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Multi-instrumentalist Mike brings Vass talents on solo sojourn

By Kyle Walker

Mike Vass.
Mike Vass.

Scottish folk and traditional fans will have been aware of Mike Vass for more than some time.

Over the years, the Nairn multi-awardwinning multi-instrumentalist has appeared and performed his compositions alongside a veritable Who’s Who of Scottish folk’s best and brightest -

Yet his next tour marks a huge leap into the unknown for Mike – for the first time in his life, he’s hitting the road solo.

“I suppose I’m looking forward to it just because I’ve never done it,” Mike said. “It’s just me and the guitar and maybe a bit of the fiddle and the songs – and that’s it.

“I’ve always toured with a band or duos or trios in the past. So I’m actually really looking forward to just kind of being out on the road in the car with a bunch of audiobooks ready to get some listening done between concerts!

“I guess I’m apprehensive about the gigs themselves but that’s just because it’s just a new thing. I think I’m looking forward to it, yeah.”

But what has inspired Mike to strike out on his own after so many years – other than, of course, his pile of audiobooks? His new album.

In another series of firsts for the artist, the upcoming Save His Calm – released in April this year – will mark Mike’s first work to feature vocals.

The seeds of this new project were formed in 2013, when Mike fought back from a horror illness. “I didn’t really have a plan for this, I guess I’ve just kind of fallen into this in a way,” he explained.

“I had a period of ill-health back in 2013 – I had neuroborreliosis, which is kind of late stage Lyme Disease and affects the central nervous system in the brain. So I was very very ill for a few months, and I guess that kind of changed me a bit – ill health makes you reevaluate where you’re at and where you’re going.

“I just found that it was a real cathartic outlet for me to actually write some of these things down. I wrote an essay about my experiences a year after and what had helped me cope in the long recovery, and I just really enjoyed writing words on the page.

“That turned into little notes for songs and things, and just then over the following couple of years I just kind of found I was regularly writing ideas and crafting them into song form.”

Those song ideas have coalesced together, and audiences will get to hear them when Mike takes to the stage solo later this week.

And for all the nerves he feels, he’s excited to take the stage by himself. “I think as performing musicians, it’s a kind of excitement and terror about putting yourself on stage. Obviously I think we’re all, we all succumb to the self-doubt now and again.

“But if you sort of continue you manage to persuade yourself to get on stage and perform. And there is that huge buzz from that, you know – there is, it’s just great to share music with people.

“We’re all affected by music in some way and being able to share some of my thoughts on music with an audience is a really special thing.”

Mike Vass plays Eden Court tonight and Edderton Town Hall tomorrow night.

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