Scottish folk act head to the south to play the praises of home

Rura
Rura
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When the Beast From The East struck The British Isles earlier this year, most people either hunkered down or made the most of the snow.

Not so, Scottish folk four-piece Rura, who were trying to record their third album. 

As bodhrán/flute player David Foley recalls: ‘We were recording the album right in that week with the terrible weather. No-one could drive anywhere, but luckily the studio we were all working in and where our producer stayed, we could all walk there. Even if it had been on the other side of Glasgow, we wouldn’t have been able to get there.

‘There’s not that many great studios in Glasgow, so we were lucky this one was less than a mile from all of us. Everyone else was out sledging in the snow and having fun and there we were trudging to the studio.’

Fortunately the fruits of their labours were worth it, and on June 1 they released their third album In Praise of Home.

It also marked a major turning point for the band as it’s the first release since singer Adam Holmes departed in early 2017.

‘It feels like it was so long ago,’ says David, ‘we’re still really good mates. He’d always wanted to do his solo stuff, and it ended up getting to the point where he couldn’t do both.

‘At the same time, the gig is still the same, 70 per cent of what we did before was instrumental, as far as we’re concerned not a lot has changed, we just don’t have one of our pals on tour with us any more!’

And for the rest of the band, including Jack Smedley (fiddle), Steven Blake (pipes/whistles/keyboard), Adam Brown (guitars), there was never any question of quitting.

‘We were definitely always going to carry on. We had thought about getting another vocalist, but as time went on we felt that wasn’t what we wanted ‘to do, we wanted to do more of an instrumental thing.’

Although it has been a quick turn-around between recording and release, the band had actually been working on it much longer.

‘We’d spent quite a long time writing it - over the last year and a half-two years, but the reality of things is that everyone’s so busy with gigging with Rura and we all play in different bands and projects or have teaching jobs, so it takes quite a long time to fit Rura in for those writing sessions.

‘We generally go away for a week to a friend’s cottage somewhere and record a bit, so although it took that long to get finished, there was very little time together in those years. But it was great because we could plan everything ahead.’

A s he jokes, it’s forced them to get organised: ‘It was this time last year that we were planning to release the album now, and the only time we could record it was March –  everyone’s booked out so far in advance.’

Now they are coming here to play a show as part of the Portsmouth Festivities, which begin today.

Since forming in 2010 their powerful, entrancing instrumentals have been a main stage highlight of many of the world’s leading folk festivals, including Cambridge, Tønder, Winnipeg, Vancouver and HebCelt, among others, in more than 20 countries.

Enjoying a number of accolades over the past eight years, Rura were named Live Act of the Year at the 2015 Scots Trad Music Awards and nominated Folk Band of the Year in 2016. 

The prestigious Celtic Connections festival has played a key role in the band’s history, but it’s actually another festival that brought them together.

‘We first formed for another festival, a bagpiping called Piping Live that’s on in August, centred around the world pipe-band championships,

‘One of our lecturers and friends had asked us to play at that, that was the initial step, but Celtic Connections beyond a doubt has helped us a lot. Since we’ve started I think there’s been one year we haven’t played there. They’ve been really great to us – it’s quite an honour to have that.’

St George’s Church, Portsea

Friday, June 22

portsmouthfestivities.co.uk