VIDEO: Ancestor's hotel riot history inspires the latest LP by the bluegrass twins
Way back at the turn of the last century, fishermen and farmhands in Newquay took exception to the building of a hotel for tourists on common land they had traditionally used to dry their nets or graze their sheep. One night, after local workmen had been persuaded to down tools on the site, a group came from town and destroyed the foundation walls of the Headland Hotel, tipping the foreman's hut into the sea.
The striking red brick hotel was still built, of course, opening its doors in 1900, but the story of what became known as the Newquay Riots will never be forgotten – especially now it has been immortalised in jaunty and memorable song by acoustic singer songwriters the Carrivick Sisters.
Identical twins Laura and Charlotte Carrivick learned that an ancestor of theirs was involved in the rebellion while watching an item on the BBC news, and decided to research and write a song about it for their new album. Over The Edge turned out so well that it became the title track of their fifth album.
The girls recorded the accompanying video on the rocky Atlantic shoreline, with the Headland in the background, and an image of the hotel features on the cover artwork of the CD, which was created by Laura, inspired by a Rex Whistler painting used for a poster to advertise an exhibition at the Tate.
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"It almost had something to represent each song on the album," explains Laura, 24. "We've never lived in Cornwall – and we certainly have nothing against the Headland Hotel – but our family name comes from Crantock in Newquay. We have always been inspired by local stories; they have a bit more meaning to us."
Over The Edge was recorded in Yorkshire with Joe Rusby. It features 11 originals and one traditional song – Pretty Fair Damsel. John Breese, Charlotte's boyfriend, plays double bass throughout, respected producer Josh Clark (originally from Cornwall) plays drums and rising star Blair Dunlop sings harmonies on the track, Bird.
The girls write both together and separately; Laura's charming Old Friend, for example, is about their old dog Toby, the whippet greyhound cross they had to leave at home with their parents when they left home
"I tend to write most of the words and Charlotte will do more tunes because she's a better guitarist. We do consider ourselves instrumentalists rather than singers; we've always sung along together, though – I think we learned all our harmonies listening to the Dixie Chicks," says Laura.
"I guess we are like any two people who spend almost all their time together. We are very close, and we do think alike – until fairly recently we never did anything separately."
Raised at Salcombe in South Devon the sisters have been living in Bath for the last couple of years, but are frequently back on home turf.
"Much as we loved growing up and living in Salcombe, it's not the place to be when you are trying to get out of it to go to gigs all the time," says Laura. "John is from Bath; it has everything a city should have, but it doesn't feel like one."
The siblings grew up playing and writing music together and their unique style shows their strong folk and bluegrass influences without obscuring their English roots.
Laura started learning classical violin at ten but was soon more interested in folk music, playing along to Chieftains records. Charlotte began on classical guitar, picking up the mandolin a few years later. Then in 2003 – when they were 15 – the sisters discovered fresh fields at a bluegrass course. Laura heard the dobro for the first time and decided to learn, and recently Charlotte has taken up the clawhammer banjo.
They recorded their first album, My Own Two Feet in their bedroom in 2006, airing its contents on the street as buskers, before becoming professional musicians when they left school. Since then they have won a stack of awards, starting with the South West Buskers and Street Entertainers Competition, which earned them their first spot at Glastonbury. Their ambition is to continue making a living through their music, if a slightly less modest one.
"We live together and share a car," says Laura. Judging by the response to Over The Edge, they should soon be on their way.
The Carrivick Sisters share a bill with Police Dog Hogan at the Barnfield Theatre, Exeter on November 7. They also play at Miss Peapods, Penryn on November 30.