They cut their teeth in the bars of Inverclyde but when The Laurettes landed in New York last year they left with a big bite of the Big Apple.

“There was a group of Highland dancers who had prepared a choreographed dance to one of ours songs,” says Lauren O’Donoghue, one of the band’s frontwomen, recalling their debut at the annual Tartan Week Manhattan hoolie. “When we performed Homebird they started doing their dance. It was incredible. We were playing in the middle of New York and here were these dancers doing a choreographed performance to one of our songs. We couldn’t believe what was going on.”

The four piece from the towns of Wemyss Bay and Gourock will return Stateside next week as part of the New York Scotiaphilia weekend, with gigs scheduled for Bryant Park on the day of the annual parade up 6th Avenue, and Alan Cumming’s (below) cabaret bar, Club Cumming.

As the months of 2024 go by, the high-water line increases for the all-female band from the tail of the bank, whose brand of Celtic-folk rock is gathering a formidable head of steam.

The National: Cumming appeared on the show on Sunday morning

They began the year with a performance at the bells on STV’s Hogmanay Show, have performed several times at Murrayfield during the Six Nations and launched their debut album Meet Me At The Mainstage, with a gig at Glasgow’s HMV this month. They’ve topped the Apple Music singles chart and Amazon download charts and will head to the Alps at the end of the month, playing at an end-of-season festival at Les Gets with the Ellie Souter Fund in memory of the tragic athlete. Half of 2024 will be spent on the road at festivals up and down the UK.

READ MORE: The Laurettes rock up from Inverclyde to make waves in New York City

Along with the likes of Peat and Diesel and Tidelines, The Laurettes are the latest act with their roots in Celtic traditions to challenge the genre boundaries, landing their hooky, earnest folk-rock into a space which might once have been considered music’s mainstream.

O’Donoghue learned to play guitar with her dad, earning her chord-pads playing Tracy Chapman and The Animals. She and fellow vocalist Lynette Beaton had been gigging around the pubs of their hometowns as teenagers when they came together for a night in the former Monteith’s Bar in Gourock.

The National:

“I was playing with older bands like The Gaels, who had long played the local music scene here,” says Beaton, who grew up on a family diet of Rod Stewart, Springsteen and The Beatles. “I loved it but needed someone my own age on my page with the music I like. One of my pals mentioned Lauren had started gigging and that I should give her a shout. So we did that. We got together for a jam then did a gig together in Monty’s.”

It was this night and on-the-spot invention of the pub’s late landlord that led to the band’s portmanteau moniker.  “The guy who ran the bar, Alan Sandison, asked what our name was. We hadn’t even come up with one at that stage, but he was quick-witted and introduced us as the Laurettes. We thought that was really good.” The band, which includes Ari Loughlin on bass and a roster of four alternating drummers, recorded Meet Me At The Mainstage with producer Keith Morrison, the first full album to be minted at his Wee Studio in Stornoway, last year.

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Their tunes are open-hearted foot-tappers, evoking the sound and spirit of a Western Isles session reaching its crescendo, maybe half an hour before closing time. Among the 12 songs on the record is the tune Dopamine, which is perhaps The Laurettes’ most straightforward manifesto. 

“We want to get audiences involved in our gigs. It’s important to us we’re not being self-indulgent. We want it to be a collective thing, something people get something out of together. That’s why I want to be in a band rather than performing by myself; you get so much more out of it. People are important.” O’Donoghue adds: “We love being at gigs ourselves and we know how we want people in the crowd to feel about being at one of ours. So we try to make it as fun as possible.”

Meet Me At The Mainstage is out now on Wee Studio Records. The Laurettes play  the American Scottish Foundation Burns Supper Club on April 4, Club Cumming on April 5, and Bryant Park on April 7 and support Skerryvore on April 20 at Dunoon’s Queen’s Hall.