One of Scotland’s favourite ceilidh bands is playing to a new beat in a bit of lockdown fun for their loyal fans.
Socially-distanced from their regular drummer, Alan Small and Gemma Donald of the Lomond Ceilidh Band delivered their latest performance to the rhythm of a 65-year-old vintage tractor engine.
The couple are renowned throughout Scotland’s traditional music scene, accordionist Alan having started the band when he was just 14.
For the past few months, he and Gemma, who is originally from Shetland, have been living in rural Angus following fire damage to a property beside their Fife home.
The idea for the latest quirky composition came after farmer Clark Farquharson fired up the 1956 Field Marshall 3A machine from his collection of old tractors at Fern, north of Forfar.
Old tractor affectionately known as the Jaffa Cake
A couple of tunes to the background accompaniment of the bright orange machine – nicknamed the Jaffa Cake – have had toes tapping among the tens of thousands of fans who have logged onto lockdown gigs the band has already performed.
Gemma said: “We started a thing called the daily ceilidh and have done around 90 online shows. We’re really glad to be able to have those online, and even when things get back to normal it’s something we plan to continue.”
She added: “There are a few things we are doing with the band so we thought we’d do something quirky to raise a smile.
“We’ve been living in Clark’s cottage up here and really love it, and it was through chatting to him that the tractor idea came about.
“It’s a wee bit unusual that our regular drummer Kyle Innes has been given the elbow by a vintage tractor for this one,” she said.
Band preparing for online Up Helly Aa special gig
The success of the daily ceilidh venture saw the band nominated for a Scots Trad Music award in 2020.
Alan, 44, and Gemma, 31, are now lining up their next big online gig – an Up Helly Aa special on January 26.
Gemma is the current Gemma is the current All Scotland Senior Fiddle Champion having captured the title at the Perth Accordion and Fiddle Festival.
The couple also play in the band Full Tilt with Brian Nicholson and Manus McGuire and were kept busy with the launch of their first album last month, a collection of live music from a tour in 2019.
Clark said he gave a vintage machine a good warm up to ensure it was ready for the unusual role – in an engine rhythm which turned out to be 6/8 time.
“Our farm road is about a mile so it had a good run down there to get the engine running smoothly,” he said.
“We have a bit of a collection of vintage tractors so I might think about bringing another one out for their next performance.”
The ceilidh couple also recorded another video alongside the tractor with Clark’s 10-year-old son, Andrew, who is taught fiddle by Karen Harper at Carmyllie and Tar;and’s Paul Anderson.
Andrew is also showing promise with the bow having already enjoyed success at a number of fiddle festivals.
The tractor tune is Clark’s latest attempt to brighten up the pandemic situation after he previously raised a smile with ovine antics early in the first lockdown.
In April, he managed to get the Deuchar Farm flock of 400 sheep to follow each other into the initials NHS as the farm’s special contribution to the original clap for carers initiative.
“Not a lot of people would hear us out here if we went to the front door to clap so we decided to do something different to show a bit of support,” he said.
He tempted the huge flock with some quick quad work to lay out the letters at feeding time on the hillside.
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