Peatbog Faeries heading for ‘home’ gig at HebCelt

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If you’re a fan of those Celtic Dance Music trailblazers, the Peatbog Faeries, but can’t see them live this year, help is on its way.

The band are in the process of completing a live album, recorded during their 25th anniversary tour last year, which they expect to be released in October.

Provisionally titled ’Live at 25’, the album will be the next best thing to being part of the experience that has twice seen the Skye-based Peatbogs named Live Act of the Year in the MG Alba Scots Trad Music Awards and earned them a nomination for Best Live Act at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards in 2012.

It will be the band’s first live album since 2009, and will feature tunes that have become fans’ favourites for over two decades.

“It will be a great way to commemorate the 25th anniversary”, says piper and founder band member Peter Morrison. “It will be as close to the live experience as possible. There is always a danger of ‘over-cleaning’ the recording, to get it more like a studio album, but we don’t want to lose the edginess and atmosphere of a live gig. We just had to make sure we played the tunes well in the first place.

“There is a good spread of tunes from most albums going back 20 years and it will be more representative of the band now compared to the last live album.”

For the full Peatbogs experience, the band start a UK tour next month, including a return to the award-winning Hebridean Celtic Festival where they have been inducted into the Hall of Fame.

“It’s always great to play HebCelt as it’s close to a home gig. The festival has bestowed a great honour on us and wherever we are we always talk up the festival as we always have a fantastic time there”, said Peter.

The HebCelt gig will feature all of the tracks on the forthcoming live album, and at least one new tune, a polka entitled ‘The Humours of Ardnamurchan’, written about the experiences of recording in Kilchoan, home of the band’s keyboard player Graeme Stafford.

Over the years the festival audience has seen a changing Peatbogs line-up as musicians have come and gone during the band’s quarter of a century, something Peter says has helped their longevity.

“It’s difficult to go for as long as we have without change. With instrumental music particularly, you have to keep moving and look for different angles, or you can end up with your albums all sounding the same. The turnover of members can be a good or bad thing – you like continuity but, at the same time, new musicians bring a new way of looking at things and a different way of playing.

“We’ve always embraced change. Different players can bring a freshness and we always see it as a positive as it brings a new input of energy. Having said that, we’re not looking to get rid of anyone”, he laughs.

The existing line-up - Peter, Graeme, Ross Couper (fiddle), Tom Salter (guitar), Innes Hutton (bass, percussion), Graeme Stafford (keyboards) and Stuart Haikney (drums) – are currently gathering new material, although there are no immediate plans for a studio follow up to the acclaimed ‘Blackhouse’, which was nominated for Album of the Year at the trad awards.

“We’re concentrating on the live album for now, but maybe in the winter we’ll hire a cottage for a few days and work on some music to play live”, said Peter.

“We’ve no plans to go into the studio at the moment, but we are building up material and at some point we will do something.”

This year’s HebCelt will run from 19-22 July in the island of Lewis and will be headlined by The Waterboys, Imelda May and Dougie MacLean.