Rural Touring in the UK – an international artist’s perspective

Canadian musician Ian Sherwood reflects on his experience of rural touring in the UK, since showcasing at the NRTF conference in 2013:

In the summer of 2013 I was given the rare opportunity to be one of two Canadians to showcase at the National Rural Touring Forum conference. During that unseasonably hot July weekend in Stirling, Scotland, I met some of the warmest people I could ever hope to meet (and got my first sunburn of the summer!). While staying at the beautiful MacRobert building we got to sample some traditional celtic dancing, haggis for breakfast every morning and witness a few of the other talented showcasing artists at the conference (the Pacific Curls were a crowd favourite). The weekend had a very laid-back feel that comes with the gathering of friends and colleagues, but when work needed to be done it was done fast. The morning after my showcase I was enthusiastically booked on the spot for a show in Honiton three days later!

Since that trip to the NRTF conference in 2013 I’ve had the pleasure of coming back to the UK three times with a fourth happening in February and March 2015. I’ve experienced the home-grown hospitality of folks from Cumbria to Berwick-Upon-Tweed to Cornwall. I’ve manoeuvred the narrow roads of Dorset and taken breathtaking train rides through the rolling hills of Scotland from Glasgow to Edinburgh. I spent a night in the same house King Charles II slept in in 1651, toured the Roman baths in Bath and sat Robert Burns’ favourite chair in Dumfries. I’ve played shows in beautiful community centres to sold out crowds as well as a candle lit performance to an appreciative 15 guests. Every experience is one I hold close to my heart.

To say that working with the NRTF has been a life changing experience may sound glib or trite (as a songwriter I try to avoid these two), but I can’t think of a better way of explaining it. Having the opportunity to play in the type of rooms offered up by rural touring is exactly the kind of touring I’ve been looking for!

Visit Ian’s website for more information on his forthcoming UK shows.