Ida Mae’s Chris and Stephanie are very well-known and loved in our city, familiar faces (and voices) through Kill It Kid, Blood Bird, Ida Mae, Jug Jaw’s Beat Club and even as fellow passionate music fans at countless gigs, so it was no surprise that the Arts Centre was packed with friends, musicians and music enthusiasts for this sold out PRB gig.
To open the night though was another astonishing local talent, familiar to fans of Chalky Seas and also through her solo work, the hugely impressive Ginny Dix. Quite a crowd had already gathered in the half seating-half standing area auditorium, with all seats claimed by the time she came onstage at 8:30pm. She introduced herself quietly at her piano and let her stunning voice do the talking, at times gentle but also able to soar. The beautiful NAC sound made this a mesmerising experience as everyone watched and listened quite spellbound by Ginny’s magical and emotive set.
On a blustery late winter evening with the remnants of storm Gareth blowing in from the east the place was feeling pretty full and I saw loads of friends at the venue which made for a lovely atmosphere. Chris and Stephanie relocated to American Music City Nashville TN (via London) about a year ago but also made the hop back eastwards to return to their Norwich Music City, UK home with the addition for the live shows of Nick Pini on upright bass, which enhances the overall sound beautifully with a great warmth and depth to the soulful, bluesey and at times quite intense excellence of Ida Mae’s sound.
Ida Mae’s album has been written for some time and has been a long time coming but will finally appear this summer and we were given a taster with the live set and a sampler EP for the tour. They continue to evolve and show off their excellence to great effect, powerful voices, guitar, keys, tambourine and some heavy foot-stomping … at one point in the evening the spirit of the old Arts Centre church itself even seemed to join in with some synched tapping sounds coming from … goodness knows where. Chris and Steph are such lovely people and the chemistry they have onstage is a joy itself to behold but as musicians and vocalists onstage they really shine too. Some of the most passionate music fans I have met, they know their stuff and the musical history which filters through to create this glorious Ida Mae sound which has a certain rawness and strong feeling that connects and resonates with the audience. This was a triumphant return to their home city and there was a whole lot of love in the room with the crowd absolutely demanding a well-deserved encore from them. Tonight (Wednesday) they play the excellent OMEARA, London is in for a treat.
At the end of this Norwich gig everyone made their way to the merch table in the foyer to get a CD, shirt or badge, and to say hello to Chris and Stephanie, we were all very pleased to see them again and delighted to welcome Ida Mae back to the city. Since launching officially at Red Rooster a few years ago we haven’t seen as much of them as we’d have liked but with an album in the can, this tour and some high profile support slots, things could be about to change for Ida Mae. Big time.
“It’s quite some transformation from their grunge blues band Kill It Kid, but former members, and now husband and wife, Chris Turpin and Stephanie Jean are opening up a whole new musical world. The duo is now emerging from a period of self discovery and mutual creative power to create the rawboned and stripped back musical romance that is, Ida Mae.
Ida Mae’s magic lies in the sensuous dovetailing of two voices and the intimacy of their songs. Their chemistry on stage isn’t just a dramatic pose and is a truly captivating sight to behold. Chris’ vocals are reminiscent of a Face’s era Rod Stewart or Steve Marriott, while Stephanie combines the delicacy of Patty Griffin with the effortless rock chic of Alison Mosshart. Singing together, the couple have an unusual ‘which is which’ dynamic.
After finding critical acclaim with Kill It Kid, spending years touring various parts of the world, and working closely with legendary A&R man Seymour Stein, Chris and Stephanie felt drawn to a more honest sound, a simpler expression of song where all you need is a guitar and a voice to accompany it. They have recently finished recording their debut album with acclaimed producer and friend Ethan Johns (Ryan Adams / Ray Lamontagne / Kings Of Leon / Laura Marling) set to release in Spring of 2019.
Having recently moved from Holloway in London to Nashville, TN, recent highlights include touring with The Lone Bellow, Nick Mulvey, Nikki Lane and Will Varley. They have also been honoured to be selected to play Emmylou Harris’s Woofstock Festival & Kings Of Leon’s Harvest Night in Nashville.”
Norwich: Music City, UK. A Norwich playlist of well over 30 hours of local music on Spotify: