Once upon a time back in the real world the Ironbath used to make tea for a living. With hindsight it was an inevitable career path after he became a championship tea maker at a very tender age during a cub scout activity week. The promotion – presumably sponsored by Tetley or PG Tips – involved making the most cups of tea during the course of a week. The Ironbath has a hazy memory of bygone days but there is the faintest recollection of brewing 156 cups of tea. There wasn’t any prize but the Ironbath was awarded an orange plastic badge in the shape of a tea pot that proclaimed him as Championship Tea Maker.
30 years later and sat in the interview at Twinings this fact flashed across the Ironbath’s mind. “And why do you think you’ll be the right person for this role?” the HR interviewer asked. There was a pantheon of potential answers ranging from: “I’ll do anything for sufficient money” to “This is the role that I have lived my whole life for”. But the only thing that the Ironbath could think of saying was: “I was awarded the Championship Tea Maker badge when I was a cub scout”.
Making tea for a living had its advantages. Walking through the raw material warehouse where the air was heavy with a multitude of delicate aromas: rose hip, lavender, honey, strawberry, camomile. Watching the machines produce individual tea bags faster than your eyes could see was hypnotizing. However not everything was rosy in the world of tea making and 9 months after starting my assignment I had moved on.
Today it is still hard to drink a cup of morello cherry & vanilla without thinking about what could have been. So it is ironic that after I left they started running a promotion that featured our friend from Cayamo, Lissie with a version of Fleetwood Mac’s, ‘Go Your Own Way’.
Lissie also produced a ‘making of’ video where she discusses her love of “a good cup of tea”.
Then the Ironbath was at Cambridge Folk Festival the other day when he found himself at The Den. A poorly named venue that featured emerging acts. Already that day the Ironbath had witnessed one his best days of live music with Gretchen Peters, Keb’ Mo’, Nanci Griffith and The Unthanks spectacular show that featured a 28 piece colliery brass band. But just when he thought the day could not be bettered he met Charlene Soraia.
Charlene Soraia is an incredible young musician. It is fair to say that she is the most talented young musician the Ironbath has ever heard. She has a self-deprecating personality reminiscent of Adele – She was at the infamous BRIT stage school alongside Adele. A guitar playing ability reminiscent of Richard Thompson – She started playing when she was 5 so has picked up a skill or two. As a songwriter she has a thoroughly unique style, and a style that is still evolving.
The similarity with the Ironbath though, was the fact that we were both unceremoniously dropped by Twinings. She was featured in the promotion before Lissie took over. She performed a version of The Calling’s, ‘Wherever You Will Go’.
At the show she told a story about how she wrote to the PR department at Twinings when her free supply of tea ran out, but they declined to send her any more. It seems she was just as impressed with Twinings as the Ironbath.
On this video she explains her musical genesis.
You can stream a couple of songs from her album ‘Moonchild’ on her website. She is already recording another album, and judging by the songs she played at Cambridge it will feature more of her seriously impressive guitar work that is less evident in ‘Moonchild’.
Making any kind of prediction in this business is fraught with disappointment but the Ironbath thinks that Charlene has a good chance of being named in the BBC end of year list for “Sound of 2013”.