At 18, Elaine Davidson found herself busking her way round Europe, playing songs from the beat generation, Bob Dylan, the Eagles, Joni Mitchell and the like. Making her way by playing music as well as picking fruit and working in bars and hotels, she alongside a friend, travelled through Greece, Spain, Portugal, France, Holland, Germany and Ireland.
'You are always going to make friends if you play music. Complete strangers, in whatever language they speak, come up and say 'guitar' and then mimic a guitarist playing. Inevitably they want you to play'
At 21, she returned back home to Cumbria, with the intention of starting a band. She met her husband and joined the crowd of musicians who played the pubs and clubs in the North of England.
Andy Park was the music agent who took care of a thriving scene for covers bands at that time, whilst venues to play original material were limited and bands had to travel further afield.
'Playing the clubs was good fun and good for groundwork as well as paying the bills, but being an original performer was always who I wanted to be'
She was inspired to begin writing songs herself after hearing Joan Armatrading's album Love and Affection.
'I remember thinking, that's what I want to do'
As well as playing the club circuit, over that time period Elaine also played and wrote for several original outfits with jazz, blues, rock and country overtones, learning her craft as a songwriter as well as a performer. Elaine eventually returned to being a solo singer songwriter and self-produced her first CD Inside.
The production was basic as she learned to use a home studio set up, but the singing and songwriting were not and this gained her a foothold in the growing festival scene in the county. Various musicians joined her for performances at this time but Danny Hart, a talented violinist, and multi-instrumentalist, became a mainstay.
Danny Hart joined her on her second CD, Moon and Tide, which was produced and engineered by Steve Brookfield. Various musicians were brought in including Paul Doherty (guitarist and long time friend), Terry Coyne (flute) as well as Chris James (blues guitarist).
The title track of Moon & Tide was written after reading Melvyn Bragg's historical novel 'Credo', based on the life of St Bega, an Irish princess who escaped an arranged marriage to come to the Cumbrian coast and set up a spiritual community. The CD was launched sailing on a steamer up Lake Ullswater, which proved to be a truly memorable evening.
“I am still reflecting on the superb cruise along Ullswater on Saturday evening, your music is good in any environment, but that was as good as it gets. I don't think anyone on board will ever forget the occasion. With the fantastic background of the hills and trees and the changing colours, it was like a dream. Thanks so much to you and all concerned with the event” Stuart Logan, Blackpool
Double bassist, Laurence Blackaddder became the third member of the outfit and completed what was to become a musical trio with a unique and unusual blend.
“I was deeply immersed in the Newcastle jazz scene at that point, when I first heard Moon & Tide, I hadn't even contemplated playing anything but jazz, but when I heard the album I was so impressed I joined almost immediately” Laurence Blackadder, double bass
The unique timbre of a double bass, as well as Laurence's jazz background, gave an added sophistication to Elaine's song structures, and the musical synergy between Danny and Laurence created what was becoming a truly unique, interesting partnership. The trio had only just begun to travel further afield when Elaine had to take time out on personal grounds. Eventually the trio came back together to work on the songs Elaine had been writing over this time period and early 2013 would see the next album Can't Tell The River taking shape.
Elaine, through the power of social media, had re-connected with Warren Huart, a member of the first band she played in. Warren was now a successful record producer (Aerosmith, James Blunt, The Fray) based in Los Angeles. Warren suggested that he would like to record her next CD and after some discussion about where that would be, it was decided that Elaine and her band would go over to record at Sunset Studios and Warren's own Spitfire Studios, both based n Los Angeles.
Fun was had! Over a two week period they recorded Can't Tell The River. Warren brought in top Los Angeles session guitarist Tim Pearce as well as Blair Sinta on drums (Alanis Morrisette). The extraordinary skill and talent which were involved at the making stage became very apparent in the music.
“We hired a house on the top of the Canyon, the view was incredible, you would have thought we were a million miles away from city, nothing but trees and the Hollywood Hills sign. I felt we were making something really special”
One of the highlights was going down to a place called the country store in the morning, having coffee and meeting up with a lot of creative industry types. Life was sweet.
Can't Tell The River was launched the following year at Park House Farm Barn, Torpenhow. the culmination of the previous years work coming to fruition.
Also, the second year of Roots in Cumbria, another project of Elaine's, launched to promote the wealth of musical talent in the area, gained new ground and made further inroads into establishing themselves as top notch musical events.
“My natural bent is not as a promoter, I would prefer just to sing and play but these times seem to require us all to be creative in ways which we never imagined we could be.”
The next CD Nothing But Love is already in the making.
Watch this space!