Published: 07/08/2014 17:55 - Updated: 07/08/2014 18:14


Luke Jackson
Luke Jackson

IT seems Luke Jackson did not have to think too hard about coming back to the Highlands this summer.

Jackson and his bass player Andy Sharps visited the north last year and had such a good time that they are very much looking forward to their return.

"Even all the venues were different to the venues down here," the Kent-born singer-songwriter said.

"They really seem to appreciate music and let you know. It was just great fun. We did the Loch Ness trip, went looking for dolphins on the Moray Firth and ate ridiculous amounts of steak, so we just had a great laugh as well as doing all the gigs. A lot of fun."

This trip sees his first Highland festival experience, with a sell out Belladrum to look forward to this weekend.

"The line-up looks incredible, so to get involved in that is brilliant and it’s early on in the tour as well, so it should be a great kick-off. It’s quite strange to be sharing a bill with Tom Jones!" he said.

All due respect to Sir Tom, but it seems to be Scotland’s own Frightened Rabbit that top’s Jackson’s must see list

"I heard their stuff years ago and fell in love with their sound. Whenever I’m at a festival I always check out the line-up and see if I can watch artists as well," he said.

"I spend a lot of time going to gigs and trying to get inspiration from other music, so a festival is great because you can stumble across a bunch of artists you never normally would. That’s the draw of festivals really."

As anyone who saw his Inverness set at Hootananny last year can testify, Jackson has an ability to adapt his set to suit the mood of his audience — always a useful skill for a festival slot.

"A festival and a show are very different. A lot of the people are there anyway, so you almost have to win them over, but once you’ve done your set, you can wander off and watch other people play, so just as a punter, it’s always great fun," Jackson said.

"I always tell myself that I’ll stick to the set, but whenever I’m up there I can feel that the audience want a cover or a bit of a punchier song or a story song. Because I’ve been writing for a long time, I have enough in my back catalogue to be able to do that."

Since his last visit, Jackson has released his second album Fumes and Faith, which sees him moving on in terms of both sound and subject matter from his debut Only Boys.

"The first album was mainly recorded with myself and my guitar because I was trying to capture that live feel," he explained.

"With Fumes and Faith, there was a bit more production on it. I didn’t want to overcrowd it and make it too different from the first album. I’m really proud and happy with the final product, so it will be good to tour the new stuff in Scotland so people can see the progression and change in my writing from when I was there last year."

Now 20, Jackson is the 2013 winner of the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award and is grateful for the attention it has brought him.

"It is nice to have under your belt. It definitely opened doors. It’ll always be a good memory of mine," he said.

"I guess a lot of people think of a folk singer as a real ale drinker who sings traditional songs, but I am very far from that and I guess these days I’m more rootsy blues. At the same time I do a lot of folk clubs and because it’s such a broad genre, a lot of my music does slip into the folk world."

• Luke Jackson can be seen at Hootananny’s Ceilidh Bar, Church Street, Inverness, on Thursday 7th August; the Grassroots Stage at the Belladrum Festival, Belladrum Estate, on Friday 8th August; The Mosset Tavern, Forres, on Sunday 10th August (afternoon show from 3pm to 5pm); The Old Bridge Inn, Aviemore, on Monday 11th August; Skipinnish Ceilidh House, Oban, on Tuesday 12th August; and The Crown Inn, Turriff, on Saturday 16th August.

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