HELENSBURGH folk musician Eilidh Steel says she can’t wait to kick off her spring tour next month with stage partner Mark Neal, despite admitting to feeling the pressure ahead of her hometown gig.

The pair are pencilled in to play at the Tower Digital Arts Centre on Saturday, April 13, two weeks after opening a seven-leg series of shows in London.

And Eilidh told the Advertiser that while she is excited, the prospect of performing in front of a home crowd is slightly unnerving too.

“It’s always a bit daunting playing in your hometown,” she said.

“I always want to play well but when you look around and see people you know, friends, family, previous music and school teachers it’s both lovely to see them there and nerve-racking too.

“I’m not a confident person, a lot of musicians aren’t – even though you can get up on stage and play, it’s performing, like an actor acts a role – you can be someone else for a while and it feels natural when you are lost in it, but if you feel a bit more nervous you can find your mind battling itself until you settle in to the performance.

“The Tower is such a great venue and we’re looking forward to having a good crowd there again.”

Eilidh specialises in playing the fiddle and is a self-confessed “tune geek”, while guitarist and singer-songwriter Mark, originally from East Kilbride, has been playing various instruments since the age of five.

The duo are once again heading to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August for two concerts as part of a busy schedule for the rest of the year.

Eilidh added: “The Fringe is like nothing else we play at, there’s around 4,000 shows on at once so there’s always the worry that you won’t get much of an audience, and everything is fast paced.

“Last year, there were four people at one of our shows from Germany and I jokingly said it was nice they had come all the way to Edinburgh to see us, to which they told us they had – they had come across our music on Spotify and wanted to hear us live, so they looked up our concert dates and planned their trip around it, which was lovely to hear!”

As well as travelling to Dunfermline, Glencoe, Inverness and Glasgow on their spring tour, Eilidh and Mark hope to take in some European venues later in the year, however, the current Brexit situation is posing a possible barrier to those ambitions.

Despite the potential setback, the traditional musicians still have big plans for the remainder of 2019.

Eilidh said: “We have plans of touring in Switzerland and Germany but sadly like many musicians, we are unsure as to what is possible until it’s clear how Brexit will affect touring and we will possibly need visas for each country if there isn’t a freedom of movement for musicians.

“So things are a bit up in the air at the moment for that.

“We’re looking forward to getting back into the studio to record our next album.

“In February I started a new online tune learning platform called ‘Tune Tuesday with Eilidh Steel’ and so I’m also kept busy filming videos for that.

“The community is really starting to grow and I hope it will continue to build and have even more people enjoying playing Scottish music.”

Visit eilidhandmark.com for ticket details.