Award-winning folk duo Chris While and Julie Matthews are making a welcome return to Chester to play live at Alexander’s on Thursday, October 20.
The pair were winners in the Best Duo category at the 2009 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards and have been nominated 10 times since 2001 in the Best Duo, Best Song and Best Live Act categories.
Chris While and Julie Matthews’ musical partnership began in 1993 when they were key members and writers in the legendary folk-rock group The Albion Band with Ashley Hutchings and Simon Nicol.
In 1997 they left the band to concentrate on their work as a duo which has seen them tour throughout the world and gain an ever growing devoted fan-base.
Their songs have been covered by a range of renowned artists including Fairport Convention, Mary Black, Frances Black, Barbara Dickson, Christine Collister and Mary Duff among others but they are most appreciated for their own interpretation of these songs.
In 2015 they made the BBC Radio 2 play list with their single If This Were Your Last Day and a live performance on BBC Radio 2’s Weekend Wogan where Terry Wogan was moved to tears. They also played a live session on Radio 2’s Folk Show with Mark Radcliffe.
Their fans include Richard Hawley, Eddi Reader and Judy Collins. James Taylor once remarked that they have “an amazing energy” and led a standing ovation at the BBC Folk Awards when they won the Best Duo Award in 2009.
Australia has adopted them as one of their own and they regularly headline festivals there with people like Paul Brady, Richard Thompson and Eliza Gilkyson. They have toured extensively throughout Europe and Canada too.
Both multi-instrumentalists, Julie plays guitar, piano, ukulele, bouzouki, mandolin, harmonica and accordion while Chris plays guitar, bodhran, banjo, dulcimer and percussion.
Their musical careers have produced many successful solo albums and a variety of projects away from the duo including the Christmas band St Agnes Fountain with David Hughes and Fairport Convention’s Chris Leslie.
They also joined forces with friends and renowned singers Christine Collister (Richard Thompson Band, Gregson and Collister), Melanie Harrold (Hank Wangford, Gerry Rafferty) and recording artist Helen Watson (Snake Davies, Carmel) to form the super group Daphne’s Flight.
Chris While is regarded as one the country’s finest singers with four solo albums so far. Her long-time association with legendary folk-rock band Fairport Convention saw her take the place of the late Sandy Denny as the band’s original 1969 line-up performed the groundbreaking album Liege and Lief at the 2007 Cropredy Festival, an event later broadcast on BBC Radio 2.
Chris also records and tours with her daughter Kellie While, lead singer with the Albion Christmas Band and E2k.
Julie Matthews is a key songwriter for the Sony Award winning series of The Radio Ballads made for BBC Radio 2 in 2006 and 2012 and is currently working on the latest series, The Ballads of the Great War. Her input into the Radio Ballads over the last decade has been more than 40 songs.
In early 2010 she joined Rory McLeod, Boo Hewerdine, Jez Lowe and Ruth Notman in the songwriting project All Along the Wall, celebrating the history of Hadrian’s Wall in music and poetry.
In 2014, she joined a stellar cast of singers, songwriters and musicians for the album The Ballads of Child Migration, writing three new songs for the project. The album was showcased live at Celtic Connections in 2016 and featured alongside the album artists (Boo Hewerdine, Jez Lowe, Coope Boyes and Simpson, Chris While, John McCusker, Andy Cutting, Andy Seward, Michael McGoldrick, O’Hooley and Tidow), guest appearances by Eddi Reader, Kris Drever and Barbara Dickson.
The duo’s appearance at Alexander’s on October 20 will see them promoting their new album Shoulder to Shoulder which was released on September 16.
Call 01244 401402 or visit www.alexanderslive.com for details of their Chester gig.