Duo happy to be heading north

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A duo who met at an open mic night are bound for Seahouses next weekend to play a house concert at St Cuthbert’s.

O’Hooley & Tidow, or Belinda and Heidi on a first name basis, met when Heidi was singing at a bar in Huddersfield.

The two were familiar to each other from the Huddersfield music scene but it wasn’t until that night that they decided to work with each other.

Belinda had previously been a member of acclaimed Newcastle band Rachel Unthank & the Winterset, now known as The Unthanks.

She left the fold in 2008 and after spending more time with Heidi, realised their voices complimented each other well.

“Belinda has got a very clear and pure sound to her voice whereas as mine is more husky and deep,” Heidi told ‘WOW’.

“We started off quite casually but after playing together quite a bit we realised we had something and we started to do some gigs and write some songs for an album.”

Belinda and Heidi are currently working on their new album and they’ll have a tough act to follow as their last release ‘The Hum’ was heralded by music fans and critics alike.

The Guardian labelled it ‘remarkable’ and one of their albums of the year; 6 Music presenter Lauren Laverne said she absolutely loved it and The Independent described it as ‘defiant, robust, poetic folk music for the times we live in’.

Heidi said that fortunately she and Belinda find it quite easy to let their feelings out when it comes to writing songs, adding that they get inspiration from social and personal issues.

“The reason we’re both songwriters is that we like to express ourselves through music.

“We’re both really into politics and ‘The Hum’ was our most political to date.

“We feel it’s important to make reference to things like funding cuts, job losses and attitudes to the working class as our albums are a snapshot of that moment in time.

“We also draw on personal things like members of our family and we even wrote a song about a cat dying.”

One of the highlights of O’Hooley and Tidow’s prior to this year was being nominated for a 2013 BBC Radio 2 Folk Award for Best Duo but that was before they were invited to play at the festivals to end all festivals- Glastonbury.

“To get the invitation to play there was huge,” Heidi enthused.

“Billy Bragg asked us to play his Magical Musical Roundup stage which was fantastic.

“Glastonbury was way bigger than I ever thought it was going to be and I knew it would be huge.

“We also played the Cambridge Folk Festival which is a big deal too. St Cuthbert’s House will be a different gig for us but one we’re really looking forward to.

“Smaller gigs are great for engaging with the audience and allowing them to really hear the songs.

“It’s also really exciting to be heading north as most of our gigs involve travelling south!

“Northumberland is such a beautiful part of the world and we’re really looking forward to the drive up.”

Tickets for the Saturday, August 30 gig are £10.