The Unusual Suspects

Corrina Hewat

The Unusual Suspects


Launched on an unsuspecting world back at Celtic Connections 2003, Scotland’s original and best folk big-band are back in more rambunctious, roof-raising form than ever. The power and glory of their massed fiddles, bagpipes, accordions, whistles and vocals, audaciously orchestrated with harp, piano, a powerhouse rhythm squad and a blistering brass section, transforming Scottish traditional music into a grand-scale fanfare for the 21st century.

The heart of the band has always been the most outstanding traditional and folk players in the country, coming from Blazin’ Fiddles, Breabach, The Poozies, String Sisters, Mystery Juice, Harem Scarem, Bachue and Box Club to name but a few. The powerhouse rhythm section is made up from musicians who have performed with acts as diverse as Wolfstone, Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, String Sisters, Eric Bibb and Martha Reeves and the brass section are one of the finest in the business, populated by players called upon by Ray Charles, George Michael, Robbie Williams, Joe Cocker, Elton John, Sharleen Spiteri, Wet Wet Wet, Gil Evans, Peatbog Faeries – the list really does go on and on.

The Unusual Suspects is the creation of its musical directors Corrina Hewat & David Milligan. They first came up with the idea in the mid 1990’s, but it wasn’t until Glasgow’s Celtic Connections Festival offered them a platform to put their ‘folk-orchestra theory’ into practice, that this monster band became a reality.

On a Sunday afternoon, late in January 2003, thirty-two of Scotland’s finest and most dynamic musicians took to the stage of the main auditorium in Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall as part of the 10th Celtic Connections Festival. No one knew what to expect, (including many of the musicians!) but what followed became the stuff of legend, “they rewrote the book on how folk music should look and sound…” being hailed by The Scotsman newspaper as “one of the top twenty gigs of all time”.

The concert was hailed as the crowning glory of that year’s festival, and with a triumphant return appearance in 2004, a UK tour followed, culminating with two sensational gigs in Edinburgh & Inverness – both recorded and released as their debut album “Live In Scotland“.

Since then… the Unusual Suspects have been nominated for Best Live Act in the Scots trad Music Awards, they’ve performed at festivals throughout the UK, Norway, Croatia, Luxembourg, France and Germany; they were invited to Canada to collaborate with award-winning musician, songwriter and producer Gordie Sampson and a host of musicians at the Celtic Colours Festival in Nova Scotia 2004 and again in 2006; Mike Harding described them as “one of the most exciting bands I’ve ever seen” during the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards; They were the first Scottish band to be invited to perform at a music industry WOMEX showcase; They performed to a crowd of 300,000 at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate as part of Eurofest, and represented Scotland with two headline performances and ten 12-hour days of music showcasing the Year of Scotland at the Lorient Interceltique Festival in Brittany, France.

Recorded in the Main Auditorium of the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, their second release “Big Like This” marked a verdant point in the band’s existence. The album is downloadable via the band’s website: