Rough Island Band Play Special Island Hall Gig

St Agnes’ Rough Island Band are playing this weekend

The popular Rough Island Band are returning to the islands this weekend for a series of gigs.

The band, which was originally formed on St Agnes, will also be playing a special set at the Island Hall on Agnes this evening to raise money for the new, extended Island Hall.

We caught up with band member James Sills during a break in rehearsals. James says the band have been busy catching up as they don’t get much time to get together these days. Only Piers Lewin still lives in Scilly. James lives in Liverpool, with Joe Keelan in Leicester and John Elliot in London.

From Radio Scilly

James Sills talks about the band and their St Agnes gig


Aisling Hick with the background to the Island Hall project

That means they try to cram in as much practice together as they can, although James admits they now use the internet to send music and tracks to each other in the periods between meeting up.

The Rough Island Band mixes a number of different influences although James says it’s mainly folk and acoustic-based. The majority of the music is original, written by the band  and influenced by the scenery and stories of St Agnes and Scilly.

But it’s one of their cover versions that has grabbed the most attention for the band. Their version of Paul Simon’s ‘You Can Call Me Al’, recorded on a freezing Periglis Slip on New Year’s Eve 2010, has just passed 100,000 hits on YouTube.

James said they did it “just for a laugh” and the video sat around on YouTube for months, until an American site picked it up in June. Then the numbers went through the roof.

At one point they had 10,000 hits a day and are still getting messages from people all over the world who enjoyed the track.

James says they like the audience to be part of their performance, both singing along and talking about the stories behind the songs. But he says playing at the Island Hall is special because that’s where the band started and they always get a great response from the crowd there.

Money raised at tonight’s performance will be going towards the estimated £1m cost of the new Island Hall plans and there’ll be pasties and beer on sale. The performance starts at 5pm. Adults £5, children £2.50. They’ll also be playing two gigs on Sunday – at the New Inn at lunchtime and the Old Town Inn in the evening.