THE Carrivick Sisters may be only 23, but they already have a pedigree many folk and bluegrass musicians would give their right arm for – and the reception given to the duo on their first visit to Bute suggests they’re well on the way to establishing a new fan base in the west of Scotland.
Laura and Charlotte’s gig at Craigmore Bowling Club was the fifth instalment in a 21-date UK tour between April and June, taking in venues as far apart as the Philleigh Folk Club in Cornwall and the Argyll Hotel in Ullapool.
The girls, who were finalists in the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Awards two years ago and were named band or duo of the year at the FATEA awards last year, set out their credentials by beginning their set with covers of songs by James Taylor and Norman Blake (of American bluegrass, rather than Teenage Fanclub, fame).
But the quality of their own original work immediately caught the ear – none of it diminished by the decidedly down-to-earth inspiration provided by, for example, a trip to the pub, or by that moment when you wake up in the morning and realise you’ve forgotten something you remembered in the middle of the night.
Their on-stage manner was engagingly unassuming too: My Window Faces The South, written in 1937, was prefaced by the warning that when it comes to playing Texas swing “we don’t really know what we’re doing”, though to most if not all ears in the room that certainly did not appear to be the case.
Other high points of a memorable evening included The Widow’s Lone Daughter, “a really good song about an old lady who beats up her daughter’s suitor because she fancies him”, and a not-very-thinly-veiled pop at the trend for replacing traditional buildings on the girls’ own south Devon patch with nondescript new-build second homes – not a protest song, Charlotte insisted, but not exactly a million miles away from it.
The girls’ set attracted a long queue of new fans keen to get their hands on some or all of the Carrivick Sisters’ back catalogue at the interval and afterwards - and left their new Bute fans hoping for another chance to hear the duo live on the island in the future.