Rising trad stars Joseph Peach and Charlie Grey living On the Edge in documentary Air Iomall about their journey around outer-most Scottish islands – including St Kilda and Flannan Isle – being screened at Lyth Arts Centre this weekend
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PUTTING on a gig requires a lot of forethought and planning – working out technical specifications, ensuring artists have all they need to perform and generally working out all the little kinks and flaws.
Joseph Peach had an added little wrinkle for a concert he performed at recently – when he had to work out how to shift a harmonium from off the Dutch sailing vessel The Wylde Swan onto the church on the distant Hebridean island St Kilda.
“Yeaaaaah...” Joseph laughed. “That was, um, the biggest question mark until the day.
“It was a question of whether it would get off the boat, and fit into the tender. Because they craned it down in Ullapool when we went, so it was maybe not going to happen – it was maybe going to be the accordion.
“But it all worked out! The crew on the boat were amazing, they were super helpful and accommodating and things like that. So they definitely made it possible!”
A concert on the church of St Kilda might not sound like the wisest venture – St Kilda has, after all, been abandoned since the 1920s, the houses and buildings standing there mere relics of a time when the island was inhabited.
However, said concert was an important part of Joseph and musical partner Charlie Grey’s creative – and geographical – journey.
Last year saw the duo travel to some of Scotland’s most remote islands – St Kilda, Flannan Isle and more – to seek inspiration and knowledge about these places.
Accompanied by filmmaker Hamish Macleod, the resulting documentary Air Iomall is getting a screening at Lyth Arts Centre on Saturday night. “Yeah, we’re really looking forward to it! We’ve been and done quite a few gigs with quite a few different projects up at Lyth now since Charlotte and Tom took over, and it’s always great to go up.”
Meaning On the Edge, Air Iomall – pronounced Air Ee-mall (“There’s quite a lot of unnecessary letters in that word!” Joseph laughed) – saw the duo push themselves out of their comfort zones.
“We were just thinking how to combine different interests that we have,” Joseph explained, “because obviously living in this world of Scottish traditional folky music you’re pretty interested in place and history, tradition, all that sort of thing.
“And also I used to work as a sailor a bit, so I’ve actually sailed on the boat which we went to do the trip. So that was another nice little tie in there as well.”
The night at Lyth will be split into two halves. The first half will see Joseph and Charlie perform a set of music, before the film itself is screened in the second half.
“We’ll not be on stage while it screens because the soundtrack it features is actually the live recording from our gig in the church in St Kilda,” Joseph said.
“So we thought it was really nice to try and feature that instead of trying to make a live score for the film.”
And for all that the pre-concert nerves are hitting, at least there are no worries about shifting harmoniums ashore.
“Yeah, it kind of brought together a very unique set of skills I suppose,” Joseph said, reflecting on the experience. “I’ve never had to think about specing a gig around the amount of time the tide would give us to go and do it!
“It was also the amount of space we had on the boat and working around all of that.
“So yeah, it was definitely a one off in that way!”
n Joseph Peach and Charlie Grey bring Air Iomall to Lyth Arts Centre on Saturday night. The show begins at 8pm and tickets cost £10 (£6 concession). For more info, go to www.cgjpmusic.com
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