It's fair to say that it has been relatively quiet on the Emma Rugg front over the past couple of years. I, for one, thought she'd relocated to the United States in the wake of the Directions Tour she undertook there with Henry Doss in 2007. Having first made contact through the BBC radio show Raw Talent in 2003, Emma had visited Henry in the states on a couple of occasions prior to heading over to hit the road with him.
An incredibly gifted American singer-songwriter who hails from North Carolina, Henry is a former banker who 'returned' to music in 1999 after thirty years 'away'. The proud bearer of two astounding albums, Henry's music is liberally laced with elements of Country and Rock, underpinned by upbeat melodies which are easy on the ears.
As for Emma, she has been penning and performing music for over ten years, having taught herself to play guitar in 1998. Remarkably, she funded the recording of her debut album by busking come rain or shine on the mean streets of Hull. Released through her own record label - Indreams - it deservedly received widespread acclaim upon its eagerly anticipated release.
It was immediately evident that her epic, acoustic-anchored tales of love and loss could be easily related to, the darkness of her emotionally mature lyrics lunging straight for the jugular. Her supremely versatile voice has always ensured that even her most heartbreaking songs can still be uplifting.
Impossible to pigeonhole, Emma loathes her music being described as 'Folk music'. Should you really listen to it, and listen hard, you'll realise that there is nothing 'Folky' about her music in any respect. 'I'd rather it be described as "Anti-Folk" if anything,' she confesses.
Unconsciously straddling a multitude of genres, her music is experimental yet catchy, alternative but accessible. Her lush melodies never fail to engage, while the raw passion dominating her vocal performances is naturally intoxicating. The fact that her 'MySpace' page has received over 100,000 hits - a staggering amount for an unsigned artist - is testament to Emma's talents.
Interested to see what publicity would come of them jumping in Henry's car and stalking the highways and byways between innumerable towns and cities in the northeast of America, Emma left the UK on March 27, 2007. She returned on May 9.
In the interim, Emma and Henry gigged and travelled between venues on almost a daily basis, their debut performance taking place in Jefferson, North Carolina. It might have been April Fool's Day, but there was no fooling the folk down at West Jefferson Golf Club. Emma's and Henry's musical and vocal interplay left the captive audience speechless.
A few days later they were treading the proverbial boards of The Acoustic Coffee House in Johnson City. Having temporarily fled North Carolina, they were eager to see how their songs were received by folk in Tennessee. It was the state in which Henry had been born, and the omens were good, the formidable strength of their collective vocal performances and melodies silencing any wannabe critics.
Emma and Henry then returned to North Carolina in order to play a series of universally well-received shows in Charlotte and East Asheville before they excitedly edged into the state of Virginia.
Playing at a wide variety of venues which took the form of chilled-out bookstores, cosmopolitan cafes and rowdy bars, Emma and Henry wound up exposing their music to a true cross-section of the American public, having the privilege to talk to many of their new found fans after each respective show.
Emma took her camcorder wherever she went, shooting over six hours of footage which she has somehow managed to edit down into twelve Internet-friendly episodes, all of which boast a running time of approximately eight or nine minutes.
Effortlessly encapsulating what it's like to go on tour, this documentary wields a perfect balance of music and behind-the-scenes fun, with Emma eager to introduce viewers to some of the genuinely extraordinary characters they met as they pounded the wide open roads and music-hungry venues of America into submission.
After exiting North Carolina, the pair made their presence felt in Michigan, playing shows in Traverse City and Detroit. They subsequently concluded their tour with a gig at New York's home of Anti-Folk: The Sidewalk Cafe.
By default, a superb selection of both Emma's and Henry's music is featured in the documentary, live footage culled from their gigs popping up between 'interviews'. Having never played proper shows together before, it was fortunate that their singing and guitar-playing styles couldn't have been better suited.
Chopping and changing their set-list on a nightly basis, Emma and Henry duly played a smattering of their own songs in their own time, on their own terms, yet Emma also learnt a clutch of Henry's songs to enable them to collaborate to stunning effect at some points during their shows.
Naturally, the bulk of the material Emma aired came from her mesmerising debut album Isolated Impression and her Oceans/Depart EP, with live performances of the understated magnificence of Oceans, the dark sincerity of Grand Designs, and the entrancing Floor 8 striking rousing chords in episodes two, four and nine respectively.
Reviews, Arts - Adrian Johnson: All Wound Up - Red Gallery exhibition, March-April 2009 By Philip Wincolmlee-Barnes
I am currently re-reading John Carey's The Intellectuals and The Masses, a fascinating (and sometimes troubling) survey of how the former regarded the latter from the late 19th Century until the 1930's.
He charts a course via Nietzsche's theories of 'the Superman vs. the common people' (guess his preference
Reviews, Theatre - Write to Speak at Hull Truck - Wednesday 27th May 09 By Mark Walmsley
Having found the thisisUll website by accident while looking for an
outlet for my hobby and passion, Writing, I was welcomed by Cilla after an initial
contact who took a page of my work I submitted and pasted it on the World Wide Web as
seen, titled as The Right Hand of God. In addition to this, she asked me if I would be
interested in attending the Write to Speak gig at the Hull Truck on Wednesday 27th May.
Reviews, Theatre - Funny Turns and the Opening of The New Hull Truck Theatre By Gary Clark
I was fortunate enough to get an invite to the opening gala night of the very
impressive Hull Truck Theatre to get a first hand look at the new venue and to see the
opening night of the latest John Godber play, Funny Turns.
The company went to great expense to make all the invited guests welcome with vats of free champagne and a choice of wines already poured out for the 440 guests to gorge
Reviews, Films - AWAYDAYS at The Bradford Film Festival By Margaret J Shillingford
When Carty meets Elvis at a Bunnymen gig, they fall headlong into a volatile friendship that each of them aches for but neither can control. Violent, sexy and funny, Awaydays is a blade-sharp rites-of-passage that buzzes with the post-punk energy of its late-70s Liverpool setting.
Based on the classic novel by Kevin Sampson, and pulsating to a soundtrack of
Joy Division, The Cure, Read more...
Reviews, Films - The Confession By Steve Rudd
Expertly directed by Dave Kebo and Rudi Liden, The Confession is an extraordinary movie for many and varied reasons, not least because it was shot all in one take. Another major reason why the movie is so unique comes down to the fact that it is 'interactive' and features three and a half addictive hours of multi-angle footage.
Having been shot via a multitude of strategically placed CCTV
Reviews, Films - Slumdog Millionaire By Ruth
I don't go to the movies, and I don't usually enjoy love stories.
My idea of a good love story is Thelma and Louise, Crash, or possibly Monster
(with Charlize Theron).
The darker element of humanity is what I find appealing.
I went with my family to view this film and was utterly blown away.
We left the cinema feeling as though we'd been slapped hard across the
face and somehow enjoyed it.
Reviews, Books - The Dance of the Pheasodile by Tim Roux (Upfront Publishing) Reviewed by Nick Quantrill
With his sixth novel, Hull native Tim Roux, is certainly one of the city's most prolific writers. A committed champion of all things East Yorkshire, the publication of his crime story, The Dance of The Pheasodile is his well deserved opportunity to take the limelight.
With a fulfilling job, a successful wife and two beautiful children, Keith McGuire leads an idyllic middle-class life in the south of England.
Reviews, Books - How Not To Manage by Adam Kirkman and Daniel Mayhew (Quick Brown Fox Publications) Reviewed by Nick Quantrill
Think you're a great manager? Think you know how to get the best out of people whilst
increasing your personal performance and worth? Think again - you can be better -
it's simply a matter of attitude. If this all sounds a bit too much like hard word,
fear not, this new spoof management manual from York's Adam Kirkman and Daniel Mayhew
is here to
Reviews, Books - What Do I Know Anyway? by Jamie Mcgarry Reviewed By Steve Rudd
Writing poetry is a painstaking craft, and it's clear from the outset that Scarborough-based
Jamie McGarry spends a lot of time in perfecting his poems.
An award-winning poet at a young age, Jamie recently unleashed What Do I Know Anyway? - a wry look at life in the twenty-first century.
Consisting of twenty-nine superb poems which are spread over seventy-five pages, there
really is something for everybody in this,
Reviews, Films - The Wave (Germany, 2008) and Hunger (UK/Ireland, 2008): Fascism & Faeces By Philip Wincolmlee Barnes
European cinema has a substantial post-war tradition of coming to terms with, exploring or challenging 20th Century fascism and, in particular, Germany's uneasy goose-stepping heritage, its subsequent national 'identity crisis', and its more recent spasms of political unrest.
For example, the flirtatious - and some might say notorious - excesses
of Night Porter (Dirk BogardeRead more...
Reviews, Books - Mosaic by Clive Ashman Reviewed by Tim Roux
Officially launched last September at Brough's Petuaria Centre, the town where it happened, on the 60th anniversary of the worst unsolved crime in British archaeology, Mosaic is the novel based by writer Clive Ashman on its known facts.
If you have ever read Marguerite Yourcenar's The Abyss, a classic and
intensely haunting reconstruction of daily life in sixteenth century Europe
Reviews, Books - The Mermaid Chair by Tony Flynn Reviewed by Tim Roux
In 1980, Tony Flynn published A Strange Routine, a compelling
map to his terrain of loss - the loss of his mother, of his wife, of his child,
of his past. Twelve years later, his Body Politic came out, another outright
masterpiece, this time including an extended mourning for the victims of state repression.
It has been sixteen years since then,
Reviews, Arts - November 08 - All Systems Go: Red Gallery Group Show By Philip Wincolmlee-Barnes
According to their publicity (and not counting numerous one-off live events and screenings) this
is the gallery's 108th exhibition. This certainly shows my age, as I've been involved with the
space in one capacity or another for over ten years now.
Not that there appears to be much in the way of personal wear and tear over this time: I still
get asked for ID in public houses and in off licences.
Reviews, Arts - From The Postmodern To The Pastoral: Two Recent Exhibitions in Hull By Philip Wincolmlee-Barnes PortEst Exhibition Photographs by Andrew Quinn
PortEst (Red Gallery, Sept/Oct) was an exhibition by three Estonian artists -
Jane Remm, Piret Peil and Minna Hint - in which the theme of portraiture was subjected to a variety of treatments in different media, making for a diverse and captivating presentation.
Francis Bacon used to say (usually whilst somewhat addled) that he was trying to
Reviews, Arts - A Walk Through H: Some recent cultural musings around Kingston Upon Hull By Philip Wincolmlee-Barnes
Contemporary Art: either you're 'out' or you're 'in'. Either you 'get' the somewhat jaundiced,
laconically ironic stance of much of this work - you know, of how we're living in a post
modern world bereft of a single 'grand narrative' - or you remain nonplussed at the
often obtuse outpourings of these 'so-called artists'. And many of them don't even
have proper jobs (whatever one of those might be...).
Reviews, Theatre - Johnny Comes Home at St Columbas, Drypool By Richard Axford
It's not usual to give the ending away when writing a theatre review, but in this case you will
forgive such crassness. Credo Arts Community have produced an excellent follow up to their last
After a piece based around death and loyalty, this time they explore the pangs of despair
surrounding family breakdown, and the various responses to resolution of the problem.
Reviews, Theatre - Tuesday 3rd June 08 - Dolly at Hull New Theatre By Steve Rudd
A Rockman Music production, this grand old celebration of the glamourous
life and times of Country legend Dolly Parton pulls out all the stops to entertain. Even on the opening night of its debut UK tour, the show drew a huge crowd of Dolly fans who were in the mood for singing and clapping along to all her best-known hits.
Reviews, Books - Here, Bullet by Brian Turner Reviewed by Michelle Dee
Here, Bullet is as startling as it is direct.
The anthology of poems written by the multi award-winning U.S. war
veteran Brian Turner uncovers the landscape of the war in Iraq with
unswerving honesty and importantly he writes from a non-political viewpoint.
Brian Turner saw active service for seven years which included leading an
Infantry Team in Iraq with the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd
Infantry Division in November 2003.
Reviews, Theatre - Wednesday 19th March 08 - The Bat Trilogy at Hull New Theatre By Steve Rudd Photos by Matt Rudd
Back in black and ready to rock the venue from the rafters to its foundations,
Steve Steinman vaulted into an epic rendition of Life is A Lemon without delay,
the incredible power of his vocal delivery reaching the row furthest from the stage with ease.
I should know: that's where I was sat, yet the sights and sounds even from back there were to be savoured.
Having mimicked Meatloaf for almost twenty years now, Steve Steinman's
Reviews, Theatre - Saturday 2nd February 08 - Steve Steinman's Bat Trilogy at The Futurist Theatre, Scarborough By Steve Rudd
Pulling out all the stops to put on an electrifying show, Steve Steinman and
his hard-rocking entourage pulled into Scarborough on what was a freezing
Fortunately, fans of Steve and his Bat Trilogy tour showed up in their
droves, crowding into The Futurist to witness one of the first shows of
his new tour... and with some scandalously talented
Reviews, Out of Town - Wednesday 6th February 08 - Open Mic Night at The Locomotive Inn, York By Michelle Dee
A bit of a thisisUll gang night out this one, with CillaUberwebfuhrer,
Jane Fozzy Foster
and Michellethe scribeDee. Representing Ull tonight Joejust got signedHakim and
mad as a bicycleWatts.
Our trip out to York began with a vicious nasal assault, as we got stuck behind a
fertilizer tractor just before Market Weighton. In the back of the car it smelt as
though a rat
Reviews, Cinema - VUE HD Digital Cinema, Princes Quay By Dave Fox
I feel a bit of a naughty writing this, considering my friend is running the new cinema
in St Steven's Square (sorry Sal) but I am so impressed with Vue, the new cinema on
the top deck of the Princes Quay.
I've just recently got into the High Definition at home with Blue Ray and HD TV so
I was buzzing when I heard about a brand
Reviews, Events - Wednesday 19th December 07 - Off The Road at The Adelphi By Michelle Dee
Jane Foster opened the show by taking a traditional Christmas poem and bringing it right up to date.
So 'Twas The Night Before Christmas was set on a decrepit council estate with characters more attuned to Christmas spirits rather than the spirit of Christmas.
Jane delivered the five minute piece with a cool ease and her references to local
Reviews, Books - Pleading Guilty by Paul Genney (Dedalus Books) Reviewed by Nick Quantrill
On the face of it, Henry Wallace, barrister in Hull's Whitebait Chambers, has it all. A well paying job and a comfortable life, but when solicitor's runner, Pauline Dawson, enters his life, everything changes.
Overcome with the pressures of a changing work place and his growing lust, Wallace starts to overheat.
Feeling guilty and angry, his relationship with
Reviews, Theatre - Saturday 13th October 07 - Vampires Rock at Hull New Theatre By Steve Rudd
It's safe to say that Steve Steinman is one of the hardest-working singers and performers in the UK.
No sooner did he finish his Bat Trilogy tour on the brink of summer, and he was getting back to
grips with his other great show - Vampires Rock - in anticipation for the current Autumn tour
that's sweeping up and down the country in style.
Reviews, Theatre - Monday 15th October Disposable People A Croft Creative Production By Andrew Pearson and Thom Stridd At The Boatshed Hull Marina (show runs from 15th - 20th October) By Michelle Dee
Monday evening, inside a cavernous boat shed on Hull marina, a tale of international importance and concern is unfolding. A terrible tale; a tale of modern day slavery, which the general public support, without a moment's thought, on a daily basis. That new leather bag you bought, those shoes,