Knucklehead Circus is the spirited and long-awaited new album from stalwarts of the Scottish traditional music scene, Old Blind Dogs. Their 14th record, which is brimming with energy, is set for release on Friday, 19 November.
Formed in Aberdeen in 1992, the band now features four of Scotland’s finest traditional musicians – original member Jonny Hardie (fiddle and vocals), Aaron Jones (cittern, guitar and vocals), Ali Hutton (pipes and whistles) and Donald Hay (percussion and vocals). This new album is a celebration of the band’s rich history and the promise of the future.
The ‘Dugs’, who will celebrate 30 years on the road in 2022, were recently inducted into the BBC ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards ‘Trad Music Hall of Fame’. The well-loved group were also included among Prince Charles’ list of favourite songs, as part of his Thank You Day playlist for NHS staff and volunteers in July.
They wanted to create a bold, upbeat record that would get audiences up and dancing after a long period without gigs – and that’s exactly what they’ve done with this uplifting record, Knucklehead Circus.
Donald Hay said: “We have all missed performing and audiences have missed attending live concerts, so we wanted to create a big, positive and joyous album which would work well on stage now that we can safely return to live music.
“Living through the pandemic has highlighted the things that are important to us all, in particular: family, friends and the positive impact that music and congregation can have on our lives. We wanted to focus on those silver linings and throw in a little social comment to hopefully create an enjoyable, cohesive and uplifting album.”
Knucklehead Circus is a lively album with excellent storytelling woven throughout. ‘John Barleycorn’, ‘Farewell Tae The Haven’ and ‘Harry Brewer’ are folklore style tracks with beautifully crafted narratives.
Meanwhile, instrumental tunes like ‘Knucklehead Circus’ and ‘Highland Lassie Part 1’ and ‘Highland Lassie Part 2’ set the tone for the record’s bold and energetic sound. ‘Here We Go Again’ is another catchy track which explores inequality and the plight of the common man.
The album was mainly composed by band members Ali Hutton and Jonny Hardie, with a couple of songs written by their late friends Rick Taylor and Davy Steele. All tracks were arranged by Old Blind Dogs and the album was recorded and mixed by Chris Waite at Gran’s House Studio in South Lanarkshire.
Jonny Hardie added: “Throughout our 30-year history, the band has always tried to progress and grow our sound whilst respectfully nodding to the tradition and tradition bearers that came before us.
“The albums have always been a good mix of the songs and instrumentals that make up our tradition and whilst we’re always trying to develop as musicians, writers and arrangers, there’s still that Old Blind Dogs sound that our loyal fans love at its core.”
Old Blind Dogs will mark the release of the album and 30 years as a band with an unforgettable show at Celtic Connections 2022 on Friday 4th February at St Luke’s. They are also set to play upcoming festivals in the UK, Germany and The Netherlands, with two US tours in the works.
Knucklehead Circus will be available to buy on CD as well as to stream and download on all digital platforms on Friday 19 November. Vinyl is expected early 2022.
For more information and to pre-order visit: oldblinddogs.bandcamp.com.
‘Janine’s’ – a reimagined classic (official video):