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Blues rock duo When Rivers Meet gearing up for Cambridge Rock Festival

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A lot has happened since When Rivers Meet – husband and wife Grace and Aaron Bond – last spoke to the Cambridge Independent in early 2021.

When Rivers Meet. Picture: Laurence Harvey
When Rivers Meet. Picture: Laurence Harvey

Exploding onto the UK blues scene during lockdown, the pair recently won three UK Blues Awards, including Blues Album of the Year, Blues Band of the Year, and Blues Vocalist of the Year for Grace Bond.

“It’s pretty surreal, it’s kind of unbelievable really,” says Aaron. “Like we said before, just being nominated was amazing and then to walk away with the awards last year was incredible, and the same thing’s happened again this year.”

Grace, who is originally from Ely, adds that it was also great to attend this year’s ceremony, which was held at PowerHaus in Camden on May 15, in person.

When Rivers Meet (often abbreviated to WRM) were the first band to win four awards at the UK Blues Awards in 2021: Blues Band of the Year, Blues Album of the Year, Emerging Blues Artist of the Year and Most Inspirational Online Performance of the Year (an award that was introduced due to lockdown).

“Our piano’s nearly full!” laughs Grace, commenting on the pair’s impressive ability when it comes to picking up awards. Do the couple feel they ‘gelled’ musically right from the word go? “We felt that we had potential,” laughs Aaron.

Grace says: “We definitely didn’t go, ‘Oh, click, this is going to be wonderful’ and writing songs together happened a few years into our relationship. But even vocally it didn’t click; it took us a long time to work out how our voices sat nicely together.”

Aaron continues: “We realised we had the same musical tastes in the very first conversation that we ever had, when we met in Live & Let Live in Downham Market – and that was 18 years ago now.

“It’s just kind of evolved from there; we didn’t work together for a few years because we were in our own projects at the time – and we didn’t think about working together until one moment where we thought, ‘Oh wow! This is a really good idea, let’s do it’.” Grace interjects: “And then it was really hard work!”

When Rivers Meet. Picture: Rob Blackham
When Rivers Meet. Picture: Rob Blackham

WRM emphatically announced their arrival with their debut EP, The Uprising, in April 2019. This was followed by their second EP, Innocence of Youth, in May 2020. Since then, Grace and Aaron have released two critically acclaimed studio albums, We Fly Free (2020), and Saving Grace (2021).

When their debut album was released, Rolling Stones record producer Chris Kimsey praised the album saying that “the performances are exemplary, the sound is magnificent, the songs are gorgeous. I love the drama. I love everything.”

Aaron, who is originally from Downham Market, reveals that the band are due to go back into the studio next January to record the third album – “so we’re working on it at the moment”.

He adds: “Mostly we’ve been concentrating on this tour – our first UK headline tour – which has been going absolutely amazingly. We’ve got ideas for the new album and we’re going to start working on it pretty much next week.”

Grace notes: “Like Aaron says, we’ve had a lot of build-up because this was our first [headline] tour that we’ve just done – our first time with a band and we had a lot to learn because we’d never toured at that level at all, so all our focus has kind of gone on to that.

“But we’re really clear on what the next album is going to be as a whole but we’ve just got to fill in the gaps and finish writing it.”

WRM are scheduled to perform at this year’s Cambridge Rock Festival, which takes place at the East of England Arena and Events Centre next week. They are to headline the Emerald Stage on Sunday, June 19.

“Never been to it, always wanted to do it,” says Aaron, “so we are really looking forward to that. It’s kind of cool as well because we know quite a lot of people that are going to be there, like Split Whiskers and Barefoot Doctors, which are all local Cambridge bands.” Grace says: “I’m originally from Ely so it’s been one I’ve been wanting to do for a long time.”

When Rivers Meet. Picture: Laurence Harvey
When Rivers Meet. Picture: Laurence Harvey

As well as all the UK dates, WRM are also set to perform in the United States for the first time, in August. “We’re off to Nebraska and we’re playing some festivals out there, which is really cool,” says Aaron.

Grace notes: “We’ve kept the US tour quite short because we kind of wanted to dip our toe and try it, because with these tours we’ve realised there’s so many things to learn still and it’s good for us not to jump in really deep.”

WRM will then be back on the road across the UK in October. Aaron concludes: “Things have changed quite a lot in the last year for us for sure, so really exciting times. This year has been massively exciting.”

“And terrifying!” adds Grace.

WRM will be appearing at the Cambridge Rock Festival on Sunday, June 19. For more information and tickets, go to cambridgerockfestival.co.uk. For more on WRM, go to whenriversmeet.co.uk.

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