We’re regularly blown away by the quality, intimacy and sheer talent that Old Cinema Launderette offers to music fans.
With a capacity that makes it feel like you’ve walked in on a secret gig, they’ve managed to gain a cult following (and even attract Maximo Park’s Paul Smith for an intimate residency).
This autumn, they once again join forces with the inimitable Gala Theatre in the heart of Durham city for an expertly programmed festival that spans four nights this month, in the intimate studio space in the heart of Durham City as well as the Gilesgate-based Launderette and former cinema. Here’s a look at some of the highlights.
Thursday 20 September sees Rick Wakeman (Gala Theatre) and Nancy Kerr (Old Cinema Launderette) make their way to Durham.
After a career spanning 40 years, Rick is still one of the best rock keyboardists and composers working today. He’s played with everyone from T. Rex to Bowie, Lou Reed to Elton John as well as being most well known as the keyboardist for YES.
Nancy Kerr is known for over 25 years as a skilled interpreter of traditional music and more recently as a composer of startlingly original new folk songs – she has become one of the most sought-after ensemble musicians on today’s British folk and scene. This is music to challenge and inspire, confront and sympathise.
Friday 21st September sees Martin Simpson, Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker (Gala Theatre) and Chris Helme (Old Cinema Launderette) make their mark on Durham city.
Martin is a guitarist of formidable talent. Equally at home playing English folk, American blues and his own compositions, he’s consistently named one of the world’s finest fingerstyle guitar players.
Galvanised by their all-or-nothing defiance and Clarke’s attempts to answer some painful questions, ‘Seedlings All’, by Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker, is a tour de force of phosphorescent songs featuring some of the most personal moments you’ll hear on a record this year. Their partnership blends Walker’s intricate guitar playing with Clarke’s compelling songwriting.
Chris Helme first rose to prominence as the front man of John Squire’s post-Stone Roses band The Seahorses which saw him touring extensively and sharing the stage with The Rolling Stones, U2 and Oasis in numerous support slots. Now solo, he is still rightfully remembered for Britpop classics ‘Love Is The Law’ and ‘Blinded By The Sun’ – songs that evoked everything the 90’s stood for: the excitement, the culture and the bands that provided a voice in a period of political and social imbalance.
Saturday 22nd September will see William the Conqueror (Gala Theatre) and Joana Serrat (Old Cinema Launderette) head to Durham for two very intimate gigs.
Indie-rock trio William the Conqueror channel classic blues and roots through a grunge/indie filter, with diverse influences including The Doors, Ryan Adams and The Lemonheads. Praised for their grit and authenticity, their debut album ‘Proud Disturber of the Peace’ was shortlisted for the 2018 UK Americana Awards UK Album of the Year.
‘Cross The Verge’, just as its name promises, shows us another side of Joana Serrat who enchanted audiences on her 2014 album, ‘Dear Great Canyon’. On ‘Cross The Verge’, her third album, Joana lays bare all the cracks, inconsistencies and fears that come with life.
And Sunday 23rd September sees Michael Chapman make his way to the Old Cinema Launderette.
The guitar and voice of Michael Chapman first became known on the Cornish Folk Circuit in 1967. Playing a blend of atmospheric and autobiographical material, he established a reputation for intensity and innovation. Signed to EMI’s Harvest label, he recorded a quartet of classic albums. The influential album ‘Fully Qualified Survivor’ – featuring the guitar of Mick Ronson and Rick (Steeleye Span) Kemp’s bass – was John Peel’s favourite album of 1970.
For further information about Launderette Sessions, please head to galadurham.co.uk.