Tag Archives: Scotland

Artist Profiles: Karine Polwart

Karine Polwart

Karine Polwart was born on December 23, 1970 in Banknock, Stirlingshire, Scotland. Currently leading her own band and formerly lead singer with Scots-Irish quintet Malinky and a one-time member of Battlefield Band and duo MacAlias Karine, Polwart was on her road to great success when she was voted Best Scots Singer at the 2003 Scots Trad Music Awards.
Blending passionate stridency with plaintive sensitivity she has a maturity and breadth of outlook and experience that distinguishes her as one of the most powerful and inventive narrative interpreters of her generation.

Karine Polwart is widely regarded as one of the finest young Scottish traditional singers of her generation. She also has a growing reputation as a gifted songwriter in both traditional and contemporary style and her writing encompasses both historical narratives and current political issues. At the 2005 Folk on 2 Awards Karine won Best Album for Faultlines, Best Original Song for ‘The Sun’s Comin’ Over the Hill’ from Faultlines, and the Horizon Award.

Karine Polwart

With the release of Faultlines her first solo album a broad contemporary audience can appreciate Karine’s individual and absorbing vocals insightful lyrics and memorable melodies. As a pre-cursor to her Scribbled in Chalk CD Karine released a 5-track EP titled The Pulling Through EP in 2005.

Discography:

Last Leaves, with Malinky (2000)
Happy Daze, with Battlefield Band (2001)
3 Ravens, with Malinky (2002)
Faultlines (2003)
Scribbled in Chalk (2006)
Fairest Floo’er (2007)
This Earthly Spell (2008)
Traces (2012)
Evergreen, with Lau (2012)

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Artist Profiles: Johnny Cunningham

Johnny Cunningham

Johnny Cunningham was born in Portobello, Scotland on August 27 1957. He played fiddle since the age of seven and was known for his lightning-fast reels and hauntingly beautiful Scottish airs. He also delighted audiences worldwide with his wry humor and stories.

Johnny Cunningham was a founding member of Silly Wizard, the group that spearheaded the Scottish side of the Celtic revival in the 1970s and 1980s. He toured with his brother Phil Cunningham both as a duo and with the Celtic supergroup Relativity that also featured Micheal O’Domhnaill and Triona Ni Dhomhnaill of The Bothy Band.

Johnny not only enjoyed a successful career as a solo performer but was also greatly in demand as an award-winning record producer. Among other ventures he toured with blues-guitarist Bonnie Raitt, contemporary singer-songwriter and author Bill Morrissey and crossed over into the world of rock, appearing with Hall & Oates. His own alternative band Raindogs made two successful CDs for Atlantic/Atco Records Lost Souls (1990) and Border Drive-In Theatre (1991) and toured with artists such as Bob Dylan, Don Henley and Warren Zevon.

After completing a four-year stint with the successful Celtic music act Nightnoise, Johnny worked with acclaimed New York-based theater company Mabou Mines on their production “Peter and Wendy.”

Johnny composed the music and lyrics for this new version of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, which enjoyed several sold out runs including the Spoleto Arts Festival in Charleston S.C. in June 1996; The Public Theater New York City in September of 1996; and The New Victory Theater on 42nd Street New York City in February 1997. The response of audience and critics alike has been overwhelmingly positive. Thesoundtrack album from the innovative production Peter and Wendy, winner of two OBIE awards was released in a special hardcover package by world music label Alula Records.

Johnny also recorded and produced “La Musgaña Live” on tour in the band’s native Spain for Ediciones Resistencia. In addition he collaborated with Thomas Moore, best selling author of “Care Of The Soul”. The result is a double CD set “The Soul Of Christmas” which through the heart of Celtic culture and Thomas Moore’s readings explores ways to spiritually re-interpret traditional Christmas music and thought.

In his final years Johnny Cunningham toured as part of the Celtic Fiddle Festival and with Irish singer Susan McKeown. He died on the evening of December 15th, 2003.

Discography:

Silly Wizard with Silly Wizard (1976)
Caledonia’s Hardy Sons with Silly Wizard (1978)
So Many Partings with Silly Wizard (1979)
Against the Storm with Phil Cunningham (Shanachie 198)
Thoughts From Another World (Shanachie 1981)
Fair Warning (Green Linnet 1983)
Live In America, with Silly Wizard (1985)
Golden Golden, with Silly Wizard (1985)
A Glint Of Silver, with Silly Wizard (1986)
Relativity, with Relativity (1986)
Gathering Pace, with Relativity (1987)
Live Wizardry (1988)
Lost Souls, with The Raindogs (1990)
Border Drive-In Theatre, with The Raindogs (1991)
Shadow of Time, with Nightnoise (1993)
Celtic Fiddle Festival, with Celtic Fiddle Festival (1993)
To Warm the Winter’s Night, with Aine Minogue (1995)
White Horse Sessions, with Nightnoise (1997)
Peter and Wendy (Alula Records 1998)
Celtic Fiddle Festival: Encore, with Celtic Fiddle Festival (1998)
Rendezvous, with Celtic Fiddle Festival (2001)
A Winter Talisman, with Susan McKeown (Sheila-na-Gig Music/Caledonian Musicworks 2001)
Live on 11th Street, with Casey Neill Band (2003)
Sweet Liberty, with Susan McKeown (2004)

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Artist Profiles: John Munro

John Munro was born in Glasgow in 194. He moved to Adelaide, Australia in 1965. John Munro has made a name for himself as an inspiring and talented songwriter best exemplified by his two historical song cycles The Kelly Collection and The Eureka Suite, the latter recorded by Festival Records in 1999. Having toured most of the world with fellow Scotsman Eric Bogle from 1980 until the present day, John has become recognized as being one of the elite of the Broitish folk world. He is known as one of the best bluegrass mandolin players around performing with the legendary Country Express for many years as well as being a fine guitarist and singer.

John’s recording credits include 8 albums with Eric, four with Country Express nine with Colcannon, three with Gordon Mcintyre and Kate Delaney, two with Mike Quarmby and one with Margaret Christl (Canada), Mary-Jane Field (Sydney), Irene Petrie Denis, and Lynne Tracey as well as countless guest appearances. His experience extends to production as well as performing.

John has won two Celtic Music Club Awards for Guitar and one for Mandolin two Folk Federation awards and two SAMIA (South Australian Music Industry) awards with Colcannon – the latter being for Most Outstanding Contribution to Folk Music. He has also won the SCALA-run Songwriters Event (songwriter award) in 1990 and 1996.

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Artist Profiles: John Morran

John Morran is the lead singer and guitarist with Scots traditional band Deaf Shepherd. Increasingly recognized as one of Scotland’s most outstanding performers of traditional song he is frequently invited to lecture on the subject.

Adding his rich Lowland heritage to Deaf Shepherd’s musical mix, John is one of the band’s longest-standing members hailing originally from the Ayrshire ex-mining community of Muirkirk. With the nearest town in any direction being ten miles away the village remains a stronghold of the Lowland Scots language which inspires much of John’s singing whether in Burns ballads or contemporary compositions from the region.

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Artist Profiles: Jenna Reid

Hailing from Shetland, Jenna Reid grew up immersed in the island’s rich fiddle tradition. At the age of nine she began to learn the fiddle and was taught by the late Dr Tom Anderson. When fiddle tuition became available in schools Jenna studied with the late Willie Hunter and was under his direction until the age of 13; during that time she was a prominent prize-winner in the Shetland’s Young Fiddler of the Year Competition and by the age of 14 had won both the intermediate and open sections of this annual competition.

Through this success she was subsequently invited to compete in the Glennfiddich Fiddle Competition. While still at school Jenna also took lessons from Trevor Hunter and Margaret Scollay. In addition to playing the fiddle Jenna also studied classical piano. On leaving school Jenna went on to study a BA in Traditional Scottish Music at the Royal Academy of Music & Drama in Glasgow. Whilst studying fiddle she also played piano and piano accordion as well as being introduced to singing.

Jenna has also performed since a young age and Shetland band Filska was where this began. Under the direction of mum Joyce Jenna along with her sister Bethany and friend Gemma Wilson had played together since a young age and in 1995 Filska released their debut album entitled Harvest Home. This was to be followed in 1998 with their second release Time and Tide. It was this album that saw Filska begin to make a name for themselves not only in Scotland but throughout Europe and beyond. Their success saw them play to audiences in Norway Sweden Denmark Italy Ireland France Canada and the US.

Filska’s trip to America came as an invitation to represent Scotland at the Millennium Celebrations in Disney’s Epcot Centre. Following this Filska performed live as part of the Scottish Millennium Celebrations along with Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham in a show that was broadcast to over 6 countries. Jenna also performs with Dochas who have been taking the traditional music world by storm.

Now based in Glasgow Jenna enjoys work as both a performer and teacher having tutored alongside legendary fiddler Liz Carroll. In addition to this Jenna has also toured and played with Scottish acts Deaf Shepherd Fiddlers’ Bid John Raes Celtic Feet and Kevin MacKenzie’s Vital Signs.

In 2005 Jenna released her debut solo CD With Silver and All and received the Scottish Traditional Music award for Best Up and Coming Soloist.

Discography

With Silver and All (2005)
The Laughing Girl (2008)
Morning Moon (2012)

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Artist Profiles: James Grant

James Grant

James Grant’s career began in the early 1980ss when he formed Friends Again with Chris Thompson (The Bathers). Although short-lived their influence was huge helping to define the emerging sound of the Scottish bands that followed them.

It was in Love and Money that James found more widespread recognition; four albums several hit singles a world-wide following and silver discs in the UK helped seal his reputation as one of the best songwriters in the country.

In 1996 he contributed four songs to the solo album of Capercaillie vocalist Karen Matheson, The Dreaming Sea, including the title track The Dreaming Sea. This in turn led to him working with musician and producer Donald Shaw the result being James’ stunning debut album Sawdust in My Veins followed by the equally acclaimed follow-up My Thrawn Glory.

In October 2004 James released Holy Love on Vertical Records featuring Karen Matheson, Monica Queen and Jerry Douglas.

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Artist Profiles: James Graham

When James Graham won the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year award in 2004 James was not only the first Gaelic singer to win, he was also the first male winner. James who also plays the pipes grew up in a household where music was an essential part of family life. Although his mother an accordionist is the only other family member who plays an instrument James’s father and sister are good singers and were always singing around the house and at weekends, friends and family members regularly gathered for ceilidhs.

James began singing Gaelic at competition level at the age of ten and quickly became a prize-winner at both local and national Mods the Gaelic music and poetry festivals. By the time James moved on to Ullapool High School he was playing the bagpipes under the tutelage of Norman Gillies. He continued piping as a subsidiary study when he went to the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (RSAMD) in 1999 with singing as his principal study.

Coached and encouraged by his tutor at the RSAMD the well-known singer and immensely knowledgeable Gaelic scholar Kenna Campbell James became increasingly passionate about singing and he credits Kenna Campbell with giving him the confidence to enter the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year competition.

While studying at the RSAMD where he gained his BA (Hons) in Scottish Music James researched the songs of his home area Assynt for his dissertation talking to the few remaining native Gaelic speakers and collecting songs from them. He feels emotionally tied to these songs and is dedicated to keeping them alive. He is also passionate about singing pibroch which he learned from the brilliant piper and folklorist Allan MacDonald.

Discography:

Siubhal

Greisean Greine [Sunny Spells] (2007)

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Artist Profiles: Jack Beck

Jack lives in Fife Scotland. He became interested in Scots-dialect songs and ballads during the 196s folk-song revival and helped found The Dunfermline Howff. Throughout the sixties he played with such artists as Archie Fisher, John Watt, The McAlmans, The Corries and The Incredible String Band among others.

Jack co-founded the acclaimed folk band Heritage which made four recordings numerous TV and radio broadcasts and frequent European tours.

Since 1989 he has toured regularly in the United States and presented a monthly radio program broadcast in Scotland and the USA.

In 1990 Jack became an honorary life member of the Traditional Music and Song Association of Scotland and since then he has worked solo with Heritage colleague George Haig and with songwriter John Watt at clubs and festivals.

He is currently helping to develop a new national qualification for Scottish traditional music tutors. His venture is A Stranger in this Country an ‘infotainment’ examining similar Scots and American ballads that he has performed across Scotland and the United States. Jack continues to record and perform both solo and with his wife Wendy Welch providing music for her storytelling performances.

Discography:

O Lassie Lassie (1989)

Half Ower Half Ower tae Aberdour (Tradition Bearers, 2001)

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Artist Profiles: Ishbel MacAskill

Ishbel MacAskill came from the Point area of the Island of Lewis. She was brought up with the rich heritage of century’s old Gaelic music and song which still survives in Point and indeed all over the island of Lewis. Her music and culture were immensely important in her life and for several years she was very much involved in teaching traditional Gaelic singing to children at the numerous Feisean (festivals of music and song) throughout the Highlands and Islands of Scotland.

She fervently believed this approach to be a positive contribution to the revival of the language. She was deeply motivated by the rich beauty of her heritage of Gaelic music and poetry. She was especially moved by the intensely emotive quality of the poetry and through her unique delivery manages to convey to her audiences a feeling of involvement in the colorful history and culture of the Gael. Her particular style of unaccompanied traditional singing her numerous radio and television performances and countless world-wide live appearances established her position as one the best known Gaelic singers of generation. Regular appearances in her leading acting role in the Gaelic television drama Machair has also made her familiar to Scottish television viewers.

Her singing took her to venues throughout the U.K. Ireland Europe The Far East and North America. Her recordings were always in demand at home and abroad and significantly sell to people who have never before heard the Gaelic language. Whether her audience was Gaelic speaking or not her English introductions to these centuries’ old songs of love, war, sea and landscape exile and life itself made each one a memorable experience.

She died in 2011.

Discography:

Essentially Ishbel (2000)

Sioda

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Artist profiles: Ian Melrose

Ian Melrose

Ian Melrose was born in Middlesbrough, England. As a youth he moved back to Ayr in Scotland with his Scottish parents and younger brother Ian’s father was/is a member of the Scottish fiddle orchestra so traditional music was always present. His early influences were the famous figures from the “British school of guitar-playing” i.e. Davey Graham, John Renbourn, Bert Jansch, and John Martyn.

After doing a degree in Law and German at Keele University he moved to Berlin in 1981 where he started doing solo work. In 1982 he founded Twilight, an acoustic folk-jazz trio which thanks to the unusual arrangements was winner of the 1985 folk group competition at the Edinburgh folk festival. A record deal with the Scottish company LISMOR followed.

As a founder member of the German folk-pop band Be Mine Or Run and as guitarist and arranger with the Celtic project Norland Wind (featuring Thomas Loefke and Kerstin Blodig) he has made a name for himself on the German acoustic scene. He has done extensive tours of Germany Holland and Norway and has done studio jobs for many well-known artists. A tour through Germany in 1996 with Norland Wind brought the contact to Noel & Padraig Duggan of Clannad, who in turn suggested Ian for the job of lead guitarist with Clannad for the May tour of Ireland, Great Britain and Holland. They were obviously pleased with him and offered him the rest of the “World Tour ’96” which included Australia, New Zealand, and Japan.

You can hear Ian playing on the Clannad album Landmarks. In his solo concerts Ian plays pieces from his critically acclaimed album Wolves and from his album Between the Sighs. His guitar compositions show a strong leaning towards his “Celtic roots” where elements of Irish & Scottish dance tunes and ballads mix easily with South-American rhythms and jazz harmonies.

www.MelroseAcousticGuitar.com

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