Dynamic musical duo Ross Ainslie and Ali Hutton are taking their anticipated new album out on the road and will stop off for a concert on Skye this month.
The partnership between these two multi-instrumental Scots trad giants from Perthshire has received a number of high profile awards since 2015, including BBC Radio 2 Folk Award for Best Duo in 2017 and a nomination for the same accolade this year.
Together Ross (who plays Border pipes, whistles, cittern, banjo and harmonium) and Ali (Highland pipes, whistles, guitar, tenor guitar and harmonium) have been described as “rugged and inventive yet true to the tradition”. Over the years they have become major figures in the Scots trad music scene, following the footsteps of Gordon Duncan and Martyn Bennett.
Ali said: “We both grew up through the Vale of Atholl Pipe Band and were lucky to have Gordon Duncan as our mentor. Gordon let us see the possibilities that can happen with the bagpipes and instilled a passion in us to play them with other instruments.
“We really get a huge buzz from playing Scots trad music so I guess that’s why we choose it over other genres. Its the music that excites us!”
Celebrated Scottish Kirkhill fiddle player Duncan Chisholm described the pair as “two complete musical minds, connected first and foremost as lifelong friends.”
Ali explained: “We’ve been playing and jamming together since we were in our early teens and spent a lot of time sitting in bedrooms, listening to music and coming up with our own music, so it’s very natural to get material together. I suppose there’s a mutual understanding about each other that allows the process of making music very easy.”
Ross and Ali are touring their new album Symbiosis II and come to Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, An Talla Mhòr, on Friday, 27 April.
Ross said: “Symbiosis II is a continuation of the work we’ve been producing as a duo over the last few years. Once again, it is an album of mostly self-penned music. This time we decided to go bigger on the production. The album is a bigger band sound, complimented by the talents of Duncan Lyall on Moog and synths, Martin O’ Neill on bodhran and kit, Steve Byrnes on kit, and Patsy Reid on strings.”
The concert begins at 7.30pm and, as is customary at SEALL’s traditional music events, young local musicians will open the night. Malin Lewis, fiddle and pipes; Lewis McLachlan, tenor guitar; and James Bauld, flute and whistle, all from Plockton’s National Centre of Excellence in Traditional Music, will play a set.
Ross added: “Trad music has become very popular with younger people and the standard that the younger ones are at now is pretty incredible.
“It’s very important to encourage young musicians to perform and write music. The folk scene is thriving at the minute. It’s constantly growing and evolving. It’s a great opportunity for young musicians to perform alongside professional bands as it gives them a taste of what it’s like to be a full-time musician. Allowing for them to consider this as a viable career option.”
The event takes place at 7.30pm and is sponsored by Fearran Eilean Iarmain who will be hosting gin and whisky tasting sessions during the evening.
Other events coming up at SEALL are a concert by legendary Irish musician Andy Irvine on 21 April at An Talla Mhòr and a rare visit by the Travelling Gallery to Broadford on Saturday 28 April in the car park outside Café Sia.
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