The band performing in Freiburg in 2012
|Origin||Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom|
|Genres||Scottish traditional music|
|Labels||Temple Records, Escalibur, Topic|
|Associated acts||Alison Kinnaird|
|Members||Sean O'Donnell Alasdair White Mike Katz|
Battlefield Band are a Scottish traditional music group. Founded in Glasgow in 1969, they have released over 30 albums and undergone many changes of lineup. As of 2010, none of the original founders remain in the band.
The band is noted for their combination of bagpipes with other non-traditional instruments, such as electronic keyboards, and for its mix of traditional songs and new material. Battlefield Band tours internationally, playing to audiences in Europe, Australia, Asia, the Middle East, and North America.
They have collaborated with other musicians including the Scottish harp player and glass sculptor Alison Kinnaird.
Battlefield Band was formed in 1969 by five student friends from Strathclyde University (Brian McNeill, Jim Thomson, Alan Reid, Eddie Morgan and Sandra Lang, who became crime fiction author Alex Gray) and took its name from the Glasgow suburb where McNeill was living at the time. After several line-up changes and an album recorded for a minor Breton label, the band was signed to Topic records and released its official self-titled debut in 1977 with the line-up of McNeill (fiddle, vocals), Reid (keyboards, vocals), Jamie McMenemy (bouzouki, vocals), and John Gahagan (whistle). Gahagan left before the recording of the follow-up, At the Front (1978), and was replaced by Irish singer-guitarist Pat Kilbride. The departure of both Kilbride and McMenemy shortly afterward brought in Jen Clark (vocals, cittern, dulcimer) and Duncan MacGillivray (Highland pipes) for Stand Easy (1979), thus beginning Battlefield Band's tradition of using bagpipes on their albums. Clark was replaced by Northumbrian singer-guitarist Ged Foley on Home is Where the Van Is (1980), which marked a switch from Topic records to producer Robin Morton's label Temple. Home is Where the Van Is also inaugurated the band's practice of placing original songs alongside traditional material. The line-up changes continued, though the group remained based around the core of McNeill and Reid until 1990, when McNeill left to pursue a solo career. Reid finally left the band at the end of 2010, concentrating on his musical duo with guitarist & singer Rob van Sante, the Battlefield Band's sound engineer.
On 1 January 2015, Battlefield Band revealed in an e-mail sent to their fanbase that, back from their US tour in October/November 2014, they were working hard in the studio on a new recording project with the working title Beg, Borrow & Steal. The Irish / Scottish album would highlight and explore the cultural cross-fertilisation of the vibrant musical traditions of Scotland & Ireland and the group would collaborate with many other leading traditional musicians and scholars. Mick Moloney (USA/Ireland), Nuala Kennedy (Ireland), Aaron Jones (Ireland), Christine Primrose (Scotland), Alison Kinnaird (Scotland) & Barry Gray (Australia) were due to be all on board, with more to follow. The band has been awarded Creative Scotland assistance for this project. If all would have gone well as initially announced and expected, the recordings would have been available on Temple Records by March 2015 – it might even have turned into a tour if all would have gone well and the musicians would have been available.
On 22 June 2015, on their Twitter page, Battlefield Band announced a January 2016 (11-date) tour of Germany, Switzerland and Austria due to begin on 14 January in Offenburg, Germany and end on 31 January 2016 in Hamburg, Germany.This would be Battlefield Band's return to the stage for the first time since November 2014 i.e. after more than a year of inactivity as the band had not toured during the whole year 2015...
On 14 August 2015, Battlefield Band's label Temple Records finally announced that the (delayed) new album had been re-titled simply as Beg & Borrow and would be released as a digital download (and on streaming) on 21 August 2015, on CD in the UK on 18 September 2015 and on CD in the United States on 16 October 2015.
Battlefield Band later confirmed that they would embark on 14 January 2016 on a 16-date tour of German-speaking countries (Germany, German-speaking Switzerland, Austria) including a radio show and a TV show in Germany, due to end on 31 January 2016.
Battlefield Band were winner of "Best Live Act" at the inaugural Scots Trad Music Awards in 2003. In 2011, they were winner of "Best Band" at the Scots Trad Music Awards 2011.
Battlefield Band's "Compliments to Buddy McMaster" (a track from its album Dookin' released in 2007) was nominated for the 7th Annual Independent Music Awards for World Traditional Song of the year. They also have been nominated for the 11th Independent Music Awards "World Traditional Song" category for its recording of "A' Bhriogais Uallach" ("The Pompous Trousers"), a track from their album Line-up released in 2011.
On 11 November 2016, Battlefield Band were inducted into Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame for "Services to Performance".
Every line-up since the Stand Easy album has had at least one bagpiper. Unusual aspects of the instrumental line-up for a traditional band include the presence of electric keyboards and the absence of percussion. Every album mixes traditional Scottish songs and tunes with modern (often original) compositions. Themes range from drinking, friendship, and hard times to history, geography and politics.
The band's 2006 album, The Road of Tears , deals explicitly with the theme of displacement. Many of the songs deal with emigration, both voluntary and forced. Battlefield Band's 2007 album, Dookin′ (the Scots word for what you do at hallowe'en – as in "'dookin' for apples") has a lighter feel, after the eloquently somber tone of The Road of Tears. Dookin' includes instrumentals and a mix of vocals, with lead being shared by Alan Reid and Sean O'Donnell.
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