NORTHERN SKY - a Nick Drake celebration
Kathryn Williams and Neill MacColl
who will be performing the songs of, and inspired by Nick Drake in a songwriters circle with
George Boomsma, Ian Bartholomew and Sara Dennis
Had Nick Drake still been with us, on the 19th of June he would have turned 70; hence we are taking the opportunity to celebrate his ongoing influence on contemporary music by bringing together five superb musicians who cite Drake as a major influence on their work. For this special event DBTR is delighted to be re-uniting Kathryn Williams with Neill MacColl who in 2008 released ‘Two’ as a joint project and subsequently toured the album to critical acclaim. Described by The Independent as - ‘A magical meeting of intuitive musical minds’.
Though born in Myanmar, Nick Drake came to Britain with his family while he was a child. During his short life, (he took his own life aged 26) he recorded three remarkable albums and has gone on to become one of the most influential musicians of modern times. As was succinctly put in 1972 by Rolling Stone – ‘The beauty of Drake's voice is its own justification. May it become familiar to us all’. And so it has proved as he continues to be name-checked by artists as diverse as Beck, REM’s Peter Buck, Norah Jones and.....Kathryn Williams.
Kathryn Williams is now one of the UK's most respected and critically acclaimed singer-songwriters. She released her first album, Dog Leap Stairs in 1999, famously made for £80. At the time NME declared it ‘jaw-droppingly beautiful’. The follow up, Little Black Numbers, garnered a Mercury nomination, bringing her to the attention of a wider public. Her gentle melodies and delicate song-writing have led to comparisons with Nick Drake, an artist for whom she has great admiration. Kathryn states ‘I first heard Nick Drake when I was at art school, a friend gave me a mix tape of his stuff, it took me a while to get it but when I did I was really into it’- and for the record she made her first major live appearance at the Barbican’s Nick Drake tribute concert in 1999.
Neill MacColl is from a hugely important family in the world of folk music. His father, Ewan MacColl and his mother Peggy Seeger, were at the heart of the British folk revival of the early 60’s. Though Neill has developed into a fine musician in his own right, having a father who wrote classics such as ‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’ and a talented multi-instrumentalist mother must have had an impact. Furthermore, Neill was part of his parent’s band from the age of 15. Then there are his siblings – his brother Callum is a well-respected musician and the legacy of his late half-sister Kirsty MacColl speaks for itself. Neill’s career has included spells not only in his parents band, he played with Eddi Reader, spent several years with David Gray, as well as spells working alongside Nanci Griffith, Boo Hewerdine, David Gilmour, Lou Rhodes, Beth Gibbons, Steve Earle and KD Lang amongst others.
George Boomsma’s voice has an endearing effortlessness about it, his acoustic guitar is soft and sparing, allowing his songs to breathe and giving them a timeless intimacy. Like Nick Drake, George has the skill of making complex and clever song writing sound blissfully simple, with every line feeling like a fresh utterance from the ether, holding you frozen as you wait for the next sumptuous note. ‘If it were possible for Nick Drake and Thom Yorke to collaborate, it might sound something like this.’- Fresh On The Net
Ian Bartholomew and Sara Dennis are two thirds of Teesside folksters Peg Powler. They perform regularly at folk, literary and poetry festivals and renowned poet Andy Willoughby who doubles as Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at Teesside University reckons they are 'The best new folk band in the North.’ They released their debut album, Northern Lines in July 2016 and it was described by Bob Fischer on BBC Tees as - 'beautifully dark and twisted folk music with a macabre streak a mile wide’.