[Images courtesy of High & Lonesome]
If your Saturday is free you could do a whole lot worse than pop down to Holy Trinity Church for the stunning folk balladeer Rachel Sermanni.
Last year’s High & Lonesome festival was a bit of a win for Leeds. For one chilly, wintery day in November the city centre hosted Dead Young Records tribute to all things Americana (and if that word has turned you off, take a look at our interview with High & Lonesome for last year, we’re sure you’ll have your opinion changed) with performances at Belgrave Music Hall, Oporto, and Holy Trinity Church. One of the highlights for anyone who made it to Holy Trinity has to have been seeing the noir-folk of Rachel Sermanni. The occasionally ethereal, always captivating nature of her performance fit so perfectly in the space that they’ve only gone and invited her back.
Both Rachel and the High And Lonesome festival had pretty stellar 2014’s. One toured a new album, written in the Yukon, accompanied by a collection of drawings; and the other turned Leeds city centre into yet another astonishing celebration of music. So it seems only fair the two would come together for the first of H&L’s ‘out of festival’ events. With a handful of gigs already planned in the run up to the second festival, Rachel will get the ball rolling with another opportunity to use Holy Trinity to its full extent.
If even just a quick watch of the video for ‘Lay Oh’ showcases anything, it’s how well suited her voice and her mandolin are to each other, and if you didn’t get to see her last November it can’t be too much of a stretch to want to hear her sounds floating through the air of Holy Trinity:
Since beginning to sing aged 17, Rachel has travelled the world with nothing more than her lungs and a pair of instruments (one, incidentally, called Sue). Touring Canada and Australia, every inch of the UK, and supporting everyone from Mumford & Sons to Elvis Costello – with Ron Sexsmith thrown in for good measure. It seems like a little gig in a beautiful northern church is just the rest she deserves.
We caught up with Rachel ahead of her gig at Holy Trinity Church on Saturday to discuss her experiences at High & Lonesome festival, her thoughts on the Leeds music scene and plans for 2015…
TSOTA: You played as part of the inaugural High & Lonesome festival – how was it?
RS: The gig was a favourite of the whole UK tour that I did. A packed church, a kindly audience, wonderful bands to share the bill with. The festival was put together very well and that is often rare, especially in young fests. It was a joy to play.
TSOTA: A big part of the festival plans centered around how musically aware the Leeds gig-goers are, how is Leeds as a place to play?
RS: It is always pleasant. I know there is a very good music uni there. I have met and heard some very talented musicians who studied there. I know quite a few musicians and bands from the surrounding area also. They are all great and very involving. People are keen to maintain a sense of community. It is nice to feel part of it, in a small way.
TSOTA: How is touring your ‘own’ show different to being a support act, do you have more freedom, more room to breathe?
RS: I need, perhaps more room to breathe before gigs. It’s nice to take some space because there’s a little extra pressure and responsibility to deliver a show. I like to be calm before a show. Or at a perfect balance of calm and excited…I like any show- support or headline. And I will be playing with Tom, who’s supporting me. It feels more like we’re supporting each other though, which is nice.
TSOTA: How is the rest of 2015 panning out for you, are there exciting things ahead?
After North England I head to Europe to explore some cool cities. Paris. House concerts throughout Holland. A month in Berlin. Then back to the UK for the album release. Then I think I’d like to cross the Atlantic for some festivals. I haven’t planned that far, quite yet.
Rachel is playing at Holy Trinity Church this 28th February – and tickets are available here