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Saint Raymond

October 2014

HE’S already played a dozen shows but Callum Burrows admits “it hasn’t quite sunk in yet”.

The tour supporting Ed Sheeran, whose latest album X is Britain’s biggest-selling of the year so far, will run to a total of 37 dates across the UK and Europe, keeping Burrows, aka Saint Raymond, busy until the end of November.

The 19-year-old from Bramcote is facing crowds of up to 20,000 people a night.

“It’s a crazy experience,” he admits.

“It’s harder to see faces in arenas so you don’t realise how many people there are... not until the moment in the set where we get everyone to light up their phones. That freaks me out a little bit.

“Smaller venues are more nerve-wracking in a way because you can see their faces and how they’re reacting. When it’s on such a big scale you kind of forget where you are for a bit, which is great for the nerves. It doesn’t really sink in until you come off stage.”

This is especially true of the colossal O2 Arena in London, where he played four shows with Sheeran in front of 20,000 people each night.

“Even as a support, when the place isn’t full because not everyone has left the bar yet, there are still 10,000 people there, which is crazy.”

Has the Bramcote teenager been bricking it, preparing to face such numbers?

“I’m usually kind of chilled before shows but I must admit I have been pretty overwhelmed by it. The crowd have been really welcoming. When you get a really good reception from that amount of people, it feels amazing.”

Most of them may have forked out to see Sheeran but many know Saint Raymond, as he’s discovered when he’s “busked” outside venues for people queuing up.

“It’s been weird seeing some of them sing along,” he laughs.

“It’s really random.”

Do any of them think you are a busker and throw money?

“I wish.”

He’s also been meeting fans after shows.

“We’re getting hundreds of people turn up.”

Burrows, who signed to Asylum, part of the Atlantic group, last summer, has been doing a 40-minute set with his band.

“We do the same set every night to keep it solid. That’s seemed to work really well. And I don’t approach these gigs any differently to what I’ve done before. It’s just about keeping the confidence I’ve built up in the smaller venues. I’m not changing anything too drastically.”

The effect of being on the road with such a big artist has been a sharp increase in his following on social media, topping 26,000 followers on Twitter and 23,000 likes on Facebook.

If they all buy his new single Fall At Your Feet, released at the end of November, he’ll be guaranteed a place in the chart.

It’ll be his first single release after a series of EPs that have all landed in the iTunes chart.

And the album?

“It’ll be early next year, I think, but I’m not too focused on that at the moment,” says Burrows, who has been amusing himself on the road by playing Fifa 2014 (“I play that on the bus, like a loser, but I love it”).

He adds: “I’m always cautious about saying the album’s finished because I’ve been speaking to a lot of artists like Ed and they’ve said they wrote the best song on their album a week before going to press.”

It is common for support artists never to meet the headline act but that’s not been the case with Burrows and Sheeran.

“The first few days he was super ill and then he came to hang out in the dressing room a bit and I caught it,” he says.

“So we’re both still on the mend. But he’s often asking how it’s going and we’re texting. I think for an artist like Ed Sheeran to do that... a lot of artists wouldn’t give a toss.”

His shows often attract celebrities but Burrows hasn’t been star-spotting a great deal, it seems.

“I think Brooklyn Beckham was at the show the other night. And I was stood next to one of One Direction watching Ed last night.”

Did any of the magic rub off... on him?

“(Laughs) Yeah. Probably.”

Does he know which one it was?

“Yeah it was Niall, the blonde one, the Irish kid. It’s how I roll these days.”

The tour comes to Nottingham next week, with two shows at the Capital FM Arena.

“There’s nothing like being at home,” he says.

“I haven’t been back for three weeks. It’ll be nice to go back to my own bed and see the family, all the nieces and nephews. Especially after the craziness of doing all this.”

This week Saint Raymond was confirmed to headline a show at Rock City, only the fourth Nottingham artist to do so, following local boys Jake Bugg, Dog Is Dead and – way back in the 90s – electro-metal band Pitchshifter.

Callum says: “It’s always been the dream – and it’s definitely something to look forward to.”

Saint Raymond supports Ed Sheeran at the Capital FM Arena on Wednesday and Thursday at 7.30pm. Tickets, priced from £36.40, are limited. Call 0843 373 3000 or go to to find out more details.

He plays Rock City on Wednesday, February 11 and tickets are £10 from the box office. Call 0845 413 4444 or go to

Seckou Keita

October 2014

WORLD music star Seckou Keita, a kora player originally from Senegal but now living in Sneinton, will join Welsh harpist Catrin Finch at St Mary’s Church in High Pavement tomorrow for a performance of songs from their acclaimed album, Clychau Dibon.

It has earned them Roots’ Critics Poll Album of the Year, Songlines’ Best Cross-Cultural Collaboration Award and two nominations for the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, plus an abundance of four and five-star reviews. Neil Spencer from Uncut magazine described it as “intricate, ethereal and entrancing, an elaborate pas-de-deux... remarkable”.

But what brought Keita to Nottingham?

“My ex-partner was working here for a year and a half so we moved here nine years ago,” says the 36-year-old father-of-three, who stayed when they split up. “I like it here. It’s really friendly. It’s not like London with all the traffic. It’s less busy and I can walk everywhere.”

He’s also lived in Norwich and Bristol and taught African Studies in London, moving from Senegal in the 90s to work, as an expert in the kora, an African stringed instrument.

“It’s not an instrument to learn if you like noise. You can’t be disturbed by the noise from a TV or an iPad when you are learning the kora because it’s more of a classical instrument.

“It helps kids learn how to concentrate. I realised that with my son, who loves drumming and making a noise. When he started to learn the kora it really helped with his concentration.”

Keita doesn’t spend a great deal of time in Nottingham as he’s on the road a lot, currently around the UK and Europe with Finch.

Clychau Dibon topped the Amazon World Music charts, leading to a summer of festival dates, including Womad, Cambridge Folk Festival, Shambala and Festival Interceltique, Lorient where they double billed with Anoushka Shankar.

They have been working together for three years and performed 57 shows so far.

You wouldn’t expect the kora and the harp to work together.

“(Laughs) I know, if you think about it you’d say ‘what’s going on!?’. The instruments are from different worlds, different cultures but there are similarities, as Catrin and myself found out. The chemistry between us is huge.

“Although, because she’s classically trained, to start with she was writing notes down. She realised that it has to be done from memory and to go with her feelings. So she stopped reading and writing music.

“For me, I had to learn to have more structure because I was used to improvisation.”

The result is hard to pigeonhole as the music blurs the boundaries between world music, classical and folk.

Robin Denselow of The Guardian described a London show earlier this year as “one of the classic concerts of the year”.

The duo have talked about a follow-up album but prior to that they each have solo albums to release.

“We have enough material for another album already,” he says, some of which they’ll be playing at tomorrow’s concert.

“I’ve finished my solo album which will be out early summer, then a tour at the end of next year. And Catrin is the same, so it’ll be the year after.”

Catrin Finch and Seckou Keita, St Mary’s Church, High Pavement, Saturday October 18, 7.30pm, £15, 0115 989 5555, 

Vicky McClure

October 2014

WHEN the Nottingham branch of the Alzheimer’s Society contacted Vicky McClure, who had recently picked up a BAFTA for her role in TV drama This Is England 1988, she knew little of the disease.

“I knew it was horrific but little more than that,” says the 31-year-old actress, who lives in Toton.

“They asked me to open the Memory Walk and I’ve been doing that every year since,” she says of the charity’s fundraising trek around Wollaton Park.

“Then, a year ago, my nana was diagnosed with dementia and since then it’s become part of my life.”

Dementia describes a set of symptoms that may include memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language. It’s caused when the brain is damaged by diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease or a series of strokes.

Vicky undertook a Dementia Friends course to further understand what her nana was going through.

“It teaches you better ways of communicating with people who are suffering with it,” she says.

How her nana’s illness has affected the family – including Vicky’s mum Carol – and others is the subject of a short documentary as part of the BBC’s Inside Out programme.

“In the film we go to my mum’s house in Wollaton to interview her. Before we starting filming we discussed the possibility of actually going to my nana’s house in Aspley and filming there. Initially, we said no because she can’t speak for herself. She is unable to make that decision.

“But when it came to it, we decided to include her in the film simply because it’s very hard to describe to people what it’s like unless you see it.

“It was probably the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make.”

The actress, who has starred in TV dramas Broadchurch and Line of Duty, adds: “I do like to keep my personal life to myself but this was a cause that was important and my mum agreed. And really it was my mum’s decision to make more than mine as she is my nan’s mum and one of her carers.

“She has a full-time job but she’s round there every other night.”

Nana is Iris Hedley, who’ll turn 78 on Monday, the day the documentary airs.

“Dementia is a horrible disease that means you forget who your family are. She was the most stylish and proudest woman and she was very confident but that woman doesn’t exist any more.

“Some days she knows who I am and some days she doesn’t. I’ve had my hair dyed blonde for filming This Is England 1990 and she recognised that I’d had it dyed but it’s hard to have a full conversation.

“My mum and her brother, they’re both used to it, if that’s the right term. When your nearest and dearest fall ill, I think you find an inner strength and you just get on with it.

“My mum is an extremely strong woman and she’s amazing with her. Even though sometimes she just doesn’t recognise her.

“She used to work at Player’s. My grandad, who worked at Raleigh and then Player’s, died quite a few years ago and my nana doesn’t always recognise his photograph.

“And she has a tendency to scream a lot, through frustration. I think it’s because if you ask her a question, she knows the answer but she just can’t find it.”

The documentary also sees Vicky, who grew up in Wollaton, visit the ward at the QMC where they treat sufferers of dementia, Alzheimer’s and delirium.

“I spent a day on the ward and met the patients, the families, the doctors, the nurses and the carers. It’s designed in such a way to help them, with signs explaining what day it is, which season it... and it’s colour coded.

“There’s not enough room on the ward so the charity helps people get support at home. My nana wants to be at home. She’s comfortable and she’s happy. But you can see in the film that clearly she’s not very well.

“It’s really beautifully made. It did make me cry because it’s my family.

“It’s very hard hitting, very real and very honest. Particularly when we visit the ward but I left there feeling very positive.

“I hope when people watch it, they get a greater understanding of those kinds of diseases.”

After making the film, Vicky, who lives with actor and producer Jonny Owen, who she met on the set of the film comedy Svengali, was back in Sheffield to continue filming This Is England 1990 for Channel 4, in which she returns as Lol.

“I have been recognised more with the blonde hair,” she says. “I was at Notts County on Sunday with my grandad and a few people recognised me there. It was a great game. We had chip butties and a pint at the Trent Navigation afterwards.

“I go whenever I can because every time I leave the ground I’m always buzzing.”

Notts County gave Vicky her own team shirt branded “McClure” and “BAFTA”, although she resists the urge to wear that to games.

“It’s in my drawer with all my other tops,” she laughs, adding: “I don’t mind people recognising me as Lol. I love This Is England. It’s my favourite job in the world. So being back on it is like living the dream. And I love that people love it.”