Dynamic piping duo Ross Ainslie and Ali Hutton are no strangers to Perth Concert Hall.
The Perthshire-raised musicians have played “countless” gigs there – including a tribute to their late piping mentor Gordon Duncan.
However, ahead of a headline gig on March 30, the winners of BBC Radio 2’s Folk Awards ‘Best Duo’ in 2017, say their affinity to the venue remains strong.
“When I first started we had friends we grew up with on lights and sound there,” said Ross, 35.
“Going back was always like meeting your pals again. It’s got a great vibe. The facilities are great. The venue is amazing.”
Ross and Ali met aged 11 and 12 respectively as members of the Vale of Atholl Pipe Band.
They were mentored by one of the most innovative pipers of the last three decades, the late great Gordon Duncan, who sparked a deep passion for playing pipes with other instruments which led them to become founding members of the musical powerhouse the Treacherous Orchestra as well as playing with bands such as Salsa Celtica, Dougie Maclean and Shooglenifty.
Ross says there have been “loads” of highlights” over the years ranging from the Radio Two Festival at Hyde Park where they were first on in front of 80,000 with The Treacherous Orchestra, to winning Composer of the Year at the Scottish Trads in 2015.
These days, however, following the release of the album Symbiosis II, Ross is more into writing and recording and wants to make more albums which are “meaningful”.
“Normally when we are touring we’d just be a trio,” he said, “but this album Symbiosis II, it’s more of a band sound, so we’ve got drums this time.
“So in Perth we’ll be a four piece – myself and Ali with Paul Jennings on drums and Jim Butterworth on guitar, and a couple of songs from Jen as well.
“There will be a lot of material from our new album. It’s quite epic. And there will be stuff from the first album as well.”
Ross said there should also be a “wee bit of collaboration” with The Gordon Duncan Experience.
He added: “When Gordon died myself and the family set up the Gordon Duncan Memorial Trust.
“It’s like this youth band – a kids kind of band. They meet up once a month.”
Ross admits he’s not a great fan of “trendy” music.
But he concedes that pipes are a lot “cooler” today than they’ve ever been and there’s more opportunities than ever for today’s youngsters to get involved.
“When I was younger I was the only piper in my school at Perth High,” he said. “Ali was the only piper at Perth Grammar. Folk music, traditional music is massive now. There are so many people.
“It’s becoming a cool thing. It’s a bit more accepted and not as laughed at. Definitely more cool!”
*Ross & Ali, Perth Concert Hall, March 30, www.horsecross.co.uk