Lockdown had a profound effect on all musicians. For The Lost Trades, a newly established band on the verge of their first tour it slammed the brakes on. Formed in 2019 by Wiltshire based singer songwriters Jamie R Hawkins, Phil Cooper, and Tamsin Quin, they spent the time, as did many writers, refining their songcraft. Translating creativity that would normally be channeled into performance into solitary songwriting has had mixed results for some artists, but The Lost trades seem to have found strength in sharing their work remotely. In June 2021 this turned into their debut album, ‘The Bird, The Book & The Barrel’.
Their style is a mix of Laurel Canyon and traditional English Folk, with most of the singing as 3-part harmonies. The album is good and deservedly spent the rest of 2021 in the charts, but their harmonies come properly alive on stage. ‘One Voice’ which opens the album is often a live set highlight and is one of the best examples of how they have built on the sound they achieved in the studio.
Since summer 2021 they have performed, mostly within easy reach of their Wiltshire bases, and are still at the small venue stage of their journey. One of the features of this series has been a bit of “what might have been” as The Lost Trades like many other acts we have featured certainly deserve a bigger stage than the Pandemic allowed them. With dates in place for early 2023 they are playing a mix of Folk Clubs and small halls. As with many artists the need to make a living away from their calling probably puts a limit on their ability to take on the major support slot that would bring them to a wider audience.
I last saw them play at a folk club in one of Bristol’s less salubrious suburbs. Supported by a variety of open mic performers they put their all into a low-key date with a fairly small audience. One of the features of a Lost Trades gig is the storytelling and on-stage conversation. With a lot of swapping of instruments, they each play bass, guitar, and percussion at some stage of the show, it would be easy for the pace of the show to drop. Their ability to keep the audience engaged while this goes on is something that sets them on a different level to many other artists in these venues.
With new singles appearing and a second album in preparation their blend of Americana and Folk will hopefully be getting out to new and larger audiences over the next few months. Along with many other small venue heroes it’s no more than they deserve.