Tag Archives: Scotland

Artist Profiles: Mick West

Mick West

Mick West is a singer of traditional Scottish music and is considered by many to be one of the finest interpreters of traditional song, attracting worldwide critical acclaim. Mick has toured far and wide, including Russia and Japan, but it is in his hometown of Glasgow where he has been a key figure for many years in putting and keeping folk music on the map.

A lover of song since he was a child, when he sang in the church choir and round Scout campfires, it was after a move from Glasgow to Boscastle in Cornwall as a teenager, however, that his love of folk music was kindled. There he listened to local farmers singing their traditional songs. On return to Glasgow as a lad of 19 years, Mick’s interest in Scottish folk song led to him forming his first band – Molindinar.

He was also responsible for starting the Partick Folk Club in Glasgow’s West End in 2002, still going strong to this day, and he is also the man behind the annual Partick Folk Festival. Mick teaches at Plockton School of Musical Excellence and Traditional Music, where he is traditional song tutor.

Mick also has a great fondness for traditional Irish songs and is equally at home singing these. He is a versatile performer, who just loves to sing, whether it be as a solo artist or with the Mick West Band. The 2009 band line up includes the very highly respected musicians: Fraser Fifield (sax, whistles & percussion), Stevie Lawrence (bouzouki), Frank MacLaughlin (guitar) and Ali Hutton (pipes, whistle, bodhran & guitar).

Additional musicians called in for the recording are: Mario Caribe (double bass), Kerry Fettes (vocals), Graeme Stephen (electric & acoustic guitar), Torhild Ostad (vocals) and Lillebjorn Nilsen (Hardanger fiddle).

In 2009 he recorded his first album for Greentrax, titled Sark O’ Snaw (CDTRAX 344). The songs on Sark O’ Snaw are all traditional and include ‘The Gairdner Chiel’, ‘Matt Highland,’ ‘Chylde Owlett,’ ‘Kelvin’s Purling Stream,’ ‘Kringsatt Av Fiender’ (Face the Foe), ‘The Well Below The Valley,’ ‘Tail Toddle,’ ‘Bloody Waterloo’ and ‘The Rambling Sailor.’ The album was produced, recorded and mixed by Fraser Fifield and mastered by Calum Malcolm.

Discography

* Fine Flowers And Foolish Glances (KRL/Lochshore CDLDL 1229, 1995)
* The Right Side O’ The People (KRL/Lochshore CDLDL1262, 1997)
* A Poor Man’s Labour (Claytara Records, 2004)
* Sark O’ Snaw (Greentrax CDTRAX 344, 2009)

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Artist profiles: Marc Duff

Marc Duff – Photo courtesy of Iain Thomson Band

Born in Ontario, Canada and raised in Argyll Marc Duff co-founded the Celtic band Capercaillie with whom he has toured extensively and made many successful recordings. His time spent at the Guildhall School of Music has given him an eclectic taste in music and a distinct style of playing which has kept him in demand as a session musician and a teacher.

Since leaving Capercaillie in 1995 to pursue his own career, he has worked with many prominent artists, such as Def Shepherd, Fish, Iain Morrison, Dick Gaughan, Billy Bragg, Iain Thomson, and Wolfstone, playing low D whistle, bodhran, bouzouki and wind synthesizer.

In addition to his work as a musician, Marc is also a researcher and teacher.

Discography

* Cascade (Etive Records ERLP 333, 1984)
* Crosswinds (Green Linnet, 1987)
* Sidewaulk (Green Linnet, 1989)
* Delirium (BMG UK in Europe, Green Linnet in USA, 1991)
* Get Out (BMG UK in Europe, Green Linnet in USA, 1992)
* Secret People (Survival Records/BMG SURCD 017/Green Linnet in USA, 1993)
* Capercaillie (Survival Records SURCD 018, 1994)

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Artist Profiles: Julie Fowlis

Julie Fowlis – Photo by Ashley Coombs

Julie Fowlis grew up in North Uist, a small island in the Hebrides, in a Gaelic speaking community, and has been involved in singing, piping and dancing since she was a tot. She is a member of the successful Scottish sextet, Dochas, who were voted winners of Best Newcomer Award at the Scots Trad Music Awards 2004. Having toured extensively, and after releasing two albums, Dochas are widely considered as one of the most exciting and dynamic young bands in Scotland today.

In 2005, Julie released her debut solo album, Mar a Tha Mo Chridhe (As My Heart Is), which immediately launched her music career into an exciting new direction. She was named Gaelic Singer of the Year at the 2005 Scottish Traditional Music awards and was nominated for the BBC Radio 2 Folk Horizon Award.

Her good nature, natural charm and energy on the stage makes her a popular performer, and this is evident in her busy touring schedule, which included a prestigious Showcase concert at the Cambridge Folk Festival in 2005, Julie being the first ever Gaelic artist to perform at a Showcase slot.

Before any of this, Julie was already quietly making a name for herself as soloist. In 2003, she was invited to be part of a special project Gluaiseachd a Chuain Siar which showcased singers such as Maighread and Triona Nic Dhomhnaill, Alyth McCormack, Mary Jane Lamond, Mary Smith and Julie Murphy.

She was also selected as part of the Celtic Connections ‘Master and Apprentice’ series, where she performed with Arthur Cormack. Julie’s reputation as a singer was confirmed when she was named Winner of the prestigious Pan-Celtic Sean-Nos singing competition in 2004, which took place in Tralee, Ireland.

As well as appearing on numerous Gaelic Television Programs such as Tacsi, Failte, An t-Urlar Ur, Air an Urlar, Ceol, Ceilraidh and D? a-nis, Julie has also been involved in numerous musical commissions – three by Mark Sheridan, The Curve of the Earth (performed at Celtic Connections 2002 and the Festival Interceltique de Lorient 2002), The Evangelists, which has been performed three times since 2002 and When They Lay Bare, an Opera Ballad which was performed over three nights in the Tramway Theatre at Celtic Connections 2003.

She was also involved in Maggie’s MacInnes’ Commission, A Woman’s Song in 2004 and in the musical settings of Sunset Song and Cloud Howe by Wendy Wetherby in 2004 and 2005.

Discography

* Dòchas, with Dòchas (2002)
* An Darna Umhail, with Dòchas (2005)
* Mar a Tha Mo Chridhe (Spit & Polish, 2005)
* Cuilidh (Spit & Polish, 2007)
* Dual, with Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh (Machair Records, 2008)
* Uam (Spit & Polish, 2010)
* Live at Perthshire Amber (2011)
* Gach sgeul – Every story (2014)

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Artist Profiles: Ian Hardie

Ian Hardie

Born in Edinburgh (Scotland), Ian Hardie lived in Nairn (northeast of Inverness). Ian Hardie earned a great reputation not only as an exceptional fiddle player but also as a creative composer and bassist. He was a member of notable Scottish bands such as Jock Tamson’s Bairns and Highland Connection.

Ian was well-known as a composer with several albums and three tune books of own composition since 1986. Numerous other artists play and have recorded his tunes.

Ian Hardie was editor of The Nineties Collection, a signature volume of new traditional-style composition in Scotland in the 1990s, Ian Hardie was also integral to the two recordings featuring tunes from the Collection as well as touring the music with the five-piece version of The Ghillies.

Inspired by his exposure to Appalachian music and dance while performing at the 2003 Smithsonian Folklife Festival, Ian Hardie traveled extensively to The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina and Virginia in 2005 and 2006 to immerse himself in the music and culture of the old time community. The result is an album titled Westringing that features newly composed melodies as well as tunes from Shetland, the Highland bagpipe repertoire and his own fiddle pibroch.

Westringing was a significant, new direction for Ian Hardie after over 35 years of involvement in the Scottish Folk scene.

For many years, Ian Hardie combined music with full time (then part time) practice as a lawyer but in 2001 he became exclusively involved in music and enjoyment of the many benefits of life in the Scottish Highlands from his seaside home in Nairn.

During his last years, he was mostly involved in playing for dance with top Edinburgh ceilidh band The Occasionals and Highland reels and ceilidh trio The Ghillies – with Duncan MacGillivray and Andy Thorburn – plus some duo work with Duncan.

Ian Hardie passed away in October 2012 from a brain tumor.

Discography

* Sandy Bells Ceilidh, with Bell’s Big Ceilidh Band (1977)
* Jock Tamson’s Bairn, with Jock Tamson’s Bairn (1980)
* The Lasses Fashion, with Jock Tamson’s Bairn (1982)
* A Breath of Fresh Airs (Greentrax, 1986)
* A Breath of Fresher Airs (Greentrax, 1992)
* Gaining Ground, with Highland Connection (Greentrax, 1994)
* A’ Jock Tamson’s Bairns (Greentrax CDTRAX 112, 1996)
* Nineties Collection Vol. 2, with The Ghillies (1997)
* http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0000062AK?ieUTF8&tag=musidelmund-20&linkCo=dexm2&camp1789&creativeASINB0000062AK | The Spider’s Web, with Andy Thorburn (1998)
* Live At the Music Hall, Aberdeen, with The Occasionals (1999)
* May you Never Lack a Scone, with Jock Tamson’s Bairns (2001)
* Reel of Four, with The Occasionals (2004)
* Rare, with Jock Tamson’s Bairns (2005)
* Down to the Hall, with The Occasionals (2006)
* Westringing (2007)
* Birling, with The Occasionals (2012)

Publications

* A Breath of Fresh Airs, 54 Original Tunes (1986)
* A Breath of Fresher Airs, 56 Original Tunes (1991)
* The Spider’s Web, 84 Original Tunes (1998)
* The Nineties Collection, as Editor (1995)

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Artist Profiles: Ailie Robertson

Ailie Robertson

Ailie Robertson is a musician in the broadest sense: composer, arranger, teacher, improviser and harp virtuoso.

Ailie grew up in Edinburgh, Scotland, and was immersed in the harp world from an early age. Through her piano and clarsach lessons she developed a love for both classical and traditional music, and in 2005 gained a 1stclass MA in Irish Music Performance from the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance.

At 23 years old, she already had some of the most impressive credentials in the Scottish harp world. A 4time National Mod Gold Medalist, she was also 1st prizewinner at the inaugural London Harp Competition, and best overall musician at the Edinburgh Competition Festival.

She has represented Commun na Clarsach for Scotland at the Pan Celtic Festival in Ireland, and in 2005 she was awarded a scholarship from the ESU in recognition of her ‘virtuosic clarsach playing’, and was a winner of the St Albans New Roots award. She played in the Scottish Harp Orchestra, Na Clarsairean for many years, performing with them at two World Harp Congresses in Seattle and Prague.

Since graduating in 2006, Ailie has been going from strength to strength as a professional musician and has steadily gained recognition as a performer and composer. She works as a soloist for Yehudi Menuhin’s Live Music Now! program, and has given recitals at events all over Scotland, including performing for the British Queen, and being invited to give a private concert to the Lord High Commissioner and his guests.

She has played alongside many great Irish and Scottish musicians and has supported BBC award winner Karine Polwart. Notable festival appearances include Sidmouth, Cornwall, Whitby, The Edinburgh International Harp Festival, St Albans and many others.

When she is not in the studio or on the road, Ailie is a much sought after teacher around the UK and Ireland. She has taught at various festivals, was cofounder and director of the highly successful Borders Harp Weekend and tutors regularly for Feisean nan Gaidheal, as well as teaching privately and in several schools.

She released her first album with her band The Outside Track on the Bedspring Music label.

On her album Traditional Spirits she is joined by Patsy Reid on fiddles, Adam Sutherland on fiddle, Fraser Fifield on whistles and saxophone, James Ross on piano, Mattie Foulds on percussion, Conrad Molleson on double bass, and Tom Oakes on guitar.

The Little Lights CD features Scottish, Irish, Quebecois and original compositions arranged for Celtic harp.

Discography

First Things First (2007)

Traditional Spirits

Little Lights

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Artist Profiles: Breabach

Breabach

Breabach formed in Glasgow as students enjoying the thriving folk scene at sessions and ceilidhs. Although they come from all parts of Scotland, they share a common love for playing traditional music.

The four members of the band are all accomplished musicians and when they get a chance to play together, their show is not to be missed. Breabach creates an exciting, authentic sound with a blend of bagpipes, fiddle, whistles and guitar.

Their combination of strong traditional tunes with original arrangements produces a sound that will leave a lasting impression on the listener. It is this sound that helped them achieve success at Celtic Connections Danny Kyle Open Stage Competition in 2005.

Discography:

The Big Spree (Compass Records, 2007)

The Desperate Battle of the Birds (Breabach Records, 2010)

Bann (Breabach Records, 2012)

Urlar (2013)

Astar (2016)

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Artist Profiles: Bruce MacGregor

Bruce MacGregor

Bruce MacGregor hails from Inverness and is a player equally at home with the rugged strathspey or the tender slow air. He has combined the qualities of both East and West coast styles in an invigorating and expressive individualistic style. Bruce was originally taught by the late, great, Donald Riddell CBE. He has since gone on to develop a style that captures the very essence of Highland fiddle music.

As well as being the founder of Blazin’ Fiddles, Bruce plays with the Gaelic group Cliar. He also worked as a producer and presenter for BBC Radio Scotland. His programs on early 19th century Highland fiddler Captain Simon Fraser and “The Strathspey King” – James Scott Skinner won him two awards at the international Celtic Film and TV Festival in 2000 and 2001.

His debut solo CD, Loch Ness, contains a mixture of his own compositions and those of his mentor, Donald Riddell and was received with much critical acclaim.

Discography with Blazin’ Fiddles

Fire On! (2002)
The Old Style (2004)
Magnificent Seven (2005)
Blazin’ Fiddles Live (2007)
Thursday Night in the Caley (2011)
Six (2014)
North (2015)

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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)

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Artist Profiles: Boys of the Lough

Boys of the Lough

The first of the full-time professional Celtic bands to arise on the international scene, Boys of the Lough, now occupy a unique position of respect in the world of traditional music. They have completed sixty-four tours of the USA and their performances and recordings are spread over five decades.

The Boys have established a reputation for technical brilliance and integrity in their performance of Irish and Scottish music. A ready wit and sense of fun enliven their onstage performance while their original arrangements and dynamic interactions between the two major strands of the Celtic tradition keep the music always bright and fresh.

The group was formed in 1967, featuring Cathal McConnell, Tommy Gunn of Fermanagh and Robin Morton from Portadown. Since the first tour in 1967 the Boys have traveled extensively in their mission to gain traditional music a wider audience and respect. Their warm and vital performances have won them friends from the village halls of Scotland to international concert and festival stages, establishing a precedent that many others have followed.

The music of the Boys of the Lough ranges widely through the fiddle, flute, piping and vocal traditions of Ireland and encompasses the fiddle music of Kevin Henderson’s native Shetland and also Scotland and North America. Although sometimes melodically complex and difficult to play, the music remains at all times easily accessible to the listener through the compelling dance rhythms, which give it such life. Contrast this with evocative slow airs and beautifully structured songs, some in the Irish language. Add the range of tone colors available from the band’s acoustic instruments and it is easy to see the great appeal of their lively performances.

Forty years into their musical travels, the Boys of the Lough currently boast one of their strongest line-ups yet, comprising Cathal McConnell, Dave Richardson, Brendan Begley, Kevin Henderson and Malcolm Stitt.

Discography:

The Boys of the Lough (Trailer Records, 1973)
Second Album (Trailer Records, 1973)
Live at Passim’s (Philo Records, 1974)
Lochaber No More (Philo Records, 1976)
The Piper’s Broken Finger (Transatlantic Records, 1976)
Good Friends … Good Music (Transatlantic Records, 1977)
Wish You Were Here (Transatlantic Records, 1978)
Regrouped (Flying Fish, 198)
In the Tradition (Topic Records, 1981)
Open Road (Topic Records, 1983)
To Welcome Paddy Home (Philo Records, 1985)
Far From Home – Live (Shanachie Records, 1986)
Farewell and Remember Me (Shanachie Records, 1987)
Sweet Rural Shade (Shanachie Records, 1988)
Live at Carnegie Hall (1992)
The Fair Hills of Ireland (Lough Records, 1992)
The Day Dawn (Lough Records, 1994)
Midwinter Night’s Dream (Blix Street Records, 1996)
The West of Ireland (Lough Records, 1999)
Lonesome Blues and Dancing Shoes (Lough Records, 2002)
Twenty (Lough Records, 2005)
Rising Fawn Gathering, with Norman Blake (Western Jubilee Recording Company/Plectrafone Records, 2009)

www.boysofthelough.com’

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Artist Profiles: Blazin’ Fiddles

Blazin’ Fiddles

Take five of the hottest young contemporary fiddle players from the various regions of the highlands and islands of Scotland and you’ve got Blazin’ Fiddles on your hands. Having grown from a showcase tour of individual fiddlers highlighting the distinctive flavors of Highlands and Islands fiddle music, the Blazers have gone on to become a fully fledged band with a world-wide following.

With the original fiddlers in the band hailing from Mallaig (Allan Henderson) Shetland (Catriona Macdonald), Glenfinnan (Iain MacFarlane), Inverness (Bruce MacGregor) and Oban (Aidan O’Rourke), it’s fair to say that Blazin’ Fiddles embodies the spirit of today’s Highland fiddle music. Add to the mix, inventive guitar and piano (Marc Clement and Andy Thorburn) accompaniment underpinning the fiddle melodies with exhilarating drive and vigor. Since their inception in 1998, the band has thrilled audiences from Canada and the US, through Europe, to the Middle East.

The current line-up features Bruce MacGregor from Inverness on fiddle; Allan Henderson from Mallaig on fiddle; Iain MacFarlane from Glenfinnan on fiddle; Jenna Reid from Shetland on fiddle; Anna Massie from Fortrose on guitar and fiddle; and Angus Lyon on piano.

Discography

Fire On! (2002)
The Old Style (2004)
Magnificent Seven (2005)
Blazin’ Fiddles Live (2007)
Thursday Night in the Caley (2011)
Six (2014)
North (2015)

www.blazin-fiddles.co.uk

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