Bel Blue will release her debut album Our Places on August 1. Bel describes the album as “a journey of her songs, many of which are anchored in the rivers, and landscapes of South and West Wales.” The recording began last autumn, with an outside recording of the title track on the banks of the River Ely, Cardiff. Andy Howells recently put questions to the singer/songwriter.
How did you get into playing and writing music?
I’ve been writing songs, since I first learnt to strum a guitar; I found it a good way to navigate life. It started early when I learnt songs by Janis Joplin, Joni Mitchell and Patti Smith. My song writing has ebbed and flowed with life, love, and illness. It’s a creative process I enjoy very much.
How would you describe your musical style?
It’s a tender fusion of folk country; I keep it simple, and enjoy playing with other musicians.
You’ve been doing live performances for a few years now; do you have a favourite that springs to mind?
Last summer I played a little festival at Hafen Y Coed, in the lower Brecon’s, and a lot of wonderful things happened. I met gifted violin player Jamie Nemeth who joined me on stage for a set. A conversation after the gig with Kevs Ford, lead to the making of my debut album, Our Places. Now in its second year, the non profit festival is renamed Wyrd and Wonderful, and takes place on August 20, and I am looking forward to playing.
Your debut album has a very geographical approach, what was the inspiration behind that?
Many of my songs are anchored in the rivers, and landscapes of South and West Wales. The album developed out of my wish to record songs on location where they where written. So after meeting musician and producer Kevs Ford, and chatting about my ideas, we took two microphones, a little foam and a laptop, and recorded Our Places live by the River Ely, where it was written. I had hoped to do more outside recording but the weather, practicalities and my health limited the scope. It’s something I would like to return to in the future.
You have a few live performances associated with the launch of Our Places, can you tell us about those?
The album is released on August 1. The musicians and myself will board The Open Boat, The Daffodil for a journey up the River Ely, Cardiff, to where Our Places was written. Once back, we will join friends at the Our Places album release get-together, at Octavo’s Cafe and Wine Bar between 5-7pm at West Bute Street which is a free event.
Then on Monday August 8 between 8-10pm, Kevs Ford and myself will join Acoustic Routes presenter David Chamberlain in the Dapper FM studio for a live radio session and on August 11, we’ll have the Bel Blue album launch gig at The Andrew Buchan Bar in Albany Rd, Cardiff between 7.30-11pm which is also a free event.
What can people expect from the gigs?
The Album Release Get-Together is an informal acoustic session, where I will be joined by musicians including Jamie Nemeth, Kevs Ford, and friends to share songs and poems about place and time. The event is hosted by Healing Poet Fran Smith and features Poet Will Ford who has written pieces especially for the launch.
Then on August 11 at The Andrew Buchan we play a full set of songs from the album and there is support from Dave and The Daggers, gifted songbird Pippa Irving and poet, Will Ford. Any profits from the album after project costs, will be donated to ‘Michaels Project’ a service for men, run by the mental health charity Cardiff Mind
What are you listening to at the moment?
I rarely go long without Gillian Welch, Frazey Ford or Sam Lee, but also spend a lot of time listening to folk and Americana radio shows, and love discovering new artists I somehow missed or have just come out, Kacey Musgraves, Laura Cantrell, and those homegrown Adam and The Embers, Marina Florence, Bruise ,The Unthanks.
Finally, where can people find out more about your music?
At belblue.co.uk, facebook.com/belbluemusic/ and soundcloud.com/bel-sings-1
Our Places will be available online at belblue.bandcamp.com, belblue.co.uk and at Retro-Vibe Music & Cafe Arteas Cardiff.
You can also find me on Twitter @belbluemsic