Friday, December 16, 2011

Bowing out after four decades on the road

The Boys of the Lough (album)Image via WikipediaA CHRISTMAS concert will be the last time musician Dave Richardson plays with Boys Of The Lough.

The traditional Celtic group will perform a show at The New Vic Theatre, Basford, on Tuesday.

And Dave, who plays the mandolin and concertina, will be bowing out after 40 years with the band.

Boys Of The Lough began touring in 1967 and became the first full-time professional Celtic band to make an impact internationally.

In the intervening years they have completed about 70 tours of the U.S., as well as recorded more than 20 albums.

The most recent, Midwinter Live, is a festive offering of traditional seasonal favourites.

It gives a flavour of what audiences can expect from their show.

Boys Of The Lough are strictly a Celtic band – taking direct inspiration from the vocal traditions of Scotland and Ireland – but also drawing influences from Northumberland, Shetland and even North America.

Dave joined the band in 1973, after abandoning his studies in molecular science at Edinburgh University to pursue a career in music.

By then, the group was already well-established.

Formed after a few sessions at the Forest Hill Bar in Edinburgh – a centre for folk singers and instruments during the 60s, the original line-up included fiddler Aly Bain, All-Ireland flute and whistle champion Cathal Mc'Connell and singer Dick Gaughan.

But when Dick left for a solo career, Dave, pictured right, stepped in. "We've had a bit of an interesting evolution," says Dave, who now lives in Edinburgh. "We all started off within 50 yards of each other and at the moment our members are living in about three different countries – including our fiddle player (Kevin Henderson) who lives in Norway.

"I have been playing this kind of music since I was in my mid teens and when I was at university, I got a phone call from the band, asking if I would go to America because someone had left.

"I knew the guys because I'd met them socially, but I suppose by about September I decided to drop everything else and go on the road with them to see what happened.

"They were very interesting times. It was a lot of fun.

"We've had a long lineage."

As well as performing, Dave has also written for the group. In fact his jig, Calliope House, featured in Lord Of The Dance and even made the soundtrack of the Sex And The City TV series.

Now aged 66, the Northumberland-born musician is ready to take a break.

"I love the music and I play music every day," says Dave. "But I've just got very tired of doing all the travel.

"I'm quite OK about it. I just think that it's the right time. I've had more than my share. It remains to be seen how it will affect me later."

Although he might be leaving, Dave is still proud of the group's legacy.

"Our music translates very well," he says. "It's accessible. It's about stories that people already instinctively know.

"Stories about separation, emigration and parting – and drinking of course!

"It's just like the Blues was 20 years previously. Irish and Scottish music has gone worldwide.

"And since the late 60s, it's gone global."

Boys Of The Lough will be at the New Vic Theatre on Tuesday at 7.30pm. Call the box office on 01782 717962.

Bowing out after four decades on the road | This is Staffordshire

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