The Black Deer Festival 2023 is already a distant memory. As ever, it was an awesome combination of culture and community with some truly great musical experiences on stages large and small. I saw Allison Russell shake the Ridge tent, immersed myself in the intimate songwriter circles and stood next to a woman who, overcome with emotion, shed tears during Steve Earle’s set (although it might have been the rain). Next year will come around before you know it – grab your ‘Super Early Bird’ tickets from here while you still can.
Alongside the main stage and the Ridge, one of the things to love about Black Deer is the outstanding music to be discovered on smaller stages around the Deer Park. This year, Caffè Nero hosted a stage at the festival. For a number of years, Caffè Nero has been championing the work of emerging artists, supporting the likes of Passenger and Jack Savoretti. One of the highlights on the Caffè Nero stage was the Sunday morning performance of Annie Dressner. It’s a tough task to play a set at 9:30am but Dressner drew in a large crowd. The New Yorker now lives in the UK and has released three acclaimed albums and an EP. The ’48 Hours’ project with David Ford was one of 2022’s most delightful collaborations – do check it out. There’s a new record coming soon and we were treated to some of the new songs. AUK caught up with Annie for a couple of exclusive backstage videos and a few words. Enjoy.
2022 was a really busy year for you with your single ‘I’ve Always Been Like This’, the ’48 Hours’ project with David Ford and then lots of touring. What was 2022 like for you?
It was really fun. It was really busy who was the first time I played anything live since prior to Covid. At first, it was a little bit scary to go on tour again. There was a lot of Covid testing and hoping we didn’t have it so that we could play shows that sort of thing Actually playing shows getting through them I was really grateful for. When they started off I was supporting David Ford on his tour and we had a few shows and then there was a big gap of about five weeks when we wrote and recorded a record and pressed it and everything it was called 48 hours Then we did a tour of that called the summer holiday tour which was really fun. We built a stage like a set and played in tiny theatres. I had my own solo tour this past September and my friend Amelia Coburn played with me and Lucy Grubb did a show as well. Kerry Devine played as well. It was just really lovely to get to play and be around people again. I also recorded my fourth record my upcoming record. I don’t know yet when it’s coming out. I do know what it’s called but I’m not sharing that yet. I recorded that in between tours so it’s been busy and I’m a mum so super busy.
A lot of the shows you’ve done have been songwriter circles or collaborations with others. What’s that been like?
I did another tour with my friends Lucy Grubb, Dan Wilde and Luke James Williams and I did a one off show last month that was really fun with Danny George Wilson, from Danny & The Champions of the World and Pete Astor. I’ve never done anything like that before the tour I did in March. You don’t really know what the other person is going to play, so it’s not rehearsed in the same way and you learn things about the songs. You have a dynamic of friendship on the stage and pieces of information about the song might come out when you’re playing solo because there’s a level of comfort When you’re up there with your friend. Later today, I’ve been added to the superJam education stage with My Girl, The River and Jarrod Dickenson for another songwriter circle, so I’m really excited about that.
You’re here playing the Caffé Nero stage this year. What’s your relationship with Caffè Nero and how did that come about?
About 10 or 11 years ago, I was really curious about how people got on playlists so I did a lot of research and got in touch with one of the people that worked at Caffè Nero. Thankfully they like my music and have been really supportive of my music ever since then . I believe all of my releases have been played in their stores for the last decade, which is really nice. They had a stage here with TalentBanq and invited me to play. Of course, I said yes! Black deer is fantastic. It has such a great reputation and everyone at Caffè Nero is so nice It’s a lovely stage to play and a very captive audience – very quiet actually!
It was an early morning show!
Everyone was asleep!
What was it like performing at 9:30?
I have very bad hay-fever right now and I was a little bit concerned when I woke up this morning because I could sing below a certain note and above a certain note, but there was a particular note in the middle that is also important for most of the songs, so I warmed up for about 2 1/2 hours. Gently, but for the whole time I drank a lot of water and hoped for the best. Hopefully, it worked out okay. Next spring, I’m going to be having a headline tour for my upcoming record, so please stay tuned .