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Old Blind Dogs

In Britain and Ireland, as in America, a number of folk music bands sprung up that have combined strong elements and foundations of the traditional with a variety of influences from other cultures and styles. Steeleye Span, the Tannahill Weavers, Fairport Convention, the House Band, Wolfstone, and others all produced music that borrows as freely from reggae, African rhythms, and American folk and rock music, as from the ancient ballads and tunes of their own cultures. Among the most striking and interesting of these bands was Scotland's Old Blind Dogs, an Aberdeen-based band that toured Europe and North America extensively throughout the '90s before dissolving in 1998. The genesis of Old Blind Dogs dates to 1990, when three veterans of the Aberdeen music scene came together after having played with each other in various other bands. Guitarist and lead singer Ian F. Benzie, the elder statesman of the band, had been involved with folk music since the glory days of the late '50s and early '60s. It was the realization that many of his favorite songs by American folk icons like Joan Baez were, in fact, songs from centuries past in his own culture that steered him toward the traditional side of the music, while becoming adept at writing his own powerful material. As a singer, Benzie has been compared to fellow Scotsmen Dick Gaughan and Archie Fisher, a master of phrasing and delivery, whether of his own songs or of classics like "The Cruel Sister." Joining Benzie in the original configuration of the Dogs were fellow Aberdeen natives Jonny Hardie on fiddle and Buzzby McMillan, a jack of all trades on bass, whistles, cittern, and just about anything else with frets and strings. Though classically trained as a viola player, Hardie became enamored of the traditional fiddle tunes he heard while traveling throughout Britain. Meeting up again with McMillan after returning from music college, they began busking together on the streets and playing in a succession of bands before forming the Dogs with Benzie. By 1992, they had gained a reputation as a band adept at mixing traditional Scottish fare with more modern material, but it was the addition of percussionist Davy Cattanach in that year that gave the band a character unlike any other of their contemporary bands and allowed them to branch out in new directions. Cattanach had played drums in a number of reggae, rock, and blues bands that McMillan had also been part of. After spending five years or so in London, Cattanach returned to Aberdeen, where he met up again with McMillan. He had never played or been involved with traditional music before, but was intrigued with the sound of the band his friend was playing in, and on being told they were looking to add a percussionist, immediately went out and got a set of congas. With the addition of the exotic rhythms Cattanach brought to the band, they were able to explore new ways of expressing their distinctive blend of old and new. For the next five years, they toured and recorded to rave reviews on both sides of the Atlantic. In 1997, a fifth Dog was added in the person of piper and woodwind player Fraser Fifield, whose work was welcomed by the band's die-hard fans as an added dimension to the sound. In 1998, Cattanach departed the band and was replaced by long-time Wolfstone drummer and percussionist Graeme "Mop" Youngson. Following their 1998 U.S. tour, though, the years of being on the road induced Benzie to also quit the band, and as the clock wound down on the century, Old Blind Dogs were on hiatus. The new millennium found them revitalized though, and the group has issued several new albums, including Tall Tails (2000), Fit? (2001), The Gab O Mey (2003), Old Blind Dogs Play Live (2005), and Four on the Floor (2007). ~ John Lupton, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

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This version of "Edward" (and there are many) conveys the rage land despairing madness of the ballad. Its many forms clearly point to a real event. "The Two Sisters" moves from a murder into an elegant, almost Druidic resolution as the minstrels work magic with breastbone and hair. The two songs are powerful and quite different.
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An interesting interpretati o n of The Cruel Sister, but can't touch the Pentangle's version. The 4/4 beat is a little off-putting (is that a word?)
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Their "Hollis Brown" is powerful, but nothing approaches Dylan's version.
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Wonderful presentation of Twa Corbies, a terrible and enlightening song that seems as if struck on a Druid's anvil at twilight.
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This kind of music resonates with my soul. It speaks to my Celtic roots.
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Too bad some commenters can't meet a MacPherson some dark night.
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Love those OBDs! I've seen them perform at the Dublin Irish Festival in Ohio, and they put on a live show that never quits! Want to get their CDs back (long story). Veteran players all, and smooth as silk.
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Dont like them,old blind dogs get put down as they should
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Got a minute ? There's a church that was built and they need monetary donations to help cover expenses , the church is Saint Patrick church - 1046 E. 34 th street Los Angeles California 90011 - (323) 232- 8756 ( 323) 234- 5963 - Pastor Rev. Timothy Dyer - Jesus is God :)
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Wow... You have quite the sense of humor.
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What about Young Sight Cats? or that great French Canadian band, Middle Aged Frogs?
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tryna.owen
First there was Old Blind Dogs. Then Jim Malcolm joined the band. Love them both ways. If you get the chance, go see Jim at a house concert. He is fabulous. Scotland go braugh!
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Yass
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Great Vocals!
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chereholz4
My absolute favorite ! Along w Stephen stills .... Dogs are amazing!
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Totally COOL!!! :-)
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love the vocals :D
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sweettweety4 s
Love them!! <3
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kmillewimm
Yay Jim Malcolm! I love his voice, and I'm listening to him sing on Kinardine Lads. If he comes to a town near you, go to his solo concert - it's great. He and his terrific wife, Susie, also lead tours around Scotland, and I had the great fortune to travel with them for 10 fabulous days in September (2013).
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I also cannot believe there is no mention of Jim Malcolm. Though he has left the band, they are still as good as ever! OBD are hoping to come back to the US in 2015 if they can get the visa issues resolved. One of the first Celtic bands to catch my ear. Love these guys and Four on the Floor is a tremendous album. go Dogs!!
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woodsnwater1
Great Gaelic performance! These guys are such a pleasure to see, hear and sing with!
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momgmi
Old Blind Dogs can go where all old blind dogs go ... to curl on the hearth rugs and stay out of my music!!
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I've seen these guys live before...the y ' r e awesome! I love dancing to this music!
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cathrine001
I'm in seventh heaven :)
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roxycar13
Very reminiscent of Jethro Tull. I LOVE IT!
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Really good song to dance to!! Hard to find songs in slip jig time.
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hey mister Lupton! you fail to mention the addition of the venerable Jim Malcolm on lead vocal, guitar, and, harmonica... though he has left to continue his solo career.
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daisyandwill o w
Ah, the Old Blind Dogs are amazing!
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cocacola2244 2
Really good band and song
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Like this song!
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one of the best, if not the best celtic group
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Love dancing and moving my waist line to this song. :)
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Really liking this!
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peppy
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griffinbio5
OBD is still together - a few of the band have had work visa issues and haven't been able to tour the states, however Jim Malcolm (a good friend of mine) continues to do 2 or 3 US tours a year in a mix of small venues and house concerts. I encourage all in the states to seek Jim out and attend a show, or better yet put on a house concert and enjoy with your friends!
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No mention of Jim malcolm?
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I can't believe they disbanded... t h i s was one of the best Celtic Bands ever!
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I just really like their sound!
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b.kisacanin
These be good folkes - on'y they can make sumthin' lively as this. And t' 'hbaker396' I agree, mate!
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Traditional Irish/Celtic music. What everyone should be listening to these days, laddies!
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alberton.dmc
beware the Scots
keen with the hands, and girls in between
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redwingsgirl 5 1 4
@ Morag, who cares about the mandolin? lol I'll just take the Scots accent. <3
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May I just say that I'm a fool for a man with a Scots accent and I'm a fool for a man who plays the mandolin. Doesn't matter what they look like. Probably best I don't know :-D
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jen92373
Old Blind Dogs is the latest reasons that I am very grateful that I discovered Pandora Radio. I had never heard of this band (or countless others that I now love) until very recently. I love'em!
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dude! can't get enough of 'em. real talent, right here.
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zarate.luz
Happy St. Patty's day!!! I love this band and their music, and I thank pandora for introducin' me to these awesome dudes!!!
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An excellent sound that grows on you. Will definitely check out their albums.
Happy St. Patrick's Day, one and all!
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colopay
What I love about these guys is that they will have a bagpipe part, and then a harmonica kicks in. They are not afraid to explore. I wish I could have seen them when they were touring through my area.
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rweber288
Been listening to these guys since spending time in Aberdeen in 1993. One of the greatest trad bands ever.
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slapshot1894
Once again I have Pandora to thank for introducing me to these guys.
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