Cutting loose is the preserve of youth, right? How many couples do you know who in their fifties get made redundant, take to the road in a VW camper and turn to making music for a living? Scots/English duo Winter Wilson did just that.
Kip Winter had a high powered career in international marketing and Dave Wilson worked in social services as a care home manager.
It was music that brought Kip and Dave together, having met in an Irish session in the nineties, and it has always been a big part of their lives. Up until 2012 they used to play a few gigs a year on the folk scene and had released several well-received albums.
When the banking crash came and the government began to make savage cuts to public spending Dave could see that his time at social services was limited (check out “Consultation bullshit blues” on the album “Cutting Free”). At the time they had just paid off their mortgage and the kids were all making their own way in the world. Having never had a day out of work since leaving school Dave planned to get a part-time job and devote more of his time to music.
Dave had been given notice and his time at social services was due to end in June 2012 and then out of the blue Kip was told that her job was going (she was offered alternative employment with the same company but declined). “We thought about it for about fifteen seconds and said to hell with it. We never did the gap year thing as students and knew we had enough money to get by for at least a year, so we said sod the daily grind.” Dave’s redundancy payout was spent on “Tallullah” their trusty VW camper and off they went.
“We had a few gigs in the diary so we started looking for other folk clubs, acoustic music venues etc that were enroute to the gigs and go and do floor spots. If we had a gig on a Thursday we would leave on the Monday and sleep in laybys, pub car parks, people’s driveways etc and play as many places as we could. One floor spot was worth twenty phone calls, so we just tried to get in front of venue managers and club organisers and show what we could do. Ninety percent of the time we would come away with a booking.”
Late in 2013 they released their redundancy-inspired album “Cutting Free” which was very well received by the critics and then they received a major boost in 2014 when the Daily Telegraph placed “Cutting Free” in their top ten recommended folk albums for the summer. “The Telegraph listing was great for us. We didn't suddenly sell a shed load of albums but it gave us a terrific selling point. When you are doing all of your own bookings, you can’t phone up a promoter and say “book us we’re great” without sounding like a pillock, but we would quote the Telegraph article and send a link to the website and it helped get us a lot of gigs”.
The latest album “Ashes & Dust” has also had some fantastic reviews and has further enhanced Winter Wilson’s reputation on the acoustic music scene. “We always get nervous when sending out a new album for reviews. Yes you want people to be honest and write what they genuinely think of your work, but you’re also praying that they think it’s great. Some magazines can be brutal with albums they don’t like so you find yourself reading reviews whilst wearing a crash helmet and holding a box of tissues.” Thankfully neither were required this time around.
There is a drive for youth across all musical genres; it’s not sour grapes but a fact of life that the older you are the harder it is to get the breaks. Winter Wilson have done just that with a lot of graft and no shortage of talent.
Tallullah recently covered over five thousand miles in six weeks on the first leg of their “Ashes & Dust” tour which took them all around the UK, over to Germany and then around Ireland.
They have established their own cottage/campervan industry. Kip does the press, designs posters, album covers, tee-shirts etc and takes care of European bookings (she speaks several languages), while Dave writes the songs, engineers the recordings and sorts out all of the UK bookings. Thankfully they both drive. “Wifi at motorway services is a godsend. We both carry iPads so that we can keep on top of admin while we're on the road”
2016 was great for Winter Wilson, but 2017 looks even more promising as the year kicks off with a ten week tour of Australia and New Zealand and then 2018 starts with a thirty date UK tour supporting folk-rock legends Fairport Convention. “In 2012 we gave ourselves a year to see how things would turn out and almost five years later we are still getting away with it. It’s no pushover; we’ve really knuckled down and put in some very long hours, but it beats working for a living.”