DON'T tell folk legend Mike Heron to break a leg before he goes onstage at Oran Mor – because he's already broken an arm

The former Incredible String Band member is back in Glasgow to play with local folk rockers Trembling Bells, having debuted their latest collaboration, The Circle Is Unbroken, at Celtic Connections earlier this year.

But after the first gig of their current tour Mike crocked himself.

"It was one of those cracks in the pavement, and I just caught it and fell," he explains.

"I went to hospital, where they re-set my arm so I can get a couple of gigs done, and now they've wired a couple of the bones together. All it's got to do is heal now."

Yet the 70-year-old, whose music has influenced many acts, reckons the break has delivered an unexpected benefit to the band.

"There were a few teething problems when we started [in January] but we're slicker now," he explains.

"What's happened is that with the broken arm I can concentrate on my singing over the guitar playing, and I don't think they really need me playing.

"In a way it's better with me just sitting back and letting the band play, rather than me struggling to tune my guitar. It's not the way I'd have chosen to get there, though."

This show has been in the making for the past few years, since Mike first met the Bells at a tribute concert to his old group in London in 2009.

After hitting it off they went on to perform together but on shared bills, whereas this latest team-up sees Mike, along with members of his own group, join the Bells as one unit, playing String Band material and Bells' songs too.

"It's a very good band, they can tackle the trickier String Band numbers that I wouldn't be able to play with a smaller group," says Mike.

"Their music is lovely, I really liked their first album. I very much see some parallels [between the Bells and the ISB].

"They are more folk-rocky than we ever were, whereas we brought in other styles more, although they can do that too."

The Incredible String Band was capable of many a style in their time together, from the mid 1960s through until 1974, and started out as the house band at Clive's Incredible Folk Club on Sauchiehall Street.

Their psychedelic folk inspired many devoted followers, including Robert Plant, who claimed they were a large influence on Led Zeppelin, but there was regularly tension between Mike and the group's other main force, Robin Williamson.

Despite classic records like The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter, the band called it a day in 1974.

Years later Mike, originally from Edinburgh, believes it was the right call.

"We had run out of time," he explains.

"We ended in 1974 but by that point we were doing huge shows and it was the sort of sizes that you'd get U2 or Madonna doing now.

"We couldn't have kept doing that much longer, we'd lost that intimacy at gigs and we'd done all we could musically."

Given the group's status as musical trendsetters, it's no surprise that Mike's full of praise for Glasgow's own Celtic Connections festival.

While some folk purists have raised an eyebrow at the amount of world music acts appearing at it, Mike believes that merely continues a long-standing tradition.

"I talk to people who don't really understand that back in the 50s and 60s you'd have [Indian sitar player] Ravi Shankar playing Edinburgh every year," he says.

"So there is a big tradition of bringing music to Scotland from other cultures. You had Chris Barber [English jazz musician] bringing obscure blues artists to the UK. There's a cultural exchange here."

In addition to his work with the Bells, Mike continues to play with his own group, which includes his daughter Georgia. He's content with his lot, and happy to see what comes next.

"After these gigs I don't know what's coming up, it's quite exciting like that," he adds.

"I just take things as they come. I'm not burning with ambition anymore.

"If it's interesting, I do tend to get swept away with it though."

n Mike Heron & Trembling Bells, Oran Mor, Friday, August 2, £15, 7.30pm