Williamson and Heron in the flower power heyday of 1967
Robin Williamson and Mike Heron, members of the near legendary Incredible String Band, are all set for two reunion gigs. Dust off the kaftans.
Words. Norman Chalmers
The word is out and the tickets already sold for the two most sought- after reunion gigs in decades. After the Beatles, the Stones, the Who and Led Zeppelin, this singular, raggle taggle Scots band famously shifted more albums than anyone in the psychedelic 60s and 70s.
Throughout the various line-ups of the Incredible String Band, from the early acoustic folk howffs of Glasgow and Edinburgh to high priestdom in kaftan-clad California, Robin Williamson and Mike Heron were central to the band. The duo have not
The term World Music hadn't been invented when Robin and Mike were cheerfully plundering the ethnic instruments of Asia and Africa.
played together since the band, transformed into a bloated rock format, fell apart in the late 70’s. To be fair, they are not reforming the band now. It is, for reasons legal and delicate, very much a reunion of two ’members of the Incredible String Band', and though they Will be playing some of their compositions from the String Band's golden era, they’ve also been putting together new material.
’There's something old, something new, but nothing borrowed and no blues,’ laughs Williamson. ’lt’s all our own. Since the String Band we've, I Suppose, both reverted to type. I wanted to discover, and express who I am, from a Celtic pomt of View — meaning more from the spirit of traditional music, whereas Mike is really a contemporary song writer. So we're coming from different dllC‘CllOllS. Also, I've always been a bit wary of going back - I don’t want to get stuck. There’s so much in the future, and I'm working on so many things at the moment . . _ I think it’s my seventh or eighth recording this year (the latest, Dream Journa/s, is now out on his own Pig's Whisker
label) . . . and, now, in my fifties, I’m very aware of the clock ticking. So I very much didn’t want to reform the String Band, and all that stuff — but, as it happens, l’m thoroughly enjoying it. The rehearsals are great fun.’
The Glasgow and London concerts will feature Mike with his group (guitar and percussion), some solo spots and the duo, with and without the band. BBC's XS are filming the whole process, including the concerts, and Rab Noakes is producmg a radio recording for later broadcast, a testament to the fascination (and not just for the babyboomer generation) of this unique pairing.
The term World Music hadn’t been invented when Robin and Mike were cheerfully plundering the ethnic instruments of ASia and Africa. Celtic music had yet to be described as such when Robin married his transcendental visions to elaborate Scots/Irish singing styles, and ’folkies' were playing American banjos when Robin doodled fiddle and tin whistle jigs between his elliptical spoken verses. There was always a lot more to their music, and spirit, than the glib commentators could hear when they wrote it off as a 'brightly coloured empty optimism, naive whimsy, or acoustic fairyland’. Of course the same might not be true of the old Incredible String Band’s audience, perhaps the real stars of the two imminent shows. 'That'll be a hoot. I mean, man, we'll find out what happened to all the old hippies!’
Robin Williamson and Mike Heron play Glasgow's Henry Wood Hall on Sat 27 Sep.
And 30 years later . . .
Ricky Ross New Recording
the new album available, on cd, out 6th october
acoustic tour in october: 4th cumbernauld theatre/ 5th manchester roadhouse/ 6th dublin mean fiddler/ 7th belfast empire music hall/ 9th london borderline/ 11th bath'moles/12th Sheffield leadmill
cat no: inter 001 distributed by pinnacle
26 Sep—9 Oct 1997 TIEUS‘I' 45