ROOT AND BRANCH

The backstory

In an Irish pub in Istanbul, things were quiet. It wasn't yet time to open the doors to the evening's revellers, clad in faux-felt green hats and grasping for overpriced stout.

In the lobby of the hotel attached to the pub, Stuart Graham was sat in a corner nursing a pint. A door opened and a warm breeze wafted in, accompanied by the smells of cardamom and rosin. Ewan Macdonald had arrived, fiddle in hand. He nodded silently at Graham, who gave a look in return that told Macdonald one thing: hold your horses - I need to change my bouzouki strings.

In the street outside, two men were bumbling down the road and attracting curious looks from passers-by. Nathan Bontrager, a lank American obsessed with the possibility of fusing banjos and boy bands, was roaming the city with Simon Voigt, a lean German who was more concerned with where he was going to get his next sugary pudding. The owners of Istanbul's pudding shops were looking forward to a profitable few days.

Meanwhile, Jess Whelligan and Chris Jones were heading back from the local shops to the hotel lobby. They thought they were going to sit down and plough their way through half a kilogram of olives whilst working out how to comprehend the intricacies of relative minor keys. Destiny had other plans.

Something sat heavy in the air, something greater than the weight of four days of reused underpants. Exactly what it was remains unknown, and in any case it's besides the point.

The group of six met in the hotel, their immediate suspicion of one another soon tempered by the realisation that they greatly enjoyed playing music together. Along with a weird and wonderful group of other musicians they went on a trip. From Istanbul to the occupied territory of Diyarbakir, the green rolling hills of Iraqi Kurdistan, villages in eastern Turkey buried under snow and ice, and into Georgia, where they drowned in a disturbingly drinkable paint stripper known as cha-cha and made an unexpected appearance on national morning television.

Since then the band, in a variety of forms, have continued to play the music of England, Ireland, Scotland, the United States and elsewhere to anyone who will listen, in a variety of weird and wonderful places across Europe. The Turkish resturants of Cologne, the streets of Amsterdam, the beer gardens of Munich, the sea organs of Croatia and the boulevards of Barcelona, amongst other places. Nowhere is safe. If you would like us to play for you, send us an email.