Welsh singer-songwriter Lowri Evans made the most of a recent trip to the US where she played several gigs in the Big Apple before
heading onto the Folk Alliance International in Kansas City. We caught up with her recently to ask her about the trip and the unexpected final showcase at the airport for Michael Eavis, founder of Glastonbury Festival.
FRUK: So you’re just back from the US where you managed to play some show in NY. Is this your first time performing there. What was it like?
Lowri: Yes, this was our first time visiting and performing in New York. We played 3 shows in NYC the first being at a café/bar called the Path café in East Greenwich Village. Although a small venue they cater very well for live music and the audience were very appreciative, we played alongside 2 other NYC based acts. The second show was in The Long Island City bar and again, like the Path café, the venue is set up for live music. Our final show was back in Greenwich village at The Bitter End, “New York’s Oldest Rock Venue” everyone from Bob Dylan to Kenny Rogers to Woody Allen to Lady Gaga have graced the stage at this venue so it was a real treat to be invited to perform there, great audience, great sound and a really nice vibe to the place. We will definitely be back to play in NYC and hopefully get the chance to see some more of what the wonderful city has to offer.
You also showcased at this year’s Folk Alliance International in Kansas City. They cram a lot into 4 days at that event how was it?
The Folk Alliance was quite an experience for us as first time delegates; there is an incredible amount of events going on and likewise an incredible amount of musicians! We had done our research prior to the event which we are so glad we did and went there with some specific music industry people and companies in mind to meet, seminars to attend and to generally promote ourselves and our music in any and every way we could!
It sounds daunting
You have to be prepared to throw yourself into it and speak to people, introduce yourself, ask about them what they do, why they are there. This is something I think (some) British people may shy away from so it took a little time to get ourselves into the zone! So yes it is a bit daunting at first when you attend the opening reception and realize just how many people are there, but you soon find yourself starting up conversations in the crowded lifts, in the bar, in the hotel lobby etc.
These showcases are clearly very valuable to artists like yourself.
The showcases are important there is no doubt about that, it’s a big part of why you are there. You have to try and make sure you let the right people know your showcase times and more importantly sell yourself to them to ensure they add you to their list of acts to see. The official Folk Alliance Showcases all happen on the ballroom level of the hotel and this is almost like a little music festival in itself with pro sound systems lighting etc and military standard organization to ensure everything runs to time. You only get your one chance to officially showcase so there is always the possibility you are on at the same time as a crowd puller, but even if you play to a small audience there is always the chance that the right person is watching you!
The madness starts after 10pm when 3 floors of hotel host Bedroom Showcases, some of which are simply totally acoustic “in the round” type showcases, some of them have sound and lighting systems and of many of them have beer and food to attract people in! Different promoters, agents, record companies, societies etc book rooms out to showcase acts. We played 4 bedroom showcases in the UK Horizons room where mainly acts from Wales, England, Scotland and Ireland were showcasing with a few special guests from around the globe appearing too. This was the place to invite the people you met in the day to come and catch one of your showcases, these people may only pop in for one or two songs because they might have to dash to catch another act, and so it was nice for us to see so many come back for a second listen at another one of our showcases.
The Young’Uns were there this year, they must have been entertaining, they’re as much a comedy set as they are a folk trio.
Ah yes, these guys seemed to be on one big showcase, they seem to know the words (or perhaps make them up) to any traditional folk song you can think of and would burst into glorious 3 part harmonies at any given chance. I think they made a few impromptu guest appearances with other artists throughout the 4 days too in hallways, lifts and bedroom showcases. We caught a couple of their bedroom showcases and also their official showcase to which they sang and entertained in probably the largest ballroom to a packed audience, thoroughly entertaining to watch and lovely guys too.
I hear you have plans to tour Canada? How did that come about?
We met with quite a few Canadian promoters, managers and musicians and spoke to them about the possibility of touring in Canada. There are so many folk clubs and festivals in Canada, it is a beautiful country full of wonderful musicians so it seems the next natural step to organise a tour there.
I hear you bumped into Michael Eavis at Atlanta airport and managed to audition for him on the spot?
Yes, we like to call it our final showcase of our USA trip! We flew from Kansas City to Atlanta to get our flight back to the UK and Lee spotted Michael Eavis in departures. Couldn’t let the opportunity to speak to him pass by and being still in Folk Alliance mode I went up to him and introduced myself. We chatted about the festival and a bit about farming. Then he asked us to play him a song, we played the last single from my “Corner of my eye” album “Deep inside” and by the second chorus he was singing along. I think we definitely made an impression and he flew back to the UK with all our details to get in touch and to book us, which he promised he would pass on to the booker for the Avalon stage…
You’ve got some great dates coming up supporting Cara Dillon, Blue Rose Code…and you have recently supported Seth Lakeman on his solo tour, seems to be all happening for you?
Yes we have a few busy months ahead! The Seth Lakeman show at St Davids Hall Cardiff was a sellout, it’s always nice to have a queue of people waiting to meet you and buy CD’s straight after you have performed. We have a slot supporting Blue Rose Code in Newport, Pembrokeshire on 10th April and we are also supporting Cara Dillon for the third time at Theatre Mwldan, Cardigan on April 30th. As well as the support slots we have numerous other shows coming up in the next few months including many festival appearances.
And some great exposure on the BBC Radio Wales via Frank Hennessy’s Celtic Heartbeat?
Frank has been a great supporter of our music since the first album back in 2006. We have performed live sessions for him over the years including the most recent session on March 22nd where we discussed all things American, future plans and performed 3 songs live from our latest cd’s.
Any big plans coming up, new album?
There is a new English album on the way, we are half way through recording it, including one song I co-wrote with Henry Priestman (The Christians, The Yachts etc) and Pete Riley (Treehouse, Edwin McCain, Amy Wadge) in Liverpool towards the end of 2014, and a couple I wrote whilst we were in the USA touring in April 2014. We have self produced the last few releases and we felt it was time to get someone else on board so we are working with the fantastic arranger/producer Mason Neely (Martyn Joseph, Cerys Matthews) for this album. He has already challenged us and brought some great ideas to the table during the few sessions we have already had and I can’t wait for people to hear the new songs.
Here she is performing ‘Deep inside’ for Bob Harris’s ‘Under the Apple Tree’ sessions: