Southbourne will be Rachael McShane's last gig before her baby arrives

Rachael McShane
Rachael McShane

Rachael McShane brings her new band The Cartographers to Southbourne’s Tuppenny Barn on Saturday, March 30 for her final date before going on maternity leave.

Former Bellowhead member Rachael is expecting her first child towards the end of May: “It’s fast approaching!”

But she’s feeling fine: “The last tour we did was during the first part of the pregnancy when I wasn’t telling anybody, and I was absolutely green! But we managed to get through. I am fine now, but I might need to sit down a bit!

“We have got a gig in Sidmouth in August and then we have got a few gigs in October and then it will be back touring again next March. It is all going into the unknown!”

In The Cartographers, Newcastle-based Rachael is joined by Matthew Ord, a guitarist and singer also living in Newcastle and by Julian Sutton, a melodeon player also from the north-east.

“We released an album in August last year. We have been together for just over a year and a half now, just working on getting material together. We recorded the album in December 2017 and brought it out last summer.

“I had been part of a bigger band called Bellowhead for 12 years. I was there right from the beginning, and when Bellowhead finished in 2016, I thought I would like a bit of a change. I left it for a little while and didn’t want to launch into anything straightaway. It would have been difficult to fill a Bellowhead-sized hall. But I just decided after a while that I wanted to do something more folk music, something mostly traditional. I had been playing together with Matthew in another band and I subsequently left the band and poached Matthew. And I just bumped into Julian.”

As for the name for the new band: “It was one of those things of sitting around drinking endless cups of tea and trying to think of something. I think it was me who thought of it in the end.”

As for the music: “I just wanted to do something smaller scale. Bellowhead was an absolute nightmare trying to get 11 people together. I also just wanted to do something that gave me a bit more opportunity to sing because Jon Boden had done most of the singing in Bellowhead and most of us had just done bits and bobs in the background. I felt I wanted to do some more singing, and then lots of people that knew Bellowhead were saying to me ‘Oh! I didn’t know that you sang!’ And also I just wanted to do more traditional stuff.

“At the time, most of us were heartbroken when Bellowhead stopped. But when Jon decided he was going to leave, the rest of us thought about it, and if you haven’t got the person who in a lot of respects was the face of Bellowhead and the voice of Bellowhead, then it was time to do something else. It was really sad at the time, and we all miss each other. We rarely get together because we live all over the place, but I would never have got the opportunity to make this new album if Bellowhead hadn’t stopped…”

Bellowhead recorded five studio albums and won a total of eight BBC Folk Awards in their 12 years together. Rachael has more recently been singing the role of Susannah Holmes in a new adaptation of The Transports alongside The Young’uns, Faustus, Nancy Kerr, Greg Russell and Matthew Crampton. The Transports album is out now.

As well as performing, Rachael is also a teacher and workshop leader, working in schools teaching violin/fiddle, cello and running string ensembles and choirs.

Tickets from the venue.

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