November 9, 2011
'Bodega', who originally formed in 2005 while the members were all students at the Plockton Music School, have announced they are to split at the end of a string of European dates in October 2011 - although the good news is a new band is to very soon rise from the ashes.
The original members - Norrie MacIver (guitar, vocals, accordion and percussion) Ross Couper (fiddle) Tia Files (Guitar and percussion) June Naylor (harp) and Gillian Chalmers (pipes and whistles) - have largely decided to go their separate ways due to a combination of new musical directions, changed circumstances and personal commitments. Norrie is now a member of 'Manran', while Gillian has left to teach in Spain and June is now attending dental college.
Speaking for the band Tia said that they simply felt that due to the changes in personnel that had become necessary, Bodega as it stood had come to the end of its natural life, and a new direction with a new line up was probably for the best. "We thought about carrying on as Bodega" she said "but given that Norrie, June and Gillian were all original members and such a massive part of the band individually and collectively, that it was better simply to split in that respect and to form a new band with a new name, a new sound and a new musical direction with the surviving members".
Ross and Tia have now been joined by young wonder-piper Lorne MacDougall, while the full new line up of the new, as yet un-named band will be announced shortly.
Bodega sprang to almost immediate prominence shortly after forming by winning the 'BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Musician of the Year' award at the Sage, Gateshead in 2006. This led to them making a number of high profile festival appearances at events such as Cambridge, Croperdy and Celtic Connections festivals, coupled to an increasing demand for shows across the UK and Europe.
The band signed to the famous Greentrax label in Edinburgh and their self-titled debut album, coupled to their fresh, new and dynamic sound immediately drew attention from festival promoters in North America. The band played a number of high profile festivals in the States and Canada such as Milwaukee Irish Fest, Chicago, Philadelphia and Goderich - while they also toured extensively there and attended large music conventions in New York among other city's.
The band's second album 'Under the Counter' - again on Greentrax - attracted terrific reviews on its release and in 2008 Bodega were voted 'Best Scottish Folk Band' at the Scottish Traditional Music Awards.
"We were almost better known in North American at one point than in our own country - which was a bit weird" said fiddle player Ross Couper who hails from Shetland. "It's been a great and very exciting journey with amazing musicians and close friends, and although we're obvioiusly very sad that the split had to happen we're equally excited about the new line-up and direction those of us who are left are about to take" he said.
Davie Gardner of Atlantic Edge Music Services in Shetland who acted as manager and agent for the band said he too was desperately sad that the split had come about - but that it had become inevitable. "I think the band are quite right to go for a new approach overall given the fairly extensive line-up changes that have become necessary" he said. "The good thing is that it's totally amicable and that everyone remains good friends and are all very excited about the new directions they are taking - whether musical or otherwise" he said.
"For me there's an additional touch of personal sadness given that you all inevitably become good friends as well as work collegues so to speak, but that will hopefully remain. Bodega were also one of the first bands I signed to my agency when I set it up in 2006, so I'm of course sad to see them go in that respect too, but I hope to be involved with the new line-up once that gets underway, so that will be very interesting indeed and a new challenge into the bargain. They remain as an exciting a bunch of young musicians as those I first saw five years ago and that you are likely to meet anywhere - plus a great bunch of young folk into the bargain"
It can be safely said that 'Bodega' achieved a great deal, including national and international success, in a relatively short space of time and that everyone now wishes each other well for the future. Onwards and upwards as the saying goes!!!