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Elephant Sessions get ready for down under delights this Hogmanay for Australia's Year of Scotland 2020 – after Inverness trad group line up homecoming hooley at the Ironworks for Mad Friday

By Kyle Walker

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CHRISTMAS time is the moment where we reconnect with family, eat and drink slightly too much, and generally do as little as possible for as long as possible – for most people.

Yet Inverness-born trad-fusion outfit Elephant Sessions’ festive season is proving to be slightly less relaxing than most people’s – the five-piece are spending their Boxing Days on a flight to the other side of the world for a Hogmanay gig in Australia.

“Yeah, I know, I don’t think any of us are actually complaining about that!” mandolin player Alasdair Taylor laughs. “We’ve never had a New Year in the sun, so yeah – it should be cracking!”

It’s a typically hectic end to what has been a typically hectic year for the band – a 2019 that has been stuffed with shows across Europe and North America, the release of third album What Makes You, and huge hometown festival slots at The Gathering and Belladrum.

And their Australian New Year show kicks a year-long initiative off down under – not bad at all for the Highland band. “This year, it’s the Year of Scotland in Australia – the Scottish Government has combined with some groups, Glenturret whisky and Showcase Scotland Expo along with Australia to basically put on...it’s mad!

“It’s like 500 Scottish gigs over the course of the year throughout festivals and venues in Australia. And we’ve got the honour of opening that on Hogmanay at Woodford Festival.

“It’s going to be pretty mad I think – we’re going to bump into a lot of our Scottish pals along the way, so I’m quite excited for the two visits.”

Elephant Sessions.
Elephant Sessions.

But before the New Year spent in the height of the Australian summer, the band have a somewhat-frostier concert to play – temperature-wise at least – as they line up a hometown hooley at the Ironworks.

“Final UK gig of the year and yeah,” Alasdair said. “It felt right to have a big end of year blowout back home. And it’s been a while, I think it was 18 months ago we last played our own gig in Inverness – we had Belladrum and the Gathering but I mean our own show.

“It’s been about 18 months so yeah – we’re all really excited. It’s been too long – it’s always nice coming home, and I love that venue. And it’s Mad Friday! So the stars are aligned, it’s going to be a fun night!”

A fun night indeed – especially when the Misty Badgers come out. The infamous Johnny Foxes concoction has become synonymous with the Elephant Sessions, who even wrote a song titled after the shot.

And the band are looking forward to reacquainting themselves – although perhaps “looking forward” aren’t the right words, exactly. “Every gig we do, I tell the story of the Misty Badger, and what’s in it and all this. And people are always pretty shocked, you know?

“I don’t know, I assume that some people have probably tried making it – which I like the thought of. But yeah, I tell anyone we play to that if they’re ever in Inverness they should go and try one.

“I call it a local delicacy – that’s the best way of putting it!”

Elephant Sessions play the Ironworks on Friday night with support from Tamzene. Doors open at 7.30pm and tickets cost £13. For more info, go to www.elephantsessions.com

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