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A picture of human life so wonderful, so awful … so exciting and terrible’

W M Thackeray on Henry Mayhew’s accounts of the lives of the poor in Victorian London.


The new album 'London Labour, London Poor' will be first released in New Zealand April 2024 followed by a tour across the country. It is an album 7 years in the making following the work of Henry Mayhew's 'London Working, London Poor' published in the 1850s and taking us on a voyage of discovery of the working class in East London during the 1840s where his interviews were turned into a four volume series. These voices from the past are now captured in song to develop new audiences for his work and bring a greater awareness of the lives of the people themselves - the mudlark, the queen's rat catcher, the ballast wives of london, and many more.

"Writing a song for me is about creating a new character and becoming part of their brief journey.  To see them standing in front of me, visualise their walk, their mannerisms, hear their voice, and understand their story is to feel ready to begin to write their song. The song is a scene from a movie, a moment trapped in time and brought to life in front of an audience making them feel part of something unworldly but able to identify with the character that appears before them. How you bring that story to life is the trick, that's where the hard work sets in. You cannot be confined to a genre when there is a story to be told because it is the character that determines that."

Rachel Dawick


"The Boundary Riders"

Finalist for Best NZ Folk Album 2015, 'The Boundary Riders' was Rachel Dawick's fourth album and a move away from her earlier 'country blues' based album 'Ed's Bar and Grill' into a far more theatrical world. Her background in drama and literature came to the fore as her songwriting and also her singing inhabit the lives of each of the six women as they emerge from this Wild West scene to tell their tale - the Washer Woman, the Goldminer, The Prostitute, The Magician, The Missionary's Wife and the Fraudster. We are no longer sitting in the comfort of our living room but transported to New Zealand in the 1800s guided by our narrator, who weaves the journeys of each of the six women bringing us, the audience, to a timely end in 1893 as we give out a victory cheer as The Women's Vote is made into law.  Rachel's interest of a range of genres is reflected in this album moving freely from blues to country,  folk to swing, cabaret to musical theatre, as each character takes on a different musical voice.

From her launch of country blues album “Ed’s Bar and Grill” at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2009 Rachel has enjoyed International success with two collaborative songs released in Greece with EMI (“Peeling Apples” Athena Andreadis – release 2011 in the UK) and the UK (“Somewhere to Jump” Aberfeldy). Originally from New Zealand Rachel has been playing in festivals and clubs across NZ and the UK for over 12 years working with Susan Grant and Marise Clark as ‘Ruby Blue’, and Uk musicians Nick Lewis , Roy Dodds, Kevin McGuire, Andy May, Pat McGarvey and Wil Molleson. Rachel's previous background in Arts Education in the UK and NZ as well as two years spent working in Nepal with VSO have all contributed to a rich tapestry of experiences that come together and develop through her music.

Old Russian Jack Rachel Dawick
00:00 / 04:05

"a beautiful and informative period-style full colour 50-page programme "

"a stunning display of song writing and musicianship on display here with everything from saloon-drawl groove to spicy bhangra melodies"

" a rare and magical thing"

NZ Musician

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