October 11, 2008
Amy is Armed With La Sunshine
A fter a summer spent in the Los Angeles sunshine winning fans on the other side of the Atlantic, delightful singer songwriter Amy May is back on home turf in Cornwall and gearing up for a special concert alongside acoustic pop troubadour Louis Eliot and his band.
The two will share a double bill at the Acorn, Penzance, next weekend, with a special guest appearance on fiddle and mandolin from Martin Bell, latterly of The Wonder Stuff and the Albion Band, and a keen supporter of both artists.
A bold and confident performer, Amy was happy to set out from the Westcountry and arrive in the US city with guitar in hand to look for gigs and promote her second album, Right Right Now.
"I've been really lucky to meet some great people who have helped me a lot. It was a bit scary, but I push through the fear. I just love performing and that's what makes me feel at home when I'm in a new place," says Amy, who has strutted the boards at Santa Monica and the Sunset Strip.
"Performing takes me to another time and place in my heart when I wrote the song I am singing - back to my core self."
Amy, a big fan of yoga and the spiritual side of life, comes from a family of artists and musicians and writers. Her father, Gordon Wilson, was a popular singer songwriter on the Plymouth circuit and beyond in the 1970s.
"He has been a real influence on me. He gave me my first guitar lessons and he still does his own recordings," says Amy.
"We didn't have a TV when I was growing up. We were encouraged to use our time creatively and that was a good start."
Her early musical memories are of Fleetwood Mac, Supertramp's Breakfast in America, James Taylor and Paul Simon. Joni Mitchell has been another huge, but unlikely influence.
"I remember hating her sound when I was about 11 and it was playing in the car, but suddenly when I was 16 or 17, all the emotions she was talking about became relevant," adds Amy. "She really is legendary. She helped me realise how beautiful music can be."
It wasn't until Amy went to university to study English literature that she started writing her own songs. "I was living in London and I started going to open mic nights four or five times a week - it is a great way to learn," she says.
At first she was accompanied on guitar, but when he let her down a few times she realised she needed to get some of her own instrumental skills, picking up a few chords at a time on guitar.
Later, back in Truro, she cut her gigging teeth in coastal venues such as The Watering Hole in Perranporth, the Driftwood Spars at St Agnes and the Blue Bar at Porthtowan, as well as the Kasbar and the One Eyed Cat in the city.
"The music scene in Cornwall is very supportive and we all encourage each other," says Amy. "Also the beach bars are places where they let you play your own material rather than covers, which is great."
Amy is happy to be back in Cornwall to see family and friends, and play a couple of shows, but intends to apply for an artist's visa to the States so she can return to LA and build on what she started in the summer.
"My goal is to dedicate all my time to music and see what my potential could be," she says.
Louis Eliot, meanwhile, left the big city to return to his country life roots in South East Cornwall a few years back, following his chart successes with under-rated art pop outfit Rialto. He and his band gig regularly around Devon and Cornwall, and he's recently been recording some demos with Martin Bell at his studio near Truro.
Louis' last trip so far west was to the End of the Road festival at Sennen in the summer, when the band abandoned the windswept stage and deserted, rain-lashed field to stir up the huddled punters in the beer tent in an impromptu knees-up.
Amy May and Louis Eliot perform at The Acorn, Penzance, with Martin Bell, from 8.30pm on Saturday, October 18. Box office: 01736 365520 or visit www.crbo.co.uk
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