The Battlefield Band

I thought that I would write my first post on the Battlefield Band, a Scottish folk group whose music I enjoy. As somebody who likes to listen to both traditional folk songs and fiddle tunes, as well as music written by new songwriters, I like the Battlefield Band because they play both original compositions and traditional music. Those of you who have read the Robert Burns post below might be interested to know that they have also composed tunes to some Robert Burns poems.


The current Battlefield Band. (photo from

The Battlefield Band was foundedin 1969 in Battlefield, outside Glasgow, although the lineup of musicians has changed since then. Currently, it includes Sean O’Donnell (voice/guitar), Ewen Henderson (fiddle/bagpipes/whistles/piano/voice), Alasdair White (fiddle/whistle/bazouki/highland and small pipes), and Mike Katz (highland and small pipes/whistles/bass guitar/guitar). When I saw them in the United States in 2009 and 2010, the last original member of the band, Alan Reid, was still with them, and Henderson had not yet joined.

I’ve listened to three different albums from this group, and my favorite thus far is called The Road of Tears. The Road of Tears is focused on songs of immigration and emigration, whether that be forced or voluntary. As the album’s webpage says, it includes music and song, contemporary and traditional that show how the issue of ‘Immigration’ has always been as relevant as it is today.”

The title track, written by Alan Reid, has verses commemorating the highland clearances in Scotland, the Irish coffin ships, the Cherokee Trail of Tears, and the displacement of people due to war, especially US invastions. A recording of the band singing the song is here:

Another song on the album is a version of Robert Burns’ poem “To a Mouse”:

A third song on the album I thought would be worth mentioning is “The Emigrant”, a traditional song told from the perspective of an Irish emigrant to the United States who gained his citizenship but lost his leg fighting for the union in the Civil War. Unfortunately, I was unable to find a youtube link for that one.

“Be at a hush, boys. Take my advice.

To America I’ll have yous not be coming.

For there’s nothing here but war, where the murderous cannons roar,

and I wish I’d stayed at home in dear old Ireland.”

The album also contains many instrumental tracks, both traditional and contemporary. I was unable to find full recordings of many of the tracks, but you can check the album out on itunes.

More links: (the band’s webpage) (The Road of Tears webpage)

One thought on “The Battlefield Band

  1. Morgana,

    Thanks for sharing- I’ll definitely be downloading some of their songs. Have you heard anything by Natalie MacMaster? She’s an excellent fiddle player from Nova Scotia who plays a lot of reels. I’m not sure if she’s still touring, but I went to a few of her concerts in my dancing days as a kid and think you may like her music!


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