Fiddler Duncan Chisholm and guitarist Stuart Eaglesham first met in the late 1980s at a pub session in Inverness, Scotland and formed a band for ceilidhs (Scottish dances). In 1989 they performed at the Highland Traditional Music Festival in Dingwall fusing drums and bass with keyboards, pipes, guitar and fiddle. The combination was a hit. They were soon offered local gigs that expanded into tours up and down the length and breadth of the Highlands and the Islands.
Within two years Wolfstone recorded its first album Unleashed, produced by Silly Wizard accordion virtuoso Phil Cunningham. During this time the band was offered a support slot for the popular Scottish crossover group Runrig at Loch Lomond, near Glasgow. The exposure and experience playing for such a large audience catapulted them into a new circuit. They began playing larger venues and festivals not only in the UK, but also increasingly in Europe, the United States and Canada.
The follow-up album, The Chase, built upon their success and brought new members to their line-up. In 1992 drummer Mop Youngson, from Aberdeen and bassist Wayne Mackenzie, from Inverness joined the pack. The thrill of the Highland bagpipes was added with piper Alan Wilson, later succeeded by the talented Stevie Saint from Pitlochry. In the meantime Unleashed and The Chase went silver and gold respectively in Scotland.
In 1993 Wolfstone signed with Green Linnet Records and released Year of the Dog marking their third collaboration with Phil Cunningham. They began a hectic touring schedule on both sides of the Atlantic thrilling crowds at festivals and concert halls with their high-energy performances. Highlights included appearances at major American festivals like Telluride, Strawberry, the Philadelphia Folk Festival and the Milwaukee Irish Festival and in Europe at Tonder (Denmark) L’orient (France) and Cambridge (England).
As their recognition increased so did the demand for their presence until they spent more time on the road than they did at home. After recording The Half Tail in 1995, keyboardist Stuart Eaglesham departed the band for a quieter life and Youngson followed suit. The remaining Wolfstone members took this opportunity to limit their appearances to festivals and take a new direction with their music. In the meantime a best-selling compilation, Pick of Litter was released in 1997.
In early 1998 Green Linnet released This Strange Place, an album featuring the accomplished acoustic guitar work and introspective songs of Ivan Drever. Co-produced by Drever and Wayne Mackenzie, the recording represented a departure from their previous work and offered proof of the band’s versatility.
Since then keyboardist Andy Simmers and drummer Tony Soave have stepped in and Ivan Drever has moved on to pursue other projects. Stuart Eaglesham now leads the pack as vocalist as well as penning four cuts on the group’s Seven. A diverse mix of Celtic pop and folk with a touch of rock, the album marked new territory for the band.
Unleashed (Iona Records/Green Linnet GLCD388 1991)
The Chase (Iona Records/Green Linnet GLCD393 1992)
Year of the Dog (Green Linnet GLCD1145 1994)
The Half Tail (Green Linnet GLCD1172 1996)
Pick of Litter (Iona Records/Green Linnet GLCD118 1997)
This Strange Place (Green Linnet GLCD1188 1998)
Seven (Green Linnet GLCD1198 1999)
Live – Not Enough Shouting (Once Bitten Records 2000)
Almost an Island (Once Bitten Records 2002)
Terra Firma (Once Bitten Records 2007)
Author: Angel Romero
Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.