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On a recent Wednesday evening against the amazing backdrop of an enormous oil painting, Ollie Rigg and Michael Muir, collectively known as Muckle Spree, played an intimate gig at Resipole studios, between Strontian and Acharacle.
The studio is hosting exhibitions of art and sculpture through the summer and has events including book launches and music sessions too.
Muckle Spree are on a summer tour taking in venues across the Highlands and Islands bringing their music out on the road – and ferry!
Seeing two chairs and a couple of microphones set up
suggested a fairly stripped back evening but it was far from it.
Michael plays guitar and fiddle, frequently at the same time operated by his feet thanks to masterful use of a loop pedal and technological wizardry.
While Ollie moved seamlessly between an astonishing array of pipes and whistles, again using two or even three in the same set.
The result is a wall of rich, complex and beautiful music, often accompanied by their mellow vocals too.
As if that were not enough Michael’s wife Rachel jumped up at the front and treated us to step dancing for several of the more rousing numbers too.
During the interval Michael and Ollie told me about this tour which had included a trip to Rum earlier in the week and they were heading back to Muck the following day, saying: ‘We are having the best time playing in all these different venues. We might need to think harder about the logistics
of our tour dates next time though as the travel has not been as well planned as it could have been!’
I suspect this might just give them more material for their next song writing session though.
As a self-labelled progressive folk band, Muckle Spree are bringing traditional folk music and instruments into modern times.
Every song was introduced with the story of the instruments, the music or the inspiration behind the self-penned songs.
Weaved in to the evening were tales of musicians before who have influenced and inspired them, events and encounters that have provided a muse for each tune.
Finally having checked that ‘no one is scared of the Highland pipes’ Ollie ducked out and reappeared with a set, to raise the roof.
Muckle Spree in action at Resipole.
NO F33 Muckle Spree gig