posted May 22nd, 2012

Ach, those people of the nairth! They have their own way of living and their own sense of the time, the Scots do! And we're not just talking Hebridian sheep-farmers who stubbornly refuse to leave their now-deserted island homes either! Well, not entirely. We might be referring to them a little bit no matter which direction we turn in bonnie Scotland - because today, we're talking about the great Gaelic tradition in Scotland - and the Gaels are a Scottish people spread far and wide from highland to lowland - and all the way out to the Hebridean archipelago! Drag City has been delving ever-deeper into the life and music of this great land and all her people since way back in the days of "Ohio River Boat Song" - but as yer longtime listeners know, the Scottish champion of late is indisputably Alasdair Roberts, who has explored the culture of his country with original music as well as versions of a myriad of traditional tunes. Last year, he even collaborated with the eggheads at Twos and Fews to curate a compilation of auld Lomax recordings from Scotland (Whar the Pig Gaed on the Spree, remember? But this year, Alasdair did something completely new. Nope, it didn't involve breakdancing. Not yet. However, you might have jigged it up a bit to the sounds of Urstan, a record by Mairi Morrison & Alasdair Roberts that dropped back in March. This is a record that for the first time in Aladair's discography, explores the Gael side of the Scottish music tradition! And it's a sweet ride through a variety of different musical textures, most all of them wholly contemporary in conception as much as they are purely Gaelic in origin. As we were saying at the top here, the Scots live in their own time, and even though it's almost two months later, the Morrison-Roberts publicity machine has finally spit out a promotional video for the album - Deborah Bower's charming adaptation of "Never Wed An Old Man," which can be viewed here.

Meanwhile, the touring caravan has finally reached the outskirts of London (Milton Keynes, to be precise), to give the surburbanites a listen of their new-fangled ways before rolling into the big town for a gig at The Slaughtered Lamb. Before repairing to their hinterlands, Mairi and Ali and the gang get almost all the way to the southernmost shore to perform in Eastleigh as well. Then it's back to Scotland where a concert at An Lanntair on the Isle of Lewis brings Mairi back to play in front of her people - and the Gaelic sounds of Urstan come full circle. UK residents, stand up and attend these shows! We here in the US are at present, bereft of such a rich entertainment option.

5/22/12 The Stables Milton Keynes United Kingdom
5/23/12 The Slaughtered Lamb London United Kingdom
5/25/12 The Point Eastleigh United Kingdom
5/31/12 The Old Bridge Inn Aviemore United Kingdom
6/1/12 The Ceilidh Place Ullapool United Kingdom
6/2/12 An Lanntair Stornway United Kingdom

Alasdair Roberts SOLO gigs:

6/4/12 Fire in the Mountain Festival Aberystwyth United Kingdom w/ Rafe Fitzpatrick
6/11/12 Casa Del Popolo Montreal Canada

Artists in this story: Alasdair Roberts, Mairi Morrison & Alasdair Roberts