place where what you see is not what it seems: the Museum of Forgotten Things.

Three musical curators delve into the mystery of how a little green pea ended up there in an hour of humour, songs and a romp through every type of princess you could imagine. Box office and show times: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Artist Anita Bowerman and Yorkshire Shepherdess Amanda Owen at Dove Tree Art Gallery and Studio

Open Studios of the week: Anita Bowerman, Dove Tree Art Gallery and Studio, Back Granville Road, Harrogate, Saturday and Sunday, 10am to 5pm

HARROGATE paper-cut, watercolour and stainless steel artist Anita Bowerman opens her doors for refreshments and a browse around her new paintings of Yorkshire and Yorkshire Shepherdess Amanda Owen, prints and mugs. 

“It’s a perfect chance for inspiration before the Christmas present-buying rush starts,” says Anita, who has been busy illustrating a new charity Christmas card for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance featuring the Yorkshire Shepherdess.

Rachel Croft: York singer-songwriter performing at Drawsome! day of activities at Spark:York as part of York Design Week on Saturday

York Design Week gig of the week: Drawsome!, Mollie Coddled Talk More Pavilion, Spark:York, Saturday, from 3pm

AS part of Drawsome’s day of workshops and an Indy Makers Market to complement MarkoLooks’ print swap exhibition of illustrators and printmakers, York’s Young Thugs Records are curating a free line-up of live music.

Taking part will be The Hazy Janes, Kell Chambers and Rachel Croft, singer, songwriter and illustrator to boot.

Breabach: First touring band to play Selby Town Hall in “far too long”. Picture: Paul Jennings

Welcome back of the week: Breabach, Selby Town Hall, Saturday, 8pm

GLASGOW folk luminaries Breabach will be the first touring band to play Selby Town Hall for almost 20 months this weekend.

“Leading lights of the Scottish roots music scene and five-time Scots Trad Music Award winners, they’re a really phenomenally talented band,” says Chris Jones, Selby Town Council’s arts officer. “It’s an absolute thrill to have professional music back in the venue. It’s been far too long!” Box office: 01757 708449, at selbytownhall.co.uk or on the door from 7.30pm.

Levelling up in York: Jazz funksters Level 42 in the groove at York Barbican on Sunday night

Eighties’ celebration of the week: Level 42, York Barbican, Sunday, doors 7pm

ISLE of Wight jazz funksters Level 42 revive those rubbery bass favourites Lessons In Love, The Sun Goes Down (Living It Up), Something About You, Running In The Family et al at York Barbican.

Here are the facts: Mark King’s band released 14 studio, seven live and six compilation albums, sold out Wembley Arena for 21 nights and chalked up 30 million album sales worldwide. 

This From Eternity To Here tour gig has been rearranged from October 2020; original tickets remain valid. Box office for “limited availability”: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Writes of passage: Musician and now author Richard Thompson

Guitarist of the week:  Richard Thompson, York Barbican, Monday, doors 7pm

RICHARD Thompson plays York Barbican on the back of releasing Beeswing, his April autobiography subtitled Losing My Way And Finding My Voice 1967-1975.

An intimate memoir of musical exploration, personal history and social revelation, it charts his co-founding of folk-rock pioneers Fairport Convention, survival of a car crash, formation of a duo with wife Linda and discovery of Sufism.

Move on from the back pages, here comes Richard Thompson OBE, aged 72, songwriter, singer and one of Rolling Stone magazine’s Top 20 Guitarists of All Time. Katherine Priddy supports. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

That clinches it: Emma Scott’s Macbeth leaps into the arms of Nell Frampton’s The Lady in rehearsals for York Shakespeare Project’s Macbeth. Picture: John Saunders

Something wicked this way comes…at last: York Shakespeare Project in Macbeth, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, October 26 to 30, 7.30pm and 2.30pm Saturday matinee

THE curse of Macbeth combined with Lockdown 1’s imposition to put a stop to York Shakespeare Project’s Scottish Play one week before its March 2020 opening.

Rising like the ghost of Banquo, but sure to be better received, Leo Doulton’s resurrected production will run as the 37th play in the York charity’s mission to perform all Shakespeare’s known plays over 20 years.

Doulton casts Emma Scott’s Macbeth into a dystopian future, using a cyberpunk staging to bring to life this dark tale of ambition, murder and supernatural forces. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.

Ballet Black dancers Marie Astrid Mence, left, Isabela Coracy, Cira Robinson, Sayaka Ichikawa, Jose Alves, Ebony Thomas and Alexander Fadyiro in Mthuthuzeli’s The Waiting Game

Dance show of the week: Cassa Pancho’s Ballet Black, York Theatre Royal, Tuesday, 7.30pm

ARTISTIC director Cassa Pancho’s Ballet Black return to York with a double bill full of lyrical contrasts and beautiful movement.

Will Tuckett blends classical ballet, poetry and music to explore ideas of home and belonging in Then Or Now; fellow Olivier Award-winning choreographer Mthuthuzeli November contemplates the purpose of life in The Waiting Game. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

From Limpsey Gate Lane, August, by Sue Slack

Exhibition of the week: Fylingdales Group of Artists, Blossom Street Gallery, Blossom Street, York, until November 30

TWELVE Fylingdales Group members are contributing 31 works to this exhibition of Yorkshire works, mainly of paintings in oils, acrylics, gouache and limonite.

Two pieces by Paul Blackwell are in pastel; Angie McCall has incorporated collage in her mixed-media work and printmaker Michael Atkin features too.

Also participating are David Allen, fellow Royal Society of Marine Artist member and past president David Howell, Kane Cunningham, John Freeman, Linda Lupton, Don Micklethwaite, Bruce Mulcahy, Sue Slack and Ann Thornhill.

More Things To Do in and around York when not banished to ‘see you later, self-isolator’. List No. 41, courtesy of The Press, York

Rick Astley: Soul favourite’s post-racing show is a definite runner at York Racecourse tomorrow evening

IT ain’t worth a thing if it got that confounded ping, but let’s hope this NHS Covid app hazard does not apply to any of Charles Hutchinson’s suggestions as Step 4 starts to kick in.

Outdoor concerts of the week in York: York Racecourse Music Showcase Weekend, Rick Astley, Friday evening; McFly, Saturday late-afternoon

YORK Racecourse was never gonna give up on Rick Astley performing on a race day, even if the original show had to fall by the wayside last summer. Sure enough, the Newton-le-Willows soul crooner, 55, has been re-booked for tomorrow for a post-racing live set.

McFly: Promising Young Dumb Thrills at York Racecourse on Saturday

After Saturday afternoon’s race card, the re-formed McFly will combine such favourites as All About You, Obviously and 5 Colours In Her Hair with songs from their 2020 return, Young Dumb Thrills, such as Happiness, Tonight Is The Night and You’re Not Special. The County Stand has reached capacity for Saturday already.

Friday’s racing starts at 6pm; Saturday, at 2.05pm. For tickets, go to: yorkracecourse.co.uk.

Rachel Podger: The violinist plays, after self-isolation, for online viewing from the York Early Music Festival. Picture: Theresa Pewal

Online concert home entertainment of the week: Rachel Podger, The Violinist Speaks, York Early Music Festival

WHEN Baroque violinist Rachel Podger fell victim to the dreaded “pingdemic”, she had to forego her July 13 concert performance, condemned to self-isolate instead.

In stepped Florilegium violinist Bojan Cicic to play the very same Bach, Tartini and Biber repertoire at St Lawrence Church, Hull Road, at only three hours’ notice.

Rachel, however, subsequently recorded The Violinist Speaks without an audience at the NCEM for a digital livestream premiere at 7.30pm last Saturday. This online concert is now available on demand until August 13; on sale until August 9 at:  ncem.co.uk/events/rachel-podger-online/ncem.co.uk

Twinnie: Twinning with Velma Celli for tomorrow’s double bill at Impossible York

York’s queen of vocal drag meets York’s country queen: The Velma Celli Show with special guest Twinnie, Impossible York, St Helen’s Square, York, tomorrow, 7pm, doors; show, 8pm

YORK’S international drag diva deluxe, Velma Celli, will be joined by country singer Twinnie at The Velma Celli Show at Impossible York on her return home from recording sessions for her second album in Nashville.

“My mate and fellow Yorky the awesome Twinny is my v. special guest tomorrow night at Impossible – York,” says Velma, the cabaret creation of Ian Stroughair, on Instagram. Like Ian, Twinnie has starred in West End musicals, most notably in Chicago, under her stage name Twinnie-Lee Moore.

Tickets cost £15, £20 for VIP stage seating, at ticketweb.uk.

Michael Lambourne: Fenland storyteller at Theatre At The Mill, Stillington, this weekend

Storytellers of the week: Michael Lambourne and Shona Cowie, Theatre At The Mill, Stillington, near York, Saturday and Sunday

NOT that long ago a familiar bearded face and booming voice on the York stage before heading south, Michael Lambourne will return north on Saturday to present the 7.30pm premiere of Black Shuck, a “responsive storytelling experience” based on the legend of the Demon Dog of East Anglia.

Penned and performed by Lambourne, Black Shuck is the tale of a hound of unnatural size, an omen of misfortune to those who see its eyes, wherein he explores the enduring effect it has on Fenland folklore in a personal account of how a rural myth can become a chilling part of the present day.

Scottish storyteller and physical performer Shona Cowie will open the evening with her Celtic tale of the dreamer and visionary Bruadarach and then present Beware The Beasts, a show for families (age five upwards), at 2pm on Sunday. 

Shona will provide case studies from leading monster evaders and offer instruction on the most effective ways to avoid being squashed, eaten or turned into a nugget. Box office: tickettailor.com/events/atthemill/. 

Ralph Fiennes in TS Eliot’s Four Quartets, on tour at York Theatre Royal next week

First full-capacity shows at York Theatre Royal since mid-March 2020: Ralph Fiennes in T S Eliot’s Four Quartets, July 26 to 31

YORK Theatre Royal will return to full-capacity audiences with effect from Monday’s performance of T S Eliot’s Four Quarters, performed and directed by Ralph Fiennes.

Good news for those who had missed out on tickets for the most in-demand production of the reopening Love Season when it was first put on sale with social distancing in place. This week’s unlocking of Step 4 frees up the sudden availability of seats aplenty.

Please note, however, the wearing of face coverings will be strongly encouraged; some safety measures will continue too, but not temperature checks on the door.

Wall art: The poster for Miles And The Chain Gang’s first gig in York in 18 months. Picture: Jim Poyner

Back on the Chain Gang: Miles And The Chain Gang, supported by King Courgette, The Fulford Arms, York, July 29, 8pm

AFTER an 18-month hiatus. York band Miles And The Chain Gang will return to the concert platform next week, tooled up with new material.

In the line-up are singer, songwriter, storyteller, published poet and radio presenter Miles Salter, on guitar and vocals, Billy Hickling, drums and percussion, Tim Bruce, bass, and Alan Dawson, lead guitar, augmented for this gig by Fay Donaldson’s flute and saxophone.

The Gang have been working on a debut album, recording with producer Jonny Hooker at Young Thugs Studios in York. Tickets cost £7 at thefulfordarms.co.uk or £8 on the door. 

Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company’s poster for next week’s brace of Gilbert and Sullivan shows

Fundraiser of the week ahead: Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company Does Gilbert And Sullivan, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, HMS Pinafore, July 29, 7.30pm, and July 31, 2.30pm; The Mikado, July 30 and 31, 7.30pm

THE Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company, the JoRo’s in-house performing troupe, are producing concert versions of Gilbert and Sullivan’s biggest light opera hits, HMS Pinafore and The Mikado, next week.

The shows will be brimful of popular tunes and brilliant characters, with all profits from this topsy-turvy musical madness going straight back to the Haxby Road community theatre.

Rachel Croft: Cafe concert at Forty Five, with Reap What You Sow EP to follow in September

Music Café society gig of the week ahead: Rachel Croft, Forty Five Vinyl Café, Micklegate, York, July 31, 7.30m

NEXT Saturday at Forty Five, York singer-songwriter Rachel Croft will showcase tomorrow’s release of Reap What You Sow, a cinematic, moody taster for her four-track EP of the same name on September 9.

Exploring a more potent, bluesy style throughout, further tracks will be second single Time Waits For No Man, Roots and Chasing Time.  

Rachel will be supported by Kell Chambers and Evie Barrand. Tickets cost £10 via fortyfiveuk.com/whatson.

The Trials Of Cato: Tomos Williams and Rob Jones with new trio member Polly Bolton, playing Primrose Wood Acoustics in early August

Going down in the woods next month: The Trials Of Cato, Primrose Wood Acoustics, Pocklington, August 5, 7pm

BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winners The Trials Of Cato will headline the third Primrose Wood Acoustics session in Pocklington on August 5.

Organised by Pocklington Arts Centre, the outdoor concert series will complete its summer hattrick by popular demand after sold-out sylvan shows on July 1 and 8.

Leamington Spa singer-songwriter Polly Bolton joins co-founders Tomos Williams and Rob Jones for the showcase of imminent second album Gog Magog. Tickets cost £14 on 01759 301547 or at pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.

Cato! Watch out for The Trials Of Cato at Primrose Wood Acoustics on August 5

The Trials Of Cato’s Tomos Williams and Robin Jones with new addition Polly Bolton

BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winners The Trials Of Cato will headline the third Primrose Wood Acoustics session in Pocklington on August 5.

Organised by Pocklington Arts Centre (PAC), the outdoor concert series will complete its summer hattrick by popular demand after sold-out sylvan shows on July 1 and 8.

Scunthorpe-born virtuoso guitarist, singer and songwriter Martin Simpson and East Yorkshire singer-songwriter Katie Spencer played the first night; Leeds indie-folk/Americana band The Dunwells and York singer-songwriter Rachel Croft, the second.

The third 7pm event will once again “fuse nature’s soundtrack, background birdsong and transcendent live music under a natural canopy of trees to create a truly enchanting open-air experience for audiences”.

PAC director Janet Farmer says: “Primrose Wood Acoustics is a new concept for Pocklington Arts Centre, with this being the first time we have taken live music not only outdoors but also into a woodland setting.

The Dunwells performing at the second Primrose Wood Acoustics in Pocklington on July 8

“Our first two events have proved so popular, selling out on both occasions and attracting such positive, uplifting feedback, that we just had to do another one.

“This time we have The Trials Of Cato headlining, which is a perfect fit for such a charming woodland setting. When nature and live music collide something really wonderful happens and we know this is going to be no exception.”

Hailed by Mark Radcliffe, The Folk Show host on BBC Radio 2, as “one of the real discoveries on the folk circuit in recent times”, The Trials Of Cato won Best Album at the 2019 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards for their debut, Hide And Hair.

Formed in Beirut, when Tomos Williams, Will Addison and Robin Jones were working in Lebanon as English teachers, the trio had returned to Britain in 2016, Here, they set about performing tirelessly up and down the country with their stomping tunes and captivating stories that paid homage to the tradition while twisting old bones into something more febrile and modern.

Bolton wanderer: Polly Bolton, solo singer-songwriter, member of The Magpies and now part of the folk trio The Trials Of Cato

Hide And Hair’s release in November 2018 was greeted with airplay on BBC 6 Music and Radio 2 and thumbs-up coverage in national publications, while mastering engineer John Davis, who worked with Jimmy Page on the Led Zeppelin remasters, memorably dubbed them “The Sex Pistols of folk”.

After a year of wall-to-wall touring across the UK, Europe and North America, however, the band’s march was halted by the stultifying silence of the global pandemic, but now they are emerging anew from their transformative chrysalis.

“The Trials continue,” they say, but this time, after Addison’s departure, Williams and Jones are joined by Leamington Spa multi-instrumentalist and singer Polly Bolton, from The Magpies, for their hotly anticipated second album.

Set for release later this year (precise date yet to be confirmed), Gog Magog is named both after the mythical giant of Arthurian legend and the Cambridgeshire hilltop, where the new album was birthed over lockdown.

The support act for August 5 will be announced shortly. Tickets cost £14 on 01759 301547 or at pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.

Pocklington Arts Centre to add third Primrose Wood Acoustics gig in August

Roll out the bunting: The Dunwells in acoustic mode in Primrose Wood, Pocklington, on July 8

PRIMROSE Wood Acoustics will return to the Pocklington woodland for a third double bill – yet to be confirmed – on August 5.

This step three announcement follows the long-awaited return of live music for organisers Pocklington Arts Centre (PAC) after staging sold-out outdoor concerts in Primrose Wood on July 1 and 8.

Scunthorpe-born virtuoso guitarist, singer and songwriter Martin Simpson and East Yorkshire singer-songwriter Katie Spencer played the first night; Leeds indie-folk/Americana band The Dunwells and York singer-songwriter Rachel Croft, the second.

Martin Simpson: Headlined first Primrose Wood Acoustics double bill in Pocklington on July 1

Each was performed to a socially distanced audience of 85 at twilight. “Accompanied by bird song and set under a natural canopy of trees, there was a collective sense of being a part of something special, almost 18 months after PAC last staged a live music event,” said PAC director Janet Farmer.

Artists and audience alike concurred. Joe and Dave Dunwell said: “After 15 months of playing to a computer screen and doing live streams, to be actually playing live in a woodland was just incredible and the audience were just amazing. We loved it!”

Rachel Croft enthused: “For the first time, I felt totally in my element again. Having had all that time off, you get used to not having an amp or an audience or any interaction, so it’s been really special to be in this amazing spot and I’m just really grateful to have been a part of it.”

York singer-songwriter Rachel Croft performing the opening set at Thursday’s Primrose Wood Acoustics concert in the Pocklington sylvan setting

Commenting after Thursday’s concert, audience member Sue Bowden said: “Amazing evening! Fantastic live music in a beautiful setting on a fabulous summer’s evening; brilliantly organised too. Well done to all involved.”

Jane Smith agreed: “What a wonderful gig – our first since March 2020. Great performances in a beautiful setting. Very well organised. Thank you all at Pocklington Arts Centre.”

Julie Eeles said: “A fantastic night: amazing performances by Rachel Croft and The Dunwells. Thank you, Pocklington Arts Centre, for organising the event.”

Thursday’s audience watching The Dunwells in Primrose Wood, Pocklington

Vital to Thursday’s open-air concert was the contribution of sound engineer Daren Bishop. “It was a fantastic event,” he said afterwards. “What a pleasure to be a part of it. I loved mixing the sound in that setting.”

The Primrose Wood Acoustics series comes on the heels of assorted online events and outdoor exhibitions held by PAC since the start of the pandemic. 

“Being able to bring live music back to our audiences has just been incredible,” said the director. “We’d like to thank our customers for their support, as well as Pocklington Cricket Club, Burnby Hall Gardens and Pocklington Town Council for helping to make these events possible.”

Looking forward to reopening: Pocklington Arts Centre director Janet Farmer in the auditorium

Watch this space for the announcement of the August 5 double bill. Meanwhile, to keep up to date with PAC’s future events, head to pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.

Pocklington Arts Centre will reopen formally on July 20, preceded by two sold-out socially distanced warm-ups: work-in-progress gigs by South Shields humorist Sarah Millican on July 14 and 15 at 7.30pm.

“I’ll be trying out loads of new stuff,” says the Geordie joker. “It’ll be rough and ready and very, very fun.”

Sarah MIllican: Warming up for her Bobby Dazzler tour with a brace of sold-out gigs at Pocklington Arts Centre

Next week’s shows are in preparation for her sixth international tour, Bobby Dazzler, whose 2021/2022 itinerary will bring Millican, 46, to York Barbican from November 12 to 14.

“You’ll learn about what happens when your mouth seals shut; how to throw poo over a wall; trying to lose weight but only losing the tip of your finger; a surprisingly funny smear test, and how truly awful a floatation tank can actually be,” says Sarah, who has “spent the past year writing jokes and growing her backside”.

“I can’t wait to get back on the road and make you laugh,” she adds. For ticket details on the 8pm shows, head to yorkbarbican.co.uk

Rachel Croft to showcase Reap What You Sow release at Forty Five Vinyl Cafe gig

Rachel Croft: Blues and greenery in 2021

YORK singer-songwriter Rachel Croft will perform at Forty Five Vinyl Café, Micklegate, York, on July 31.

The 7.30pm gig will showcase the July 23 release of Reap What You Sow, a cinematic, moody taster for her four-track EP of the same name on September 9. Exploring a more potent, bluesy style throughout, further tracks will be second single Time Waits For No Man, Roots and Chasing Time.   

Since Step 3 lockdown easing, Rachel has played the opening night of the second season of socially distanced Songs Under Skies acoustic concerts in York, sharing the June 1 double bill with Wounded Bear in the National Centre for Early Music churchyard garden at St Margaret’s Church, Walmgate.

On July 8, she opened for Leeds band The Dunwells at the second sold-out Primrose Wood Acoustics open-air concert organised by Pocklington Arts Centre.

Rachel will be supported at her Live At Forty Five YouTube Session concert byKell Chambers and Evie Barrand. Tickets cost £10 via fortyfiveuk.com/whatson.  

The poster for Rachel Croft’s July 31 concert at Forty Five Vinyl Cafe, York

Pocklington Arts Centre confirms July 21 reopening and first film show in 491 days

Open welcome: Pocklington Arts Centre director Janet Farmer looks forward to reopening on July 20

POCKLINGTON Arts Centre will reopen to the public on July 20 and film screenings will re-start on July 23, 491 days since the last performance.

Director Janet Farmer and venue manager James Duffy have chosen this date to ensure the safety of customers and volunteers.

“Over the past few months, our main focus has been planning the safe reopening of the building, ensuring all staff are trained appropriately and making sure the venue has all its new systems, resources and processes in place and working well,” says Janet. 

“We have sought feedback from staff, volunteers and customers and this will be vital to the success of this process. Our main aim is to ensure the visitor experience at Pocklington Arts Centre (PAC) is safe, secure and enjoyable.”

In late-March 2020, the East Yorkshire venue launched a crowdfunding page, raising more than £18,000 in under a month, followed by successful funding applications to the Smile Foundation’s I Am Fund and the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund. 

Spiers & Boden: October 20 booking at Pocklington Arts Centre

Janet says: “I would like to thank our customers, in addition to Pocklington Town Council, the Friends of PAC, the Smile Foundation, Arts Council England and the Music Venue Trust for their collective support over the past year. 

“It has been a very difficult time for everyone, but their kind words, financial support and continued interest in all things PAC has meant a great deal and helped carry the venue through these extraordinary times.”

Staff have rescheduled forthcoming events for the autumn and winter, transferring more than 4,000 tickets and refunding customers for 20-plus cancelled events. 

“Throughout the closure period, we have stated our determination to emerge from the situation more vibrant than ever and our autumn and winter programme is a testament to that,” says Janet. 

“2021/22 will see a fantastic range of live events being staged here, alongside our trademark diverse mix of film screenings, live broadcasts, exhibitions, community events and private hires.” 

Velma Celli: York’s queen of vocal drag will make Pocklington debut on December 3. Picture: Kirkpatrick Photography

In the diary are Grammy Award winner Loudon Wainwright III, September 24; Northumberland Theatre Company (NTC) in Oscar Wilde’s “trivial comedy for serious people”, The Importance Of Being Earnest, September 30; North Eastern gypsy folk-rockers Holy Moly & The Crackers, October 16; Oxford singer-songwriter Thea Gilmore, October 7, and Irish jazz/blues chanteuse Mary Coughlan, October 19.

Bellowhead alumni and BBC Radio Folk Award winners Spiers & Boden are booked in for October 20; Red Ladder Theatre Company, from Leeds, in Nana-Kofi Kufuor’s My Voice Was Heard But Was Ignored, for November 25; television and radio broadcaster and author Jeremy Vine, November 26; Welsh singer-songwriter Martyn Joseph, December 2, and York drag diva deluxe Velma Celli, December 3.

Confirmed for 2022 are An Evening With Julian Norton, from Channel 5’s The Yorkshire Vet, January 18; singer-songwriter Teddy Thompson, January 22;Welsh guitarist, songwriter, vocalist and former Amen Corner cornerstone Andy Fairweather Low, February 11, and Eighties’ pop singer and actress Toyah Willcox, March 3.

PAC’s two open-air acoustic concerts in Primrose Wood, Pocklington, with Martin Simpson and Katie Spencer on July 1 and The Dunwells and Rachel Croft on July 8 will go ahead despite the Government’s Step 4 roadmap delay, but now under social-distancing restrictions. Both 7pm shows have sold out.

Janet says: “We always knew this was a possibility when the shows were first planned and there’s sufficient space for people to enjoy the event safely, while experiencing the atmospheric setting of Primrose Wood.”

Martin Simpson: Headlining at a sold-out Primrose Woods on July 1

PAC increased its online artistic output during the pandemic, staging 18 events to more than 9,000 audience members. 

In addition, a series of outdoor exhibitions has been held by PAC across the region. York artists Sue Clayton and Karen Winship have shown work at All Saints’ Church, Pocklington, and Sue will be following Karen into Hull Waterside and Marina. Those attending the York Vaccination Centre at Askham Bar can see her Down Syndrome portraits in the Tent of Hope. 

“We felt it was vitally important to have continued customer engagement throughout the prolonged closure period and the public response to these events and exhibitions has been very positive,” says Janet. 

“We’re also very much aware there’s no substitute to watching a live performance, in person, and sharing this experience with fellow audience members. 

“Everyone at PAC is now counting down the days until the doors can reopen and we can welcome customers back. It’s been a very long interval and we can’t wait for the second half to begin.”

For full event listings and ticket details, go to: pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.

York artist Karen Winship at the launch of her NHS Heroes exhibition at Hull Waterside and Marina

More Things To Do in York and beyond and online as Step 3 tiptoes into the light. List No. 33, courtesy of The Press, York

Minster Men: The Howl & The Hum to play livestreamed concert at York Minster on Tuesday

THE Indian Variant may be dampening down hopes for June 21, but Charles Hutchinson’s diary is still filled with hope, concerts, festivals, exhibitions and a Minster livestreaming.

Livestreaming of the week ahead: The Howl & The Hum, Live At York Minster, Tuesday, 8pm   to 9.30pm

YORK rock band The Howl & The Hum are performing a one-off streamed concert in the Nave of York Minster on Tuesday, with tickets available via Brudenell.ticketco.events/.

The 8.15pm setlist will be built around last year’s debut album, Human Contact, whose prescient title chimed with pandemic times as such contact became more restricted, even barred. New material may well feature too. “I reckon it will,” says frontman Sam Griffiths.

Rachel Croft: York singer-songwriter to perform on Songs Under Skies acoustic double bill with Wounded Bear at the NCEM. Picture: Amy D’Agorne

A fistful of outdoor gigs: Songs Under Skies, National Centre for Early Music, York, in June  

SONGS Under Skies will return to the NCEM’s churchyard gardens at St Margaret’s Church, Walmgate, York, next month.

Five outdoor acoustic double bills from 6.30pm to 8.30pm will comprise Wounded Bear and Rachel Croft on June 1; Kell Chambers and Nadedja, June 2; Katie Spencer and Joshua Burnell, June 14; Zak Ford and Alice Simmons, June 15, and Epilogues and Sunflower Thieves, June 16.

As with last September’s debut series, the socially distanced, Covid-safe season two will be presented in association with The Crescent community venue, The Fulford Arms and the Music Venues Alliance. Box office: at tickets.ncem.co.uk.

Hope Is The New Hero, by Jake T, from Rawcliffe and Clifton Without, for the Hope display at the According To McGee gallery in York

Children’s art show of the week in York: Hope projections, According To McGee, York, tonight, tomorrow, then Wednesday to Friday for the next two weeks, 6pm to 9pm nightly

HOPE springs nocturnal in a collaboration between primary school artists from York and around the world at York gallery According To McGee.

Under the title of Hope, the artwork will be on display in light projections in the window of the Tower Street gallery in a creative response to the pandemic.

Digital artists Nick Walters is overseeing evenings featuring projections of 350 artworks selected from 3,000 images from cities in 33 countries.

York artist Sue Clayton, second from right, with NHS York Vaccination Centre site manager Will McEvoy, Nimbuscare director of quality and patient experience Michelle Phillips and Pocklington Arts Centre director Janet Farmer at the unveiling – but not unmasking! – of the 21 exhibition at Askham Bar

Jab in the arm for art: Sue Clayton’s 21 exhibition, NHS York Vaccination Centre, Askham Bar, York, until June 13

WHAT a captive audience for Sue Clayton’s portrait exhibition of children and young adults with Down Syndrome, presented in association with Pocklington Arts Centre (PAC).

As many as 3,000 people a day are attending the Askham Bar vaccination centre to receive a jab in the “Tent Of Hope”, where biodegradable prints of Sue’s paintings are in place.

The theme of 21 symbolises the extra 21st chromosome that people with Down Syndrome have, Sue’s energetic son James among them. 

Manic Street Preachers: New tour, new album…oh, and a new single called…Orwellian

Gig announcement of the week in York: Manic Street Preachers, York Barbican, October 4

WELSH rock band Manic Street Preachers’ 14-date autumn itinerary will showcase the September 3 release of their 14th studio album, The Ultra Vivid Lament, on Columbia/Sony.

In a departure from 2018’s Resistance Is Futile, the new record is the first Manics’ studio set to be conceived initially on piano rather than guitar.

James Dean Bradfield, Nicky Wire and Sean Moore last played York Barbican in May 2019. Their support will be The Anchoress, the Welsh-born multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and author Catherine Anne Davies. Tickets sales go live tomorrow (21/5/2021) at 10am at yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Mad about the Boy: Boy George and Culture Club perennial members Roy Hay and Mikey Craig are off to the Yorkshire seaside

Gig announcement of the week outside York: Culture Club, Scarborough Open Air Theatre, August 14

EIGHTIES’ icon Boy George and Culture Club are off to the Yorkshire seaside in a new addition to the packed Scarborough Open Air Theatre programme.

Bexleyheath-born frontman and fashion innovator George O’Dowd, who turns 60 on June 14, will perform alongside original band members Roy Hay and Mikey Craig in a “stunning live band”. Tickets go on sale for the 8,000-capacity show via scarboroughopenairtheatre.com tomorrow (21/5/2021) at 9am.

Rachel Podger: The Violinist Speaks concert at York Early Music Festival 2021. Picture: Theresa Pewal

Festival launch of the week: York Early Music Festival 2021, July 12 to 16

PRESENTED by the National Centre of Early Music, the classical York Early Music Festival 2021 will have the theme of Encounters, most vitally between audience and artists after lockdown loosening.

Among the guest artists will be violinist Rachel Podger; lutenist Jacob Heringman; bass Matthew Brook; the Monteverdi String Band; harpsichordist Steven Devine; The Society Of Strange & Ancient Instruments; La Vaghezza and Ensemble Clement Janequin.

Taking part too will be vocal ensemble Stile Antico and Spanish Baroque ensemble L’Apothéose. Tickets are on sale at ncem.co.uk. Upcoming too will be YEMF 21 Online, from July 15 to 18, featuring festival concerts and commissioned highlights.

Bull in a field: York alt.rock band booked for Deer Shed: Base Camp Plus festival

No Deer Shed 11 festival, but here comes Deer Shed: Base Camp Plus, Baldersby Park, Topcliffe, Thirsk, July 30 to August 1

AFTER last summer’s Base Camp, Deer Shed Festival co-directors Oliver Jones and Kate Webster have created Base Camp Plus with a female-headlined main stage, live music, DJ sets, comedy and shows. As with last year’s event, each camping pitch will contain its own Portaloo and washing facilities.

Jane Weaver, Dream Wife and Porridge Radio are the headliners; York bands Bull and New York Brass Band will be playing too; John Shuttleworth, Mark Watson and Angelos Epithemiou lead the comedy.

The organisers will adhere to the Step 3 restrictions in place since Monday, limiting the capacity, with social distancing and face coverings in covered areas. For tickets, go to: deershedfestival.com/basecampplus.

And what about?

Brief encounter: York drag diva Velma Celli in Love Is Love: A Brief History Of Drag at York Theatre Royal

Velma Celli in Love Is Love: A Brief History Of Drag, York Theatre Royal, May 29, 8pm

YORK drag diva deluxe Velma Celli’s fabulous contribution to York Theatre Royal’s reopening Love Season will be one of Velma’s regular cabaret shows, re-titled Love Is Love: A Brief Of History Of Drag specially to meet the love brief.

Joining Velma – the creation of York musical actor Ian Stroughair – will be two guest acts, Jordan Fox, Ian’s co-star in Jack And The Beanstalk, and Jessica Steel, together with backing singers Kimberley Ensor and Grace Lancaster, musical director Ben Papworth, drummer Clark Howard and guitarist Al Morrison.

Ian last appeared on the Theatre Royal in Kes at the age of 14, all of 24 years ago.

Martin Simpson and The Dunwells to enter twilight zone for Primrose Wood Acoustics. Katie Spencer and Rachel Croft to support

Martin Simpson: Headlining Primrose Wood Acoustics in Pocklington on July 1. Picture: Geoff Trinder

POCKLINGTON Arts Centre will go down in the woods on July 1 and 8 to present Primrose Wood Acoustics, two outdoor concerts at twilight in a beautiful Pocklington sylvian setting.

Virtuoso Scunthorpe-born guitarist and singer-songwriter Martin Simpson will headline the first 7pm event at Primrose Wood, supported by Yorkshire singer-songwriter Katie Spencer.

A week later, the second twilight session will feature Leeds indie-folk/Americana band The Dunwells and opening act Rachel Croft, the York singer-songwriter.

The acoustic concerts are being staged by Pocklington Arts Centre (PAC) after a series of online events and outdoor exhibitions by York artists Karen Winship and Sue Clayton held during the pandemic. 

Primrose Wood Acoustics not only will mark the first time PAC has taken concerts into the outdoors – giving audiences a chance to experience live music within a unique and Covid-secure setting – but also will be the first concerts to be hosted by the East Yorkshire venue since the first lockdown last March. 

Katie Spencer: Deeply personal songs of nostalgia, loss and love. Picture: Tom Arran

PAC director Janet Farmer says: “During the pandemic, we’ve been doing a lot of walking in the Pocklington area including Primrose Wood. With its natural clearings and proximity to the town centre, we immediately thought it would provide the perfect outdoor stage with a difference, so the idea of Primrose Wood Acoustics was born. 

“As we prepare to re-open the venue, we’re very much looking forward to being able to bring some truly unique events to our audiences. This is going to be something quite special.”

Martin Simpson travels the length and breadth of Britain and beyond to give intimate solo performances full of passion, sorrow, love, beauty, tragedy and majestic fingerstyle guitar playing.

Simpson, 68, who recorded his first album, Golden Vanity, in 1976, is equally at home playing English traditional folk, American folk and blues and his own compositions on acoustic and slide guitar and banjo to boot.

Support act Katie Spencer writes songs imbued with the northern landscapes of her Yorkshire home and the warmth and idealism of the early 1970s’ folk and songwriter movements. Originally from Hull, she draws on the grainy imagery of the industrial docks and sea-fronts in her deeply personal songs of nostalgia, loss and love. 

The boys Dunwell: Brothers Joseph and David of Leeds band The Dunwells

The Dunwells, formed by brothers Joseph and David Dunwell in Leeds in 2009, combine heartfelt lyrics with American-influenced indie-folk song structures, as heard on their 2012 debut album, Blind Sighted Faith, and six subsequent albums and EPs.

The Dunwells have performed at both PAC and Platform Festival, at Pocklington’s Old Station, and have toured the United States extensively, not least appearing at SXSW music festival in Austin, Texas. They last released a studio album, Something In The Water, in September 2019, followed by the live recording Live At Aire Street last December.

Support act Rachel Croft’s song-writing is cinematic, moody and classic, wherein atmospheric backdrops frame her vocals as she blends folk, rock and soul styles.

Rachel’s new EP, Reap What You Sow, will drop this summer, exploring a more potent, bluesy style.

Concertgoers can access the location from both main entrances to Primrose Wood via Burnby Lane and The Balk, with the concerts being staged close to the Burnby Lane (YO42 2QB) entrance.

Tickets cost £15 for July 1 and £12.50 for July 8 at pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.

Rachel Croft: Exploring a “more potent, bluesy style” on her summer EP. Picture: Amy D’Agorne

CharlesHutchPress puts questions to York singer-songwriter Rachel Croft as she prepares for the twilight hour in Primrose Wood.

Where and when did you last play a gig?

“The last real gig was at Highfield House in Driffield, back in October 2020 – a lone event I was lucky enough to share with Blair Dunlop and Gary Stewart. Before that, I think it was last March, sharing the night with Joe Shepard at the NCEM in York.” 

Have you played in woodland previously? 

“I haven’t played a gig as such in a woodland but I’ve recorded and performed in a few woodlands for music videos. Really atmospheric! 

“Only Dreams had woodland in it, and the new video for Reap What You Sow, directed by James Buck, will have a part shot in woodland too.”

What do you feel about playing at the twilight hour: a magical time of day or a harbinger of the dark night to come?!

“Playing outdoors in the twilight hour sounds just right for some of my songs. I like to write atmospheric music, and I think this will be the perfect setting to finally share them with people!

“I think sunset can be a nostalgic time in a way, thinking about the day that’s done and the start of night. Certainly, it could add to the moodiness of some of my songs too.” 

Playing outdoors in the twilight hour sounds just right for some of my songs,” says Rachel. Picture: Amy D’Agorne

You have a new EP on the way, Reap What You Sow. When and how will you release it?

“The EP is due this summer. I’ll stagger a single and then the rest of the songs later on in the season, along with videos and live performances hopefully. We’re still finishing them, so once we have them completed, I can set a date and get cracking. I’m really excited to share these songs; they’re my best work so far. Stay tuned!” 

Where and when was the EP recorded?

“It was recorded here in York, at Young Thugs Studios [in South Bank Social Club, Ovington Terrace], and has been ongoing for probably six months now, what with so much uncertainty and all my usual funding methods gone, which made things interesting!

“All the musicians on the tracks are from around here and I’m really lucky to know so many talented people.” 

What are the song titles and themes and were any influenced by pandemic times?

“I’m keeping the song titles on the down-low for now, except Reap What You Sow, the title track and first single. There are five songs, though, and as a collection they represent a storm, sort of. The build-up, the energy, the wreckage left behind, and then the rebuild, leaving it behind. 

“All the songs are from the lockdown, and I think they helped me to release a lot of pent-up frustration and emotion. I’ve never felt that, until this point, I’ve really released anything that shows the most of me, not just one side.

“It feels really liberating; I’ve always loved music like this but never before felt like I could be that artist. And then, well, it was the pandemic, so I thought I might as well have a go.”

“I’ve also started using my lower voice more in the songs, which I think really suits this change of sound,” says Rachel

The EP will “explore a more potent, bluesy style”: how will that manifest itself and what has drawn you to the blues?

“The bluesy style is mainly in two of the songs, where I was playing with some different chord variations and was influenced a lot by cinema, film music, and the jazz music I play with the Croft Mullen Band here in York [in a residency at The Phoenix Inn, George Street], alongside writing my own music.

“It’s been really nice to bridge that gap between styles. It’s got a lot of electric sounds in it too, but I love the vintage Nancy Sinatra feel of parts of the songs, how that weirdly works with quite fierce guitars at points.

“I’ve also started using my lower voice more in the songs, which I think really suits this change of sound. I can’t wait for everyone to hear it.”

What have you discovered about yourself in lockdown?

“I have learned that by having all the joyful distraction taken away, I can be more productive with song-writing. I can choose to sit down, and write, if I try. I never thought I could do that before lockdown. It’s been a great time for my music; I’ve never written so much, but maybe that’s because music seems to come easiest when you’re not totally happy.” 

What else is in the diary for you for 2021? Hopefully more shows?

“I’ll be playing at Wickham Festival [Hampshire], Lindisfarne Festival [Northumberland], Northern Kin Festival [Stanhope, Bishop Auckland] and Beverley Fringe, all going well, and I’ve got a few concerts booked here in York and further afield that I’m looking forward to announcing to my socials soon! I’m just happy to get to play to real actual humans again!” 

NEWS JUST IN: 14/5/2021

RACHEL Croft will open series two of the acoustic Songs Under Skies concerts in a double bill with Wounded Bear in the National Centre for Early Music gardens at St Margaret’s Church, Walmgate, York, on June 1. Gates, 6.30pm; socially distanced concert, 7pm to 8.30pm. Box office: tickets.ncem.co.uk.

York singer Rachel Croft is in Deep Water with new single for long evening drives

Rachel Croft: “Imagery of long, chilled summer evening drives and warm, dusty coastal paths” on new single Deep Water

YORK folk and jazz chanteuse, guitarist and illustrator Rachel Croft releases her new single, Deep Water, today as the third pick from her February 2019 debut album, Hours Awake.

“It’s about the delicate part earlier on in a relationship where you’re on the cusp of trusting someone and you know it could be serious,” says Rachel, 26, who has instilled fresh indie and contemporary production choices into the recording.

“The whole song comes together to effortlessly sit under imagery of long, chilled summer evening drives and warm, dusty coastal paths.”

Released on her Black Ink label, Deep Water signifies a lighter turn away from such Croft landmarks as 2017’s Only Dreams and We Are earlier this year.

Rachel Croft’s watercolour artwork for Deep Water

“Generally acoustic in its feel, lacings of torn Telecaster riffs nod towards influences of Phoebe Bridgers,” says Rachel, who made Hours Awake with co-producer and fellow York musician Dan Webster at his Paper Plane Records studio from early 2018 onwards.

There she worked with such musicians as drummer Neil Scott, bass and double bass player Emlyn Vaughan, cellist Rachel Brown, keyboard player Karl Mullen, violinist Emily Lawler and Chinese synths player Dian Yu.

Rachel is instrumental in all parts of her music, from production to media, both social and old-school, everything down to the cover art, calling on her skills as a self-taught illustrator. “I painted it myself with watercolour, using paint gifted to me from the person the song is about,” she reveals.  

Nottingham-born Rachel, who gained a first in environmental geography at the University of York, has built up a strong online presence, whether chalking up 148,000 views for some of her YouTube videos, attaining 5,000 followers on Facebook or building up a fast-growing subscription on YouTube.

“As a result, I’ve been able to almost entirely crowd-fund each of my releases, documenting my progress through vlogs for donators,” she says.

“I’m now working on my song-writing and rebuilding plans for 2021,” says Rachel

As an emerging artist on the folk festival circuit, Rachel has played Moseley Folk Festival, Costa Del Folk Portugal and Meadowfest. Until Covid-19 intervened, she was set to play Cambridge, Lindisfarne, Moonbeams and Wickham festivals, among others, after acquiring Apex International as her agent in late 2019.  

Making her mark abroad too, Rachel has embarked on five solo tours of the Netherlands since November 2018, appeared on the Noardewyn Live TV show to boot. In July 2019, she debuted in Germany, playing in Cologne and further afield.  

Looking ahead in the face of the pandemic’s stultifying impact on her 2020 diary, she says: “I’m now working on my song-writing and rebuilding plans for 2021. I hope to release at least a further two singles in 2021 and continue my European tours and UK festival appearances on their promising trajectory.”

To keep up with Rachel’s progress, visit: rachelcroftmusic.com. To chill out to Deep Water, go to: https://soundcloud.com/rachelcroft/deep-water/s-NzizC2CLQw7.