Ross Ainslie & Ali Hutton headline the Emsworth Sports & Social Club

BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winners Ross Ainslie & Ali Hutton headline the Emsworth Sports & Social Club on March 9.

Tuesday, 5th March 2019, 9:17 am
Ross Ainslie & Ali Hutton
Ross Ainslie & Ali Hutton

The duo, who are increasingly playing under the title Symbiosis, are touring on the back of their album Symbiosis II which was released to huge critical acclaim last year. They will also be playing music from their debut album Symbiosis.

They will be joined by Jenn Butterworth on guitar (Kinnaris Quintet) and Paul Jennings on drums/electronics (Croft No5).

As Ross explains: “The first album was much more of a duo, just the two of us in the studio playing together. The second album is definitely much more of a band sound. It all started with the two of us as a duo and then we invited some of our friends to come in and play and we just bulked it up. The way that the music was developing was that it deserved a much bigger sound with drums and bass.

“The stuff we did on the first album was more acoustic, and it tended to be quite simple in the arrangements, but just the way that the music came together for the second album, it needed something more. It was just the natural way it happened.”

Part of the symbiosis of their relationship, in fact.

As Ross says, Symbiosis is increasingly the name they are going under, reflecting also the move to more of a band sound.

Ross and Ali met in the Vale of Atholl Pipe Band when they were 12 years old. The boys were guided by one of the most influential pipers in the past 30 years Gordon Duncan.

Gordon instilled a great passion in them for playing pipes with other instruments and they have gone on to play in many leading Scottish bands including Treacherous Orchestra, Old Blind Dogs, Salsa Celtica, Dougie Maclean, Shooglenifty and Capercaillie.

“We actually met when we were 12. Well, I was 11 and Ali was 12. We met up in a pipe band, and so we have known each other for the whole of our musical lives. Symbiosis is a nice description of how we work together.

“We have been playing music together for so long now. It has been 23 years.

“It was just a natural thing. We are both from Perthshire. When we were growing up, traditional music was not as popular as it is now, and it really felt like it was just the two of us listening to it in the whole of Perthshire. It was a really close bond between us throughout our teenage years.”

As for the Folk Award: “Well, awards are great. It is an honour, but the music scene is now so vibrant here that we are just happy to take one for the team. In Scotland, you should hear the young bands coming up. There are some excellent musicians coming through. It keeps you on your toes!”