You have to admire Laura Catlow. She ploughs her own furrow in whatever she does, from the music she performs to the gigs she accepts.
She has been performing her brand of folk-punk throughout the Fylde and beyond for the last few years and even headed to New York for a handful of gigs recently.
Contrast that to her current booking – a month of Saturday night variety shows at North Pier theatre and it is clear this is an artist who is not scared to try her hand at anything.
Catlow, 25, is an impressive performer. I’ve seen her so I know. She exudes confidence and is one of those people who belongs on a stage, seems at home there.
Her music is original, she is fiercely passionate about what she does, and her hard work and gigging over the years is paying off – she’s getting more bookings than ever before.
“It’s not easy trying to make a name for yourself and get somewhere, not least because you have to earn a bit of money in between playing gigs,” said the Bispham girl.
“I’ve worked in a Chinese, at River Island, I even spent a summer dressed as a monster on the ghost train on the Prom, jumped out on people and scared them … so I made children cry for a living!
“But all I really want to do is make music. I love it. Unfortunately you can’t expect to be successful and make a load of money. You have to work at it.”
Catlow, who went to Langdale primary and St Aidan’s in Preesall, has been making music since she was a teenager. Aged 16 she joined local punk band Pink Hearse, then set out on her own.
She is one of a number of talented female singer-songwriters to have emerged from Blackpool of late. Karima Francis, Rae Morris, Jess Harwood, Jess Roberts – proving that despite a lack of places to play for original artists, there is plenty of talent here.
“The nice thing is we’re all quite different to each other,” says Catlow. “No one seems to be doing the same thing.”
Catlow’s thing is acoustic rock. “I use the genre folk-punk because it explains it a little bit – I don’t do really wet insipid acoustic style, I do something with a bit more punch to it,” she said.
“Some people really like it, because it’s a bit different to what they usually hear, while others don’t – they want easy listening music. But in general I seem to do OK with it.”
That much is certainly true. She self-funded a tour to New York (“it was an amazing experience and I made some good contacts out there”) and has been signed up to appear in The Variety Show on North Pier, on every Saturday throughout August.
“It is something completely different to what I usually do but I thought ‘why not?’ It gets my music to a totally different audience and it is fun too,” said Catlow, who is on a bill featuring the likes of a comedy impressionist from Britain’s Got Talent and Dave Benson-Phillips, who used to host BBC kids programme Get Your Own Back. “I watched that show when I was younger,” added Catlow, “so I was really excited about meeting him.”
A talented individual with a real gift for what she does, Catlow deserves success – and I, for one, hope she gets it.
* Tickets for the North Pier Variety Show featuring Laura Catlow are priced £14.50 (£12.50 concessions) and are available from www.northpierblackpool.co.uk