Celtic Connections:Roddy Woomble’s musical journey

THE remit which Celtic Connections has afforded itself to search for strands of Scottish musical influence around the globe has become ever-broader over the years, but you don’t have to be an experienced ethnomusicologist to spot the Scottish links in Roddy Woomble’s work.

Roddy Woomble, during Idlewild's set at Hogmanay 2008. Picture: TSPL
Roddy Woomble, during Idlewild's set at Hogmanay 2008. Picture: TSPL

“My music’s all about that, and has been for a number of years,” says the sometime Idlewild singer and folk-inflected solo artist, on the line from his home on the Isle of Mull. “I don’t mean that I write songs about Glencoe or Culloden, but I think my work has a real sense of place.”

His Celtic Connections show tomorrow will be the latest version of a solo performance he’s been honing over the last four years. The disadvantage of having a first-class backing band is that they find themselves in demand, however, so this rejigged arrangement will see Hannah Fisher take over bass temporarily from Seonaid Aitken and Craig Ainslie play bass in place of Gavin Fox, also formerly of Idlewild. Regular guitarist Sorren Maclean will remain.

“If you’ve never seen me play live before, it’s a lot different to Idlewild,” says Woomble. “We like to sit down and relax.” Although songs by his old band will make it into the mix, he says, roughly 80 per cent of the set will be drawn from his solo albums My Secret is My Silence (2006), The Impossible Song & Other Songs (2011) and Listen to Keep (2013). “It makes sense,” he says. “Most of these songs were written with Sorren and include the musicians who play with me, so it makes the gig feel more relevant.”

For those who are missing the louder but still intelligent punk-pop tones of Idlewild, though, help is at hand.

“Part of the reason Idlewild stopped is because we wanted a new direction and it wasn’t going to happen,” he says, “so the four or five years we’ve been apart have been very interesting creatively. We’re recording a new record now though. It isn’t being rushed so we’re going to work on it for the rest of the year and hopefully have it out in 2015.”

In the meantime, a live record entitled Roddy Woomble and Band Live in the Inner Hebrides – recorded in Mull during 2011 and 2013 – will be out in April, so people should get their fill of his folk output now before he turns the volume up once more.


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• Roddy Woomble plays the ABC, Glasgow, tomorrow with support from Aoife O’Donovan. For more information, see www.celticconnections.com.