NASHVILLE singer-songwriter Stella Prince will play FortyFive Vinyl Café, Micklegate, York, on November 3 and Thirty Café & Eatery, Belle Vue Street, Filey, on November 6 on her 12-date autumn tour.
Still in her teens in and seeking to progress her career in the UK as well as the USA, she has booked these tour dates herself, including a third Yorkshire gig at The Greystones, Sheffield, on November 2.
Born and raised in Woodstock, New York, Stella is now based in Nashville, Tennessee, where she hosts a monthly all-female Americana/folk showcase at The Underdog; the only one of its kind in Nashville.
Founded in May 2023 with the aim of creating a space for women in music to perform and meet other performers, specifically in the Americana and folk field, each bill features four or five women, Stella included, singing up to three songs each and introducing themselves. The events are sponsored by the legendary organisation changetheconvo.net
Stella is the only child of creative parents – a painter/photographer and a writer – and was immersed in music from an early age, thanks to her parents’ extensive, all-genre CD collection and her frequent attendance at concerts, where she first encountered Levon Helm, Amy Helm, Pete Seeger, Peter Yarrow (of Peter, Paul And Mary fame), Tracy Bonham and Natalie Merchant.
Growing up, Stella was influenced by pop and oldies music too. She began taking voice lessons at the age of four, piano lessons at six, guitar lessons at nine, and wrote her first song aged ten. From 12 to 14, she hosted her own 1930s–1940s’ oldies radio show.
She graduated from high school at 15 (during the early months of the pandemic in 2020) and earned her two-year associates degree – with a focus on music – at 16.
The pandemic pushed her into deciding to focus on a career in music. In 2021, she began to release songs and play live, travelling to Nashville and Los Angeles. Four singles emerged that year: The Rain Might Fall, Scared, Before You Leave and Alone For The Holidays
2022 was groundbreaking, marked by Stella’s first international run in the UK and an 18-city tour of the American Southwest. Her first single to be aired on the radio, Crying On A Saturday Night, charted on the Americana Singles Chart; her July follow up, Eighteen, debuted on the Folk Alliance International Charts and the Alternative Country Charts.
Closing Doors, produced by Professor Louie (who did likewise for three albums by The Band), was released in November 2022, debuting at number 15 on the North American College & Community Radio Chart. The accompanying video has received more than 118,000 views on YouTube since its launch in May 2023.
In February, Stella was awarded a First Timers Scholarship at Folk Alliance. She has been performing around Nashville since her move there and has a busy autumn diary ahead.
For her latest single, Two Faced, out now, she had the pleasure of working with Steve Fishell, Nashville pedal steel guitarist, Grammy-winning record producer and educator, whose stellar credits include Dolly Parton, John Prine, Mavis Staples and Emmylou Harris. “No-one sings like Stella Prince,” he says. “I was transported the first time I heard her and I bet you will be too.”
Accentuated by Fishell’s pedal steel, the song opens with the harrowing lines: “You got her right where you wanted… Lonely enough so she’d take the bait… Blinded by words that were only an empty promise… Desperation paves way for mistakes.”
The chorus asserts: “There’s all kinds of empty… but the hardest one to take… is lies that seem tempting… Loneliness is two faced.”
Stella says:“My big goal is for someone to play my song and think, ‘That’s exactly how I feeI’. I want my songs to resonate with everyone, every generation, every issue: loneliness, fear, all of that.”
Self-produced, Two Faced was recorded at the legendary Sound Stage Studios on Music Row in Nashville, where the likes of Johnny Cash, George Strait, Miranda Lambert and Buddy Guy have held recording sessions.
“It was an amazing experience: my first time ever recording with a full band”, says Stella. “Actually, this song specifically is the first ever song I recorded with more than just me. It was wild and incredible.”
Joining her at SoundStage, along with Fishell, were Nashville players Ben Garrett (keys, guitar), PJ Schreiner (drums), Mike Dunton (electric guitar) and Father Phillip (bass).
Should you be wondering, Stella names her era-spanning influences as Judy Garland, Karen Carpenter, Patsy Cline, Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton and Taylor Swift.
CINDER Well, multi-instrumentalist Amelia Baker’s experimental American roots project, will play The Band Room, at Low Mill, Farndale, on the North York Moors, on September 23.
Nigel Burnham’s typically intriguing latest signing released her latest album, the mysterious Cadence, on April 21 on Washington DC’s independent label Free Dirt Records.
Cadence drifts between two far-flung seas: the hazy California coast where Baker grew up and the wind-torn swells of County Clare, western Ireland, that she has come to love. The title refers to the cycles of our turbulent lives, to the uncertain tides that push us forward and back.
Recorded not far from the Venice Beach Boardwalk in Los Angeles, the new songs search for a sense of grounding and a feeling of home.
Although California’s beaches are the backdrop, Irish influences emerge too, after Baker gained a Master’s Degree in Irish Traditional Music Performance from the University of Limerick, where she studied with masters of the tradition, including Siobhan Peoples and Martin Hayes, and settled in County Clare, her adopted new home.
The folklore of the old ways still looms in her mind, tinged with the growth that comes from a return to roots.
On Cadence, Baker expands Cinder Well’s sound to take in percussion, trance electric guitar and lush string parts, courtesy of Lankum’s Cormac MacDiarmada.
Traces remain of Cinder Well’s doom folk, but Cadence balances heavy lyrics with a more expansive sound that recalls Los Angeles’ mythical Laurel Canyon years.
“So much of my music has been made far from home,” says Baker on her website, cinderwellmusic.com. “There was something about recording in California that felt cathartic.”
Caught between two worlds, Cadence recaptures the rhythms of life after a time of deep isolation, seeking balance amid uncertainty, reclaiming creativity post-personal strife.
Cinder Well’s previous album, No Summer, one of the Guardian’s ten best folk albums of 2020, was a love letter to County Clare. However, as the pandemic cut her off from the United States, with a long stretch of intense quarantine, she knew it was time to return home.
Travelling back to her hometown on the central coast of California, she took the time and space to hone a creativity blunted by isolation. Natural imagery, always a key source of inspiration for Cinder Well’s songwriting, appears again in songs full of moonlit caves, edgy cliffs, dark purple sunsets, birds and shadows.
Plants growing out of cracks in rocks in the song Well On Fire symbolise resilience, and the cold Atlantic wind in Gone The Holding embodies the hardness of consequence.
“These songs have a feeling of being lost in the woods, but writing from that place,” Baker says. “They were written in a process of getting unstuck.”
While reconnecting with home and the sea, and resurrecting her childhood interest in surfing, Baker set about song-writing more deeply, determined to break through the creative block she felt.
She experimented with electric guitar and worked on new tunings inspired by English folk guitarist Nic Jones, adapting the music to her own voice using down-tuned instruments.
She pored over New Age classic The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path To Higher Creativity, American author Julia Cameron’s 1992 self-help book, leading her to write Overgrown, her first song in a decade in a major key.
A chance connection with Venice Beach recording engineer Harlan Steinberger’s Hen House Studios provided the perfect opportunity to record in Los Angeles, a place where Baker had always dreamed of making an album.
In another moment of serendipity, old high school friend Phillip Rogers joined Baker on drums and collaborated on arrangements. Bassist Neal Heppleston and violist Jake Falby contributed too, along with Cormac MacDiarmada.
Heavy yet hopeful, Cadencemoves beyond the minimalism of No Summer, being more expansive, brighter coloured, with higher peaks, perhaps a reflection of the world outside the studio.
“It’s so wild,” says Baker. “You’re in the quiet sanctuary of the studio behind thick wooden doors, then you walk outside and it’s the chaos of Venice Beach.”
Driving down the coast along the scenic Highway 1, Baker sang along to Joni Mitchell’s Court And Spark to warm up for the recording sessions, then settled into a calming space that allowed her to explore new directions.
The feeling of being suspended between two worlds is woven through Cadence. “I was continuously trying to reconcile having homes in two places,” says Baker. “I was trying to hold both of those parts of me.”
Splitting her time between the West Coasts of Ireland and California, she concludes: “The ocean is my homebase, no matter where I am.”
Cinder Well play Leeds Brudenell Social Club, September 19, 8pm; The Greystones, Sheffield, September 20, 8pm; The Band Room, Low Mill, Farndale, September 23, 7.30pm. Box office: Leeds, brudenellsocialclub.co.uk; Sheffield, mygreystones.co.uk; Low Mill, thebandroom.co.uk.
Did you know?
CINDER Well’s Amelia Baker teaches fiddle, guitar and songwriting lessons.
SARABETH Tucek is emerging from a “decade-long hibernation” with a double album, tour and new moniker, SBT.
The New Jersey actress-turned-singer-songwriter will follow up the May 19 release of Joan Of All on her own Ocean Omen label with an 18-date itinerary that takes in Yorkshire gigs at Selby Town Hall on May 20 and The Greystones, Sheffield, on May 25.
Here, CharlesHutchPress discusses hibernation, the song-writing craft, a change of name, her album title, Bob Dylan, Brian Jonestown Massacre and past Yorkshire encounters with Sarabeth.
Had you ever envisaged such a long hiatus between albums since 2011’s Get Well Soon?
“No, I had not. Honestly, I had not envisaged a lot of things that have happened in my life but here I am. I think if I needed to have my life take the turns it did in order to arrive at this new record then so be it. It’s my favourite creation.”
Did you ever doubt you would return to the recording studio?
“No, I knew I would return. I just wasn’t sure when that would be. I think I make records because I need to hear myself say something to myself. Aloud. I can look for another artist to say it to me but less and less I hear what I need to hear and so that has been a motivating factor.”
Did you consider it to be a “decade in hibernation”?
“In some ways. I think parts of my mind went into hibernation. I think I needed to understand some things that happened in my life. But I dunno. I just think of a bear or an animal in a cave when I hear the word hibernation.
“I am maybe more like a squirrel that buried some nuts in the ground with the knowledge I would come back to them someday for sustenance.”
How have you changed as a songwriter over the past 12 years?
“I used to think I only had a musical language for sad thoughts and feelings but now I feel I have access to the other parts of myself as well. Also, I feel differently than I used to. In the world as a person. So that has changed my writing.”
How many years of song-writing span the double album? Did you ever suffer writer’s block?
“I wrote two of the songs several years ago and the rest in a couple of weeks. No, I don’t have writer’s block. I can write when I need to, but my issue is allowing myself the time to go sit in a room with my guitar and make something of the words.
“I don’t understand this problem but sometimes I think it’s some form of self-punishment. Like I am depriving myself of something that has brought me moments of real joy. I deny myself.”
Explain the choice of album title, Joan Of All…
“Well, I wanted to call it The Middle Ages. That’s the age I am in, and I started thinking about armour and how I have started to feel like in some ways I am losing my armour but in other ways gaining it.
“Around the time I was deciding on a title, Roe v Wade began to come under attack so… middle ages, then women being brave and persecuted… Joan of Arc came to mind and then my mom’s name is Joan! She was a single mom and I am forever in awe of her strength.”
How do you distinguish Sarabeth from SBT?
“People have always called me SBT. Also, no-one can ever pronounce my last name. Every initial meeting with someone I have to hear them struggle with my last name and then I have to correct their pronunciation and then they apologise and I say, ‘no, its OK, no-one can pronounce it’, and it’s just a weird way to meet people.
“Also, I feel like everything about this record is new for me and SBT feels right.”
What do you recall of working with Smog’s Bill Callahan? How did that partnership come about?
“Colin Gagon, who played with Will Oldham, asked me if I wanted to come to his studio to record some of my songs. I had met him at a party in Echo Park where the guitar was being passed around and I sang a couple songs.
“We made some demos and then later Colin was going to record his own record and Bill Callahan was producing it. Colin asked me to come up to San Francisco and sing on his record and contribute a song. I didn’t have a lot of interaction with Bill. He is very quiet and so am I.
“About a year later, Bill reached out and asked if I would come to Chicago, where he lived, to sing on his new record. Of course, I jumped at the chance. I have always been a big Smog fan.
“I remember listening to the demos of the songs on Supper at the studio, so I could figure out my parts, and it was difficult because the songs made me feel so much personally that it was hard to concentrate. I think I cried.
“The lyrics are very moving. That record is brilliantly written and I will always be honoured to have been a part of it. Bill was very kind. We had some good long talks. It was great.”
DiG! is one of the great rockumentaries. What do you recall of making an appearance in the film and indeed of working with Anton Newcombe’s Brian Jonestown Massacre?
“Well, I remember the day of his show at the knitting factory, which is in the documentary. The show when Anton kicked that poor guy in the head. He was asking me all day to come and sing because he wasn’t feeling well and wanted some help with singing duties.
“He wanted me to play some songs to lessen his time onstage. I didn’t want to and kept saying no because I could tell he was in a mood. I knew him well enough to predict the times when he might lose his temper.
“Also, I had just started writing songs and didn’t feel ready to perform to a full house. I agreed though and then of course he lost his temper with this guy in the audience. “Anton had introduced me as his sister and the guy after I played said something silly like ‘F*** you, your sister rocks’. He heard it wrong and thought the guy was suggesting he should have sex with me, his sister. I am not related to him by the way.
“This just sounds so dumb to retell and it is. Anyway, a fight ensued and Anton ended up going to jail. Good times!
“My time living/working with the BJM is part tragedy, part comedy. I am actually glad I got to be a part of a world, a rock’n’roll world, that is probably not going to happen again. That whole period of time in Echo Park in the mid-late ’90s. A lot of great musicians and cheap rent.”
Did you meet Bob Dylan when you supported him?
“Yes, Bob called me over backstage and we had a nice chat. I was told he didn’t talk to his opening acts and so I wasn’t expecting the encounter. I was tremendously nervous.
“I am not religious but for me he is a kind of demi-god. I don’t get excited by celebrity but I was overwhelmed with being in front of someone who is actually a genius and whose music has helped me to understand what it means to be alive.”
Have you played in Selby/York/North Yorkshire previously?
“Yes, we played the Band Room on the Yorkshire moors. In Farndale, I believe [Correct, Sarabeth! Low Mill, Farndale, May 2011]. I will never forget the absolute and overwhelming beauty of that area.
“We played York as well, but I can’t recall the venue. [Correct again, Sarabeth! Fibbers in March 2008, it turns out]. I have never played Selby! I am excited to visit and play!”
What form will your concert take: solo or with a band?
“I am bringing a band to try and bring as much as I can from the record to a live stage. We are going to go all out on this tour!”
SBT (Sarabeth Tucek) plays Selby Town Hall, May 20, 8pm, supported by Kiran Leonard and Todmorden guitarist and songsmith dbh. Box office: 01757 708449 or selbytownhall.co.uk. Also: The Greystones, Sheffield, May 25, 8pm; mygreystones.co.uk/may.
Sarabeth Tucek back story
Born in Miami, Florida, daughter of a psychiatrist father and psychologist mother. Parents split when she was a child; raised by mother in Manhattan, New York. Graduated from Westfield High School.
Occupation: Actress first, now singer-songwriter.
Officially broke onto music scene in 2003, performing duets with Bill Callahan on Smog album Supper.
Appeared in Ondi Timoner’s 2004 prize-winning Brian Jonestown Massacre versus The Dandy Warhols documentary DiG!. Contributed to Brian Jonestown Massacre’s 2005 EP We Are The Radio.
Debut single Something For You released in 2006, becoming Steve Lamacq’s Single of the Week on BBC 6 Music.
Self-titled debut album arrived in 2007, produced by Luther Russell and Ethan Johns. Rave reviews led to support slot with idol Bob Dylan.
After troubled Los Angles years of alcohol, car crashes and jail for drink-driving when struggling to handle the disorientating success of her debut album, she found her redemptive footing in New York.
Resulting 2011 sophomore album, Get Well Soon, meditated on “the ferocity of grief “after the loss of her father, who had died more than a decade earlier from a sudden heart attack on a boat on a lake. Title track featured on first season of HBO’s Girls.
After retreating from the record business to concentrate on other creative endeavours, she returns on May 19 with double album Joan Of All, under her sobriquet of SBT, a longtime tag given to her by the many musicians she has worked with throughout her career.
Lead single The Gift has been receiving airplay on Marc Riley’s BBC 6 Music show. She will record a live session for Riley while on tour.
Should you be wondering: Tucek is pronounced two-check.
Joan Of All tracklisting:
Joan Says/Amber Shade; The Living Room; Cathy Says; The Gift; The Box; Work; Make Up Your Mind; 13th St #1; Swings; Happiness; Something/Anything; Sheep; The Tunnel; Unmade/The Dog; Creature Of The Night.
Chris Jones, Selby Town Council arts officer, on bringing Sarabeth Tucek to Selby
“IT’S Sarabeth’s first UK tour in over a decade, supporting her first album since 2011 – a big, sprawling, electric Americana affair called Joan Of All. She’ll be performing here with a full electric band, including some who have played with Jakob (son of Bob) Dylan’s live outfits. This is definitely one of the ‘cooler’ gigs we’ve put on over the last year or so!
“Sarabeth is as talented as she is enigmatic. Her new work mixes the classic sound of East Coast Americana singer-songwriters with bigger hooks, bigger guitars and some considerable musical exploration.”
JOSHUA Burnell & Band will play a home-city gig at The Crescent, York, on October 16 on his nine-date autumn tour.
Tickets for this 8pm gig cost £12 in advance from joshuaburnell.co.uk/tour or ticketweb.co.uk. Doors will open at 7.30pm for this “folk-fused baroque’n’roll” UK tour date.
Burnell will perform further Yorkshire gigs at The Greystones, Sheffield, on October 14 and Otley Courthouse on October 22, complemented by shows in Manchester, Glasgow, London (Cecil Sharp House), Brighton, Milton Keynes and Bristol .
Burnell has made his mark on the folk scene by winning the Rising Star Awards in the Folking Awards, playing Cambridge, Manchester and Sidmouth folk festivals and receiving multiple plays on Mark Radcliffe’s BBC Radio 2 Folk Show. His psych-trad single The Snow It Melts The Soonest was deemed “outstanding” by Folk Radio UK.
Although Joshua’s roots are grounded in folk, this multi-instrumentalist singer, songwriter and storyteller is not afraid to push back boundaries to create a sound somehow both retro and artfully contemporary. “Think The War On Drugs meets Seth Lakeman on Ziggy Stardust’s spaceship,” he suggests.
Or, as the Guardian put it: “Burnell adds lashings of Peter Gabriel stylings to the world of trad arrangements”.
Joining Joshua on stage will be globe-trotting violinist Frances Archer; guitarist Nathan Greaves; multi-instrumentalist Oliver Whitehouse; drummer Ed Simpson and vocalist Frances Sladen.
“Frances flits from fiddle tune to one-woman string section with apparent ease,” says Joshua’s publicity machine. “Nathan plays a mysterious instrument of his own invention, known only as PIIönk; Oliver is quietly excellent; drummer Ed brings the thunder like something out of the Seattle Grunge era, and breathtakingly evocative singer Frances surely deserves to be a recognised name in her own right.”
Noted for his arrangements, piano riffs and melodies, Burnell’s songs veer from stomping, acoustic singalongs and Bowie-style music hall epics to alt-pop singles that conjure up imagery akin to the cover of a retro sci-fi pulp-fiction novel.
Tickets for all Joshua’s tour dates are on sale at joshuaburnell.co.uk/tour.
ONCE he loved you from the bottom of his pencil case. Now, The Beautiful South co-founder Dave Hemingway is to return with his new band, Sunbirds.
Joined by drummer Marc Parnell, vocalist and violinist Laura Wilcockson and his erstwhile South cohort, songwriter/guitarist Phil Barton, singer Hemingway will play The Crescent in York on February 4 2022.
Hemingway had retired from the live scene at the back end of 2016, but later set to work with Sunbirds, who released their debut album, Cool To Be Kind, on independent label Nectar Records last November.
Although rooted in England, the band favours a sound predominantly built around traditional American roots music, combined with the occasional outburst of guitar-heavy melody more associated with the grunge capital of Seattle in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
However, the lyrics affirm you can only sing about what you know. “Although a lot of the songs have an Americana feel, they’re still about life in England,” says Hemingway. “You’re going to feel a bit daft singing about pick-up trucks and low-down honky-tonks when you live in Yorkshire.”
Produced by cult producer Teo Miller, Cool To Be Kind captures truthful, open-hearted, funny and sometimes painfully honest sentiments, turning the page to a new chapter for Hemingway and The Beautiful South story.
The album is the result of a few transitional years in Hemingway and Barton’s personal worlds, telling tales that cover both contemporary themes and age-old matters of the heart and soul, all viewed through the bottom of a recently drained pint glass.
Phil says: “Now we’re Sunbirds, we’re free to dig a little deeper into ourselves. Having said that, there’s no exact science here, we’re just enjoying ourselves and expressing whatever we want, whether it’s about love, longing, depression or Gary Lineker’s crisp adverts”.
Cool To Be Kind is available on Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, Amazon UK & Music and will be on sale in all HMV stores, including in Coney Street, York, on reopening.