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Lau: Gallowhill

With some slight variations on our Famous Elsewhere Questionnaire to suit the world and worldly musicians playing at this year's Womad (details below), we now offer Elsewhere's Famous Womad Questionnaire . . . and I'm delighted the first to be posted is by a group from the country where I was born, Scotland.

Lau are an award-winning three-piece who play a unique mixture of traditional (but slightly overhauled) folk and originals in the idiom.

They have released three albums and their debut Lightweights and Gentlemen in 2007 was highly acclaimed. The band won best group at the 2008 and 2009 BBC Folk Awards. They also contributed their folk version of the Beatles' Dear Prudence to Mojo magazines tribute the "the White Album".

Their singer/guitarist Kris Drever formed Lau in 2005 and also made a name for himself with a solo album Black Water in 2006 and has subsequently collaborated with Kate Rusby, Eddie Reader, Roddy Woomble of Idlewilde and many others in the British folk scene. In 2007 he was named best new artist at those BBC Folk Awards and for the next two years was on stage again picking up awads with Lau.

Who better than this son of the Orkney Islands to launch Elsewhere's Famous Womad Questionnaire? 

The first piece of music which really affected you was . .

The theme from the Dukes of Hazard, it compelled me to propel myself around and around the sofa non stop from start to finish.

Your first role models in music were . . .

My parents, they both play and sing.

If music was denied you, your other career choice would be . . .

Panel beater I think, I don't know why. Those dented panels are just begging to once again be whole, the panel beater gently and deftly helps them realise redemption.

The three songs (yours, or by others) you would love everyone to hear are . . .

Westlin Winds by Dick Gaughan, the definitive version of Burns' masterpiece. The Wreck of the Hesperus by Procol Harum, a pleasant surprise awaits you if you haven't heard it. Dark Turn of Mind by Gillian Welch because, well, because I love her a bit.

Any interesting, valuable or just plain strange musical memorabilia at home?

Not really, i have my Grandad's Jaws Harp and a beautiful 1978 Sobell Cittern (10 string Bozouki) which is not currently playable but is still of great value. My dad bought it the year I was born and recently gave it to me to look after. It has an interesting scratch where he fell over in a car park, playing football and cittern simultaneously.

The best book on music or musicians you have read is . . .

Leonard Bernstein by Joan Peyser, it's not that it's breathtakingly exciting or anything but I read it at an impressionable age and it opened up a lot of musical thinking for me.

If you could get on stage with anyone it would be . . . (And you would play?)

It has to be Tom Waits, i'd play a shower tube with a trumpet mouth piece attached by blowing and simultaneously whirling the noisy end round my head. Only when musically appropriate, obviously....

ice_ageThe three films you'd like anybody watch because they might understand you better are . . .

Fargo, it makes me laugh out loud even during it's darkest moments, Blade Runner is still a classic and Ice Age although really i'm just a sucker for animation of any kind. It's easier to suspend disbelief if the main character is a talking mammoth or something.

The last CD, vinyl album or download you bought was . . .

Second album by Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick, very good it is too.

When you travel, what is it you most miss about your home country?

The irreverence probably, the people of my country have a tendency to indulge is surrealist comedic episodes with surprising frequency and there is no way of knowing who might be the next source.

The artist you most admire would be . . .

Dick Gaughan, politically principled performance genius. A man of the people and a true troubadour.

Your favourite meal to share with friends would be . . .? (Care to share a simple recipe?)

As a band we are all adventurous eaters and will usually do a bit of sharing at table. Japan and Asturias are countries where we've enjoyed consistently excellent meals but in truth, any good meal in any country is treated with delight and rapture. Favourite meal?.....we'd be here a long time.

Do you practice every day, and if so for how long?

I try to but sometimes you have to go and do other stuff. Not every day but probably 5 days a week, time's vary. Sometimes the best practice is playing with others and for that I'd head out into town and find an open session, they usually last around three hours. If i'm at home i might only do an hour or I might do three.

David Bowie sang, “Five years, that's all we've got . . .” If that were true, you would spend them where, doing . . .?

I'd probably move back to Orkney for the summers, play a lot of music and go fishing. The winters I'd have to travel the sunnier countries I think. And eating.

womadAnd finally, what is about a Womad festival that most appeals to you?

I get to travel to the other side of the world to a famously breathtaking country to play music amongst an eye wateringly brilliant line up of musicians. Booooom!

Womad Taranaki, New Zealand: March 15 -17 2013. For more on Womad 2013 artists at Elsewhere see here. The Womad website for ticketing and information is here.

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