Fiddler Aidan O’Rourke and pianist Kit Downes play Glasgow gig

Fiddler Aidan O'Rourke and jazz pianist Kit Downes are currently touring the UK. (Photo: Genevieve Stevenson)
Fiddler Aidan O'Rourke and jazz pianist Kit Downes are currently touring the UK. (Photo: Genevieve Stevenson)

Folk musician Aidan O’Rourke is embarking on a UK tour with jazz pianist Kit Downes, and will play Glasgow’s Drygate Brewery on Wednesday, May 8.

Aidan is a fiddler, composer, producer and curator. With his trio Lau, in multiple solo projects and in collaborations, he has pioneered a new sound in folk music and redefined traditional forms.

His roots are in Scottish and Irish folk music. He grew up in an Irish family in Argyll and studied fiddle in the West Highland tradition. By 14 he was touring with The Caledonia Ramblers; in 1998 he joined Blazin’ Fiddles; in 2010 he formed the quartet Kan with whistle player Brian Finnegan; and in 2016 he formed a duo with Kit Downes.

Lau came together in 2006 and their debut album set a precedent for new politically-charged folk music. Four further studio albums followed, plus a couple of live albums and a 2017 retrospective charting the band’s first decade.

Lau collaborators include Karine Polwart, Fred Frith, Anais Mitchell, Joan as Police Woman, John Parish, Adem, Jack Bruce, Trilok Gurtu, Brian Irvine and the Royal Northern Sinfonia.

The band have made multiple tours of the US and Japan and won Best Group at the BBC 2 Folk Awards an unprecedented four times.

As a solo artist, Aidan is always looking for new ways to articulate the tradition. He has released four solo albums – Sirius (2006), An Tobar (2008), Hotline (2013) and 365: Vol 1 (2018) – as well as the experimental EPs Music For Exhibition and Film (2015) and Imprint (2016).

He was named Musician of the Year at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards in 2014.

His latest project is the immense tune-cycle 365. Aidan wrote a tune every day for a year in response to a short story collection by James Robertson. The result is a major new body of 365 tunes – a significant addition to the Scottish traditional music canon.

Aidan’s fiddle tunes are sparse and emotive; his playing is renowned for its lyricism, here paired with bold harmonies from Kit Downes on harmonium and piano, guitarist Sorren Maclean and harpist Esther Swift.

365: Vol 1 was released in May 2018. 365: Volume 2 will be released in August 2019.

Aidan O’Rourke is playing at Drygate Brewery, Glasgow, on Thursday, May 8. See www.aidanorourke.net for tickets and more information.