Polwart on the road again after two years

Comissioned Image take by Eamonn McGoldrick Tel: 07810 482491
Comissioned Image take by Eamonn McGoldrick Tel: 07810 482491
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IT is about two years since Karine Polwart last performed in the Borders, and in that time her life has vastly changed.

Now living near Soutra on the border between the Borders and Midlothian, the former BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards winner had a baby girl, Rosa, last year to join three-year-old Arlo.

And while the 40-year-old once sought to built her profile, she is now content to put family first.

Karine will undertake a 12-date tour, including an appearance at Langholm’s Buccleuch Centre on Friday, April 1, alongside regular sidekicks Steven Polwart – her brother – and Inge Thomson.

Karine explained how she tried, and failed to an extent, to keep it close to home.

Karine told TheSouthern: “All of us in the trio have children so it was never going to be three weeks of boozing on the road. It is a bit late in our lives to be starting that now!

“But I will be able to go home after the gigs in Langholm and Livingston which is good.

“I said I only wanted to do gigs quite close to home. But the person who sets them up lives in London so places like Barnsley seem close to Edinburgh to him. “I was thinking more of Dunbar or the Borders!

“Having children changes everything. I used to be very driven, and would be happy to go up and down the country looking for radio interviews and gigs.”

New material will feature on the tour, but a fifth album – probably recorded at Heriot’s Toun Studio where Karine teamed up with folk trio Lau last year for an EP – will not be brought out until 2012.

Well known for writing songs about current affairs, from genocide to sex-trafficking, Karine says her lyrical focus has become more personal.

“Having young children does change the way you write,” she said. “I have found myself writing about things that are a lot closer to home.

“I have written a song about an old neighbour and am interested at looking at people that are personal to me.

“I have always had an interest in politics but I didn’t write about wider issues to appeal to more people.

“It was something that was part of me, observing what was going on in the world.”

Having lived at Elibank near Walkerburn and at Oxton, Karine, who helped co-write Roddy Woomble’s well received debut album, believes the Borders helped rather than hindered her writing.

She said: “It is a fantastic place for songwriting because it is so beautiful but the logistics of living there made it not ideal for raising children.

“I couldn’t drive and I had to have a word with myself when I was walking three miles to Walkerburn with my guitar to get the bus.

“Most gigs for a folk musician are in England, so in that sense it is useful living in the Borders, and I understand why the area has so many artists and musicians because of the peace and space.”

Following her appearance at Langholm, Karine will return to the southern Borders for a trip to Newcastleton Primary School for six Scots songwriting classes at the end of May.

She added: “I used to write in Scots before I turned to writing in English so it will be nice to go back to it.”

Tickets for Karine Polwart’s Langholm gig are priced at £13.50 (£12 concessions), and it starts at 7.30pm. Phone 01387 381196 for more details.