Have you ever seen Peatbog Fairies? If you come to the Isle of Skye in Scotland, you may see them there. These creatures are not exactly what you traditionally would imagine. They are not that small as Fairies often are, but still they are very friendly creatures, that always try to make you happy with their wonderful music. These Skye Fairies appear mostly in the nights when it is dark, and if you are lucky enough to see them either in their home Peatbogs of the Isle of Skye or at any other place you can be sure that they will make you dance the night away. They are not that traditional - their fairy music sounds quite modern actually....
We saw these Fairies on one of their trips to the South making the English happy with their music; they appeared in the Lord Nelson Hall at the Warwick Folk Festival in July, around midnight. Their music, based on lead fairy Peter Morrison's bagpipes and flutes, was wonderful, blending traditions and modern beats and sounds in a way seldom heard before. The whole crowd was dancing to the Peatbog Fairies that night. The next noon, they played again a rare chance to see Fairies playing in day time. Surprisingly enough their dancy music was an experience also without the dancing crowd in front of them, with a sitting audience at an only sparely filled hall. Managing this, the Peatbog Fairies have prooved that it is also brillant music and not just dancy clubby stuff.
Peter Morrison has his problems to describe what the Fairies are doing. "It's a mixture of Scottish traditional music and music we write ourselves. It's all done with a contemporary backing. Most of the festivals we are doing are like World Music festivals. So it's just like folk dance sort of music we do, with lots of effects and lots of things you know..." So it's World Music Festivals that this very Scottish, coolish music appeals to or what is the normal audience the Fairies play to? "A lot of the time it's like dancy clubby audiences. At World Music festivals you have got a huge mixture of different kinds of people. So we get all sorts of audiences really, because we have a bit of folk and a bit of dance and a bit of trance; it tends to be a good mixture. So it's good fun; you have always somebody that you can appeal to I think."
The fairy band is basically based in Skye, in the Inner Hebrides in North West Scotland. Four of the boys are living there Peter himself, the piper, flautist and composer of the band, Ali Pentland, the guitarist, Innes Hutton, the bassisit, and Nürudin, playing keyboards and synthesizer and doing most of the special effects. Meanwhile, the drummer Iain Copeland is from Glasgow, and the fiddler Ben Ivitsky from Edinburgh, which makes things a wee bit difficult, as Peter says.
All of them are from different backgrounds really. Peter comes from a pipeband and ceilidh band background originally, so it is a mainly trad one. "The drummer plays in Jazz bands, the fiddler has played in Cajun bands, the guitarist and bass guitraist are both from a funk and reggae background. The keyboardist is of part classical background and part a bit of everything really. So it's fairly a mishmash."
If the Peatbog Fairies are compared to any band, then it is Shooglenifty, another Scottish folk trance band. What does Peter think about that comparison? "It's the same record label; their bass player is our fiddler's brother; these are always bumping in. But I can see some similarities. Both of us do a mixture of traditional folk and stuff we are writing ourselves, and we try to make it as dancy as we can. Well it's sometimes flattering to be compared with them as they are really successful, they are doing tremendously well in the folk scene. They do a lot more gigs than us; ´cause we are too far away it's not practicable, it's too tiring gigging all the time. If we have a gig we have to travel at least 250 miles way and back, so it's not easy."
That is also one of the reasons why the Peatbogs are not a full time band, although most of them do not really anything else than music and make a living from music.
The Peatbog Fairies' debut album appeared in 1996, and their new album should be out in February. It should be well worth the waiting...
Photo Credit: The Mollis
More Infos at The Peatbog's Homepage; or by e-mail from their agent Martin Coull.
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