Old Blind Dogs play with new sound

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Since forming in the early 1990s, Old Blind Dogs have stood on the cutting edge of Scotland’s roots revival, know for their energetic mix of songs and instrumental tunes. Dynamic percussion, polished vocals, soaring fiddle and stirring pipes fuel the delicately phrased melodies and traditional songs.

Old Blind Dogs is kicking off the start of their 25th year with a tour of the western US, including a show at The Palms Playhouse (13 Main St. in Winters) on Sunday, Feb. 25. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. and the concert will start at 7 p.m.

One of Scotland’s most highly touted traditional folk bands, Old Blind Dogs bring deep tradition and modern energy to their music. Fiddle, bouzouki, flute, guitar pipes and vocals twine around each other supported by drums and percussion to create music The Scotsman described as having “compelling energy and intoxicating rhythm.”

The Dogs have released 13 albums and won numerous awards including the prestigious Folk Band of the Year award at the 2004 and 2007 Scots Trad Music Awards, and were nominated again in 2017.

Their 2007 album “Four On The Floor” picked up the Indie Acoustic Project award for Best Celtic CD, and their 2010 release, “Wherever Yet May Be,” was nominated for the same award. The Dogs’ 2017 album “Room with a View” was shortlisted for Album Of The Year at the 2017 Scots Trad Music Awards.

While the band has been around for 25 years, the Dogs are not content to rest on the tried-and-true formulas that have worked in the past. A strong shared musical vision allows the group to ride out inevitable line-up changes.

Even though Jonny Hardie (fiddle, guitar and vocals) is the only original member, the Dogs’ popularity has never dimmed, and the current foursome of Hardie, Aaron Jones (bouzouki, guitar, vocals), Ali Hutton (Border pipes, whistles, vocals) and Donald Hay (drums, percussion) have proven more than capable of carrying on the tradition of the band.

In addition to his work with Old Blind Dogs, fiddler Hardie has toured with The Chieftains, The Unusual Suspects, Alyth McCormack, Annie Grace Band, NUSA, Ronan Martin, Rory Campbell and Shona Donaldson.

He has appeared on, and produced, countless traditional recordings and also appears regularly on stage as an actor. The production “The Tailor of Inverness” which featured Hardie as a performer and musical director, won several awards including a Fringe First, The Holden Street Theatre Award and the Stage Award in 2008.

Voted Scots Trad Music Awards Instrumentalist of the Year in 2005, Jones has performed on over seventy albums and continues to tour the world and record with many of the top names in traditional music.

He is also accompanist for the Mercury-nominated and multi award-winning singer Kate Rusby and the double Scots Singer of the Year winner Siobhan Miller. Jones was official accompanist for the BBC Young Traditional Scottish Musician of the Year Awards for ten years.

Hutton was inspired at the age of seven to take up the bagpipes and came up through the ranks at the Vale of Atholl pipe band.  He was taught alongside Ross Ainslie by the late, great Gordon Duncan and has gone on to become a successful multi-instrumentalist on the Scottish music scene.  He has produced and co-produced several albums by Old Blind Dogs and other bands.

Drummer/percussionist Hay plays with power, empathy, delicacy and drama. He is one of the most highly sought-after percussionists in the Scottish and English folk scenes, appearing on recordings by Sting, Eliza Carthy (including her Mercury Award-nominated “Anglicana”), Kate Rusby, Martin Carthy, Kathryn Tickell, Gordon Duncan, The Battlefield Band and The Nuala Kennedy Band.

He appeared on the highly successful TV show and Celtic Connections concert “The Transatlantic Sessions” performing with Joan Osbourne, Jerry Douglas, Donal Lunny, Ali Bain and Phil Cunningham.

Tickets for Old Blind Dogs’ Sunday, Feb. 25 show at The Palms Playhouse are $20 and are available online via Eventbrite and The Palms’ website, at Pacific Ace Hardware in Winters, Armadillo Music in Davis, Davids’ Broken Note in Woodland and at the door if the show is not sold out.

For more information, visit palmsplayhouse.com and oldblinddogs.co.uk.

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