The Abrams Brothers back in West Sussex

The Brothers
The Brothers

The Abrams Brothers are delighted to be making their third visit to the Big Church Day Out festival at Wiston House, Steyning (May 27-28).

It comes as the Canadian brothers - John and James – debut their new The Abrams EP.

“We are thrilled to be playing there again, all because of a great story of playing live in London,” says John. “When James and I were on one of our first tours in the UK, we played the Slaughtered Lamb club in London, and it was one of those nights where things were a little bit slow. We were still building our name in the UK, and we had a smallish crowd, but among the crowd was the promoter for the festival

“I remember going on stage and there was like 20 people, but our motto is that we will always play to 20 people like we are playing to 2,000. We will always play at the same level. We put on the show, and the promoter came up to us and said he loved what we had done and wanted to bring us down to the festival.”

Their faith is important to them: “When we play the songs that we write, our version of country music, then those elements of faith and family run straight throughout the genre. If we are not playing gospel music, the faith is still important, and so it is a good fit to be playing at the Big Church Day Out festival.

“For James and I, the whole reason we started playing was that it came out of our faith. Our entire intention for making music is that if we want to touch people’s lives through the music. The times when we feel really rewarded are when people say that song or that show really moved them. And we find that that happens a lot at the Big Church Day Out. There is so much passion in the audience for the music that it makes you feel really appreciated. The church is a big part of what we are doing, and the festival really makes us feel at home in every sense, spiritually and emotionally as well.

“And it is just great to be coming back to the UK for this tour, and this time we will have the full band with us. James and I have been making music since we were little kids. We are the fourth generation in our family. We have been on the road for about 16 years. I think I was about 11 when we started touring. We were doing a lot of bluegrass and Americana, and out of that we were forging our own style. In our current style we call it Abrams music. It really draws from the family harmonies, the brotherly harmonies like the Everly Brothers, but also the acoustic instruments are really at the core.

“We really find with Americana music, country music, all those sorts of sounds and styles that they are really accessible to the global listener. It is not something that people immediately think about, but we have found that so many get excited about the music overseas.

“Whenever we have been there, we have found the UK audiences are very enthusiastic. We inject a lot of energy into our performances, and to have that energy from the crowd to feed off is really incredible, and that’s what we feel every time we play the Big Church Day Out Festival.”

John and James Abrams made their mark at many high-profile US bluegrass festivals as teenagers. In 2005, they became the youngest Canadians to perform at the Grand Ole Opry. In 2008, they released Blue on Brown, a collection of Bob Dylan and Arlo Guthrie songs, followed in 2011 by Northern Redemption, their first all-original album, which echoed the work of their classic country heroes – The Louvin Brothers and Jim & Jesse.

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