FolkWorld article by Marcus Metz:

30 years on the road: The Tannahill Weavers

Roy Gullane talks with Marcus about Scottish music, the world cup final 1974 and people disappearing in the woods.

How long have the Tannahill Weavers being playing now?
The Tannies; photo by Marcus MetzWe started in 1968.
But the first recording was in 1976...?
1976....the first official recording. Before even I joined the band they had made a single. Then we made an album which was never released. That was in 1970 I think. The one before was actually very interesting. It wasn't released because we had a manager and he was trying to sell this tape to all sorts of record companies. In the end we just wanted to sell it at the gigs. He gave us a tape and half of the stuff was missing. All the songs were there but half of the stereo was missing. So we couldn't release that. Someone still has that tape. It is a shame because there was some great stuff on it.

So, how long have you been coming to Germany?
1974 was the first tour and I remember it very well. We finished the tour on the day of the world cup final Germany-Holland.
So no one was at the gig...?
Very few people were at the gig! That's right! It was amazing to be involved with that because being Scottish you will never be involved with winning the world cup. It was great to see how people react when their team actually wins the world cup. There were all these fire works and everybody just went crazy. It was fabulous to be involved with that. As I said being Scottish we'll never see it from that side.

Those were the years when the German public was introduced to Celtic music...
Yes, it became very, very popular in the seventies. In the whole seventies it was really big in Germany and in Holland as well.
Could you name the states were the Tannahill Weavers are even more popular than in Germany?
America, Spain, Holland is much the same, maybe slightly bigger venues.
If you're going over to Canada or the States are the emigrants coming, or is there a different audience?
No, we just were about to get that in Canada, but we fought against that or we developed against that. In America it's never been that way. In the beginning a lot of Irish people came to see us. A curiosity! But now we've got our own audience there. Occasionally someone is coming up and says, "My grandfather was Scottish" or something like that. But the Scots don't really support the music. When Irish bands go to the States the audience is full Irish. But the Scots don't. When they emigrate - I think - they're disappearing in the wood. They don't come and support the music. So we had to develop our own audience.

The Tannies; photo by Marcus MetzIf you look back and look at the scene which is Scottish music in Scotland today - what do you think has changed?
Basically nothing, to be honest. I think the most obvious thing to me is that the standard of musicianship continues to develop, it gets stronger and better all the time. But what I find strange is that the new bands of the moment have made the circle complete.
In the late sixties and early seventies folk rock was very big. Groups like Steeleye Span, Fairport Convention, and in Scotland we had the JSD Band. Now all these bands are coming around and think it's new to have bass guitars and drums. I can look at that now and say, "That's all been tried, that's all been done.". Even the new bands don't do anything different than what was done in the sixties and the seventies. It's already been done.
I think it's a shame that they don't concentrate closer to the acoustic side. I'm not saying it's wrong to play electric music but I don't think you need to try it anymore. It doesn't last. I don't know an electric band that lasted.

Photo Credit: Marcus Metz

Latest published CD: Leaving St. Kilda (Green Linnet)

More information/booking from:
Tannahill Weavers Homepage; contact by e-mail.

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