It is difficult to identify where, precisely, Ian Bruce assimilated his stylistic knowledge of the Scottish folk tradition: perhaps from his dad, Pipe Major John Bruce of the London Scottish Regiment; from his older brother with whom he formed the Fraser & Ian Bruce Duo early in his career; perhaps merely from performing and mixing with traditional singers right across every major folk festival, folk club and venue in Scotland, England and Wales over several decades now.
Whatever the source, it cannot be denied that Ian Bruce has emerged one of the great singer / song-writers of the Scottish Folk Movement. He was the obvious choice, alongside Tony Cuffe, Rod Paterson and Billy Ross, to give new impetus to the 12 volume Linn Records series "The Complete Songs of Robert Burns" with his now classic renderings of Ye Jacobites By Name, The Soldier's Return, Lassie Wi The Lintwhite Locks, etc. Linn Records recognised this outstanding achievement with two solo CDs of his own: "Alloway Tales" directly based upon his contributions to the project and "Jigs, Jives and Jacobites" featuring Ian's own compositions.
And that is not the end of it. Recent years have seen his appearance in numerous Concerts of The Jolly Beggars and The Merry Muses (Burns And A That Festival, Ayr); performances of the Burns songs at the Mitchell Theatre, Glasgow, The Lemon Tree, Aberdeen (Rootin Aboot Festival), Dundee Rep Theatre, to name a few, alongside Dr Fred Freeman, Marc Duff, Ian Lowthian, Tony McManus and other stalwarts of the Scottish folk scene. He has made quite a reputation for himself undertaking primary school workshops, on Burns, Ramsay and modern song-writing, throughout East Ayrshire, Dumfries & Galloway and South Lanarkshire.
Through it all he has continued to develop as a song-writer, more than realising the promise of his splendid early compositions Child On The Green, Too Far From She, Gone For The Day, Hungover Morning and more. His recent songs include haunting and compassionate compositions like Sweet Fallen Angels and Brown Eyed Baby.
On stage Ian brings a huge presence which invariably has his audiences singing, laughing and crying. His perennial return bookings to festivals in Towersey, Warwick, Bromyard, Cleckheaton, Bedworth and farther afield are a testimony to his following amongst aficianados of Burns, contemporary folksong and even the better pop songs of the present day.
Ian Bruce made a triumphant return to Nitten Folk Club on 4th January. It was the perfect start to our new year of guest nights. Ian was relaxed and happy. His singing and playing were of the usual high standard we have come to expect from someone who has been on the so successfully for more years than even he would like to contemplate. His rapport with the audience was obvious, enjoying some good natured banter, and responding to a huge number of requests for our favourite songs.
On a freezing winter night he sent everyone home with a song in their heads and warmth in their hearts. Haste ye back, Ian.
JIM WEATHERSTON (Club organiser)
TBH...I had never heard of Ian Bruce until it was suggested to me that he would be the right person to record and produce some of my song's.
Like anyone would do in this situation, I researched Ian to find out what he was all about and I was astonished at his achievements and obvious talents.
We started working together along with my band Sairbanes and right from the start Ian impressed me as a person full of warmth, humour and a great love for music. As a producer he is simply brilliant. He put his everything into our songs suggesting changes and generally keeping us right and I was delighted with the end results. His involvement went further than I'd ever expected and his talent as a fellow singer / songwriter shone like the Sun.
I went along to one of his recent gigs and watched him woo an audience to ecstacy with his wonderful voice and amazing skills. His witty anecdotes in between the great songs were colourful, funny and endearing and the audience, of which I was part, witnessed the scope of Ian Bruce. A fantastic performer and songwriter as well as a total Wizard in the studio. If anyone is fortunate enough to have the opportunity to attend any of Ian's gigs they most certainly won't be disappointed. Likewise anyone fortunate enough to get the chance to work with him in his studio.
Billy McKean (Singer/Songwriter and band member of 'Sairbanes")
Ian Bruce is one of the best known faces on the Scottish folk scene and a wonderful ambassador for the Scottish singer/songwriter genre, all over Europe and beyond.
His voice has strength and accuracy, his guitar playing is excellent and his songs are beautifully crafted. In these days of amazing instrumentalists and controlled, tuneful singers, Ian is very much a performer to be reckoned with, a gem of the scene who presents his songs with raw emotion, backed up by a joyful and interactive relationship with his audience; a quality so often missing in the current folk scene.
Ian McCalman, (The McCalmans) January 2018
I would just like to say how much I enjoy seeing and hearing Ian Bruce. I have been to many gigs and there are never two the same.
I have seen him solo, which is a great way to experience his wit without him having to rely on others. His superb guitar work stands out when he is working alone.
Another plus is that sometimes he just ignores his guitar and sings unaccompanied. this is very special. He can bring so much emotion to his performances and sometimes, I am surprised that he can play for a whole evening, he puts so much into his performances he must be exhausted!
I have also seen him in a duo with his brother, Fraser. This is a totally different kind of performance. There is a lot of sibling banter goes on and lightens some of the darker songs. It is obvious from listening to them that, although their styles are a bit different, they are comfortable working together.
Ian has also been a part of a band with Ian and Moe Walker. This again, is a totally different entity. Both Ians are fantastic song writers and each just seem to compliment each other fantastically. There is real synergy in this band.
There is a much newer entity that Ian has been part of. It is called Auld Hat, New Heids. The idea behind this band is that it goes back to the heyday of folk clubs where the audience is as much a part of the performance as the hired act. This brings back audience participation by sing old favourites which have lots of sing-a-long choruses. Having been to a couple of their gigs...this works! It seems very popular with all who are lucky enough to take part.
Ian's recorded work is some of my favourites. His treatment of the work of Robert Burns is incomparable! His style of changing the rythms that most folk use breathes much more life into the work of our national bard. He makes the understanding of the essential Burns take on new meaning and adds so much to the enjoyment. Nothing tired or staid about Burns when Ian plays it!
All in all I have never been disappointed by Ian Bruce.
MARIANNE DOIG (Leith Folk Club & Wee Folk Club, Edinburgh wrote this on Facebook January 2018
I need to thank you once again for the fantastic house gig you did for me. As you know it was my Xmas present from my partner, I wanted to be surrounded by my friends old and new and be entertained. Not all my friends in attendance were folkies but every single one of them are still sending me messages telling me how much they enjoyed the gig and asking if it’s going to be an annual event or asking where you are playing locally. This is a fond memory that I will always cherish. Thanks once again for an exceptional evening, you read the audience well and satisfied their expectations, a true professional.
All the best, hope to see you soon. GEORGE BOYD wrote on Facebook January 2018
You're a great performer, you're a lovely guy and my life would be significantly diminished had I not met you and not have heard your music xxx
RODDY CLENAGHAN on Facebook 2017
Your music is pristine and beautiful!
LYNN BOLAND RICHARDSON - Fegus Scottish Gathering, Canada
The man with the Rolls Royce voice never gives less than his all. We have been missing you greatly down in Herefordshire.
ROBIN HEMMING on Facebook 2017
I’ve never seen an Ian Bruce gig that was less than great and certainly never saw anything from him where there could have been any consensus that he didn’t put his back into it.
CHARLIE SIVESTRI -
Ian, you are one of the finest and most giving performers that I have ever had the pleasure of witnessing. Authentic and genuine with nae bullshit.
Also, your music makes my heart sing.
CHRISTINE SPARKS on Facebook 2017
........always disappointed when it ends!
A great entertainer with one of the richest voices on the scene Ian. You're a joy to listen to and a pleasure to perform alongside. Shame we don't do it more often.
NEIL KIMBER - Kimber's Men 2017
Our club loves you!
ANNIE MORRIS - Potteries Folk Club, Stoke-on-Trent
Please know that your album The Naked Truth, literally saved my sanity when I was hospitalised at the Priory with severe trauma.. The only album I would listen to at that time, and the lyrics that brought me back to the world of the living.
I owe you, my friend, you have my support forever.
KIRSTEN NIAMH BOLTON on Facebook 2017
You are a heart-centred man who gives all he has!!!!
KAREN SHANLEY on Facebook 2017
You were superb as usual.
MARTYN HILLSTEAD - Teignmouth Folk Festival
You sing like a god!
CERI DEAN on Facebook 2017
You are Briliant with others or alone .. never fail to please... lots love n hugs XOX
TINA MARCH on Facebook 2017
You are a big man with a big heart and a massive talent. Your Burns CD is always a favourite amongst others and you will always be in our top 5 of folk performers. We love you very much. If I had a club, you'd be on the list every year at least!
HILARY LEVAN on Facebook 2017
You, Dick Gaughan and Andy M. Stewart are the voices that are my inspiration and influences. So, thank you and keep keeping on. You're awesome!
PETER DALDRY on Facebook 2017
What's not to love?
ROSS MACFADYEN - Celtic Music Radio
I learned a lot about the art of performing from Ian.
PAUL HUTCHINSON - Belshazzars Feast
His ability and singing voice is second to none !!
You are an AMAZING performer!
DONNA WALKER-KILLEEN - House Concert Organiser, South Carolina and New Hampshire.
You are and always will be a wonderful performer.
Ian has always been one of Sandy’s and my favourite performers, and he has always left the audience wanting more!
SAM AND SANDY SATYANADHAN - Woolston & Burlesdon Folk Club, Southampton
Having done sound for you at a festival I can categorically state that you are an ARTIST of the highest degree and it has been a true pleasure to work for and with you!
KEITH DAVID PARRIS on Facebook 2017
You're a real pro!
SANDRA ROBINSON - LICHFIELD FOLK FESTIVAL
We love him!!!
HARRIS & ALFIE - The house pet dogs.
The way you transmit your songs, just voice and guitar ... is like welding, like CNN, like the first landing on the Moon (or Mars) very unique.
ANDERS MIKKELSEN - Denmark 2017
Thank you a thousand times for a staggering performance last Saturday. How much longer can you keep getting better and better? You certainly captured everyone who was in the audience and Robin and CELT would want me pass on their admiration and thanks.
HUGH DIAMOND - Teignmouth Folk Club, July 2017
The above comments, as you see, are all fairly recent.
Many of the lovely comments from years ago are still appreciated but this is to show that the current performances are very much still up to par....
However Ian has worked with and/or been heavily complimented by many of his contemporaries....Allan Taylor, Jez Lowe, Dave Swarbrick, Peter Knight, Benny Gallagher, Derek Moffatt, Nigel Sture, Maggie Boyle, Nic Jones, Iain Fraser, Ian Lowthian, Belshazzar’s Feast, The McCalmans, Matt Molloy, Cilla and Artie, Archie Fisher, Roy Bailey, Doug Bailey, Calum Malcolm, Isla St. Clair, Maddy Prior, Ronnie Browne, Paddie Bell, Dick Gaughan, Brian McNeill, Tony McManus, Dougie Pincock, Hannes Wader .... the list goes on......