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Trad and dance crossover leading band play for Blas in Inverness in year-topping gigs after a 2019 packed with new milestones


By Margaret Chrystall


NITEWORKS are currently lighting up Edinburgh with their soundtrack for spectacular multi-media images and backdrops at Edinburgh Castle.

Castle of Light is just one of the high-profile moments for the Skye traditional music and electronica crossover foursome in the next few weeks.

They have already had to upgrade the size of their venue in London for their gig there in December, as the first venue sold out. And the good news for fans closer to home is that they will headline their own show at the Ironworks on Friday as one of the highlights of the Blas Festival.

It’s not a bad set of highs on which to draw the year to a close – and there’s one more to add.

Niteworks have been nominated for an MG Alba Scots Trad Music Award for the Belhaven Bursary for innovation award.

And in a way it should be little surprise when you hear about the plans the band have for the album they plan to record next year for release in 2021 – and the complete revamp they plan of their already much-praised live show.

Lighting and visuals will have “original moving graphics and archive footage” along with a bespoke light show that it is planned will hit the festivals in 2021.

Blas Niteworks
Blas Niteworks

But to go back to the start of this year, Innes Strachan reminds you that 2019 didn’t start badly for Niteworks either, when you ask how the year has gone for the innovators.

“We started off on quite a high note – we played the Barrowlands in January as part of Celtic Connections and we sold that out.

“We had a host of guest musicians and vocalists join us, there were about 20 of us in total, so it was a big show for us. That was a brilliant way to start the year.”

Over the summer they played in Corsica, at the Hebridean Celtic Festival (HebCelt), Cambridge Folk Festival, in Borneo at the Rainforest World Music Festival, Belladrum and many more.

“Skye Live was a particular highlight for us. It’s been a good year so far,” Innes added.

Many might be surprised to discover that, despite their high profile, Niteworks are still part-time with their music. All four – Innes on synths and keyboards, drummer Ruairidh Graham, piper Allan MacDonald and bassist Chris Nicolson – work full-time.

Innes pointed out: “We probably are at the stage if we wanted to we could go full time and really push that.

“But we are quite happy where we are at the moment. We’re all able to have a balance between our full-time jobs and doing the music as well.

“Where some people would be away on holiday in Tenerife or whatever, we end up at a far-flung festival somewhere,” Innes said. “But we love it and it is a labour of love for us all.”

The fact Niteworks now live across the country, Innes in Glasgow, Chris in Inverness, Ruaraidh in Edinburgh and Allan in London, means time and distance keep them slightly apart.

Innes said: “We work remotely a lot of the time and communicate online, emailing ideas for collaborations, then we all bring those ideas together.”

First there is a return to the Ironworks.

Niteworks. Picture: Callum Woodbridge
Niteworks. Picture: Callum Woodbridge

News of a closure threat, though hopefully at worst a move of location for the venue, has reached Niteworks.

“We have some fond memories of it,” Innes said. “We’ve played there four or five times – and we know it well. Were it to shut down there would be a huge hole in the Highland gigging circuit.

“Touring bands and DJs come from all over the UK and the world. Without that venue they might not come up to the Highlands, so it’s a really important place on the Highland gigging circuit.”

Friday’s gig is likely to be another big moment of 2019 for the band, a highlight of this year’s Blas programme, local DJs Milkit adding an after-party and with band favourites hand-picked as support.

“Once these gigs are out of the way, we’ll be spending the dark winter months getting our heads down on new music,” Innes promised.

Niteworks, Fras and SIAN play the Ironworks today (Friday, November 29). For more info and ticket details: ironworksvenue.com



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