Red Bird Sky
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Red Bird Sky

Birmingham, England, United Kingdom | Established. Jan 01, 2010 | INDIE

Birmingham, England, United Kingdom | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2010
Band Folk Americana




"Album Review - the unravelling - **** 'a scintillating musical expereince'"

Falling Freely could have been lifted by time machine from a 'Sweetheart of the Rodeo' era Byrds Session. Shes as grippingly attractive on the more celestial selections, notably the run of 'over the horizon', 'The unravelling' and 'coming back into the light' towards the halfway mark. Her performances of the penultimate 'Sea of dreams' and the string freighted 'Open minded heart' finale also match a way with words peculiar to herself with the competent, even inspired accompaniment, particularly that of multi-instrumentalist (and producer) Nigel Stonier which drives a scintillating musical expereince - R2

"Album review - the unravelling - songs are of durable quality whether in upbeat feelgood mode or intimate personal reflections"

The Unravelling is another engaging collection of jointly-penned songs, brilliantly produced by Nigel Stonier (there's a man with a good ear!), who adds his multi-instrumental talents to the mix in the good company of a fine crew of backing musicians that includes Rod Clements on dobro, mandolin and baritone guitar.

The backdrops are full and rich, often majoring on string tones (violin and cello) with much versatility on display in the several guitar and related instrumental parts. Sounds good then, and the songs are of durable quality whether in upbeat feelgood mode or intimate personal reflections, couched in an accessible idiom that takes Americana twang, country-pop jangle and folky blues in its stride at the service of the songs - adherence to genre being in the end less important than the message. - Fatea

"Album review - the unravelling - The rich variety and originality of their music captures from the first"

For some time now there’s been a rise in the calibre of 'homegrown' Americana influence from these shores. Naturally, the imported variety still offers all it ever did but now the UK turns out ‘the real thing’ with increasing regularity, ranging from traditional Americana folk and ballads to intense folk rock; add the influence of indigenous heritage and you have Red Bird Sky. The rich variety and originality of their music captures from the first. Built around the songwriting, musical and vocal skills of Bernie Maguire and Mike Seal, this is raw-spirit music with sufficient strength to drive home the hardest message – listen to their album ‘The Unravelling’ and you’re right there.

Their songs are unafraid to deal with tough issues, taking the message to the song and making its presence echo in your ears. From wider exploration to personal examination, Maguire and Seal take their music into places that make you sit up and take notice. The album opens from a rockier spectrum with a hard tale of ending abuse ‘She Ain’t Looking Back’, moving into the pulsing ‘Being Human’ - the observing lyrics continue to bite hard and the band shows what a tight-knit unit it really is. A softer edge comes through mournful, string-embellished accounts of the title track ‘The Unravelling’, the gentle sadness of ‘Coming Back Into The Light’ and the profound understanding and personal resilience portrayed in ‘Travellin’ Light’. Throughout this album there comes across a wave of elaborate musicianship combined with powerful vocals leading through sorrow and resignation to deliberation and defiance. - folk worlds

"Album Review - the Unravelling - a feel-good thread permeates the album"

good driving rhythms throughout, especially on songs such as the belting Being Human, the upbeat Falling Freely and the Country-infused, almost sing-a-long Open-Minded Heart. There's a feel-good thread that permeates the album, which suggests that the band of musicians who join the nucleus of Bernie Maguire and Mike Seal, both of whom co-wrote all the songs, are thoroughly enjoying themselves, musicians that include a guest appearance by Lindisfarne's Rod Clements on dobro, mandolin and baritone guitar. - northern sky vaults

"album review - the unravelling - Lively pop folk americana, tempting as a moth to the flame"

Ever probing, Maguire handles the lead vocals cleverly searching out deft and varied feelings of emotions is arguably found at her best on “Falling Freely”; followed closely by “Travellin’ Light” (containing a great array of fine playing, as you have mandolin, harmonica (Oliver Garrett), and on lightening the feel Dobro aided “Open-minded Heart” breezes along in wonderful fashion as the album closer. In between this Maguire and the players speak in passionate terms of “Being Human”, which is bolstered by searing harmonica (Barney Soanes) and is one of those songs sure to play a permanent part in their live shows. It is one of those songs that grow on you; and it isn’t the only one. A good thing in a song it is too, something you associate with quality and Maguire’s vocals are of that ilk. Whether in a probing, forceful style as in country-ish “She Ain’t Looking Back” etc) or as she deftly shapes songs like a cello warmed “Coming Back In The Light”, mellow “Sea Of Dreams” and beautifully produced “Over The Horizon”. On which Maguire reminds me of someone, but I will be damned if I can remember who! Whoever it is, she sounds darn good, wistful, and tempting as a moth to the flame. - flyinshoes

"Review of single 'Stories'. - uninhibited vintage and clipped in a freewheeled classicism"

Mark Barton - God is in the TV

... we quite love it.
Agreed not our normal cup o’ tea but, ‘Stories’ incidentally is its title , it is garnished in such uninhibited vintage and clipped in a freewheeled classicism, its floral rustics are trip-wired such that they proffer a delicately affecting ambling arc that’s caressed by the entwining brambles of nature, blossoming string corteges leaving its sly eyed romantic twinkle to stir as it steadfastly weaves to an old school Gaelic like humbled ache.
Further investigation we suggest is required of you - Mark Barton - God is in the TV

"Album Review - every lesson in its turn - An absolutely beautifully crafted love note"

red bird sky - An absolutely beautifully crafted love note serving to herald the imminent release of the debuting long playing player from red bird sky entitled ’every lesson in its turn’ via treetops the label that brought us outings by the silk winders and the katie winter. Red Bird Sky sees the pairing of Mike Seal and Bernie Maguire and friends, airing right now on soundcloud the disarming and warmly glowing charm of ‘let the right one’ arrives delicately dinked in an alluring rustic majesty that’s spun upon a hypnotic waltz like framing amid whose serenely breezy persona is assumed a Gospel like glint to its finitely fragile song craft. - God Is In The TV - Mark Barton

"Live review - Beautiful, well crafted songs"

Beautiful, well crafted songs featuring Bernie’s beautiful vocals and Mike’s wonderful guitar playing ... and the icing on the cake is that you won’t meet two nicer people who are totally modest about the great talent they have.

Stuart Zola, Birmingham Songwriters Circle - Stuart Zola, Birmingham Songwriters' Circle

"Review of 'Stories' - Really enjoyed the song and production values. Can't wait to hear the album."

Really enjoyed the song and production values. Bernie voice sounds great. Can't wait to hear the album.
Paul Murphy - Lead singer of Destroyers and host of Birmingham Songwriters Cafe - Paul Murphy - Lead singer of Destroyers and host of Birmingham Songwriters Cafe

"newspaper interview - Meet The Band"

Red Bird Sky will release their new album on Treetops Records Red Bird Sky will release their new album on Treetops Records

How did you come together?

We are a Birmingham-based band called Red Bird Sky, which was set up in mid-2010, when Bernie Maguire (vocalist) and Mike Seal (guitarist) met and started to write songs together.

Bernie had advertised on the internet for a guitarist to join her to perform at a songwriters’ festival in Belfast and Mike answered the ad ... a few months too late ... but as chance would have it it turned out they lived almost next door to each other and met up anyway.

How did you get into playing music?

Mike is a seasoned musician who started playing as a teen and had journeyed fromplaying guitar in punk bands through to double bass in the London-based Jazz band, Blue Soup.

Having recently returned to live in Birmingham from London Mike was keen to get involved in a newmusic project when he happened on Bernie’s ad. Bernie, however, had followed a very different musical path and had only started to learn to play guitar in her 40s, as soon as she knew three chords she quickly turned her hand to writing songs!

Somehow we just clicked and set up as an acoustic duo and began writing our own original songs to perform. In recent months the band has expanded to include a fiddle/mandolin player, Percussionist and Backing singer and we are currently working toward developing our own unique sound and style as a band... but at the core remain the songs.

What’s your best live experience?

We were very fortunate to go to Canada in late 2011 to record an albumat The Shell Lane Studios on Prince Edward Island. While there we got to gig in Halifax, Nova Scotia; Charlottestown, PEI and at the wonderfulVintage Bistro and Lounge in Hampton, NewBrunswick – which was a fantastic experience.

However, we still hold a very special place for our first real gig – performed at The Abri Cafe in Birmingham in January 2010 – in front of dozens of friends, family and well-wishers – it was the first time we had put our songs out there ... and the first time that Bernie ... andmany of her friends and family realised that the girl could sing!

What are you working on at the moment?

Wehave been very fortunate to recently be signed by Les King to his Treetops Records label and are just about to release a standalone, download track called, Stories on December 10, prior to our first album coming out in early 2013.

Stories is really a lullaby for adults about all the things that you want to share when you fall in love!

The album- Every Lesson In Its Turn is made up of 10 songs that we recorded in Canada and was produced by Paul Milner. So it’s exciting times for us. We are also continuing to write prolifically and develop as a band. Mike is also developing his production skills – so, hopefully, there will be another albumalong pretty soon!

Where can we catch you live?

Wehave performed at The Moseley Folk Festival, The Belfast-Nashville Songwriters Festival and on The Birmingham songwriters’ Cafe Internet Radio Showthis year and will be doing a live set on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire on December 18.

Weare generally performing at a variety of venues locally including folk clubs, theatres and art cafes in and around Birmingham and are starting to graduallymove further afield and are setting up festival bookings for 2013.

Hopefully, you can catch us inWales when we come down to see you all.

Keep in touch with Red Bird Sky online - South Wales Argus Friday 30th November 2012

"Review of single 'Stories' - a beautiful ballad combining Bernie Maguire’s heart-felt vocal treatment with a lush string arrangement."

Red Bird Sky’s debut track from their forthcoming collection of songs recently recorded in Canada is a beautiful ballad combining Bernie Maguire’s heart-felt vocal treatment with a lush string arrangement.
Undoubtedly a song that deserves repeated plays it serves as a promising taster for future releases and gigs. 2013 is looking exciting for Red Bird Sky already!

South Wales Argus - Andy Howells - South Wales Argus - Andy Howells

"Review of 'Stories' - This is a beautiful song, one of the most beautiful I've heard in a long time."

"Stories" premiered on Gashouse Radio
Kate's SunshineCast show on Tuesday, 4th, December, 2012 with presenter Kate Lynn-Devere saying:

This is a beautiful song, one of the most beautiful songs I’ve heard in a long time. It is a lullaby for adults, real music by and for grown-ups, and there isn’t enough of that around these days, in this youth-obsessed culture. Bernie’s voice reminds me a little of Martha Wainwright, but the way she sings reminds me of Johnny Cash, when he sang the NIN song Hurt; there is an honesty to it. It has something emotionally very real, very true. I am completely in love with this song. - Gashouse Radio's Kate's SunshineCast show on Tuesday, 4th, December with presenter Kate Lynn-Devere

"album review - the unravelling - it’s a cocktail of styles, an Irish-tinged Mary Gauthier"

it’s a cocktail of styles, kicking off with the driving twangy blues of She Ain’t Looking Back and the even bluesier stomp Being Human, then the anthemic title track, the harmonica blowing Americana shanty sway of Travellin’ Light and acoustic guitar, cello and keyboard ballad Things Fall Apart where her voice suggests an Irish-tinged Mary Gauthier while the wind-lashed dramatic swaying Sea Of Dreams has hint of Baez and Mary Black. Falling Freely and Open-Minded Heart play to the honky tonks and bars, but they duo also venture into new territory for Coming Back Into The Light, a brooding acoustic number that, with its violin and accordion (?) harks (musically and lyrically) to the dark gypsy cabaret tones of Brecht and Weill and which ranks alongside Travellin’ Light and the title cut as the album’s strongest tracks and is easily Maguire’s best vocal performance, suggesting an area they might want to pursue further in future. - roots and branches

"'Stories' - single review - A song which inadvertently draws a tear with its close to the bone clarity and honesty"

Lyrical blue sky guitar, distantly rumbled by summer storm thunder of brooding bass; piano and sparkling keyboard, twinkle of sunlight glimmer on water; sweetly evocative, sage, world wise vocal, lilting, swaddling, swapping stories with expressively dulcet tones of bowed strings; redolent of Mary Black or maybe vice versa: a beautiful ballad, drenched with palpable compassion, drawn from similarly sensitive soul, caressing poignancy of everyday life, passing of time, stories lost from every life, "... I will listen like a child ...tales dark and wild...will hang on every word you say...lay your stories at my door..." A song which inadvertently draws a tear with its close to the bone clarity and honesty, sung in rich melodious tones, touched by hint of Irish brogue, trembling with sincerity and almost gospel like awe. - mudkiss magazine - Chumki Banerjee

"Album Review - - every lesson in its turn -This album reaches for you to ensure you share in the intensity of its songs and the potency of its melodies. There’s a stunning combination here"

The ephemeral distinctions between Celtic folk and folk Americana flow, blend and coalesce within the freshness of ‘Every Lesson in its Turn’ from Red Bird Sky. This album reaches for you to ensure you share in the intensity of its songs and the potency of its melodies. There’s a stunning combination here – the voice of Bernie Maguire, engaging and instinctive, coupled with the intricate versatile guitar of Mike Seal.

The album opens with the evocative ‘A Mountain of Me’ mournful narrative lyrics, keening fiddle mixed across lingering melody – a blend that personifies Red Bird Sky. That spirit of purposeful storytelling continues through the achingly poignant truth of ‘Flatlands’, the contemplative necessity of ‘Stories’ and the deeply moving ‘Let The Right One In’. The tender delivery of Bernie’s vocals breathe genuine sincerity into her lyrics to create songs that are consciously moving, profoundly touching and brim-full of warmth. Her voice is equally at home with the more upbeat keyboard accented warning of ‘Where The Wild Things Grow’ the bluesy-edged ‘Every Road I Take’ and the rocking pulse of ‘Moving’ – a tale of moving on in the face of bigotry; tough lyrics. An album closer can be a weak track, not here, with its fervent sadness ‘At The End of Love’ showcases Bernie’s voice with a gentle lyric across a simple, unadorned melody – a powerful song; there’s a deep breath needed as the last note fades.

On ‘Every Lesson in its Turn’ the songs are written by Bernie Maguire (lead vocals) and Mike Seal (guitars, bass) – also playing on the album are Dan Cutrona (keyboards) Gordie Mackeeman (fiddle) James Phillips (mandolin).
TreeTops Records - Treedown04

Reviewer: Tom Franks - folk words

"Album review - - every lesson in its turn - Red Bird Sky really manage to get into the heart of the material, able to portray both the heartfelt and the dramatic."

'Every Lesson In Its Turn' is the debut album from songwriting duo Red Bird Sky. Red Bird Sky are a male/female duo consisting of Mike Seal and Bernie Maguire, who between them have penned all of the tracks.

'Every Lesson In Its Turn' is very much a story album delivered is sweet slices of Americana with a folk blues edge. Red Bird Sky really manage to get into the heart of the material, able to portray both the heartfelt and the dramatic.

This is an album that is primarily of ballads, though these are balanced with a fair number of warm, almost spiritual songs with a slightly uplifting feel, think Gillian Welch and you'll not find yourself far off the right track, though definitely with an English accent

Whilst the use of phrase raw edge, has become almost a cliche;, there really isn't a better term to describe the sound. I love music that tweaks the heartstrings, that plays on the emotions and drives a reaction out of me, whilst the percussive guitars and sweeping fiddle really enhance that feeling.

I always judge a debut album by the criteria of; would it cut the mustard if it was a second or third album? 'Every Lesson In Its Turn' definitely passes that test, Red Bird Sky are a band that make a real impression on you.

Neil King - FATEA Magazine- Neil King

"Album review - every lesson in its turn - this album is a real joy to listen to"

Our Rating: 8/10 - From first listening to the country music overtones that dominate the album, one would be forgiven for thinking that the band hailed from the States. However, this home grown talent comes from Birmingham, and this album is a real joy to listen to. As well as the country and Americana influences, there are subtle inflections of folk music and even the blues which add to the overall listening experience.

As well as Bernie on vocals, and Mike on guitar, the band features Dan Cutrona on Keyboards, Gordie MacKeeman on Fiddle, and James Phillips on Mandolin. One thing that may strike the listener is the absence of bass or drums, however, I was halfway through the album before I noticed, the playing of the band members is that fluid and seamless.

The album has ten tracks, opening with ‘a mountain of me’ (all their song titles appear in lower case). This is a perfect introduction to the band and their music. An acoustic guitar driven country song with prominent fiddle playing which accompanies Bernie’s vocals flawlessly. A bright and upbeat melody, the band play to their strengths here: - “I'm like a rock at the shore, and the sea takes a little bit more/ Of me every day, washing me away with every turn of the tide, there's no way I can hide.”

As good a track as this may be, for me, the band really came to the fore with ‘where the wild things grow’, a country rocker that really chugs along and balances acoustic guitar and mandolin expertly, the track has a slightly bluesy feel to it due to the earthiness of Bernie’s vocal, which really make this a listening pleasure: - “I went down to the place they told me I shouldn’t go/And I learned me some things they said I shouldn’t know/ And I saw some things people ain’t supposed to show/ When I went down to the place where the wild things grow.”

Its not all country style music though, the band can produce a nice line in ballads when it suits them, such as the magnificent ‘stories’, a keyboard and acoustic ballad that is atmospheric, and builds as Bernie comes across with some moving lyrics: - “Bring your last tears to my heart, every one right from the start/ Everything you have to share. Come and tell me if you dare.” Quite rightly, this is the first single release from the album, which is available as a download from most outlets.

With a debut like this, I think that Red Bird Sky will soon be selling out venues near you. Definitely one to look out for this summer. - whisperinandhollerin website


The bands debut single 'Stories' is available to listen to at: or via
"Stories" was premiered on Gashouse Radio in early December, in Britain and the USA; and was described by Antonia Bird on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire as "Simply Beautiful!".
The album 'Every Lesson In Is Turn', released in late March 2013 on Treetops Records, is a potent mix of powerful Folk, Americana, Celtic and Blues songs - all with Red Bird Sky's wonderful lyrical imagery and glorious musicality.



Birmingham-based band, Red Bird Sky are centred around the songwriting duo of Bernie Maguire and Mike Seal. 

Their second album, "The Unravelling" was released in September 2014 to critical acclaim including a four star review in R2. It was produced by Nigel Stonier (Thea Gilmore, Joan Baez, Waterboys, Fairport Convention, Lindisfarne). The album again showcases the lyrical musicality that marks out Red Bird Sky songs and sees Bernie and Mike further progression as songwriters and deftly traversing genres. The band are joined by Rod Clements (Lindisfarne) on several tracks who adds some glorious  Dobro, Baritone Guitar and Mandolin.

The creation of Red Bird Sky came about as one of those glorious chance occurrences when Bernie had placed an advert, on a musician's website, seeking a guitarist to accompany her to the Belfast Nashville Songwriters Festival in 2010. Mike answered the ad ...... some two months after the Festival had ended, asking if she was still looking for a guitarist. Their e-mail exchange probably toured the globe, whilst ironically it turned out that they lived within a few hundred yards of each other! Luckily, Bernie said "Yes" and, after an initial period of singing some songs from Mike's Jazz-infused back-catalogue, they started to co-write in July, 2010 .... and the songs have come fast and furious since then. Since then, Bernie and Mike have been back to Belfast Nashville Songwriters Festival twice to perform and deliver workshops.

In October, 2011 the duo headed to Canada to record their debut album, "Every Lesson In Its Turn", with Juno-award winning Producer, Paul Milner, at his studio on Prince Edward Island. The 10 track album had a decidedly Folk/Americana feel, with some beautiful ballads and uptempo numbers adding additional hues. Featuring the talented Canadian musicians: Dan Cutrona (Piano / Keyboards); Gordie McKeeman (Fiddle) and James Phillips (Mandolin), the single "Stories" was issued in December 2012 followed by the album in March, 2013 (see press) and was released on the indie label, Treetop Records. Whilst in Canada, Bernie and Mike played gigs in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and on Prince Edward Island, where they found audiences, steeped in a culture of live music and world-class songwriting, who responded very positively to their performances and songs. Following their experience of recording in Canada, Bernie and Mike decided to expand their sound by adding musicians and growing from a duo into a fully fledged band. 

The backline has seen a few changes of personnel since 2012 but has now settled with: Bernie (lead vocals); Mike (guitars); Maighread (backing vocals); Mark Schlotel (Bass); Paul Miller (Violina) and Oliver Garrett (Harmonica/Keyboards). Opening the Moseley Folk Festival, in August, 2013, the band were also joined by Kostas Bechlos on drums.

Having performed at the Nantwich Words and Music Festival in October, 2013 Bernie and Mike were able to enlist the support of Nigel for the new album. Meanwhile, the songs just keep coming and Red Bird Sky continue to wow audiences with their live shows, managing to move effortlessly through genres and emotions ... from the most pared down intimate ballad, through to uproarious, stomping dance tunes. 

Band Members