Right from the outset, Blazin’ Fiddles was never going to be “just another band”; there was a mission and purpose!
The band was formed in 1998 by Bruce MacGregor, at that stage a lowly BBC Radio Scotland Researcher with a chip on his shoulder.
Funnily enough for a band celebrating their 15th year, the original concept was it was never intentionally to be a touring band. It was a statement about where we, as Scots and Highlanders, were in terms of musical identity, particularly the Highlands and Islands and the best way to do it was in the shape of a musical showcase.
So in early ‘98 MacGregor walked in to the office of The Highland Festival with a plan to showcase the distinct voices of the Highlands and islands fiddle music.
“I had a list of fiddle players I liked and had met at sessions or festivals. I had no budget, no idea what I was doing but I came out an hour later and we had a tour and a budget” explained MacGregor
The name Blazin’ Fiddles came with a meaning and some baggage.
The most obvious explanation to anyone who has seen the band play, describes the frenetic, sometimes manic performances of the band – something that has won them admirers from Buckingham Palace to the Albert Hall, to private concerts for the likes of Billy Connolly and Sean Connery.
The second meaning comes from Scotland’s history and the way in which religious orders and governments tried to stamp out music in the Highlands and Islands. Fiddles and pipes were piled in pyres and set alight on account of them being instruments of the devil.
The continued existence and indeed revival of the music has been phoenix-like, over the last few decades, and Blazin’ Fiddles have played more than their part.
“We’ve all been lucky enough to have been brought up and taught by true masters of the music, people who have passed on the traditions to us through difficult times. My own was Donald Riddell and Jenna’s was the great Willie Hunter – these guys didn’t just teach the music, they taught you the culture, the history and the importance of the music to your society.”
What makes Blazin’ Fiddles distinctive from other fiddle bands is their continued efforts to showcase the styles of their area. This allow audiences to hear the dialects within the music.
Trends will come and go in folk music but what you always get from Blazin’ Fiddles is 100% authenticity and passion no matter who is in the line up – and that comes because of the material and the band member’s musical heritage”.
“The history is vital for us but so is keeping the music modern and relevant to today’s audiences. That’s where Anna Massie and Angus Lyon come into the equation. Both brought up within the tradition but both happily embracing new techniques. There is a fine line between modernising a tune for the sake of it to show how clever you are with your chords and at other times just knowing that the rhythm and the melody is the key. Knowing where that line is, is the secret to developing the music and respecting the tradition”
So here we are, fifteen years down the line. The Blazers’ are still making wonderful albums, still touring (Celtic Connections on 31st January) and still winning awards (recently, winning “Folk Band of the Year” at the 2013 MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards.)
Blazin’ Fiddles are more than a band and SIX is more than an album—-Enjoy!!!!
Catalogue Number: BRCD2013
Distribution: Proper Music Distribution & Highlander Distribution
Tour news available from www.blazinfiddles.com
Release Date: Monday, 3rd February, 2014.