January 1, 2019
The year started with a massive career highlight which was being nominated for UK Album of the Year for ‘Sweet Kind of Blue’ and UK Artist of the Year in the 2018 Americana Music Association Awards. I had the honour of winning the latter and the beautiful, wooden award was presented by my good friend, Frank Turner. I also had the pleasure of performing ‘Over My Shoulder’ solo at what was the biggest AMA-UK awards ceremony held at the Hackney Empire, which included sharing the stage with Robert Plant, Mumford and Sons, Ethan Johns, Imelda May and a host of other brilliant artists paying tribute to Tom Petty by performing his song ‘Wildflowers’. Thank you to those who voted for me!
My first tour of the year took me to Germany and Switzerland with my band mates Lukas Drinkwater and Rob Pemberton. I’d like to give a special shout out to them for a wonderful year too! As many of you will have witnessed, they are incredibly talented musicians and brilliant collaborators. That also goes for Pete Roe, who became a father this year so hasn’t been on the road as much. The Germany tour saw my biggest crowds ever and despite the cold snap (it reached -17ºC), it was a highly enjoyable tour. I look forward to being back before too long.
I played a handful of shows in Spain and France in March and was invited by my dear friends Immy Doman and Michele Stodart to perform at a special show at JW3 in London to celebrate International Women’s Day, alongside Kathryn Williams, Ren Harvieu, Raevennan Husbandes and many more incredibly talented women.
In April, on Record Store Day, I returned to two of my favourite independent record shops – Music’s Not Dead in Bexhill-on-Sea and Sound Knowledge in Marlborough – thanks to Del Querns and Roger Mortimer and all the record shops around the country that continue to fly the flag, supporting independent music and being the centre of local music communities.
In May, my dear friend and mentor, Mary Chapin Carpenter, came over from the USA with her band to tour in the UK. Lukas and I headed out in our van to open the shows for her in some beautiful old theatres all over the UK. We slept in our van and had lots of mornings waking up by the sea or lakes to drink coffee and go for a walk before heading off to the next show.
In the midst of this tour, Pete joined us for a special full band show at The Roundhouse in London as a part of Frank Turner’s incredible sold out Lost Evenings Festival.After Mary Chapin and her band had headed back to the USA, we all took a trip up to Glasgow to perform on the BBC Quay Sessions, presented by Roddy Hart. We performed in front of a very enthusiastic crowd and you can see a couple of the songs which are still online:
I’ve had the good fortune of being invited to tour with Mary Chapin several times over the past couple of years and we’ve grown very close, so thankfully I didn’t have to miss her and the band for too long as she invited me over to the USA again to do two more tours over the summer. It has been a real honour getting to open these shows for her. She is a master of her craft and each night I see the audience melt in her presence and in the power of her songs and words. People walk out of those shows feeling more connected to themselves and to each other. It’s a beautiful thing to witness and I so enjoyed not only doing my own solo show, but also singing harmonies on most of Mary Chapin’s headline set. Getting to travel on the bus through America, seeing the landscape pass by the window, perform in such magical venues in front of music-loving audiences, and to share all this with such a wonderful group of people really has been a dream come true. So thank you so much to Mary Chapin, her band and her team for this incredible opportunity.
Thanks to Baylen Leonard, not only for the continued support over the whole year playing tracks on his radio show, but also for inviting me to play at The Long Road, a great new country music festival in Leicestershire. No sooner had I got home from that, I was headed back to the USA again, this time to Nashville for AmericanaFest, where I played a couple of shows accompanied by Mary Chapin’s guitarist, Johnny Duke.
And suddenly it was October and I was on the road back up to Scotland to play at the excellent Glasgow Americana festival, and then to Ireland for what was actually my first headline tour over there. Lukas and I played some beaut venues including The Sound House in Dublin, Cleere’s in Kilkenny and the The Sunflower in Belfast. We’ll be back with the next album to see you again Ireland – thank you.
Stepping off the ferry from Larne to Cairnryan, we met up with Rob Pemberton and headed straight into our UK tour with the brilliant Jack Carty opening the shows. We thoroughly enjoyed playing songs from Sweet Kind of Blue as well as some older songs and even a brand new one, Geography. The tour culminated in my home town Stroud where Lukas, Rob, Pete and I all live. Thank you to all who made it along to one of the shows!I then headed to my other home town, Bridgetown in Western Australia, where it all began for me as a musician. One of the reasons I started singing was because of a festival called Blues at Bridgetown which started when I was a teenager, inspiring almost every kid in town to pick up a guitar and form a band… I hadn’t been to or performed at the festival for about eighteen years and I was delighted to accept the invitation to play this year. Lukas and I headed over together and we met up with two local WA musicians on drums and electric guitar who nailed our two shows over the weekend. Talk about coming full circle.
My 2018 finished with a tour of Australia and, for the first time, New Zealand, opening shows for that friend of mine I’ve mentioned a couple of times already during this ramble: Frank Turner. We played Wellington, Auckland, Brisbane, Melbourne, Canberra, Newcastle, Sydney, Perth and Adelaide and it was a pleasure meeting new audiences and also getting to sing with Frank again. He continues to be an inspiration on how to connect with a crowd and deliver an incredible high-energy, fun, inclusive and moving show. I’m a lucky lady to work with such brilliant musicians.
Looking forward to 2019, I have a final note… back in March of 2018 I recorded a new album with the wonderful Marry Waterson. We had first met the year before at a writing retreat organised by Kathryn Williams and found instant chemistry, leading to us wanting to spend more time writing together. There’ll be more news soon of the release of our album and some shows we’ll be playing together. Stay tuned for 2019 news!
I hope 2018 has been a good one for you, your family and friends.
Wishing you all a fabulous 2019!
Lots of love,