Two men playing music on stage from the Old Blind Dogs band

By JESSE BERTEL
Across the Street

The Prescott Celtic concert series presents Scotland’s top traditional folk band, the Old Blind Dogs, in concert at 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 16 at Trinity Presbyterian Church, 630 Park Ave., Prescott.

Since forming in the early 1990s, Old Blind Dogs have stood on the cutting edge of Scotland’s roots revival. The band has developed its own trademark style with an energetic mix of songs. Dynamic percussion, polished vocals, soaring fiddle and stirring pipes fuel the delicately-phrased melodies and traditional songs.

The Dogs have released eleven albums and have won numerous awards, including the prestigious title of Folk Band of the Year at the 2004 and 2007 Scots Trad Music Awards. Their album ‘Four On The Floor’ picked up the Best Celtic CD Award and their last CD, ‘Wherever Yet May Be’ was nominated for the same award.

As one of Scotland’s most highly touted traditional folk bands, Old Blind Dogs are not known for shying away from change. A strong, shared musical vision has allowed the group to ride out inevitable line-up changes to the extent that the only original member still with the band is Jonny Hardie (fiddle, guitar and vocals).

According to Hardie, the group formed in Aberdeen, Scotland in 1992.

“We were all playing in various different bands and doing slightly different styles of music, and we wanted to explore more of our own local traditional music culture and most importantly, play full time,” Hardie said. “We all wanted to tour. We weren’t just for weekend gigs. We wanted to be a bit more ambitious. So we all came together with that in mind.”

Hardie explained that although the group members have changed over the years, the style of music has remained the same.

“It’s always been the aim, you know, to stick with roughly the same instrumentation and same types of material that we like to play,” Hardie said. “At one point we went up to being a five-piece band for a while, but then we came back to four, which I kind of prefer.”

The songs Old Blind Dogs plays use traditional Scottish lyrics, reinterpreted with the band’s original musical style.

“It’s a great song tradition in Scots language, in the language of the northeast of Scotland, in Aberdeenshire as well and also the Gaelic language,” Hardie said. “We don’t write our own songs, we write our own melodies. We do a lot of arrangements and we do a lot of instrumental music as well. Some of that is new. Some of it is written specifically for us and some of it is 300 years old and everything in between.”

The band’s popularity has never dimmed and the current foursome of Hardie, Aaron Jones (bouzouki, guitar, vocals), Elias Alexander (Highland bagpipes, whistles, vocals) and Donald Hay (drums, percussion) have proven more than capable of carrying on the tradition of the band.

The doors open at 5:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased with cash or check only.

For more information about Old Blind Dogs, visit www.oldblinddogs.co.uk

Jesse Bertel is a reporter/videographer for the Prescott News Network. Follow him on Twitter @ JesseBertel, email him at jbertel@prescottaz.com, or call 928-445-3333, ext. 2043.

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