A few years back, Stas and I had the good fortune to hear The Bevvy Sisters perform at the St John’s Ambulance hall in Hereford to a small but entranced audience. There is something about harmony vocals that always draws you in closer and there is a special intimacy to this group, such that I didn’t want to the show to end and when it did, I thought we are going to have to make sure they come to Hereford again so that all the people who missed out first time get a chance to hear how brilliant The Bevvy Sisters are.
Formed a decade or so ago, the Scottish group are in many ways a classic sister-act of a kind that can be traced from the Boswell Sisters right through to the Pointer Sisters. The Bevvy’s music envelopes multiple stylings, including jazz and swing, folk and gospel, and they move effortlessly from one to the other, mixing in original numbers ensuring that they are in no way a heritage act but a contemporary take on a much-loved form.
The Bevvy Sisters have had many career highlights. Their debut album St James Sessions was launched with a sold-out show at Glasgow’s world-famous Celtic Connections festival in 2010, Plan B, the group’s second album arrived in 2014 to sold out shows in Edinburgh, Glasgow and London. Besides headline appearances at as many genres of festivals as they cover themselves musically, The Bevvy Sisters have arranged and performed backing vocals with English folk star Eliza Carthy, Scottish super-trio Lau, Eddi Reader and Karine Polwart. Billed as the BVs, they were also part of Dick Gaughan's regular band and were featured on a track with Peggy Seeger in an international project, Lion Rampant, involving iconic fiddler and singer Dave Swarbrick, Jason Wilson and Dick Gaughan. To celebrate their first ten years, The Bevvy Sisters organized two very special shows – one at the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival and the other at Celtic Connections.
Over the years the line-up has undergone some changes but original members Heather Macleod, Gina Rae and David Donnelly ensure the original flame is well tended and now they are joined by another great singer, Louise Murphy, who has shared stages with among others sharing stages with Boy George, Mark Ronson and The Magnets. Special mention should go to ‘sister’ David Donnelly (ex-Salsa Celtica/Finlay Quaye), who frames and underpins the sorority’s sound with brilliantly taut, inventive guitar and mandolin work, plus the odd basso profundo counter-harmony.
That first time I heard the Bevvy’s I was particularly taken with their beautiful rendition of the brilliant titled ‘Frida Kahlo's Visit to the Taybridge Bar’ so introducing me to the music of Scottish songwriter Michael Marra. Here’s the man himself performing the song for your enjoyment, because that’s half the fun of music, making the connections, following paths to discover new artists and new sounds. The Bevvys know this too.