Published: 05/12/2013 23:01 - Updated: 05/12/2013 13:55

Alabama 3 revive the art of bringing people together

Alabama 3's Wayne and Larry Love
Alabama 3's Wayne and Larry Love

ALABAMA 3 seem to have become the default band for Highland festivals.

This year alone saw them fit in return visits to both RockNess and Belladrum, along with another sneaky visit to Bella outside the festival season for a family party.

December finds the London based band back in the Highlands for a return visit to The Ironworks, but for Larry Love, co-frontman of the band with Scotsman Jake Black, it does not seem to be too much of a chore making the long trek north.

"I don’t know if it’s because I’m Welsh and Jake’s Glasgae and it’s the Celtic thing, but I really enjoy it there," Love, real name Robb Spragg, said.

Given the outlaw band’s country influences, there is also a sense that band are bringing their music back to its roots when they return to Scotland.

"Jake can trace a lot of it back to Scottish reels and things like that and you can argue a lot of country and blues came from that indigenous folk music," Love said.

"African slaves copied Scottish reels and blended it with African music. There were a lot of weird connections going on."

Love had an insight into those origins on his last trip to Belladrum where he met a stonemason who revealed that he likes working to a rhythm, and now Love wants to go back and record him.

"It would be like working on a chaingang or something," he added.

Sunday’s Ironworks visit will be different from the last time the band came to the venue. On that occasion it was an acoustic Alabama 3, stripping their music back to its delta and country blues roots. This time it will be the full Alabama 3 Sound System as the band embrace their own techno influences.

"This is the full brigade," Love acknowledged.

The split in musical personalities reflects not only the diversity within the band — the cut-down acoustic incarnation allowing other band members to go and do their own thing — but the willingness of fans to embrace different styles of music.

"Young musicians are all in four or five bands and we’ve always encouraged splinter projects. These days kids listen to such a wide variety of music. 10 or 20 years ago, you wouldn’t have dared play your dad’s records. Now kids are a lot more democratic in what they listen to," Love said.

"When we’re playing with the acoustic band, it’s just that basic Woody Guthrie thing with an acoustic guitar and two or three singers. With the full band we can go from nine up to 11."

It also seems apt that Alabama 3 are making their latest Inverness appearance on the Sabbath. With Love and Black, otherwise known as The Very Reverend Dr. D. Wayne Love, taking a cue from southern revivalist meetings with their "First Presleyterian Church of Elvis the Divine".

"I come from a church background anyway," Love said, acknowledging the influence of that old time religion and the musical traditions of his homeland, where music, sacred and secular, has always been a means of binding communities together.

"I’m from the South Wales valleys, an area that was very much devastated by Margaret Thatcher and her policies," he said.

"I still have this about the capacity of music to bring people together in a very positive way. And in depressed times, you need to bring people together."

• Alabama 3 appear at The Lemon Tree, Aberdeen, on Saturday and The Ironworks, Academy Street, Inverness, on Sunday. Inverness support comes from The Whiskys.

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