You don’t have to look too hard for the Derry link with the Battlefield band, one of Scotland’s best-known trad outfits.
Guitarist and singer Sean O’Donnell, who’s been with the band for the past eight years, is a Carnhill man from a well-known musical family.
“My brother Eddie plays with Paddy Nash, he’s a Happy Enchilada, and another brother Ciaran is a bass player and singer,” he says.
The Battlefield Band, who play as part of the closing ceremony in Ebrington on Sunday night, are a Scottish institution. Founded in Glasgow in 1969, the band’s various line-ups have released a total of more than 30 albums and have toured the world.
The current line-up won ‘Best Band’ at the Scots Trad Music Awards in 2011.
But how did a Derryman become a Battlefield member?
Sean says, “I lived in Glasgow for ten years and I knew Alasdair, our fiddler, over there. I played a couple of times with him. He just phoned me out of the blue and asked would I be interested in a few gigs, starting with Glastonbury! And I had to tell him I couldn’t do that gig as I had to play in Mulligans, a pub in Amsterdam!
“Never got to do Glastonbury but I started playing with the band and I’ve never looked back. We’ve been all over the place in the last eight years, from China to Canada, the US, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, all over Europe. . .
“It’s great fun, and we enjoy playing together. It’s become a lot more traditional with the current line-up, and the crack’s good on and off stage.”
Other members of the Battlefield Band are Mike Katz, the longest-serving member at around 18 years; Alasdair White from the Isle of Lewis, an exceptional fiddler; and a renowned piper Ewan Henderson from Fortwilliam. All three are multi-instrumentalists.
They released a new album ‘Room Enough for All’ a few months ago and it’s well worth a listen.
“We’re all really looking forward to the gig in Derry and having a few tunes at the Fleadh,” says Sean. “The lads are arriving on Friday night and are making a weekend of it. The town’s already buzzing so it should be great.”