With her new live-in-lockdown album The St Buryan Sessions drawing critical raves and appearing on best-of-2021 lists on three continents, Sarah McQuaid is once again preparing to hit the road – this time for a six-week tour of Ireland and the UK.
The tour coincides with the release of a new video filmed earlier this month at the behest of The Bert Jansch Foundation, as part of their “Around The World In 80 Plays” project.
In what would have been the legendary guitarist and singer-songwriter’s 75th year, the Foundation set three Yamaha LL TransAcoustic guitars travelling around the globe from guitarist to guitarist, each playing a song or tune inspired by Bert.
Videos of all the performances feature on the Foundation’s YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/bertjanschfoundation), including contributions by such iconic guitarists as Richard Thompson, Johnny Marr, Bernard Butler, Tony McManus, Tommy Emmanuel, Alex de Grassi – and now also Sarah McQuaid.
“I was tremendously honoured to be invited to take part,” says Sarah. “It was incredible just to handle an instrument that’s been played by so many guitarists I’ve worshipped from afar for so long, and to see their signatures on it and sign my own name under theirs. It was almost surreal.”
To make the video, Sarah returned to the beautiful medieval church of St Buryan, not far from her home in rural West Cornwall, where The St Buryan Sessions was also recorded and filmed.
“It’s just such a gorgeous setting,” she enthuses, “and a lovely acoustic space to sing and play in – so it made sense to do it there.”
See https://sarahmcquaid.com/news/blog/80-plays-for-bert to watch the video and view photographs of Sarah with the guitar.
Sarah’s own custom-made Andy Manson acoustic guitar will be accompanying her on tour, along with her Korg SV-2 stage piano, vintage Premier Olympic floor tom drum, and the Ibanez Artist electric guitar originally loaned to her by another guitar legend, the late Michael Chapman, when he produced her 2018 album If We Dig Any Deeper It Could Get Dangerous.
“It’s always funny when people see all the instruments onstage and say, ‘Oh, we didn’t realise you were bringing a band with you!’” Sarah laughs. “But precisely because I’m a solo performer, it’s important for me to be able to add variety by playing material in a bunch of different styles on a bunch of different instruments.”
The tour kicks off with 10 concerts in Ireland, both north and south of the border, including a performance at the prestigious Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival in Belfast.
She’ll then get the ferry from Belfast to Cairnryan for six Scotland shows followed by another dozen gigs spanning the length and breadth of England, from North Yorkshire down to Cornwall, where the tour concludes.
Released on CD and limited-edition double vinyl LP on 15 October 2021, The St Buryan Sessions made it onto “Best of 2021” lists published by such far-flung media outlets as 2ser 107.3fm in Sydney, Australia; the “Ear To The Ground” radio show on Nashville’s WXNA FM; the Netherlands’ “Slim Chance” music blog; and the UK’s “Strummers & Dreamers” show on Cambridge 105 and Blues & Roots Radio.
With the assistance of second cameraman John Crooks, Cornish filmmaker Mawgan Lewis filmed the entire album as it was being recorded. His videos of all 15 tracks can be viewed on Sarah’s YouTube channel, together with a 9-minute documentary, “The Making Of The St Buryan Sessions”, featuring interviews and song snippets.
Dates for Sarah’s Ireland and UK tour are as follows:
Thu Apr 21: Limerick Writers’ Centre Presents @ The Record Room
Sat Apr 23: Carl Corcoran Music Presents
The Abbey Tavern, 28 Abbey Street, Howth, Co. Dublin D13 E9V4
Thu Apr 28 The Market Place Theatre & Arts Centre
Fri Apr 29: The Glens Centre
Sat Apr 30: The Linenhall Arts Centre
Sun May 1: Backstage at Monroes
Wed May 4: The Alley Theatre
Thu May 5: Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival
Fri May 6: Ards Arts Centre
Sat May 7: Flowerfield Arts Centre
Mon May 9: Stirling Folk Club
Tue May 10: Private Event – Kilbarchan
Wed May 11: Aberdeen Folk Club
Fri May 13: Grantown Museum
Sat May 14: Argyll Arts Collective @ Lochgoilhead Village Hall
Sun May 15: Uig Hall
Tue May 17: The Green Room at The Plaza Stockport
Fri May 20: Helmsley Arts Centre
Sat May 21: Pies, Peas and Performances
St Saviour’s Community Centre, Lidget Lane, Retford, Nottinghamshire DN22 6QY Tickets £15 (includes pies and peas)
Sun May 22: Desford Village Hall
Bring your own drinks!
Wed May 25: The Chapel Sessions
Thu May 26: All Saints’ Church
Fri May 27: The Old Baptist Chapel
Sat May 28: Longborough Village Hall
Sun May 29: The Breathing Room Presents @ Trinity Theatre
Fri Jun 17: Penlee Park Open Air Theatre
Sat Jun 18: intoBodmin at The Old Library
Sun Jun 19: The Redruth Drapery
See https://sarahmcquaid.com/tour for more tour dates later in the year.
Photo: Phil Nicholls