Home International Karine Polwart & Dave Milligan – The Old Men Of The Shells

Karine Polwart & Dave Milligan – The Old Men Of The Shells


Karine Polwart and Dave Milligan delivered a beautiful album titled Still As Your Sleeping last year. The duo are sharing several live videos ahead of their forthcoming May tour dates (see below). These edits are from a ‘Live to Your Living Room’ made at Castlesound Studio following the album’s release.

Their latest video is of them performing The Old Men of the Shells, a song by Alasdair Roberts that featured on his 2007 album The Amber Gatherers. The title is also a pibroch (pipe music) tune, something Roberts has used in his music before, including Too Long In This Condition. On their version of The Old Men of the Shells, Dave Milligan adds touches from that piping tradition using the piano, which he expanded upon in our interview, from which we’ve lifted the extract below:

“I wasn’t aware of the song before Karine brought it to the table,” notes Dave, “but Karine told me about the connection with the tune. One of the rabbit holes that I found myself going down recently is pipe music and a distant fascination with piobaireachd itself. It’s one of these things I’ve been meaning to explore on the piano, which is a little bit strange in itself, but I’ve been doing it slowly.

“When Karine brought this song, I went and found the piobaireachd of the same name. It’s actually in a book which was sitting on my piano at the time, the Kilberry Book of Ceol Mor, a well-known book amongst pipers. I managed to play something like one bar of it in the song! If you play that Piobaireachd in its entirety, it’s about 11 minutes long!”

“The deluxe version of the album is going to have that extra extended prog version of that on it!” jokes Karine.

“It was lovely to kind of delve into that,” adds Dave, “but I must have done hours of dissecting just to come up with, literally, a couple of bars that would fit within the song, but there’s another project coming along anytime in the next decade, so just watch out for that!”

The video was Filmed & Edited by Sandy Butler with the sound by Stuart Hamilton at Castlesound Studios.

Karine Polwart & Dave Milligan Upcoming Live Dates

May 05 EDINBURGH TradfestMay 08 GLASGOW City HallsMay 13 MANCHESTER Halle St Peter’sMay 14 KENDAL Brewery ArtsMay 15 BATH KomediaMay 16 CAMBRIDGE JunctionMay 17 SHEFFIELD Crucible

Tickets via: 

Karine Polwart: 

Dave Milligan: 

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