There’s always something on the horizon for the Tannahill Weavers

The Tannahill Weavers
The Tannahill Weavers

Roy Gullane admits, 46 years on, he still hasn’t ever formally been invited to become a member of the Tannahill Weavers.

“The band started in 1968 and was very much a hobby until the mid-70s before we started getting regular work in Scotland and northern England.

“In 1974, a friend of ours had moved to Germany and managed to organise a two-week tour for us. Things kicked off from there really.

“I wasn’t with the band from the very, very start. I think it was about 1969 that I joined. They needed a banjo-player. I was playing in a duo and we had performed with the Tannahill Weavers before. They wanted a banjo-player. They wanted someone to sit in, and I did. They asked me another time and then another time and so it went on. To cut a long story short, let’s just say that I stayed!”

Roy travels with the band for a gig at The Hawth Studio, Crawley, on February 25, part of a busy schedule that sees them on the road for around six months a year in total.

“For us the music was part-time until ’74. I had a job as a supermarket manager. I didn’t miss it at all. The choice was easy when it came to it. In the end, we had to choose between the day job and the night job, and it wasn’t a difficult decision.

“Back then was really the peak time for our kind of music. Back then there was so much TV exposure, and virtually every little village had a folk club. There were lots of places to play, and things were very interesting everywhere.”

Things have changed to a degree: “There is not so much the mass-media outlet now that we used to have. It’s very rare that you see our kind of music on TV any more. I don’t know why really because when people hear it, they realise it is amazing music.”

But the band just keeps on going: “There is always something on the horizon. It has never let up. We have just continued to play. When I look back, the thing that strikes me most is how quickly the time has gone.

“For many years, we would do an album every couple of years, but since we released the last one now, it is getting on for ten years. We are always planning to do something, but when really when you have been touring, the last thing you want to do when you get back is go into a studio!

“We do a lot of our own compositions, though we don’t play so many of them live. When we perform live, it’s pretty much the traditional music that we do. Over the years traditional music has all been collected. It is all there. Pretty much every song would have been recorded about a hundred times over the years. No, it’s not a bottomless pit. You sometimes find obscure songs every now and again, but when you try to do them, you realise why they are so obscure. We steer clear of those ones!

“We are on the road pretty much half the year, I suppose. We do a lot in the UK, but we do lots of stuff in the US and Canada and Europe.”

As for their North American popularity, Roy admits he used to think it was largely ex-pat interest – and then he realised it wasn’t necessarily ex-pats at all.

“I think they just like our music! But there is certainly a lot of Celtic influence over there. But we always seem to get a good cross section of people coming to our gigs.”

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