Exclusive AUK Black Deer Backstage Video: My Girl The River

Photo credit: Andrew Frolish

The Black Deer Festival 2023 was, as ever, an escape into a fantastic world of music and American culture.  There are still a few Super Early Bird tickets left for 2024 here.  The range of acts across several stages is always one of the draws, ensuring that everyone’s festival experience is unique to them.  Of all the options, The SupaJam Stage is particularly important to support.  SupaJam is an organisation that educates vulnerable and disadvantaged young people about life and work in the music industry.  The partnership between Black Deer and SupaJam has lasted several years and the students of the music college are given over control of running The SupaJam Stage for the entire weekend.  From organising the acts to lights and sound, the stage is theirs – some even get to perform.  For the students, it’s an exciting, exhilarating adventure.  But, more importantly, what a wonderfully, transformative, potentially life-changing opportunity it represents.  In 2023, Kris Wilkinson Hughes of Americana act My Girl The River was invited to help the students run the stage.

My Girl The River are a real blend of American roots and UK folk influences, with a particular love of the sounds of the American south.  The Louisiana-born Kris is now based in the UK and is joined in the band by her daughter Rue on ukulele and vocals and husband Joe Hughes on bass.  The band is known for creating beautifully-written and produced songs, featuring fine supporting artists, with emotive lyrics and compelling performances.  My Girl The River’s most recent album was 2020’s ‘Cardinal in the Snow’, which was produced by Neilson Hubbard, (Mary Gauthier, Amy Speace, Ben Glover); check out our 8/10 review of this excellent record here.  AUK caught up with My Girl The River for an impromptu backstage performance and a few words in between Kris introducing different artists on The SupJam Stage.

Photo credit: Andrew Frolish

What have been up to musically?

I’ve been preparing for this.  I was asked by Gill Tee, one of the founders of Black Deer, to run The Supajam Stage this year.  I’ve been writing and also going through our back catalogue because I’m working on an a new album which will be a collection of songs done recently but also from over the years.  I’ve got some little things I’ve really been holding onto until I could find the right grouping.  I think I’ve found it, so I hope to release that early next year.  We’ve got a few tour dates here and there: I’m with Suzie Brown from Nashville, Alan Young known as Serious Child, going to be playing at The Hop Sessions down in East Grinstead and then the Arc Songwriters, which is myself, Kate Ellis and Anna Howie – we perform like a trio, singing each others’ songs with lots of lovely harmonies.  There are some tour dates coming up for that and I’m very excited.

What’s it been like running The SupaJam Stage?  What’s that involved?

It’s taken a lot of people who have worked pretty hard to bring it together.  We’ve got some wonderful special guests like Jarrod Dickenson, Annie Dressner, James Hodder, Roseanne Reid, Hannah White, Doug Levitt.  We did the Arc Songwriters yesterday.  The students have been incredible – their performances, their keenness to help, to run sound.  The whole team at SupaJam – the teachers and volunteers are hands on.  SupaJam is a music educator for young adults and it’s been a pleasure and an honour to be involved and something I feel really strongly about.  Everybody’s rallied around – it’s been great.

About Andrew Frolish 1453 Articles
From up north but now hiding in rural Suffolk. An insomniac music-lover. Love discovering new music to get lost in - country, singer-songwriters, Americana, rock...whatever. Currently enjoying Nils Lofgren, Ferris & Sylvester, Tommy Prine, Jarrod Dickenson, William Prince, Frank Turner, Our Man in the Field...
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