May 22 2012

Evolution Emerging Preview: Amy Holford

Evolution Emerging returns to the Ouseburn Valley on the 1st June and once again promises to be a fantastic day of live music, showcasing the very best in emerging north east talent. This year’s event will see 25 bands/solo artists play across the Ouseburn’s best drinking holes including The Cluny/Cluny 2, The Cumberland Arms, The Tyne, The Star & Shadow, Blank Studios and The Tanners. I recently caught up with Amy Holford who will play Cluny 2 and the Polite Room at Blank Studios on June 1st.

Amy Holford has been difficult to pin down recently. At the beginning of May she was unexpectedly called upon by guitar ‘tapper’ Newton Faulkner to support him at Newcastle’s Mill Volvo Tyne Theatre on the 8th. She then found herself playing three further shows across the country for the dreadlocked maestro. “Overwhelming, but excellent” in Amy’s words yet as she pointed out when I finally caught up with her at the end of last week, “the last few months have just been utterly, utterly mental!”

Things really started to happen for Amy back in November when she played Sunderland’s Ivy House for Spark FM and then subsequently did a live show on the radio. Recording her demo with local songwriter and producer Morris Ford has also helped to raise her profile dramatically. She has subsequently played at all of the region’s major venues including The Cluny, where after her show there at the end of January, a local promoter commented “it’s clear after tonight that Amy is ready for a bigger stage.”

In writing this I’m actually completing the ‘holy trinity’ of emerging female folk singers in the North East, after previously covering ‘This Little Bird (Beccy Young) and Natasha Haws –  all three of which are starting to get a lot of attention. As Amy points out though there is a whole host of “massively talented” musicians coming out of the North East at the moment.  “There’s so much help and support, I think everyone is doing all they can to provide musicians with avenues at the moment.” Amy is particularly grateful to North East Music Agency ‘Generator’ with whom she is completing a music training course, aimed at helping musicians improve both their musical skills but also promotional and technical strengths too.  “Personally they’ve been excellent with me.”

Live Amy plays an acoustic guitar and is renowned her for exceptional vocal talents. She first started to sing when she was very young and playing regular gigs has helped her voice develop enormously over the last year. “Massively influenced” by Eva Cassidy, one the real highlights of Amy’s set is hearing her sing an A Cappella cover of the folk song Wayfaring Stranger. As a guitarist she has always admired the likes of Chuck Berry and Eric Clapton and vows to this day that she will learn Thunderstuck by AC/DC – “I still can’t play it!”

Amy is one to watch over the next few years and you should definitely take the opportunity to catch her play in the intimate setting of Cluny 2 on June 1st. To see her in such a small venue might be a rarity in the not too distant future.


What are your hopes for the next 12 months?

I hope I just get to play as much as possible, all over the country! I love travelling and being up on stag – I want to do that as much as possible.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received as a musician?

Mainly, treat every gig as if you’re singing in the Royal Albert Hall. Always play, keep learning and experimenting and writing. Never undervalue yourself, just be yourself.

Dream gig would be?

There’s not one. I’d love to play all of the festivals. All of them. And play the Royal Albert Hall or Hall One at The Sage. Or Madison Square Gardens like Jay Z!

Currently listening too?

Lianne La Havas, B.B King, Mississippi, John Hurt, Curtis Mayfield, Massive Attack.

Favourite North East music venue?

Cluny 2 or the Live Theatre. I’ve been lucky enough to sing at the Live Theatre and the acoustics in there are incredible.

Favourite current North East band(s)

Athletes in Paris, The Lake Poets, Baron von Alias, Ben Watson, Ajimal, Natasha Haws.

Who are you planning NOT TO MISS at Evo Emerging?

I would really like to see Beth Jeans Houghton live but I think my slot in the Polite Room sessions at Blank Studios after the slot at the Cluny 2 might clash! Crooked Hands and Lilliput will be good too.

Post Evo what are your plans – gigs/recording etc

I’m recording my EP over the summer, so look forward to that and some good stuff in the autumn too!

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