Green Ribbons will be joining us on Tuesday 9th November for an evening celebrating unaccompanied song. Ahead of the gig, we caught up with them to find out more about what’s in store, how they’ve found the shift to online gigs and what it’s like to finally be back on tour.
You’re finally off on tour! What does it feel like to be reconnecting with audiences?
Alasdair – It’s good to be playing live again to those audiences who are ready for it, and with huge thanks to those venues and promoters who are able to provide us with those opportunities. Most of the venues I’ve entered since returning have put in place measures to make audiences, performers and staff feel as safe and comfortable as possible. But it’s also really good to still be able to do online performances which are potentially more accessible for audiences who, for whatever reason, aren’t ready or able to attend in-person events.
Debbie – I’ve found it really emotional to be back out on the road. I feel quite a big weight of responsibility to the people who come out to see me and am so hugely appreciative of the effort that folk have made since I first started gigging again in August.
The Green Ribbons project focuses on unaccompanied song – why did you decide to take that approach?
Ben – We wanted a project that solely focuses on voice and storytelling. Unaccompanied voice has taken a bit of a back seat in recent years, so it felt nice to strip an album back to just voice, harmonies and stories. As vocalists, it gives you nowhere to hide and forces you to approach a performance in a slightly different way.
As well as traditional songs, you write original material – tell us about your songwriting.
Ben – The first record has a few tracks written by us. It felt like a nice idea at the time to sort of add to the tradition and include some of our own stories.
Debbie – Singing Ben’s beautiful songs and arranging them for voice feels like an important part of perpetuating the tradition that means so much to us all. Folk singing can’t be static, and adding new works to the canon that reflect contemporary concerns is an exciting thing to be involved in.
How have you found the shift to online gigs?
Ali – The first online gig I did was on the eve of the first lockdown, from the great Cafe Oto in London. That worked really well, because there was a very good sound engineer and likewise a fantastic camera person. A few months after that, I did one from my own home, which meant acquiring some new equipment to optimise the sound. That was a learning experience and fairly successful too, although both were very different experiences.
Debbie and I also did a joint performance for another great venue, the Tolbooth in Stirling, that also benefited from a fantastic technical crew. Whether in that context or with my more limited home set-up, my aim is always for the performance to be as strong and fresh as possible.
What’s next for Green Ribbons?
Alasdair – We have some more live dates coming up in Spring 2022.
Debbie – The very last of the gig reschedules are lined up for March, a full two years since they were initially supposed to happen! That feels like quite a significant closing of a chapter, and time to make some space perhaps for new work. We’ll be joined by the wonderful Jack Sharp and Fran Foote, so maybe there could be some further collaboration with them in the fullness of time. We are eternally grateful to Sarah and the team at Alan Bearman, our booking agents, for keeping these shows ticking along for all this time and we hope we do them proud!
Green Ribbons will be playing for us on Tuesday 9th November at 8pm GMT. Fancy joining us? Find tickets here!