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Cathryn Craig & Brian Willoughby
International Songwriters And Performers
2023 has been busy so far, recording and gigging with other artists here in N.Ireland, as well as our own local shows, but we're looking forward to our trip to England next month and also our autumn tour!
We're back home after a very enjoyable tour of England, with great memories of all the shows and the people we met.
Our programme featured songs from all our album releases and "Twiddly Bits" was well received, too.
Thanks to Andrew Lester for this picture from Folk On The Moor.
We look forward to 2023 - please stay in touch for announcements of dates and venues near you!
Enjoy The Festive Season and see you next time around!
We've had a busy summer schedule, with Skagen Festival in Denmark, where we were "In The Round" with Allan Taylor and Andy Irvine. This was a wonderful concert and we made a lot of new friends.The last week of July was filled with various performances at The Fiddler's Green Festival, here in Co.Down and we were invited on to BBC Radio Ulster's "TheTicket" with presenter Kathy Clugston, to publicise the event.
As a finale to our main show, we invited Colum and Ben Sands to join us with vocal harmonies and the musical genius Tim Edey, to play accordeon.
We are looking forward to seeing you again, at our September shows in England!
Cathryn and I have just completed our 10-show spring tour of England and we'd like to thank all of you who came to see us, plus our agent and all the promoters involved.
We're now looking forward to the festivals in Denmark and Ireland, in July.
Sales of my "Twiddly Bits" were encouraging and here are a few quotes from proud owners...
I'm told the tunes make great driving music and the album's available right here, on the website!
Exciting news! Brian has been busy writing and recording pieces of music for a new guitar instrumental album called “Twiddly Bits”. The 4-panel digipack contains a 6-page booklet with track explanations, instruments used, etc.
I'm happy to report, that Cathryn and I have had a Covid-free 2021 and kept ourselves busy, mainly recording for other artists.
We enjoyed our twice-weekly show for the Toronto-based Blues & Roots Radio, but preparation for it, was very time-consuming and once we decided to call a halt to it, I was free to concentrate on my album of new instrumental material.
Cathryn was a guest vocalist on Strawbs' record, "Settlement" and she and I recorded an album with the Blues artist, Allison McGrath.
I've been playing 'live' with Allison and also with Stephen Rafferty, winner of Northern Ireland's "Song of the Year" competition. I played the lead guitar parts on Stephen's forthcoming CD.
On November 6th Cathryn and I topped the bill at Denholm Folk Festival -- our first show since February 14th 2020! We enjoyed meeting old friends and we're looking forward to gigs in Ireland, the UK, Holland and Denmark next year.
Cathryn has become a first-class baker, with my favourite being her ginger cake, so look out for her on Masterchef!
Merry Christmas to everyone and we hope 2022 is a happier year, all-round!
Brian (and Cathryn)
Donna & Joe Murray very kindly filmed us for their "Sessions In The House" series and this is our song "These Old Stone Walls", written after a trip around Ireland with Brian's Uncle Tommy Pendleton, from Melbourne, Australia.
You can see it here
Brian is busy putting the finishing touches to the new instrumental album... more news on that to follow!
Cathryn & Brian
We hope this finds you all in good health and looking forward to 'live' music again!
Please take a look at Cathryn's appearance in Episode 3 of "Both Sides Now", hosted by Oonagh Derby. You'll find it on Facebook, posted by Redbox Creative Ltd.
We're still singing and playing on other people's recording projects, but we're also writing new material and there's a new guitar instrumental album on the way!
Our career as Radio Presenters is going well with the brilliant Toronto-based www.bluesandrootsradio.com on Fridays at 5.30 p.m. and repeats on Sundays at 11.00 p.m. (UK time).
All the best and stay safe,
Happy New Year everyone!
In spite of Covid restrictions, we've managed to keep ourselves occupied, mainly singing and playing on other people's recording projects... Cathryn has sung a duet with Dave Cousins for the new Strawbs album, I'm on Damian Wilson's latest single "Hard To Keep Faith", I've played on Rose Brennan's new record and we've both contributed to Blues singer / songwriter Allison McGrath's forthcoming album.
We also have a new career, as Radio Presenters!
"Stories & Songs", is on Harbourside Radio, our local internet station, every Thursday from 5.30 - 6.30 p.m. GMT... and our exciting news, is that the Toronto-based international radio network, Blues & Roots Radio, has invited us to join its team.
The Blues & Roots shows will be on Fridays at 5.30 p.m. GMT and repeated on Sundays at 11.00 p.m. GMT.
With no sign of 'live' dates in sight, we've been busy, recording for other people's projects...
Cathryn has sung a duet with Dave Cousins, for a forthcoming Strawbs album, we've worked on a new record by our Nashville friend, Brent Moyer, I've played on new albums by Rose Brennan and Allison McGrath and we've both been involved with Lemonade Marinade, a group formed by DJ and songwriter David Dee Moore, to raise funds for PIETA,an organisation providing free therapy to those engaging in self-harm, with suicidal ideation, or bereaved by suicide.
However, our big news is that we are now presenters on our local internet radio station, www.harboursideradio.com!
On Thursdays from 5.30 -- 6.30 p.m., our show "Stories and Songs" features artists who have influenced us, or we have known or worked with and stories about them. From Al Bowlly to The Beatles, from Darlene Love to Bert Jansch, we play their music and tell our stories!
Please tune in and hopefully we'll see you next year!
Cathryn & Brian
After a great start to the year with some home-territory shows and the briefest-of-brief visit to Nashville we've been forced, like all other musicians, to wonder when 'live' music might return.
Re-scheduling for 2021 is not a certainty, but we will endeavor to put as many dates in as possible.
Meanwhile, we've both been busy recording for other artists, including Strawbs, John Hinshelwood, Rose Brennan and Allison McGrath. We also contributed to a charity single, organised by David Dee Moore, in Westport, Co.Mayo.
We look forward to seeing everyone a.s.a.p., so please stay safe for us!
From Colum Sands..."Congratulations Cathryn and Brian on a wonderful album launch last night. It was great to be a small part of it and even better to sit back and hear all the new songs and to appreciate how many of them honour the place that you have come to call home. Excellent music from Dermie McQuaid and Paul French in the mix too...never before have I seen and heard so many guitars in the same room being played so beautifully as last night, well done to you all!"
After a great UK tour, we're settled back in Ireland, looking forward to local shows and the "launch" of our new CD 'The Cooley & Mourne'.
We're sending the album out to radio DJs and magazines and we'll be thrilled if they come back with something like this, our first review, by The Spill Magazine in America...
"The Cooley & Mourne is a fantastic album. It is beautifully recorded, sequenced perfectly and Craig and Willoughby have never sounded more confident…Cathryn’s vocals are perfect for the songs, bringing a sense of nostalgia, while Brian continues to stand as one of the best guitarists today. His style is easy, somewhat mellow, but always effective. The instrumental tunes are fitted perfectly and they serve to remind us all of the expert instrumentation going on in this remarkable album."
Cathryn and I are touring shortly, to promote our new album! "The Cooley & Mourne" features 15 tracks, including four guitar instrumentals and we had brilliant help from some of Northern Ireland's finest...Dermot McQuaid on bass, banjo, whistle and harmonica...Paul French on piano...Fergal Hughes on drums and Colum Sands on double bass.
Sound engineer Steve Fearnley co-produced the project with us.
Thanks to Desislava Bozhilova for the cover painting and Gary Willoughby for the artwork.
Please come and see us if we're in your area!
We've been busy recording with engineer Steve Fearnley, who was trained by Tom Newman of "Tubular Bells" fame. There are 9 new songs, 3 instrumentals and 2 re-recordings.
It's a very guitar-orientated album, with lots of electric guitar but with splashes of other instruments in support.
We will have it ready for the upcoming autumn tour!
Meanwhile, we're looking forward to our Fiddler's Green Festival appearances:-
August will find us busy putting the finishing touches to the new CD... onwards and upwards!!
We were thrilled to be invited to take part in Strawbs' 50th Anniversary celebrations, in Lakewood, New Jersey USA, over the last weekend of April. We performed their entire "Grave New World" album, with John Ford, Blue Weaver, Dave Cousins, Wesley Stace, Tony Fernandez and Eric Bazilian from The Hooters.
"Blue Angel" was accompanied by a 36-piece orchestra, with parts written by Strawbs' gifted keyboard player and guitarist Dave Bainbridge.
Cathryn sang with the orchestra (conducted by famed producer Tony Visconti), the 50-piece United Nations choir, Strawbs with me, Strawbs without me and also a solo on "Songbird", written by Blue Weaver and BeeGee Barry Gibb.
I played both electric and acoustic guitar, with various lineups of the band and Cathryn and I played our own set to the 900 enthusiastic fans, (see review belowby Aaron Badgley of SPILL Magazine) who welcomed us with a standing ovation and the Mayor of Lakewood presented me with a proclamation, in honour of my service to music!
It was a memorable weekend and the 15-camera shoot will no doubt prove to be a great DVD.
Brilliant sound engineer Paul Smith's 70-channel desk also captured the sound for a future series of CDs.
Now to resume our own recording schedule!
All the best,
December 2018 RTE Radio and Merry Christmas
We are thrilled to be 'live' guests on "Today with Sean O'Rourke" on RTÉ Radio 1, 88.5FM,
A little Christmas offering from us, recorded by James Mason. The song was written by Mark Lowry and Buddy Greene... https://soundcloud.com/brianwilloughby1/mary-did-you-know
November 2018 New agent
Cathryn and I are delighted to announce we are to be represented by Lorraine Carpenter of Different Strings Music Agency!
2018 saw us breaking new ground in Ireland, with The Belfast Nashville Songwriters Festival, Fiddler's Green Festival, Omagh's American Folk Park Independence Day Festival and Donegal's B.A.N.D. Festival in Dunfanaghy.
We also toured the UK extensively and were invited back to Madame Guitare Festival in Tricesimo, Italy and to the English Folk Club in Spain.
We have written material for a new album and “played it in” on our recent tour. The emphasis is on more "chorus" songs, which went down very well, with audiences singing along and we’re looking forward to recording them, for release in 2019!
Here's to a great partnership with Lorraine ... contact details via www.differentstrings.co.uk
October 2018 tour
6 weeks! Wow, that was a long tour, but all the performances were really enjoyable, with brilliant singing audiences and lots of new faces.
Our new songs went down very well and we’re looking forward to recording them, now that they’re “played in”.
We’d like to thank everyone who came out to see us and the organisers who did a great job in promoting the shows.
Here’s to the next outing in spring 2019, although that will involve a less punishing schedule and less time separated from our little dog, Rosie!
September 2018 Madame Guitare Festival
We've always enjoyed playing in Italy and our second invitation to the Madame Guitare Festival was no exception!
Wonderful venues, both in the civic theatre and the town square, brilliant hospitality and world-class fellow performers, made for a memorable weekend.
Here is a link to a clip from our show on Sunday afternoon...
Autumn 2018 upcoming tour
After a wonderful run of summer festivals, both in England and Ireland (I think the photos show the fun we've had recently, playing with The Sands, Ralph McTell and Irish legend Shay Healy), we're looking forward to a busy September and October.
Our new song "The Cooley & Mourne", featuring Ben Sands, Colum Sands and Brendan Monaghan is now available to purchase.
Available as a download only go to the Albums page for different options.
Off we go on our autumn jaunt around the British Isles starting with Woodman Folk Club on the 20th (full details on the gigs page). We're looking forward to meeting old friends and new!
Our new song, "The Cooley & Mourne", telling the story about Brian moving back to his native Northern Ireland, is recorded, mixed and ready to go. With Colum Sands engineering and co-producing, we also added his concertina and double bass and his big brother Ben is on backing vocals. On bodhran and Uilleann pipes, we feature the very talented Brendan Monaghan.
Hope you like it!
After two great Irish festivals, B.A.N.D. in Co.Donegal and Fiddler's Green in Co.Down, we're back in England and Wales for a few shows. Check out our gigs page for full details of these and other gigs. Hope to see you there.
Our new song "The Cooley and Mourne" is going down well and we've recorded it, adding Ben and Colum Sands on mandolin and concertina.
In September, we'll add cello and whistles, before sending it out to radio DJs.
Wish us luck!
After a brilliant Spring Tour we're heading off to Nashville for some studio recording with ours pals Reckless Johnny Wales and Bob E Baker, plus the odd guest appearance in the local with Brent Moyer and "Tall" Tony Laiolo.
We've got some new material on the boil and we're looking forward to involving some of our new Irish pals in recording it on our return.
The exciting festivals BAND in Dunfanaghy, Co Donegal and Fiddler's Green in Co. Down are looming and we hope they'll lead to further shows in Ireland.
Also, we'd like to welcome the lovely Val as our new representative - see Contact Us.
Here's to meeting up with friends old and new on our next jaunt!
We thoroughly enjoyed our "For Folks Sake" radio show with Dessie Fisher on Drive 105.3 in Derry, on April 4th!
Dessie is a great, informed interviewer and we could easily have spent twice the time, talking to him.
Thank you to Andy Peters for the introduction!
We are delighted to have been nominated in the "Best Duo" category for the Folking Awards 2017. Here's the link to the awards page and it would be great if you could vote for us: The 2017 Folking Awards (you need to scroll to the bottom of the page).
After much to-ing and fro-ing, we're almost settled in our new home overlooking Carlingford Lough, in Co.Down, N.Ireland.
We've had fantastic help from our team of builders, our neighbours and the locals in our newly-adopted watering holes.
New songs are on the boil, mostly inspired by our new surroundings and soon, we will be posting short clips of ourselves, rehearsing the material, with stunning background views - keep an eye on our FaceBook page for more on this.
The spring dates start on Friday and we're looking forward to meeting everyone over the next few weeks.
On April 4th., we're doing For Folks Sake on DRIVE 105 (105.3fm), 'live' with Dessie Fisher, at 8.30 pm.
After a very successful show for our new local Folk Club, Crawfords in Rostrevor, we're delighted to have been invited to play at The BAND Festival - Bluegrass And Nashville Dunfanaghy, Dunfanaghy, County Donegal, in June and Rostrevor's Fiddler's Green Festival in July.
Hopefully, one of the spring shows will be in your area - please come and say "hello"!
Let's hope 2017 is a great year for all of us!
New songs, new venues and new friends are on the way and we've settled in to our new life in Ireland, surrounded by great music.
2016 was productive and we thank everyone who came to see us, or bought one of our records, either at a show or via the internet.
Val has done a sterling job maintaining this website and thank you for visiting!
Hopefully, we'll see you at a show somewhere in your area this year!
We’ve recently recorded a beautiful Christmas song which is written by Buddy Greene and Mark Lowry called "Mary Did You Know".
You can listen to an extract here.
The complete song is available to download from Amazon.
We’re delighted to welcome our new representatives, Pam and John Knighton! We met when they invited us to perform at BAMFEST last year and we’re excited to be working with them in this new relationship. Pam and John can be reached on 07754 470133 or via firstname.lastname@example.org
We’ve been very busy flitting from London to our new home in Ireland, to Spain and to Nashville, where we both resumed our studio session careers, working on a new album by songwriter Reckless Johnny Wales.
We’re now ready for our autumn tour, to promote the new ‘live’ album, recorded at St.Pancras Old Church in London, on the last show of our spring tour. We’re thrilled that “This Night, These Dreams and You” from the album, has been played extensively on several stations on the Blues & Roots Radio network!
We’ve added two dates in Holland, one in Dublin and we’re looking forward to all the UK shows which kick off on the 21st October at Deal Folk Club. Check our Gigs page to keep up to date with where we are.
Dublin City FM DJ Peter Grogan, has put together a charity record, in aid of ArtAid. World, a voluntary group of artists who use the arts to help fight HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. We were invited to donate a track and “Alice’s Song” appears alongside offerings from several other artists.
We hope you can come and see us somewhere near you on the tour! Bring a friend!
Last Friday - 22nd July - Cathryn Craig became...
We've been together for 19 years, but the triplets are due next month, so we thought we'd better make them legitimate.
Our minister was The Right Reverend Phil Kaufman, RMD
(Road Mangler Deluxe) and we had about 20 guests that we've known for over 20 years, here in Nashville.
Our ring-bearers were Patti and Michael Snow and the photos were taken by Denise Fussell.
The last show of our spring tour took place at St Pancras Old Church in London and was recorded live. We are thrilled with the results of the recording and we're very happy to be releasing the project as an album on 1st August 2016 - see In Concert Saint Pancras Old Church for more detail.
This is a departure for us, as we have always preferred 'studio' to 'live' recording and we hope you like it!
We're looking forward to next month when you can catch up with us at Broadstairs Folk Week and Saltburn Folk Festival - see our gigs page for more information.
We are delighted that our new album In America is receiving such great reviews. You can read more about these here.
'In America' has been 'Album Of The Week' on Blues & Roots Radio, FATEA'S 'Along The Tracks' and in Ireland on Charlie McGettigan's Arts Programme on Shannonside Radio.
Colum Sands on BBC Ulster did a half hour programme on us featuring the album and we've had significant play on RTE by Niall Toner and on Dublin City FM by Noel Casey and Peter Grogan.
Several stations on the Blues & Roots network have given us regular airplay here in the UK, in Canada, the US and Australia. We often appear on Brian Player's 'Acoustic Cafe'
We're proud to announce our latest CD 'In America', featuring some of our most personal songs, recorded in Nashville this summer. The digi-pack design includes a 12-page booklet, containing lyrics and brief backgrounds to the material. You can order the CD from the Albums page or from the In America page where you can also listen to soundbites.
The CD, or individual tracks is also available from iTunes and Amazon.
Cathryn Craig is from Virginia and has built a strong reputation as both performer and songwriter. She has sung with Chet Atkins, The Righteous Brothers, Shel Silverstein and Jorma Kaukonen.
Her great-grandfather Jacob Sowder was recorded by Cecil Sharp and is featured in Sharp’s book "English Folk Songs From The Southern Appalachians".
Brian Willoughby is best known for his virtuoso performances on electric and acoustic guitar, with progressive folk/rock band Strawbs and also with Mary Hopkin, Joe Brown, Roger Whittaker, Bridget St.John, Jim Diamond and Monty Python.
Both Cathryn and Brian have accompanied Nanci Griffith.
“Alice’s Song” was an Aled Jones “Highlight of the Year” on BBC Radio 2.
Cathryn was Simon Mayo's star guest on BBC Radio 2Day, live from Nashville.
The Telegraph’s Martin Chilton named the duo as his “Folk Gig Pick” in 2015.
Their current studio album, 'In America' features their most personal songs, recorded with "A Team" Nashville musicians
August 2016 saw the release of a 'live' recording, In Concert, from St. Pancras Old Church in London.
Thanks for dropping by. Rest a while here on our website where you can listen to our music, watch a video or two and see where we’re playing.
Cathryn and Brian
“They catch a mood that could produce goosebumps on sheet metal"
(The Glasgow Herald)
“Long live traditional music, even when it's only just been written”
(The Living Tradition)
“…sublime guitar work and one of the finest voices around”
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