A YEAR on from winning Up and Coming Act Award at the Scots Trad Awards, Highland neo-trad band Elephant Sessions are bowing out of 2015 with one final run of dates that takes them almost the length of Britain.
Over the space of 17 days they are playing 15 dates from Dorset through Somerset, London, Newcastle and several dates in Scotland before a home turf date in Inverness on Friday and a final show in Elgin which has already sold out.
"We have got a lot of new material that we want to try, so we’ll see how that goes down," guitarist Mark Bruce said.
"Because we aren’t signed to a label and made our own label when we released the first album, we aren’t under any pressure to get a new album out. We’ll definitely record one next year, but we want to make sure that we do it properly. It’s just getting the money together to make one. We have been chatting to a few labels, but we quite like the idea of being self-released. It’s nice to have things under your own control."
The tour caps a busy 12 months for the band since their Trad Awards success, with summer seeing them active on the festival circuit from the tiny Channel Island of Sark, where cars are banned, Cambridge Folk Festival and more familiar territory at Belladrum, Speyfest and Mairearad Green’s Summer Isles Festival.
"It was the first summer where we felt like a band who were starting to break through," Bruce said.
"We turned up at places where people knew who we are, we were closing stages and selling CDs. It’ll be four years in May since our first gig and it’s nice to see it go in the direction we want it to.
"It’s hard to say what would have happened if we hadn’t won the Trad Award, but it definitely seems to have helped. It’s almost like a seal of approval. When you can say you’ve won a Trad Award, promoters can say: ‘Well, if they won that, they must be worth booking’."
The band, who now have their sights set on winning the Live Act category in the Trad Awards, are already filling up the calender for 2016 with new places and new countries on their itinerary, but begin the year with a January 1st date at Ullapool’s Ceilidh Place alongside Breabach and Sketch.
"We’ve hopefully done things the right way," Bruce said.
"We’ve build up a fan base and established ourselves in Britain, but there have been some emails from interesting places, so it would be nice to see a bit of the world."
One other ambition is to move up the bill at festivals where they have already proved a hit, playing larger stages or later at night — and with one festival in particular in mind.
"Belladrum is definitely a home festival for four-fifths of the band, so it’s a bit of a dream to close a stage there," Bruce admitted.
"We were offered a good gig at Celtic Connections in Glasgow in January, then we got a phone call from the director Donald Shaw and he said he’d had a think about and thought we’d do well in a bigger venue, so he put us on in the O2 ABC and that’s an ideal move for us — a sweaty room with a big stage. We are all looking forward to that. It’s another thing that feels like a long time coming.
"We’re also playing with Blazin’ Fiddles, who are people we’ve grown up beside and have known for a long time, so I would go out on a limb and say it’s definitely the best party night in the last week of Celtic Connections. If you are looking for a party, that’s the place to come."
• The Elephant Sessions play Mad Hatters, Inverness, on Friday 27th November and a sell out show at The Drouthy Cobbler, Elgin, on Saturday 28th.