News from the Stairwell

The weblog of The Stairwell Sisters – All-Gal Old-Time String Band

Sisters go International

We had a fabulous tour in Scotland – our first truly international festival, we were honored to bring our old-time sound to the stages. In addition to concert sets at the Celtic Connections festival, we appeared twice in the Festival Club, the raucous party that never ends on the bottom floor of the hotel where we stayed, and the only place to find curry & chips late into the night – not to mention the formidable numbers of Scotch that beg tasting!

We arrived at 7:30 am and first played at 2am that same night, about the best way to introduce us to the time frame for the tour. Other American performers who were on their way home from their portion of the three week festival advised us to stay on North American time, going to bed after breakfast, and getting up for sound check.

City Hall - Glasgow
We shared stages with the debonair Quebecois trio Genticorum, and the gorgeous Gallic singer Julie Fowlis, earning the concert a five star review, that also named us “the find of the festival.” We had to turn our clock around though, since we had a morning taping for BBC TV to be aired at a future date. It was wonderful to hear us introduced in Gallic – about the only words we understood being “Stairwell Sisters” and “Sugar Hill.”

Our second concert was recorded for BBC Radio, Andy Kershaw’s famed program, for broadcast all over the UK later in February. In the beautiful old Fruitmarket, we shared a bill with a 12 piece brass band from Brittany – L’Occidentale de Fanfare. Talk about being blown away! We are lucky to be in the hands of a fantastic agent, Loudon Temple, who made sure everyone knew we were coming and no one got allergic. Major thanks to him, and to our very first roadie, Gerald, who ferried us around answering questions about sheep and shaggy Aberdeen Angus cows, labor laws and health care, haggis, fried hamburgers, beer, scotch, lager, whisky, um, nevermind . We gladly left the left-sided driving to “wrong-turn Roche” and enjoyed the ride.
our luxury vehicle!

Once we took leave of Glasgow, it was absolutely gorgeous to head off into the country. Reminiscent of Northern California in it’s green, rolling hills, we were thrilled to see small fortress towns, castles (!) all built well before our country was even a thought. We often tell audiences at home that our music is old – but our old is a drop in the bucket over there. We played Peebles and Birnham, home to Beatrix Potter and about as idyllic, and ducked into England to the coal-town of Newcastle. Scottish audiences were so polite and quiet during the shows, and so surprisingly effusive and enraptured after. Some folks came to several shows in different towns, bringing family and friends along. They all countered “Haste ye back,” and we sure plan on it.

A big thanks to Lucy and Stuart who hosted us in Peebles in true Scottish fashion, and gave us one of the best introductions we’ve ever heard. Jan Fairley did a very fun (and delicious) interview for fRoots magazine, the folk magazine of Europe. It should come out in a few months time – but more importantly, while we spoke, we had fabulous haggis, neeps & tatties (meat & vegetarian), and some excellent hard cider, in a cozy pub. Worth the price of admission for sure. This meal begs thanks to our good friend David Jones.

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