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Salt House and Rant fiddler Lauren MacColl brings Feis Rois commission based on life of folklore figure the Brahan Seer back on the road for shows at Bonar Bridge and Lyth Arts Centre

By Kyle Walker

FIDDLER Lauren MacColl is bringing her Feis Rois commission The Seer back across the country – and you don’t have to be a prophet to see why.

Created and debuted at Celtic Connections 2017, the work was inspired by the historical folktale of Coinneach Odhar – better known as the Brahan Seer.

An album of the commission was later released during that year’s Blas festival, receiving excellent reviews – including a five-star write-up in the Inverness Courier.

And now, with the help of funding from Creative Scotland, Lauren is back on the road with the piece – and it’s already going down well. “We had Resolis Hall last night which was great!” Lauren exclaimed. “We got a standing ovation so I can’t complain!”

This tour isn’t just bringing the music back together, but also members of the group who performed and recorded the album alongside Lauren – folk luminaries Mairearad Green, Rachel Newton, Anna Massie, Bethany Reid and Signy Jakobsdottir will join her on these tour dates.

“It’s quite rare that you get to do that these days,” Lauren said. “Now it’s a couple of years on [from the initial commission], it’s revisiting it. I think it’s got something a little bit extra in there from that time that has passed.

“It’s just so exciting to get around the country taking the stories to different people – a combination of people who had maybe already known the story of the Brahan Seer, and people who hadn’t at all.”

Black Isle-born Lauren focused a lot on local legends surrounding the Brahan Seer when researching and composing the work. The Brahan Seer’s history is tied up with the area, as it was at Chanonry Point near Fortrose where he allegedly met his sticky end at the hands of Lady Seaforth following a prophecy that she didn’t care for.

But taking it out on the road, more stories presented themselves to Lauren – and two years on from completion of The Seer, could any of these stories have provided inspiration for new songs?

“Oh, there’s loads!” Lauren laughed. “Yeah, there could definitely be The Seer: The Sequel!

“When we were in Lewis the other night, there was a couple of people there who said, ‘Oh, we’ve got really local stories here,’ and a couple of people have sent me things over the last few years.

“Things grow arms and legs – as soon as you put a project like this out there you get a lot back. I think that’s what really nice about it.

“So I need to gather all the extra stories now and think about whether I’d like to do something more with them or whether it needs to just be left – for a wee while!”

She laughed again. “Until I stop talking about prophets for a few years!”

Lauren MacColl brings The Seer to Bonar Bridge Community Hall on Friday and Lyth Arts Centre on Saturday. For more information, go to www.laurenmaccoll.co.uk

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