Eager to reach out to new audiences and polish his performance skills, singer songwriter Charlie Straw embarked on a road trip with a difference.
The artist, who hails from the Wirral, travelled the length and breadth of the UK in a trusty blue Ford Focus playing 30 gigs in 30 days.
He sang anywhere and everywhere – in people’s front rooms, churches, pubs and even a prison. He spoke to iSingmag about the power of acoustic singing and the satisfaction of taking your career in your own hands.
You spent 30 days touring the UK and sleeping on people’s sofas. How did this gigging road trip come about?
I released a song called St Ives and I wanted a way to bring the meaning of the song to life while also engaging with as many people as possible. I was new to music and I needed to get some experience, so playing a show every day seemed like the best way to do that. Without an agent, a tour of traditional venues was off the cards, so we took the concept that Sofar Sounds (read more about Sofar Sounds HERE) use and pushed it into a full tour.
My manager and I reached out to people; posting on social media, speaking to friends and friends of friends. We spent the whole summer planning it and then set off in mid-September. The original plan was to do a couple of weeks but by the time we finished we had 30 dates sorted and were having to turn people down, I couldn’t believe how welcoming people were.
During the tour you performed in a prison (HMP Wealstun) and a church. How did these gigs come about?
I wanted to use the tour to play in as many interesting spaces as possible so I could learn the most about performing and how people receive live music. We brainstormed all sorts of ideas and then explored if we could pull them off or not. Some of them were a bit too extreme – we put some real thought into a floating show on the sea! But some were possible. The prison show came through a person my manager knew. It was an experience I’ll never forget. I think the most poignant shows were the ones I did one-on-one. My manager invited two total strangers to sit and listen to me play to see how different the shared and private experience of live music can be. It became this amazing conversation about my songs and their lives.
How did gigging in different locations help you as a performer?
I think it made me tougher. Before the tour I was very used to supporting acts and going through a sound system. But now I appreciate the power of acoustic performance and the purity of it. It also helped me get used to opening up to strangers, even down to just speaking in between songs. It also showed how important it is to do things for yourself. A lot of people in music enjoy promising young musicians the world, when the reality can be very different. Sometimes you need to make things happen for yourself.
What’s next for Charlie Straw?
My next show will be supporting Nathan Ball on 18 April at Oslo. But more generally, this year is all about getting new music out, and being as creative as possible in the process. I want my songs to mean something to people, but the first thing is getting them to listen to them.
Charlie Straw’s new EP is out now.