For those of you wondering who I am, here’s a quick synopsis…
I play with a band call RURA. Most people call us Rura but that’s very wrong. It’s ‘RURA’ in capitals – you’re meant to shout it. We’ve just released our third album In Praise of Home produced by our very talented and patient pal Euan Burton. I also play in a duo with my best friend Jack Smedley who plays fiddle in the band.
If you go to Sweden and meet any folk musicians there – they’ll all know me. I’m a pretty big deal in Scandinavia due to my membership of transglobal-roots-fusion supergroup Världens Band. We tour Europe hard for about a month each year.
Another fun thing I do is Folklub Glasgow. Having started out 7 years ago as a monthly musical happening it has essentially evolved/devolved into sporadic concert series either side of the summer. If you want to check it out please Google search ‘Folklub Glasgow’.
Interested? Thought not. Ok mum, it’s just me and you.
I’ll tell you about last month with RURA.
We embarked on our UK tour to promote In Praise of Home at the start of June. The lead up ran smoothly until a London friend pointed out a typo on our poster. Our concert appeared not as being at The Kings Place but at The Kings Palace. Not too big a deal for us, but to the rainforest that produced the extra two thousand sheets of A3 paper for the reprint – thank you for your sacrifice.
From Kirkwall to Portsmouth we drove our Hyundai nine-seater, with lots of laughs and only a few tears (Adam). The audiences were so receptive to our new music. We had perhaps forgotten what that felt like, having been away from touring for a while.
We were and are grateful. In our art and in the making of it we put much of ourselves into it. It’s a humbling thing when that part of you means something to someone else.
We wrapped our tour in sauna style at the Drygate Brewery in our hometown of Glasgow – their air conditioning doesn’t work and the roof is metal. Here’s a photo after soundcheck of the ginger squad – Adam Brown, Hannah Rarity, Calum Morrison and myself. With our sound engineer Kevin O’Neill.
The morning after the Glasgow show I flew to Sweden to join Världens Band to start the first leg of our summer tour. I won’t go on about it too much but we changed lives.
Since I got back to Scotland RURA played Tiree Music Festival, Butefest and Speyfest. We had great shows at Tiree… and when we weren’t on stage we basically just drank in the rain. Their axiom is after all ‘whatever the weather’. I had a sort of fan girl awakening watching Trail West do their thing on Sunday night too. Hubba hubba Seoniadh MacIntyre is all I’m saying.
We had an varied trip to Butefest. Adam, our engineer and myself opted for an earlier boat. Our engineer, to make sure everything was in order tech wise, and ourselves to do some fishing. After scouting a few spots without any bites we arrived at Port Bannatyne. Casting from some rocks, I landed five delicious mackerel! Adam caught nothing and lost my two most expensive lures. “Leave it to the pros.” I told him.
Alas, the weather turned. High winds and rain took a fancy to the tent covering the sound desk, forcing us to call the gig prematurely. We stood and watched everything fall apart from the stage. Initially we couldn’t help but laugh as the experience was so surreal but as time went on we were really impressed by how the festival dealt with the storm. Nevertheless, a reminder that as beautiful as Scottish coastal festivals are… the Atlantic is a cruel mistress.
The following night all tents remained standing in Fochabers for Speyfest. RURA’s fiddle player (my best friend) Jack Smedley is from the village of Cullen, the home of skink, which is not twenty minutes drive away. We’re indebted to Speyfest for the opportunities they afforded us when we were young and naive, beardless and full of wonder. That’s why it’s special for us to return there to play.
We just got back from Dranouter Festival in France Belgium and now, as I write, my girlfriend is picking out clothes for me to wear for when RURA go to Canada this Friday. This will be our third summer excursion to Canada and we are headed to Alberta, the home province of one of my favourite bands – Arrogant Worms. Check out their song I Am Cow.