Ardersier may have been put on the international map by the Scottish Open Golf Tournament, but it does not exactly have a reputation for music gigs worthy of the trek out of Inverness. This reviewer was entirely unsure what to expect, venue wise, when invited to the final Highland performance of Fi and Terry Williams. What I found, at the George Inn, High Street, Ardersier, was a super local’s pub, full of friendly people and great music.
Shortly leaving Inverness for the broad streets of Edinburgh, Fi and Terry planned one final Highland Hooley before their departure. Choosing the George Inn, a venue they had successful played before, The Williams’ invited all their musical acquaintances to join them in a rousing send-off gig. The George has a very friendly atmosphere, and it didn’t matter if you were a Dutch tourist or from just across the water, the regulars welcomed us all. Reasonably priced drinks and a good sound system meant that it was just down to Fi and Terry to provide the final piece of the puzzle.
For the most part unrehearsed and off the cuff, Fi and Terry brought freshness to the tunes and songs they played. A mix of own compositions and covers, the fluid 2 part set featured traditional folk favourites such as I’ll tell me Ma, Whiskey in the Jar and When will we be married whilst leaving room for multiple encores and even a request at the end of the evening. I particularly enjoyed Terry and Fi’s own work, such as Nature’s Boy, Streets where Providence calls and Sidmouth. It is always surprising the dynamics that Fi manages from the whistle, and her melodies competed very successfully with the bar noise. Terry’s acoustic guitar fit the folk songs perfectly and his slightly Welsh accented vocals were a great counterpart to the music. Unbeknownst to the audience, an amp lead mix up caused a tricky whistle/ guitar balance in the first set, but the Williams’ flexibility performing together meant no one listening was aware of any challenges until told. These two are musical professionals.
A middle set featured the contrast of Matt Sillars on electric slide and acoustic guitars. Performing personal compositions, as well as covers including Who do you love and Roadhouse Blues, the electric guitar dealt with the pub noise very well. There were some challenges with such a powerful guitar, separate amp, and mixing in the vocals from the house system, but after some adjustments of the sound equipment, a good balance of vocal to guitar was achieved. For the centre part of his set Sillars changed to a handful of self-penned acoustic songs. These were a great counterpoint to the electric slide work, and were very well received. Matt’s set was then rounded out by more electric blues that put the Telecaster through its paces, with Terry Williams joining him on acoustic guitar for the final song.
After a short break Terry and Fi came back for their final set of folk music. The songs and tunes were powerful and spirited, with more than a touch of the olde country. Loved by the assembled crowd of residents and visitors alike, all present made a point of commenting how much they enjoyed the evening. The Williams’ final requested encore of Loch Lomond had all the locals up dancing, from teenagers to septuagenarians. The atmosphere was remarkable, and the evening was thoroughly enjoyed by all.
We will miss the Williams’ blend of folk and traditional music and Edinburgh is a lucky city to be gaining the talents of this couple. Let’s hope they hurry back soon, if only for another great night at the Ardersier local.