094 The Brewer’s Daughter

Rhiannon Crutchley aka The Brewer’s Daughter




This is a post that I’ve been looking forward to writing for a very long time. I don’t have a lot of ladies in my life who I consider to be close mates, but this is one of my soul sisters. I met Rhiannon about 8 years ago now at a festival in Wales. I remember sitting in her tent and listening to her play guitar and sing Bright Eyes songs. Since then she has come so far and I’m really happy to be able to write about a dear friend and an amazing talent.


Rhiannon and myself enjoying a moment at Small World festival

Rhiannon Crutchley is from Northampton, with English, Irish and Ukrainian heritage. “I’ve played fiddle for 20 years and am a collector of traditional folk music from Britain, Ireland and Eastern Europe. Over the years I’ve played in all sorts of dives; a Saturday night pub on the high street full of drunks in shirts with haircuts who don’t care about your music, don’t respect your performance, you’re only booked to try and pull more punters to the pub, so they make more money on the bar. I think you have to go through that if you’re ever to become a decent performer.” She also works with her father producing Hoggleys and Phipps NBC in Northampton’s historic Albion Brewery building.

Playing Doozer McDooze’s open mic at Alchemy in the early days

Performing is something that Rhiannon has always done. “It’s part of me and I enjoy playing music to people more than I enjoy most things. The material I play nowadays is so relaxed and held back. I used to want to make people move and dance with my music but I realised I was just reiterating other people’s styles – now I write and perform material that is very honest to myself, no fooling any more, I play music that makes you THINK.” 

Whilst playing fiddle with Tarantism (Britain’s most hard-working, long-running festival band) she also performs solo as The Brewer’s Daughter at festivals, gigs and folk-clubs throughout the UK. “Folk music for Folks’ sake. I’m most comfortable playing round a table at a session or of an evening with friends and family at home on the boat. My inspiration comes from that very human feeling of playing music to relax and interact. This, I hope, comes through in my music.” 


Make Believe – the name of Rhiannon’s narrowboat

The album ‘Make Believe’ was conceived and produced on her narrowboat (also called ‘Make Believe’) on the Grand Union Canal. “A week before recording started my guitars got swiped out the back of the van. Never got them back but had to replace them, quickly. Reg Bowen (guitar guru) set up my new (60’s vintage) 12-string guitar so it played like a dream. Whilst trying to avoid bankruptcy, me, my partner and Sam the studio engineer were selling car parts and general tat on ebay in between recording sessions. My partner selflessly lent me money, that he intended to spend on converting a horsebox to live in, so I could pay the engineer. We took our time with the recordings and did multiple takes on every part until we got the take that was ‘the one’. Seven months later and I’ve only just broken even on recording cost (which isn’t bad going!). It was a challenge as we were recording in February/March in a cold barn in Hertfordshire, our only heat source was little plug in electric fan heaters, which needed to be turned off when recording. So therefore, string instruments were going out of tune all the time and it were freezing!”


Rhiannon on stage at The Albion Brewery Bar for the album launch

The best moment for The Brewer’s Daughter was the album launch. “It was held at the brewery tap where I work. So therefore, my work colleagues, family, friends and fans were all there, packed in to a 80 capacity venue in my hometown. with support from Fleetwood Cave. When I was on-stage, all I could see before me was a blanket of eyes staring straight at me. The audience was so attentive, you could hear a pin drop in that place! It was summer solstice, and I was surrounded by people I care about and people I was yet to meet. On the night of the launch, everyone was there to listen and appreciate and smile with a tear in their eye. Bliss! Ever grateful when I manage to get the listener on the same wave length as me.” Recorded by Sam Dfl from the band AOS3, with a guest appearance by Fraggle from Back To The Planet on guitar, ‘Make Believe’ is a mixture of traditional folk tunes and original compositions, with lyric-driven songs and instrumentals all linked by old-time sentiment. 

On Stage with Tarantism

Besides from the financial nightmare that is being a self-employed musician, one of the biggest things which Rhiannon had to overcome was showing how committed she was to music. “In the early days I’d put in so much time and effort trying to prove that I really was serious about being a musician and living this life. I realised a fair while ago I had to do my thing, reluctant to do what was expected of me from people that have no idea of the 21st century alternative music scene. After going solo and releasing my first proper studio album, having a successful launch party and follow up festival gigs, I’m starting to accept my life as a professional musician. Also, being part of Tarantism has given me a reputation for being, at the very least, a competent performer!”


A poster for an upcoming show which Rhiannon is playing at

If you’d like to see Rhiannon play live you can catch her at the Strawberry Fayre benefit gig on 23rd November at The Portland Arms, Cambridge (click here for the event page) where The Brewer’s Daughter will be supporting The Skraelings and Ratbag. “I am currently booking a winter tour and details of that will be on my facebook page once all is confirmed.”


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