BRIAN WILLOUGHBY & CATHRYN CRAIG
As well as playing with the Strawbs in the 80s and 90s, Brian has been a session player/sideman in much demand, playing with the likes of Mary Hopkin, Roger Whittaker, Monty Python, Joe Brown and Jim Diamond and Nanci Griffith.
Black And White is Brian's brilliantly understated acoustic solo album, with a focus on Willoughby's songs, co-written with such artists as Michael Snow, Bill Lloyd, Cathryn Craig and Mary Hopkin. Willoughby provides most of the sparse instrumentation on guitars and the lyrics are effectively handled by Cathryn, with the exception of one song featuring a performance by the wonderful Mary Hopkin.
Working in between Brian's Strawbs commitments, Brian and Cathryn developed an extremely popular live act in the UK folk clubs. I Will was the first true duo album they recorded, a splendid collection of songs, many of which appear in their live act. A polished achievement, with some excellent songs, including a version of Dave Cousins' "There Will Come The Day" with Cathryn taking the vocal.
In 2004, Brian decided to leave the Strawbs in order to concentrate on the work he was doing with Cathryn, and in later that year he released an instrumental solo album Fingers Crossed, which got very good reviews in the "musicians" music press. It features a few tracks of interest to Strawbs fans (an instrumental version of "Alice's Song", a version of "Cry No More" from The Bridge, the instrumental opening to "Face Down In The Well"; and the title track, which was the piece which Dave Cousins played to Mary Hopkin which got Brian his first job!
Brian doesn't appear on the first two Cathryn Craig albums. He does appear on some tracks on Cathryn's Pigg River Symphony CD which feature interpretations of traditional Appalachian folk songs. The duo's records are all available via the online shop on their website: www.craigandwilloughby.com.
In 2008 they completed work on Calling All Angels which was released in February 2009. A revised version of "Alice's Song" was issued in Jan 2009 for download, with (with Antonia Pagulatos on viola and violin and Phil Rynhart on keyboards, getting loads of radio interest.
And in September 2009, to the delight of Strawbs fans attending, Brian and Cathryn once again appeared with the Strawbs at the 40th anniversary celebrations in the so-called "Blue Angel" line-up, also featuring Blue Weaver, Tony Fernandez and Chas. Cathryn sang stunningly with Dave in the set - including two numbers which have always been Dave's solo preserve, "New World" and "Benedictus", and Brian offered up his trademark effortless searing guitar breaks. A solo set from the duo also attracted many new fans, though a loud bang at the end (the much missed Fred Wedlock switching his compere mike on) made everybody sit up sharpish.
In 2010, the Craig & Willoughby Rockin' Rhythm Revue made its debut at the Eel Pie Club in Twickenham - for photos and review, click here .
Further single releases followed: "Freeway To Her Dreams", a Gordon Haskell song (released in 2011), and "Time Has Proved You Right" (in October 2012), in support of the Hillsborough families. In 2013, Real World presented the duo stripped back to their live act, no overdubs and effects or additional players. "Rumours Of Rain" was re-promoted in 2013.
Most recently, a new album In America, recorded in Nashville with a host of well-regarded musicians, came out in late 2015, and this year, 2019 sees another new release The Cooley And Mourne.
And of course Brian and Cathryn were in attendance at the 50th anniversary celebrations in Lakewood, NJ.