A PAIR of gifted musicians are taking off on their first headline tour.

Cirencester talent The Black Feathers, made up of Ray Hughes and Sian Chandler, will be playing 17 dates over the next month as they wow crowds with their brand of folk and rock.

The tour comes together with the launch of the married couple's new studio album Soaked to the Bone and the release of an exciting new music video for their song Down By The River.

The couple come from very different musical traditions. Ray, 36, and originally from Ireland, is classically trained and studied at the Royal Irish Academy of Music in Dublin, while Sian, 34, began training as an actor before dropping out.

“When I left college I thought ‘what am I going to do now’?” Sian said. “I never thought I’d end up back in Cirencester. I was at a real low point but then I picked up my guitar and started to play.”

The pair began playing together almost a decade ago when Sian invited Ray to join her band.

The group had a name which Ray insisted he could not play under so they agreed to change it - but it was not until he saw the name emblazoned on posters that he found out it was now called “Just to Annoy Ray”.

They were soon playing covers together as a duo but, around three years ago, decided they were fed up of other people’s songs and decided to go it alone.

Ray said: “We thought ‘enough of the covers’ and started from scratch, writing all our own songs.”

It was around then that Ray and Sian got married, and their commitment to their art meant they even designed their iconic logo while honeymooning.

Three years on and the band has gone from strength to strength.

In July they put out a plea to their fans to help fund their new album and were overwhelmed when they reached their target in just four days.

It was mixed in Northleach’s Wincraft Studios by James Towler, whose credits include Steve Winwood and Eric Clapton.

On the day they found out they had smashed their crowd-sourcing target they went out on stage to play in front of 1,500 people as they supported Ray Davies from The Kinks.

But, the pair said, nothing beats playing in front of their home crowd in Cirencester, where they kicked off their tour off last week.

Now that the album is off the press the fans who helped fund it have been given a copy – although it will not be available to the public until the New Year.

The Black Feathers is Sian and Ray’s full-time job, which they admit can be stressful.

“It really takes over your whole life, but it makes us happy so that’s alright. It’s a good job we get on because we spend so much time together,” said Sian.

Ray added: “Our plan now is just to keeping playing as many shows as we can.”

The Black Feathers will playing at the Roses Theatre in Tewkesbury on Tuesday, November 17, and the The Folk House in Bristol on Friday, November 27.

To find out more go to theblackfeathers.com.