Amelia’s Magazine | An interview with Mike Gale of Co-Pilgrim and review of A Fairer Sea

Co Pilgrim by Gemma Cotterell
The Traveller by Gemma Cotterell. This illustration was inspired by the concept of a A Fairer Sea, title of Co-Pilgrim‘s album. The octopus is taming the sea with his melodic folk music.

Co-pilgrim is the new project from Mike Gale, who has enlisted various friends to join him on A Fairer Sea. The album opens with a rollicking beat before the more melancholic Trapeze takes over: songs are inspired by the difficulties of a trans-atlantic relationship, combining often sad lyrics with beautiful tunes and harmonies. Third in the beautiful title track A Fairer Sea makes copious use of slide guitar to create a gentle slice of Americana that belies the lovelorn words. Other highlights include the combination of upbeat chorus and lonely lyrics on I’m Going to the Country, and the final tune, No Guiding LIght, a spiritual questioning in times of woe. Mike Gale has successfully woven together different musical genres and personal experience to create a gorgeous album that deserves a wide audience.

Co-Pilgrim by Lucy Kirk
Co-Pilgrim by Lucy Kirk.

Why Co-pilgrim
My mum actually came up with the name, I just liked the sound of it. I didn’t want the project to be called Mike Gale. Co-pilgrim felt like a good name for a band that isn’t strictly a band in the traditional sense in that we don’t really have a fixed line up, people can come and go as they wish.

co pilgrim album art
I believe this is the most recent of many projects for all your members, what has been your musical trajectory so far and how did you end up here?
Everyone in the current line up apart from Claire ( vocals ) has known and worked with each other for at least 10 years or so. Myself, Andy ( bass ) and Tom ( drums ) were all in a band called Black Nielson. We were lucky enough to get picked up by Joe ( Slide, vocals, keys ) and his brother Robin’s label Truck records about 13 years ago and released some albums through them. I’ve worked on and off with both brothers since. After Black Nielson split I travelled around for a while and worked on Co-pilgrim songs with the people I met but when it came time to make A Fairer Sea I wanted to work with the people that I felt most comfortable with and had the biggest musical connection to, I was lucky enough that Joe, Tom and Andy wanted to do it. We’re also really lucky to have Claire, who is Joe’s wife, on board because her beautiful vocal harmony is exactly what we’ve been missing.

Co-pilgrim by Carley Chiu
Co-pilgrim’s ‘Surreal fantasy land‘ by Carley Chiu.

You are a fan of both Smog and the Beach Boys – how do these two influences manifest in your music?
I think that they both make music designed to get right into your soul. I know some people may consider Bill Callahan‘s music to be a bit miserable and The Beach Boys to be happy and full of sunshine but I think the opposite is often the case. Bill Callahan‘s lyrics are more often than not really funny where as a lot of Beach Boys songs are heartbreaking, especially the later stuff when Brian was losing his way. I guess the thing that I take from them both the most, apart from the harmonies is the idea that just because the feel of a song is happy or sad it doesn’t mean the lyrics need be the same, I really like that trick.

Co-Pilgrim by Carina Martina
Co-Pilgrim by Carina Martina. Co-Pilgrim’s album A Fairer Sea inspired my illustration with its aquatic references and dreamy melodies. 

Would it be fair to say that Co-pilgrim is a combination of folk and country, with a strong American influence? Why do you think British bands have taken Americana to heart in recent years? 
Yeah I suppose that’s fair, though the first bands that I really fell in love with were Stiff Little Fingers and The Jam, I still love them and they’ll always have an influence on me and my songs. I’m not sure It’s only been recently that British bands have been influenced by Americana, I think It’s been an influence for a while, maybe a few breakthrough artists have made it seem like a recent thing? To be honest I’m not really even sure what qualifies a band to be called Americana, it’s quite a broad genre.

A good melody is clearly very important to you, how do you write your tunes? 
Thanks, yep, the melody is definitely the most important part of any song for me, then the harmonies. My songwriting style is quite simple I guess. I just sit with my guitar for a while until I find a few chords I like and then try to mumble a melody over the top. I don’t always write a full song in one go, often I’ll have a bunch of little sections that will all end up in different songs. Lyrics always come second to the melody for me, though I really am trying to work harder on my words.

Is there a theme to the new album, and if so what is it?
Yeah, the main recurring theme of the album is a long distance relationship I was involved in a while ago with a woman from New York and the struggles we faced in trying to make it work. I moved over there to be with her but ultimately we couldn’t keep it going. It was nobody’s fault and she’s still a dear friend.

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What is title track Fairer Sea about, and what was the idea behind the accompanying video? Who made it?
A Fairer Sea is again about that same relationship. It’s just about how with a bit more luck then maybe we could have made it. The sea is the distance we always had to fight against. Claire from the band and our friend Suzy made the video, it came out brilliantly and fits the theme of the song perfectly.

What can we expect next from Co-Pilgrim?
We are going to release a couple more singles from A Fairer Sea over the next few months. During that time we’ll also be starting to record the next album, I’m really excited about the new songs. We’ve got some festival appearances booked over the summer including my favourite little festival, Wood Festival. We’ll see you there!

A Fairer Sea by Co-pilgrim is out now on Battle Worldwide Recordings.

Categories ,A Fairer Sea, ,americana, ,Battle Worldwide Recordings, ,beach boys, ,Bill Callahan, ,Black Nielson, ,Carina Martina, ,Carley Chiu, ,Co-pilgrim, ,Gemma Cotterell, ,interview, ,Lucy Kirk, ,Mike Gale, ,new york, ,review, ,Stiff Little Fingers, ,The Jam, ,Truck records, ,Wood Festival

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Amelia’s Magazine | Mary Epworth at St Pancras Old Church: Live Review

Mary Epworth by Gemma Cotterell

Mary Epworth by Gemma Cotterell

Hidden away between Mornington Crescent and St Pancras railway station, in that relatively little known area of London that is Somers Town, St Pancras Old Church seems to be undergoing a bit of a reinvention. A church with a long and interesting history (and that’s before we get to the impressive churchyard, with its links to the Romantic Poets, the American Revolution and The Beatles), over the last couple of years it has begun to put on small gigs by many an up-and-coming artist.

Mary Epworth by Sylwia Szyszka

Mary Epworth by Sylwia Szyszka

Escaping a bitterly cold evening, I was immediately struck by how small the place is (apparently a capacity of only around 100 people), especially compared to Union Chapel, another church-cum-music venue about a mile or so to the east. With the scent of incense wafting through the door, I could see that all the seats were already taken, with any late-comers making do with standing room only at the back.

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Mary Epworth by Gilly Rochester

Mary Epworth by Gilly Rochester

Playing a venue such as this must have been a bit of a contrast for Mary Epworth, having been at SXSW in Texas a couple of weeks before. Tonight was the first appearance on a whistle-stop UK tour, before some festival dates into the summer. Epworth has been ploughing her own particular musical furrow for a couple of years now, influenced by as much by English folk as by 1960s West Coast psychedelia. She gained recognition following an appearance at a tribute concert to Sandy Denny, and the release of her debut album, Dream Life, last year received widespread praise.

Mary Epworth by Rhi Pardoe

Mary Epworth by Rhi Pardoe

With a slightly reduced version of her trusty Jubilee Band (certainly compared to the gig I saw at the Lexington last summer), Epworth took centre stage in a sparkly black dress and with drum sticks in hand, leading the beat on a snare drum and (drummers may correct me here) a tom-tom placed either side of her. With support from Jim Hanner and Will Twynham, variously swapping bass, keyboards, drums and an upright piano and the redoubtable Citizen Helene supplying guitar and harmonies, she led us through a selection of songs largely drawn from Dream Life.

Mary Epworth by Gabriel Ayala

Mary Epworth by Gabriel Ayala

Playing with a more compact band meant that a lot of the songs felt more, not necessarily stripped down, but intimate, which certainly suited the setting (especially with the low level lighting, which added to the atmosphere). That said, Epworth’s soaring vocals, particularly on Heal This Dirty Soul, could more than fill the room. There was a mournful Two For Joy, with its simple organ chords feeling suitably “churchy” (as Epworth quipped when describing some of her set tonight), and the country tinged Sweet Boy, which sounds not unlike something that Caitlin Rose might come up with. Rather unexpected was a cover of The Four Horsemen by Greek prog-rockers Aphrodite’s Child. Don’t think anyone saw that coming!

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Mary Epworth by Sam Parr

Mary Epworth by Sam Parr

The most well known songs, Black Doe and Long Gone, popped up towards the end (Epworth admitting that she actually wrote the latter about a dog), and there was a brief encore, accompanied solely by Twynham on keyboards, to round off the evening for a most appreciative audience.

Mary Epworth by Carley Chiu

Mary Epworth by Carley Chiu

After a bit of a break, Mary Epworth and the Jubilee Band will head off to play at the Great Escape Festival and the Wood Festival, followed by the Lounge On The Farm Festival. There don’t appear to be any new records ready for release on the immediate horizon, but I’m sure that when they do appear, they will be just as special.

Categories ,Aphrodite’s Child, ,Beatles, ,Caitlin Rose, ,Carley Chiu, ,Citizen Helene, ,folk, ,Gabriel Ayala, ,Gemma Cotterell, ,Gilly Rochester, ,Jim Hanner, ,Jubilee Band, ,Lounge On The Farm Festival, ,Mary Epworth, ,psychedelia, ,Rhi Pardoe, ,Sam Parr, ,Sandy Denny, ,St Pancras Old Church, ,sxsw, ,Sylwia Szyszka, ,the Great Escape, ,The Lexington, ,union chapel, ,Will Twynham, ,Wood Festival

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Amelia’s Magazine | Review: The Lost Cavalry, Three Cheers For The Undertaker and interview with Mark West

The Lost Cavalry Three Cheers for the Undertaker album cover
Three Cheers for the Undertaker is the new album from The Lost Cavalry, the band founded by ex Fanfarlo guitarist Mark West four years ago. It opens with the mournful strains of Secret Steps, before crashing drums bang into Snow City Radio. Melodies are key in this atmospheric twelve track record, with lyrics gleaned from unusual sources in a bid to steer clear of generic love songs. The elegiac sounds of a brass section create a full sound that is beautifully harmonised with female voices in recent single Stars are Ripe, a stand out track that is the current single. The Elephant of Castlebar Hill shows off Mark as lead singer, who has a pretty voice that reminds me of the lilting King Creosote at his best. Only Forward takes a minimalist approach, with gentle male voices murmuring behind the gently building instrumentation that characterises most songs on Three Cheers for the Undertaker. The slow tale of Kings of Kings gradually builds to a lush denouement before the album comes to a close with the thoughtful Last Stand and Mono. I’ve listened to this album many times over the past few weeks and it has seeped gently under my skin: recommended for those who like bands such as Fanfarlo, 6 Day Riot and Beirut.

The Elephant of Castlebar Hill by Carley Chiu
The Elephant of Castlebar Hill by Carley Chiu.

Why did you leave Fanfarlo, and what parts of that band can we expect to find in The Lost Cavalry?
That seems a long while ago now! It was after we’d recorded the first album ‘Reservoir‘ over in Connecticut with Peter Katis. It was just a case of what people call ‘musical differences‘, we wanted to do different things with the songs. I certainly learned a lot from Simon and from recording with Peter, about putting a song together, being brave with edits and tricks for production and recording. I also actually changed the way I sing quite considerably after feedback from the guys, which has certainly made a big difference to the way The Lost Cavalry sounds.

How did you all the members of The Lost Cavalry come together?
When I decided to form the band I had a few people in mind – Nick and I had always had a good songwriting partnership ever since a band we were both in at University and I’d also played in bands with Oliver and Jonny before (Xup and with Simon Love). Toby was a good friend and I knew he’d be great to work with, and Derek actually joined the band after we were introduced to each other by a mutual friend to write the soundtrack for indie film ‘Booked Out‘ together.  We learned a lot through writing and recording that score, and I learned a lot from Derek, so afterwards it seemed natural to ask him to join the Cavalry.

The Lost Cavalry rehearsal
You have said that each song is a story – where do you find the subject matter for these vignettes?
On this album that does seem to be the way things have turned out, with the exception of a few songs like ‘Mono‘. I think I just wanted to write about something other than love, and often reading an article online, looking out of a plane or train window or overhearing a conversation would spark off some idea of a little story in my head. I do tend to write quite often while on the train – something about being out of London, whizzing along and seeing lots of different things from the window seems to make things happen.

The Lost Calvary by Christine Fleming
The Lost Calvary by Christine Fleming.

What have you been up to since your formation in 2009?
Well, quite a lot! We’ve of course written and recorded all the songs on our album, and we’ve released two EPs and a split 7″ vinyl single with Keston Cobblers’ Club. We’ve played a load of gigs and at some festivals (which is something we’d like to do a lot more of next year), Derek and I recorded the Booked Out film score and we already have a bunch of new tracks we’re excited about for album number two. We’ve certainly taken our time releasing the album, four years is pretty slow progress, but we’re in no hurry and we’ve enjoyed taking our time and getting the songs just right.

YouTube Preview ImageSnow City Radio

You have done numerous collaborations, what have your favourite ones been?
I’m proud of our 7″ with Keston Cobblers’ Club… and it’s been great to play with them at some gigs and some live videos. The 7″ launch show was especially fun with both our bands playing totally unplugged and joining in on each others songs. And singing with Sophie Jamieson at our album launch show last month was a lot of fun, she has such an amazing voice. We’re hoping to collaborate with Patch And The Giant soon too – we’ve written the start of a song but need to find the time to get it finished and recorded – our bands have been pretty close this year with Derek playing cello with them a few times and Angie from their band playing trumpet with us.

The Lost Cavalry rehearsal
What prompted the name of your new album, Three Cheers for the Undertaker?
I could come up with some sort of elaborate lie about the album name, but actually our original drummer Dave suggested it – it’s the name of an old song by Leslie Sarony which was actually a b-side, which Dave said he’d always thought would be a good album name. It’s a bit moody but also quite silly, which we liked. “Three cheers for the undertaker, he never makes a fuss, for he’s a jolly good fellow, and so say all of us“.

The Last Cavalry by Lynne Datson
The Last Cavalry by Lynne Datson.

Who designed the wonderful album cover, and why the shell?
All the artwork on our album and EPs is by Toby who plays guitar in the band. We wanted an image for the album that was striking at a glance but was also detailed when you looked closely. He came up with the nautilus partly because of the numerous songs about the sea we have on the album, partly because of the pleasing shape, but also I’d like to think it’s to do with the name of the submarine that was visualised by Jules Verne.

YouTube Preview Image Stars are Ripe

What next?
We’ll see really! We’re looking forward to starting to record some new songs we’ve been working on… we feel like we’ve found our feet with Three Cheers For The Undertaker and we’re all now pretty fired up and excited about where we can take the band next. We should probably put some effort in to arranging some more gigs and festivals for next year, and we have some video and collaboration projects planned too. Derek and I may do another film score, and Nick and I have an album of more mellow instrumental music we’ve been sitting on for a while which we might finish off and put out as a free download album. So yeah, it’s been a lot of work to get Three Cheers For The Undertaker released, but it’s definitely just the start.

Three Cheers For The Undertaker by The Lost Cavalry is out now.

Categories ,6 Day Riot, ,album, ,beirut, ,Booked Out, ,Carley Chiu, ,Christine Fleming, ,fanfarlo, ,interview, ,Jules Verne, ,Keston Cobblers’ Club, ,King Creosote, ,Lynne Datson, ,Mark West, ,Patch And The Giant, ,Reservoir, ,review, ,Simon Love, ,Sophie Jamieson, ,The Lost Cavalry, ,Three Cheers For The Undertaker, ,Xup

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Amelia’s Magazine | Introducing Tiny Dancer: Who Am I?

Tiny Dancer by Jo Ley
Tiny Dancer by Jo Ley.

It’s not often that I get over-excited about a music artist on the basis of one video, but that is exactly what happened after hearing the soon to be released single Who Am I? from singer Tiny Dancer, a pop star in the making if ever I saw one. This exotic whirlwind hails from a small village just outside Sheffield, where a passion for music secured her a place at the local theatre school. With a look that channels the leotards, swaying moves and swinging locks of Kate Bush, and a dance floor friendly sound that is all her own, I caught up to find out what makes Tiny tick.

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Tiny Dancer by Laura Hickman
Tiny Dancer by Laura Hickman.

You describe yourself as an ‘artist having a love affair with music’ – which came first and how do the two entwine in your life?
I made a commitment to my music, music is the love of my life. It’s a relationship without the problems and it will never stop making me happy. There wasn’t really a question as to whether or not I’d be doing this, I’ve been doing it all my life so why would that change? I was making music since i was around 8 when I first sat by my dad at the guitar, I wrote my first song when I was 13 with a few basic chords on the piano. 

Tiny Dancer who am i
Tiny Dancer by Sharon Farrow
Tiny Dancer by Sharon Farrow.

You’ve already been compared with some greats: Kate Bush, Gwen Stefani, Marina & the Diamonds. Who were you listening to when you were a little girl?
I grew up listening to a lot of songs my dad would play – by The Beatles, Phil Collins, The Monkees and Genesis. Then I discovered Lene Lovich, by that time I’d lost my mind… she’s still living somewhere inside of me I’m sure. I knew at the early stages of my life I was different. I sometimes felt and still feel like I’m channelling another person or someone else lives inside me… I’m definitely being guided and watched. 

Tiny Dancer by Carley Chiu
Tiny Dancer by Carley Chiu.

Tiny Dancer by Gemma Cotterell
Tiny Dancer by Gemma Cotterell.

It’s been said that you are not another ‘winsome girl perched on a stool with an acoustic guitar‘ – how do you write?
I experience things, I write about them, and then I move on. Writing about experiences enables me to move on from them. It’s a cathartic process, and has, in many ways, changed my outlook on life as a result. My lyrics are often dark, but I’m not exactly the Tim Burton of lyrics. Darkness is supposed to be the absence of light but for me it’s a place where creativity thrives, this is the kind of darkness that inspires me to write in the way that I do. I write stories really, that’s what my songs are, short stories but I hope they enable people to create their own personal story.

Tiny Dancer by Katie Eberts
Tiny Dancer by Katie Eberts.

Tiny Dancer by Simon McLaren
Tiny Dancer by Simon McLaren.

I love your outfit in Who Am I? – how did you decide what to wear and how important is the way you dress?
You know how a child wears exactly what they want? Well that’s me. Maybe it’s difficult to understand, but I’m not fashionable. My image will forever be evolving, change is what keeps everything on it’s feet… each outfit I wear has it’s own personality, in fact you could say that my clothes control me. My favourite piece to wear is self expression, I have always wanted to wear a black fin. Face paint is also a vital part of me, paint is art and art is a form of exorcism… it adds another dimension to my performance.

Tiny Dancer by Daniel Alexander
Tiny Dancer by Daniel Alexander.

Tiny Dancer by Lea Rimoux
Tiny Dancer by Lea Rimoux.

You’ve been working with Wayne Wilkins – how does the relationship work?
Wayne is one of the most talented and genuine people you will ever meet. I’m deadly serious when I say this… When we work together, we are always in a very focused space. It’s also very much a wonderland when musical magic is born.

Tiny Dancer in orange
Who Am I? by Tiny Dancer is released by Croydon Boy on 6th May.

Categories ,Carley Chiu, ,Croydon Boy, ,Daniel Alexander, ,Gemma Cotterell, ,Genesis, ,Jo Ley, ,Kate Bush, ,Katie Eberts, ,Laura Hickman, ,Lea Rimoux, ,Lene Lovich, ,Phil Collins, ,Sharon Farrow, ,sheffield, ,Simon Mclaren, ,the beatles, ,The Monkees, ,Tiny Dancer, ,video, ,Wayne Wilkins, ,Who Am I?

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Amelia’s Magazine | An interview with Annie Dressner and review of EP East Twenties

Annie Dressner by Karina Järv
Annie Dressner by Karina Järv.

American songstrel Annie Dressner crafts beautiful tunes that deal with love and loss, melodic folk that lovers of the likes of First Aid Kit are sure to adore. Having forsaken her hometown of New York in favour of love on UK shores she is now gearing up to release her new EP, titled East Twenties. I caught up with the honey voiced singer songwriter to discuss inspiration, lyrics and the importance of a good cup of tea.

Annie Dressner by Carley Chiu
Annie Dressner by Carley Chiu.

What prompted the move from NYC to the UK last year, and was it a good move?
Love prompted the move. It was definitely worth it for that. I do, of course, miss my friends & family and New York City (my home). That being said, it’s been a really exciting year musically for me – and I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to tour around the UK a lot, which has been fun. I learned how to drive on the left, eat beans for breakfast, understand how to make Builder’s Tea properly without having it tossed down the drain (uncool) and deal with the wide variety of weather that any given day can bring. I have not yet, however, adopted the accent. I’ll always be a New Yorker!

Annie Dressner by Gemma Cotterell
Annie Dressner by Gemma Cotterell.

Are your love songs inspired by life? How much is the writing of them like catharsis? Do you feel better afterwards?
Yes, they fortunately or unfortunately are. I’d say sometimes a song is like catharsis, where as other times it is not. When there is something I find very difficult to deal with in life, it sometimes comes out in song. Maybe it is easier for me to express myself clearly that way – at least in a more clear way than as just pure thoughts. It is hard for me to answer whether or not I feel better afterwards – I would say that it really depends on the song and what I am experiencing then. I am always happy to finish a song that I am proud of.

Annie Dressner by Jihyun Park
Annie Dressner by Jihyun Park.

Why is the new EP titled East Twenties? It sounds as though it might be a reference to a district of New York?
That’s right! I grew up in the East Twenties in New York City. Since a lot of the songs are inspired by things that happened in my life, I thought it made sense since many of the experiences were near there.

When did you first discover your love of song?
I have always loved music for as long as I can remember. There was a lot of music in my family – my Dad plays the piano, my Grandma always was playing violin in orchestras, my Aunt was a singer/songwriter and sound engineer, etc… I started to play piano when I was 4 and played violin for about five years starting at the age of 5. I always loved to sing – it’s my favorite thing to do. I started to write when I was 18. It oddly never occurred to me before that time that I could write my own songs. I started to play guitar the day that I graduated high school. Rather than going to my high school graduation party, I went home and picked up a kid’s guitar that had been untouched for my entire life from the corner of my living room & started to attempt to play it. After two weeks of attempting to play, I finally was starting to make some sense. Anyway, I just really enjoyed playing guitar & slowly but surely got the hang of it and started to write a few (maybe three songs over three years) songs for myself – I never really played them for anyone. One day, I played some of my songs for a friend and he said that I should either take it seriously or not do it at all — I have decided to do it seriously – and most of the time it is a lot of fun!

Annie Dressner by Sylwia Szyszka
Annie Dressner by Sylwia Szyszka.

Who inspired you the most when you were discovering your musical voice?
I learned how to play guitar from a Simon & Garfunkel book and always loved them. I also listened to a lot of Belle & Sebastian, Carly Simon, jazz, classical music, James Taylor, etc… I couldn’t say who exactly inspired me – as I am sure all of the music that I have listened to has, in some way, inspired me.

Anne Dressner by Simon McLaren
Anne Dressner by Simon McLaren.

Where can fans look forward to seeing you this year?
I am going to be playing all over the UK, including some festivals, such as Green Man, this summer. I am also going to be playing at Rockwood Music Hall on May 5 in New York City. A complete list of my tour dates are on my website.

Annie Dressner
When can we expect to hear a new album from you, and what themes are most inspiring your next set of songs?
My new EP East Twenties is out on April 8th. I am currently writing more songs, but don’t want to promise when you will hear them. I would hope that I will have another album out in the next year to year and a half — just need to make sure it is good enough first (and write a couple more songs). As far as themes – I really don’t know yet — and the one idea I have I’d like to keep quiet until I have attempted to write some songs. It’s a fun idea though & I hope you think so too!

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Can you tell us more about the Songs from the Shed venture?
Songs from the Shed is a really great video session for musicians in the UK. I heard about it & got in touch and luckily they let me come in and sing. Yes – it really is a shed. I went in the winter and it did become quite hard to feel my fingers! It was a whole lot of fun.

Annie Dressner by Katy Edelsten
Annie Dressner by Katy Edelsten.

Categories ,Belle & Sebastian, ,Builder’s Tea, ,Carley Chiu, ,Carly Simon, ,East Twenties, ,First Aid Kit, ,Gemma Cotterell, ,Green Man, ,James Taylor, ,Jihyun Park, ,Karina Jarv, ,Katy Edelsten, ,Rockwood Music Hall, ,Simon & Garfunkel, ,Simon Mclaren, ,Songs from the Shed, ,Sylwia Szyszka

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