Artist Profiles: Brian McNeill

Brian McNeill – Photo by Jacqueline France

Brian McNeill was born in Falkirk, Scotland, in 195. He began his musical training in his early teens with formal violin lessons, but soon forsook that instrument for the electric guitar. A comprehensive musical education and a mildly misspent youth were the result – until his student years brought him to Celtic music. He knew immediately that this was a music he had to play and as a direct consequence, in 1969 he picked up his fiddle again and formed The Battlefield Band, which has since become one of Scotland’s best-known ensembles.

In the last few years he has toured extensively with the eight-strong Scottish supergroup Clan Alba, with his old friend Iain MacKintosh, with the Scottish-Irish line-up of Kavana, McNeill, Lynch and Lupari and with Ireland’s Martin Hayes and Cape Breton’s Natalie MacMaster in the highly rated US Celtic Fiddle Festival series. The success of the landmark Scots Women concert at Celtic Connections, of which he was musical director, and his recent appointment as Head of Scottish Music at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow, have reinforced Brian’s position as one of today’s great forces in Scotland’s music.

Brian is a multi instrumentalist who plays fiddle, bouzouki, mandocello, guitars and concertina.

Discography with Battlefield Band

Battlefield Band (1977)
At the Front (Temple Records, 1978)
Stand Easy (Temple Records, 1979)
Preview (Temple Records, 198)
Home is Where the Van Is (Temple Records, 198)
The Story So Far (Temple Records, 1982)
There’s a Buzz (Temple Records, 1982)
Anthem for the Common Man (Temple Records, 1984)
On the Rise (Temple Records, 1986)
Music in Trust Vol 1 (Temple Records, 1986)
After Hours: Forward to Scotland’s Past (1987)
Celtic Hotel (Temple Records, 1987)
Music in Trust Vol 2 (1988)
Home Ground – Live From Scotland (1989)
New Spring (Temple Records, 1991)
Quiet Days (Temple Records, 1992)
Opening Moves (Topic Records, 1993)
Farewell to Nova Scotia (Escalibur, 1996)
Threads (Temple Records, 1995)
Across the Borders (Temple Records, 1997)
Live Celtic Folk Music (Munich, 1998)

Solo albums:

Monksgate (1978)
Unstrung Hero (Greentrax, 1985)
The Busker and the Devil’s Only daughter (Temple Records, 1985)
The Back O’ The North Wind (1991)
Horses for Courses, with Tom McDonagh (Greentrax, 1994)
No Gods (Greentrax, 1995)
Stage By Stage, with Iain MacKintosh (1995)
To Answer the Peacock (1999)
Live and Kicking, with Iain MacKintosh (2000)
The Baltic tae Byzantium (2009)
The Crew o’ the Copenhagen, with Drones & Bellows (2010)
The Falkirk Music Pot (2015)

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music and progressive music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music and electronic music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World, Lektronic Soundscapes, and Mindchild Records. Angel is currently based in Durham, North Carolina.

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