The Bluehorses (also known as The Blue Horses) were a Celtic rock band from Cardiff, Wales, blending a mixture of rock and electric folk, and notable for being fronted by two fiddle players. They built critical acclaim for their live performances and have been described by Allmusic as "one of the roots scene’s most exciting live acts."
The band was formed in 1994 by by singer and multi-instrumentalist
Liz Prendergast, violinist Emily Grainger and drummer Nic Waulker. when they were students at the Welsh College of Music and Drama. Throughout its life from 1994 to 2007, Bluehorses core comprised Prendergast and Waulker, who wrote the bulk of the material. After building a live following and releasing several EPs, the band released their first full-length album, Cracking Leather, Skin and Bone in 1997. The group subsequently received an endorsement from Bridge Instruments, manufacturer of electric violins.
The release of Cracking Leather also brought the band to the attention of David Wheeler, one of the resided directors of the BBC TV show "Top Gear". The result of this meeting was a Live Video from a performance at Clwb Ifor Bach in Cardiff.
Following on the success of Cracking Leather the band went back ffg studios and records the second album - Dragons Milk and Coal albeit with Debra Peake taking over the 2nd fiddle position from Emily Grainger. This album was greeted with great reviews in the press and lead to the first TV appearances.
The follow on album proved much harder to produce and Ten Leagues Beyond the Wild Worlds End came out in 2001 after a couple of false starts. Maybe because of this difficulty, or just the passage of time, but the band subsequently reduced to a quartet, with Nathan Waulker on Bass and Jakey Graupner on guitar. and in 2003 produced the Skyclad EP.
In 2005 a further association with David Wheeler developed into plans to record a festival appearance to release as a DVD. Once more circumstance intervened, Jakey needed to leave, and a panicked call around friends in Cardiff, turned up Jay MacDonnald, who was fast tracked into the line-up for the Saul festival. The Saul Festival DVD provided a catalogue of the best known Bluehorses tracks merged with a couple of new ones that indicated the way to follow.
Fusing the passionate intensity of Celtic themes, a heavy rock and roll mindset and stunning improvisations,
Bluehorses' music is a genuinely unique hybrid. The band's sound originated from Waulker and Prendergast's shared interest in combining medieval with modern styles and while Waulker doesn't actually play any melodic instruments, he wrote or programmed many of the instrumental parts as well as writing the lyrics and piecing most of the tracks together; also producing all their recorded and live material.
It was this combination of the two core members quirky approach with Prendergasts' considerable instrumental skills and Waulker's ear for arrangement that set the scene for the band's sound up to 2007 and the writing of the band's swansong album '13 Fires'. The band had no plans for further recording until Waulker discovered North European folk-metal bands such as Korpiklaani, In Extremo and Subway to Sally on YouTube. A decision was taken to produce one more album and unlike most of their previous output it was Waulker and guitarist Jay MacDonald who jointly
drove the writing and recording process which resulted in a much heavier, guitar driven sound. MacDonald also wrote and played all of the bass parts.
A short UK tour to promote the album in December 2007 had the one-off line-up of Waulker and Prendergast with MacDonald playing bass and Lyn Price (formerly Red Skies of Wild Pussy/ Religion) taking over on guitar.
Price had previously recorded the band's live DVD soundtrack using the multitrack from his Redrock Studio.
Bluehorses have shared stages with bands as diverse as Hawkwind, The Levellers, Tricks Upon Travellers and Oysterband. They have headlined festivals in nearly every country of Western Europe and Scandinavia.
The Bluehorses have received many accolades including a Mojo magazine 'Album of the Month' and a 'Best Of 2005' award from The Classic Rock Society.
The Bluehorses took a sabbatical from performing during 2008.
The Bluehorses have now split up and are pursuing individual projects and interests.