Yell band Rack ‘n’ Ruin set for Orkney weekend tour

Rack 'n' Ruin members (from left) Barry Nisbet, David Spence and Brian Spence. Photo: Kevin Jones
Rack ‘n’ Ruin members (from left) Barry Nisbet, David Spence and Brian Spence. Photo: Kevin Jones

Yell party band Rack ‘n’ Ruin are returning to Orkney for their first visit since 1999, having expanded their line-up since the last trip.

The band was formed by Barry Nisbet, David Spence, Kevin Tulloch and Martin Henderson in 1994, with much of their early material featuring the traditional Cullivoe style of fiddle-playing, which can be traced back over 100 years.

The sound of the band evolved over time, and in recent years the line-up has expanded to include Michael Nisbet, Brian Spence and Leslie Tulloch – all younger brothers of founder members.

The fuller sound of the “big band” is completed by percussionist Jack Jamieson. All eight members of the band hail from Cullivoe.

Inspired by traditional Shetland tunes, outlaw country and Americana, Rack & Ruin are proud purveyors of “Yellbilly” country rock. Audiences in Orkney can expect to hear songs by the Saw Doctors, Johnny Cash, Steve Earle and Old Crow Medicine Show.

In recent years Rack ‘n’ Ruin have supported Orkney supergroup The Chair and performed at Whitby in Yorkshire for the launch of Shetland’s newest whitefish trawler the Guardian Angell.

The group make regular appearances at the Shetland Folk Festival and are well known for inducing sprees across the isles at weddings and Up-Helly-A’ festivals.

Keyboard player Henderson said it makes sense to be taking the party to Orkney. He said: “We have plenty of family and friends in Orkney, but it’s been too long since we last played there.

“We hope Orkney folk haven’t forgotten about us, even though this will be our first visit this century. Now we have new band members, a bigger sound, and it promises to be an even bigger spree.”

Rack ‘n’ Ruin have been described as sounding, at times, as traditional as a red can – but often mixing it up with modern tunes as fast and relentless as shots of Fireball.

The band describe themselves as “North Yell’s premiere tractor-riding, sheep-thieving, peat-raising, smooriken-stealing party band”.

They will be playing at the Sands Hotel in Burray on Friday 8th April, the Royal Hotel in Stromness on Saturday 9th April, and the Auld Motor Hoose in Kirkwall on Sunday 10th April.


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