A singer songwriter from Cornwall has appealed to punters to book tickets to her gigs in advance to stop promoters getting cold feet and cancelling gigs.

Hard on the heels of a six-week Ireland and UK tour, Cornwall based international singer/songwriter Sarah McQuaid is looking forward to three Cornwall shows in the county next month.

She’ll be promoting her new album The St Buryan Sessions, which was recorded live in lockdown in St Buryan Church near Penzance and has drawn critical raves and appeared on best-of-2021 lists on three continents.

“It’s been amazing just to be back out on the road performing to real live flesh-and-blood human beings instead of images on a screen,” says Sarah, “but these are seriously tough times for all touring artists, myself included. Travel costs have skyrocketed and audience numbers are way down on what they should be.

“I’d urge people, if they’re thinking of coming to any of my gigs, to please buy tickets in advance, because low ticket sales make venues twitchy and they start talking about cancelling shows.

Sarah McQuaid. Photo by Phil Nicholls

Sarah McQuaid. Photo by Phil Nicholls

“I’ve already had three gigs on this tour cancelled due to low ticket sales, which is financially disastrous when you’re already out on the road and have expenses to pay whether you do a gig or not.

“But even with small turnouts, the gigs that have gone ahead have been absolutely fantastic — it’s so, so lovely to get that immediate reaction from a live audience. There’s nothing else in the world like it.”

Born in Spain and raised in Chicago, Sarah lived in Ireland for 13 years before moving to West Penwith in 2007 with her husband (local artist Feargal Shiels, a member of the renowned Newlyn Society of Artists) and two children.

“The kids were 2 and 4 years old when we moved to Cornwall and they’re 17 and 19 now,” she says, “so this is really the only home they remember and I’m so, so glad that they’ve been able to grow up in such a lovely part of the world. I’ve put down some very deep roots here now and I don’t plan on moving again!”

It was through relocating to Cornwall that Sarah met Zoë, writer and performer of 1991 hit single “Sunshine On A Rainy Day,” at the school gates of St Levan School, the tiny primary school that both Zoë’s and Sarah’s children attended.

The pair hit it off and recorded an album of co-written songs under the band name Mama, released in 2009 to critical acclaim: MOJO called it “a pleasingly maverick mix,” the Financial Times described it as “captivating” and the Irish Times said it evoked “Janis Joplin’s freewheeling spirit crossed with Joni Mitchell’s lyrical density.”

Entitled Crow Coyote Buffalo, the Mama album was produced and recorded by Martin Stansbury, also based in Cornwall, who subsequently became Sarah’s manager and touring sound engineer.

Sarah McQuaid St Buryan sessions. Photo by Mawgan Lewis

Sarah McQuaid St Buryan sessions. Photo by Mawgan Lewis

Stansbury also produced and recorded Sarah’s sixth solo album, The St Buryan Sessions, which was released on CD and limited-edition double vinyl LP on October 15, 2021.


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The album made it onto “Best of 2021” lists published by such far-flung media outlets as 2ser 107.3fm in Sydney, Australia; the “Ear To The Ground” radio show on Nashville’s WXNA FM; the Netherlands’ “Slim Chance” music blog; and the UK’s “Strummers & Dreamers” show on Cambridge 105 and Blues & Roots Radio.

With the assistance of second cameraman John Crooks, Cornish filmmaker Mawgan Lewis filmed the entire album as it was being recorded. His videos of all 15 tracks can be viewed on Sarah’s YouTube channel, together with a 9-minute documentary, “The Making Of The St Buryan Sessions”, featuring interviews and song snippets.

Sarah will be playing the following three Cornwall dates :

  • Fri, Jun 17: Penlee Park Open Air Theatre
  • Sat, Jun 18: Bodmin at The Old Library
  • Sun, Jun 19: The Redruth Drapery

See sarahmcquaid.com/tour for more tour dates later in the year and tickets.