The connection here is as much about the music as it is the places where they were made as it is (sort of) the Scotch whisky. The writer of last week’s AUK Chain Gang song, ‘Dram Behind the Curtain’, Mairearad Green is from the Coigach peninsula of the Scottish Highlands and a renowned folk musician (and writer, and artist) who lives in the nearby town of Ullapool. But given the need to move this week’s AUK Chaingang on a bit from last week’s song and keep the Scotch whisky connection in, the link this week is to another key member of the contemporary Highlands folk music scene: Dàimh, a band with strong links with the nearby (that’s ‘nearby’ as the crow flies from Ullapool, it’s a good three hours by road) Highland region of west Lochaber, an area also known as the Rough Bounds, the title of their last full album.
Like Green, Dàimh produce intricate, hardworn but very dynamic Highlands folk music, mainly with traditional roots, in Dàimh’s case frequently sung in Gaelic. Just to hammer another link into the AUK Chang Gang narrative, in Dàimh have also played at Celtic Connections on several occasions, the same festival where Eddie Reader premiered ‘Dram Behind The Curtain’ in 2003, and where Green recorded a live album, ‘Passing Places’, in 2009.
There’s another couple, rather more tenuous, Americana connections, too. When I saw Dàimh playing live back in the summer of 2018 or thereabouts on Scotland’s west coast, they’d just issued ‘The Rough Bounds’, and rather than a warm-up band, they had a Guy Clark album, ‘Dublin Blues’, blasting out on the sound system. It all but goes without saying that it was a great night of Highlands folk music, and quite a few drams made their way out from behind the curtains, too.