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The Band

Old Blind Dogs
Pic © Archie MacFarlane L to R:
Jonny Hardie, Aaron Jones, Ali Hutton, Fraser Stone

Old Blind Dogs
Pic © Louis DeCarlo L to R:
Ali Hutton, Jonny Hardie, Aaron Jones, Fraser Stone

Old Blind Dogs
Pic © Louis DeCarlo L to R:
Ali Hutton, Jonny Hardie, Aaron Jones, Fraser Stone

Old Blind Dogs
Pic © Louis DeCarlo L to R:
Fraser Stone, Aaron Jones, Jonny Hardie, Ali Hutton

Old Blind Dogs
Pic © Old Blind Dogs L to R:
Aaron Jones, Jonny Hardie, Ali Hutton, Fraser Stone




Reviews
Old Blind Dogs - Wherever Yet May Be

Starting off as an Aberdeen ceilidh band around 1990, OBD have seen a lot of changes. Their current line-up includes founder Jonny Hardie on fiddle, singer Aaron Jones who joined the band recently, percussionist Fraser Stone, and new boy Ali Hutton on pipes and whistles. The instrumental side is as strong as ever, with traditional and modern pieces from all over Scotland and beyond. Ali's pipes pour out the old music of Gaeldom and Ireland, and the newer music of Scotland and Cape Breton: St Kilda, The Gold Stud, Hughie Shortie's and Miss Brady's, all from the tradition, are joined by several of Ali's own compositions and some choice material from other contemporary tunesmiths. The Room with a View set combines the work of innovative fiddler Jamie Smith, piping icon Gordon Duncan, and one of two pieces here by youngster Matheu Watson from Keppoch (where the pillows come from). Sir Steve Huska is a lovely meandering modern air, in counterpoint to the mountain torrents of many OBD tracks, and the slower side of Scottish music is also shown in Capercaillie's Portobello and Ali's Desperate Fishwives.

Aaron Jones sings four of the six vocal numbers here. The album's title refers to a malapropism in Davy Steele's fine song Scotland Yet. The Scottish theme is continued by the anti-war anthem Banks of the Nile, sung by Fraser. OBD have never been strangers to the funkier side of folk, and Johnny delivers American classic The Copper Kettle in a modern Celtic Country style while Aaron's versions of the old ballad The Broken Ring and the Andy M Stewart song Where Are You? have the easy soul rhythms of a laid-back front-porch bluesman. The boys' trademark mix of upbeat instrumentals, low-down dirty percussion and good old traditional songs comes through clearly on Lough Erne's Shore: hard-hitting pipes and fiddle breaks, well-struck djembes and congas, and bright Phoebus casting his rays across a fair maid's countenance. Powerful stuff.
- Alex Monaghan - The Living Tradition
The Old Blind Dogs were described as 'veteran' in the festival guide, although the passing years seem to have done nothing to slow their pace as they played a blistering set. Augmented by stellar session sax player Nigel Hitchcock, they stole the show as they stormed through crowd-pleasers such as MacPherson’s Rant.
- Showcase Scotland Celtic Connections - The Herald
Taking influence from the whole spectrum of the Scottish folk tradition, Old Blind Dogs show themselves to be unrivalled in their craft, as their vivacity and passion tonight sends waves of energy through the audience. Their performance does, at times, lose momentum as they dig out traditional ballads and love songs between the jigs and exhilarating instrumental epics. It is in this latter category where the quartet's overwhelming (at times jaw-dropping) musical skill is on full display; Ali Hutton in particular is an athlete on the pipes. What makes Old Blind Dogs special, however, is their power to evoke the wild, historic Scottish landscape and bring it to life in the contemporary world, even when they cover AC/DC.
- **** Review - ThreeWeeks Festival Publication
For over twenty years now, Old Blind Dogs have brought life and spirit to the music of Scotland. And despite many personnel changes, they're like a great sports team - they don't rebuild, they reload. 'Four on the Floor' mixes the best of the studio with their legendary electric live performances to create one of my favorite CDs. Somehow, they manage a fusion of Scottish trad with Afro-Caribbean rhythms and it WORKS. It grooves like a clock. Fiddles, whistles, bouzouki, bagpipes and djembe- who knew? I love their new version of 'Bedlam Boys/The Rights of Man' Yeah, it's crazy, alright.
- Earl Britt - The New Celtic Revival
As for the gig's Celtic Connections, aside from commonalities some researchers claim between West African and Gaelic music, it came from the support act, Old Blind Dogs. Now approaching their 20th year in the business, not only were they one of the first contemporary Scottish bands to incorporate African rhythms into traditional tunes, but they're currently raising funds for a music centre in Senegal. They made the packed Glasgow Royal Concert Hall feel like a folk club by holding a raffle - but not many folk clubs could raise more than a £1000 in one night, as was announced here after the winner claimed their djembe.

With their usual quartet supplemented by lap steel guitar and double bass, the Dogs turned in a stoater of a gig. Lead singer Aaron Jones was in magnificent voice, backed by his colleagues, while the fidlle/pipes chemistry between Jonny Hardie and new recruit Ali Hutton, fuelled by Fraser Stone's agile percussion, was positively sizzling.
- Sue Wilson - Scotland's Sunday Herald
Four On the Floor

New CD, new line-up, very recognisable sound...Old Blind Dogs are now Fraser Stone (percussion), Aaron Jones (bouzouki/guitar), Rory Campbell (pipes) and the only remaining founder member Jonny Hardie (fiddle). They continue their habit of many years of treating the tradition with respect...but not too much respect. So - the weel-kent and week-loved Braw Sailing on the Sea acquires a cheeky shuffle and thus a new set of clothes. Ewan McColl's chilling Terror Time loses its normal anthem/dirge delivery, but none of its drama, as it gallops along, propelled by driving guitar and percussion. New-boy vocalist Aaron Jones brings his own sound to the OBDs as well. It's more reminiscent of the intense, occasionally almost snarly Ian F. Benzie sound of yore than of the creamy, melliflous tones of Jim Malcolm, and the OBDs seem to have adjusted their choice of songs to take account of that. This is a well-balanced set of well-known songs/tunes including a second pop at The Bonnie Earl O'Moray and Bedlam Boys/Rights of Man.

The mnost memorable track for me is, however, Davie Robertson's Star O the Bar - a club/pub standard, generally bellowed by massed voices, unaccompanied (and not always entirely in tune). Here, the song finds itself with an almost string-quartetty arrangement...that works, against all odds. Perhaps that's the OBDs greatest skill - to find new facets of a song or tune, to give it a tasteful, if often improbable, new set of clothes and let us all hear it as if for the first time. Or perhaps it's their ability to change line-up and come out sounding radically different , but still the same - the Old-Blind-Dogness seems to survive line-up changes and anno domini - and that's remarkable...as is this CD.
- Alan Murray - The Living Tradition Magazine
Play Live - Opening with 'Battle of Harlaw' the Old Blind Dogs will have your attention and they will keep it. The use of the border pipes gives a wonderful lift to the song. The mood quietens on the set of instrumentals collectively called 'Sky City', combining the contemporary title piece with a traditional Galician jig and the beautifully named 'Lovely Basket of Nice Smelling Flowers'. One of my favourite tracks on the album is 'Young Edward', a chilling ballad dating back two centuries and, like so many such songs, it is filled with blood and violence. Going to a restaurant for lunch will never be the same after you listen to the contemporary tune called 'Soup of the Day'. They return to the tradition for the next track, 'Tramps & Hawkers', to remind us of a bygone age that was far from rosey for the itinerant workers who inspired the tale. The band then takes on another challenge by combining new lyrics and a traditional tune on 'Battle of Waterloo'. I am delighted to report that the chance pays off. One of my favourite instrumental pieces is the beautiful 'Lochanside' and it is heard here combined with 'Morag Haig-Thomas'. No Scottish album is complete without something from Robert Burns, and we must admit there are many tunes to choose from. The Old Blind Dogs take 'A Man's a Man For A' That' and re-arrange it to great effect. They end this concert in your living room with a gentle start and hearty finishing 'A Wild Rumpus'. The insert gives us the background and lyrics. This is a wonderful live recording that captures the atmosphere without having long rambling chat between tracks.
- Nicky Rossiter - Rambles.net

 

 


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