Monthly news summary of all the happenings and up and coming events in the Scottish Traditional Music scene.
The band have undergone some changes in the past few months with the departure of fiddler Adam Sutherland and guitarist Somhairle MacDonald. The current line-up of Croft No. Five are: John Somerville - accordeon, Misha Somerville - whistles, Barry Reid, Guitars, Duncan Lyall, bass guitar and Paul Jennings, percussion.
Croft No. Five formed in August 1998 during the Lorient Celtic Festival in France when four members of the five piece Highland contemporary Celtic band, Drizabone met Shetland drummer Paul Jennings from acclaimed North-East Scottish band, Cannach. Drizabone, who in '97 won the prestigious BBC Radio Two Outstanding Performance award as part of the National Music for Youth Competition, had played gigs such as the Cabaret Tent at Lorient and the Queen Elizabeth and Albert Hall in London. After Paul's introduction, Croft No Five performed their first live gig at the 1998 Midwinter Festival in Aviemore, Scotland, where they supported Shooglenifty. March 2000 saw the introduction of fiddler Adam Sutherland, also from the Highlands. The band made their first album Attention All Personnel an exciting dance album with funk grooves, effects and samples for the Foot Stompin' Records label.
After the release of their album the original the band has performed all over Britain - including The Edinburgh Hogmany street party, Europe’s largest New Year celebration, Celtic Connections in Glasgow - now seen as one of the major live music festivals of the world - and for the UK with NY festival in New York. They visited Brussels for the Scotland/Europa festival and guested at several festivals in the UK. They have toured in Italy and performed at Tonder Festival in Denmark. The band on 'Attention All Personnel' comprises Adam Sutherland (fiddle), Barry Reid (guitar), John Somerville (accordion), Somhairle MacDonald (bass), Misha Somerville (whistle) and Paul Jennings (drums, zendrum)
Six guys live at Croft No Five, fiddler Adam Sutherland being the latest arrival - and at 22 the old man in the band. Guitarist Barry Reid revealed the group dynamic. 'We were playing at Brittany's Lorient Festival and so was Paul Jennings, playing drums and percussion in another band, so we poached him. Well, it was more than just great music, we got on so well. Everyone in Croft is close friends. That's important.'
Interestingly, as Reid notes 'There has never been any singing. That was not our intention. We're really not about singing. It's really about interpretating tunes in this funky, jazzy way - and making you want to dance.'
Tunesmiths Misha and John Somerville learned whistles through the Highland Feis movement - readily admitting a debt to Feis Ros organisor Rita Hunter - who gave them another helping hand recently when she put Skye-based company MNE in touch with the band, resulting in one of the wildest music videos broadcast on usually staid Gaelic TV.
For a new band, Reid thinks, 'have been quite "up there"; Celtic Connections with Capercaillie at Edinburgh's Hogmaney Street Party for one. In fact we even started off by supporting Shooglenifty at Aviemore.' Playing with the Shoogles was a defining moment for the teenage band - it gave them the confidence to have a proper go at it.' But that was three years ago, and though their roots always show, in the in-your-face interplay of fiddle, fast fingered accordion and free flowing whistles, it's the driving, quirky grooves of the guitar-bass-drum rhythm section that defines the orginality of the Croft sound, and with effects and samples, next weeks "Attention All Personnel" album. 'Shooglenifty have always been a great influence, but they've been around for about 10 years,' says Reid. 'I think what we're doing now is moving the music somewhere else, somewhere new.'
Norman Chalmers, The List (24 May - 7 June 2001/Issue 414)
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