CATHRYN CRAIG & BRIAN WILLOUGBY
Genre: Folk, Acoutic, Singer-Songwriter, Country Americana
Location: London, England
Cathryn Craig and Brian Willoughby: Real World (2013)
Cathryn Craig and Brian Willoughby: Time Has Proved You Right (2012)
Cathryn Craig and Brian Willoughby: Freeway To Your Dreams (2011)
Cathryn Craig and Brian Willoughby: Calling All Angels (2009)
Various Artists: Live At The Talbot (Red Kite Records, 2005)
Folk For Peace: Rumours Of Rain (2004)
Brian Willoughby: Fingers Crossed (Road Goes On Forever RGF BWCD055, 2004)
Cathryn Craig and Brian Willoughby: I Will (Goldrush GOLDCD009, 2002)
Cathryn Craig: Pigg River Symphony (Goldrush GOLDCD007, 2001)
Brian Willoughby: Black And White (PYOCD001, 1998)
Cathryn Craig: Cathryn Craig (Goldrush GOLDCD0002, 1997)
Cathryn Craig: Porch Songs (Goldrush GOLDCD0001, 1995)
Record Label: TBA
Cathryn Craig is from Richmond, Virginia and has built a strong reputation as both singer and songwriter. She is no stranger to Tennessee's Nashville recording studios, working with Chet Atkins, The Righteous Brothers, Shel Silverstein and Jorma Kaukonen.
Cathryn grew up in the tiny Virginian hamlet of Providence Forge, where her father was the district judge and an amateur singer and guitarist specialising in old time hillbilly and country songs. However, when her mother died at the age of nine, her father attempted to dissuade her from a career in the music business. She contented herself with her collection of Connie Smith and Linda Ronstadt records until a college roommate asked her to help record some commercials for a local construction company. She subsequently formed a duo, Hardwood, playing Gram Parsons and Hank Williams cover versions alongside friend Harriet Greene. After a move to Denver (where she formed a vocal trio) and several other small scale bands, she and Greene reunited and formed a pop band entitled Saturn. In 1982 she met Bill Medley of the Righteous Brothers. She toured alongside Medley as his harmony vocalist for four years, also leading his house band at his club in Fountain Valley, California.
Cathryn struck out for Nashville in 1986, with Medley’s blessing, but found herself to be a small fish in a very big pool. She eventually found work making demo tracks and radio commercials, and befriended Chet Atkins while working as his golf caddy. She also worked alongside Garth Brooks when he, like her, was just an aspiring demo singer. All the time she found her own recording contract elusive, and when she finally released an album in 1994 it was a low-budget, self-released cassette. A year previously, however, she had met UK country singer Gary Hall. He was so impressed with her voice that he invited her to collaborate and join him on his European tours. Hall also produced her first album proper, Porch Songs, which as its title suggest was recorded on the back porch of Craig’s house. The album was released by the Scottish label Goldrush Records, who also issued Craig’s self-titled follow-up and 2001’s Pigg River Symphony. The latter chronicled her family’s association with traditional music and included spoken-word recollections by her father and uncle.
Brian Willoughby is best known for his virtuoso performances on electric and acoustic guitar. As well as playing with the Strawbs in the 80s and 90s, Brian has been a session player/sideman in much demand, playing with the likes of Mary Hopkin, Roger Whittaker, Monty Python, Joe Brown and Jim Diamond and Nanci Griffith.
Black And White is Brian's brilliantly understated acoustic solo album, with a focus on Brian's songs, co-written with such artists as Michael Snow, Bill Lloyd, Cathryn Craig and Mary Hopkin. Brian provides most of the sparse instrumentation on guitars and the lyrics are effectively handled by Cathryn, with the exception of one song featuring a performance by the wonderful Mary Hopkin.
Working in between Brian's Strawbs commitments, Brian and Cathryn developed an extremely popular live act in the UK folk clubs. I Will was the first true duo album they recorded, a splendid collection of songs, many of which appear in their live act. A polished achievement, with some excellent songs, including a version of Dave Cousins' "There Will Come The Day" with Cathryn taking the vocal.
In 2004, Brian decided to leave the Strawbs in order to concentrate on the work he was doing with Cathryn, and in later that year he released an instrumental solo album Fingers Crossed, which got very good reviews in the "musicians" music press. It features a few tracks of interest to Strawbs fans (an instrumental version of "Alice's Song", a version of "Cry No More" from The Bridge, the instrumental opening to "Face Down In The Well"; and the title track, which was the piece which Dave Cousins played to Mary Hopkin which got Brian his first job!
2004 also saw the release of "Rumours Of Rain", the folk supergroup project conceived by Brian and Cathryn.
Brian doesn't appear on the first two Cathryn Craig albums. He does appear on some tracks on Cathryn's Pigg River Symphony CD which feature interpretations of traditional Appalachian folk songs.
In 2008 they completed work on 'Calling All Angels' which was released in Fenruary 2009. A revised version of "Alice's Song" was issued in Jan 2009 for download, with (with Antonia Pagulatos on viola and violin and Phil Rynhart on keyboards)
And in September 2009, to the delight of Strawbs fans attending, Brian and Cathryn once again appeared with the Strawbs at the 40th anniversary celebrations in the so-called "Blue Angel" line-up, also featuring Blue Weaver, Tony Fernandez and Chas. Cathryn sang stunningly with Dave in the set - including two numbers which have always been Dave's solo preserve, "New World" and "Benedictus", and Brian offered up his trademark effortless searing guitar breaks. A solo set from the duo also attracted many new fans, though a loud bang at the end (the much missed Fred Wedlock switching his compere mike on) made everybody sit up sharpish.
In 2010, the Craig & Willoughby Rockin' Rhythm Revue made its debut at the Eel Pie Club in Twickenham.
Further single releases followed: "Freeway To Her Dreams", a Gordon Haskell song (released in 2011), and "Time Has Proved You Right" (in October 2012), in support of the Hillsborough families. And in 2013, a new album, Real World presented the duo stripped back to their live act, no overdubs and effects or additional players. "Rumours Of Rain" was re-promoted in 2013.
"They catch a mood that could produce goosebumps on sheet metal (The Glasgow Herald)
"Traditional songs and delicately crafted originals by assured performers with formidable story-telling abilities" (Record Collector)
"sublime guitar work and one of the finest voices around" (Folking.com).