HE is one of the traditional music scene’s best known artists, he’s played with some of the biggest names in folk and he’s a member of two of the country’s trailblazing supergroups – so it is something of a surprise that Innes Watson has only now released his first solo album – Guitar Colloquium. It has been a long time coming.

However, the extended gestation period has allowed Watson the time to fully explore a range of styles and the result is a record of deep personality brimming with genre-hopping magnificence.

For Watson, a multi-instrumentalist and fiddler with the legendary Croft No 5 and Treacherous Orchestra, the decision to make a guitar album was an organic one.

“It’s taken me about 10 years of playing with other people to pluck up the courage to do it,” says Watson. “And I’m glad I’ve done it this way, to be honest.

“The project was originally a New Voices project (for Celtic Connections) and I’d been writing some stuff round about that time and I just thought I’d use the project to test some solo material with as big a band as I could possibly imagine. So that was in 2011 and I only recently got the opportunity to put it together as an album.

“I’d written most of the music for New Voices on guitar and at that point I was very much a guitarist, but I really wanted to get away from the accompaniment side of things.

“It wasn’t really my intention to write a solo album, I just really wanted to get that project recorded. I am still writing fiddle tunes and I have a fiddle album ready to go – but all in due course …”

As with many traditional artists, money was an issue. Watson applied for funding for the project but, after being turned down, decided eventually to try and raise cash via an indiegogo crowdfunder.

“I waited about for a while, did a few funding applications which were unsuccessful and then eventually just went ahead and did it,” says Watson. “Since 2011 enough people had asked when the album was coming out I thought ‘if they all buy it I can probably afford to make it’. I wanted to do it properly – and pay everyone properly as it’s quite a big album to record, timewise, so I was able to raise almost £10,000. I was quite shocked it went that high.

“As soon as I launched the campaign I had a severe dose of critical self-doubt. I battled with that for a couple of weeks but by that time I had already gotten a team together who believed in it and they all helped by promoting the campaign. I was very much humbled by the level of support I received.”

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GUITAR Colloquium has certainly repaid donors’ faith in Watson. It is a delight throughout and, while it is a solo album in that the compositions are Watson’s, he is joined by some of the finest musicians in the country. Ali Hutton, on guitar rather than pipes, Duncan Lyall, Mike Vass, Patsy Reid and Chas MacKenzie to name but a few. Collaboration has always been a feature of Watson’s work and it is something he clearly enjoys.

He remains busy with a variety of projects, while also continuing to teach at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

“The string stuff that’s on the album is stuff that I have written for a quartet of my own – the Innotet as it’s been called – and Innotet is another project that I’d love to work with doing more of my own stuff. Innotet is myself on fiddle, or I guess violin in this instance, Patsy Reid on viola and violin, Seonaid Aitken on first violin and Alice Allen on cello. It’s another avenue of possibility.

“I asked them all if they’d like to do the album and also if they’d like to do other stuff and they said yes. Now I’m fortunate enough to have my own string quartet. I’m very grateful.”

With one of Watson’s other chief commitments, Treacherous Orchestra, enjoying something of a sabbatical he has been able to find time to work with a swathe of other artists.

“With Treacherous being in hiatus we’re all doing other things just now,” says Watson. “I play guitar with a lot of different projects as well. I was just involved in Mairi Campbell’s Pendulum band recently, which was a lovey project to be part of.

“I’m also in Jarlath Henderson’s band so I’ll be going to the States with him soon. We’ve just finished an album of Jarlath’s – a more tune-based album this time with just a couple of songs. It’s sounding really good.”

Watson began playing as a youngster in the Borders where his parents sang and where his father played guitar.

“My father placed a guitar in my hands when I was about four,” says Watson. “We were always singing in the house and music was always a thing we did. We had a few families around us who also played and they had children around the same age so we formed the Small Hall Band, which is still going today I believe.

“I then went on to Plockton (the National Centre of Excellence in Traditional Music) for my sixth year. Luckily, I then got into the RCS, or the RSAMD as it was then. It was either there or the Newcastle folk degree as that’s all there was then. So I headed to Glasgow and that was me, I’ve never left.”

WATSON’S long-awaited solo offering is testament to almost two decades in the business. He is a genuine multi-instrumentalist who is able to fuse genres and styles with skill and verve. He is also, of course, part of perhaps the most influential Scottish folk band of this century, Croft No 5.

The band reformed last year for two concerts – one at Celtic Connections and one in Glenelg – and they followed that up with a joyfully energetic appearance at the Trad Awards in December. Is there more to come from the band who split up in 2006?

“We’re all living in this country again and we’re all still pals so there are some gigs in the pipeline,” says Watson. “It’s similar to Treacherous. There’s a lot of the same people who have been involved in both bands and it’s one of those things that just exists so it’s there at hand if anyone wants it.”

For the moment, however, Watson’s focus will continue to flit between his solo work, his fiddle album and his collaborations. He remains a man very much in demand.

Innes Watson is at Feis Rois on June 22/23. For more info go to www.inneswatson.co.uk