WHEN Bridie Jackson and The Arbour performed at last year’s Berwick Frontier Festival, it was said that you could hear a pin drop as their finely blended mix of music and harmonies wove its spell over a captive audience so its no surprise that their return to the town’s Watchtower this Saturday has created a bit of a buzz.
The Newcastle based quartet use sparse instrumentation and intriguing vocal arrangements to create music that has seen them gather quite a fanbase over the past year.
Since launching their debut album with a sell out show at The Sage Gateshead, they’ve had a busy time of things with performances right around the north east; recording their new single ‘Scarecrow’ and inking a deal with Manchester label Debt Records.
But one of the band’s biggest accomplishments so far has been securing airplay on national radio- the holy grail for many up and coming acts.
To date their songs have been played on BBC Radio 3’s Late Junction, BBC 6Music and Folk Radio UK and there’s sure to be more airtime to come in 2013.
And Bridie told ‘The Guide’ that hearing your own compositions on national radio was a novelty that would never wear off.
“There really is no better feeling! It’s amazing” she chimed.
“Getting the deal with Debt Records was fantastic too.
“It happened very gradually, like pretty much everything the band do! I met the Debt bunch a few years ago through various gig exchanges we put on for each other.
“It’s great working with them, they are simultaneously incredibly supportive and also let you get on with your own thing, which works perfectly for us.”
‘Scarecrow’ gets it official launch as a double A-side with ‘All You Love Is All You Are’ next weekend, with the launch night at Newcastle’s Cluny 2 coming near the end of a short tour of intimate venues across the north east which includes Folklines in Middlesbrough tonight and Bede’s World in Jarrow tomorrow before Bridie and the band journey up to Berwick.
The region-wide jaunt comes to an end next Saturday with a performance at the Moot Hall in Hexham. And Bridie said she and her bandmates Jenny Nendick, Carol Bowden and Rachel Cross, were proud to fly the flag for a region that has quietly produced some cracking acts in the last few years including Sunderland’s Field Music, who were nominated for last year’s Mercury Music Prize
She continued: “Historically, the north east has been a bit over looked culturally which in some ways is a good thing as it leaves us the space to get on with things without interference and maybe that’s why so much of the output is as original as it is.
“Getting to launch our album at The Sage was a pretty good start to 2012! We never expected to get such a positive response from both press and audience, and it was definitely the start of us thinking we might be on to something that was worth pursuing.
“Playing Frontier Fest was a big highlight of 2012 so we’re really are delighted to be returning!”
Although she is now at home on stage with her Cheryl, Rachel and renowned north east cellist, Jenny, who has previously played with Maximo Park, Bridie’s first foray into the music industry was as a solo artist.
“I used to play solo, and did that for quite a few years, but got a bit fed up of it, as it gets quite lonely after a while,” she explained.
“So I started to collaborate with lots of different musicians.
“Me and the girls formed quite gradually, and have only really been together as our current line up for just over a year. We met mostly either through work and/or the Newcastle music scene.”
Just as the music they play is very eclectic, Bridie said said that her personal influences and the collective influences of the band spanned a broad spectrum.
“In terms of my writing, it’s a bit of a process of osmosis and it changes all the time depending on what I’m listening to, reading, etc. My strongest influences definitely come from my upbringing though- my dad is a composer and ethnomusicologist and I spent a lot of my childhood in Europe, sampling a lot of different musical styles, which was very influential.
“When we’re arranging the songs, we all pitch in creatively and as we come from quite an eclectic background, we always have a real wealth of influences and experience to draw from, which is great and gives the rehearsal process a real richness and variety.”
Tickets for Bridie Jackson and The Arbour’s performance on Saturday at 7pm, where they will be supported by local singer Lindsay Walker, are available from The Cornerhouse Cafe on Church Street, Berwick, for £5.