Tag Archives: Scotland

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.


* 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)


* 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)


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.


First Things First (2007)

Traditional Spirits

Little Lights


Artist Profiles: 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.


The Big Spree (Compass Records, 2007)

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

Bann (Breabach Records, 2012)

Urlar (2013)

Astar (2016)


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)


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)


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.


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)



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.


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



Artist Profiles: Billy Jackson

Billy Jackson

Billy Jackson has been a major figure in traditional Scottish music for many years, and was a founding member of the influential folk group, Ossian. A native of Glasgow, Billy often visited Donegal in his youth and his music reflects this mixture of Scottish and Irish influences.

In addition to his reputation as a harper, Billy has made quite a name for himself as a recording artist and composer, with a dozen albums to his credit. In 1990, he formed The Scottish Orchestra of New Music, combining classical and traditional musicians to perform his compositions. He premiered his major commission for the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, A Scottish Island, and appeared as a featured soloist on uilleann pipes with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.

In 1999, his song, Land of Light was selected as the winner of The Glasgow Herald’s year-long Song For Scotland competition to select a ‘new anthem for a new era in Scotland.’ Billy is also a trained music therapist specializing in work with autistic children.


The Wellpark Suite (1985)
Heart Music (1987)
St Mungo: A Celtic Suite For Glasgow (1990)
Celtic Tranquility (1992)
Inchcolm (1995; reissued 2007)
The Ancient Harp of Scotland (1998)
A Scottish Island (1998)
Celtic Experience vol. 1: Haunting Themes From Scotland and Ireland (1997)
Celtic Experience vol. 2: Haunting Themes From Scotland and Ireland (1998)
Celtic Experience vol. 3: Haunting Themes From Scotland and Ireland (1999)
Celtic Experience: Haunting Themes From Scotland and Ireland (2000)
The Celtic Suites (1999)
Land of Light (1999)
Notes From A Hebridean Island (2001)
Duan Àlbanach (2003)
The New Harp (2008)
Music From Ireland and Scotland, with Gráinne Hambly (2009)

With Ossian

Ossian (1977)
St. Kilda Wedding (1978)
Seal Song (1980)
Dove Across the Water (1981)
Borders (1983)
Light on a Distant Shore (1986)
The Best of Ossian (1993)
The Carrying Stream (1997)



Artist Profiles: Karen Matheson

Karen Matheson

Karen Matheson is widely recognized as the acclaimed vocalist of Celtic band Capercaillie. Karen started performing as a child in her local village hall in Argyll on the West coast of Scotland. She was brought up listening to traditional songs that have been her inspiration for over 30 years.

With Capercaillie, Karen has enjoyed tremendous success. Capercaillie have sold more than a million albums. The group composed the music of the movie ‘Rob Roy’, with Liam Neeson and Jessica Lange, in which Karen appeared, singing a Gaelic lament.

As a solo artist, Karen has been involved in various projects of collaboration worldwide including the award-winning BBC series Transatlantic Sessions, where she filmed tracks with artists like James Taylor, Emmylou Harris, The McGarrigle Sisters, Nanci Griffith, and various esteemed Scottish musicians. Her many collaborations include Algerian singer Idir, Breton guitarist Dan Ar Braz and Portuguese star Dulce Pontes.

In December 2010 she was presented with an Honorary degree in music from the Robert Gordon University – another achievement to add to her OBE and award of “Best Gaelic singer” from the inaugural Scottish folk awards – just some of the many plaudits earned from an astonishing career.

Her 2015 solo album Urram is a musical love letter to her families’ Hebridean roots, with a collectionset of timeless Gaelic songs that draws out the character of Island life, through waulking songs, love songs, lullabies, mouth music and evocative poems to the surroundings. The album features international guest musicians including Seiko Keita (Senegal) on West African kora, Soumik Datta (India) on sarod, Scotland’s McFall’s chamber on strings, Innes White & Sorren MacLean on guitars, and long-timemusical partner Donald Shaw on piano.

Solo Discography:

The Dreaming Sea (1996)
Time to fall (2002)
Downriver (2004)
Urram (2015)


Artist Profiles: Tannahill Weavers

The Tannahill Weavers

The Tannahill Weavers are one of Scotland’s leading traditional bands. Their diverse repertoire spans the centuries with fire-driven instrumentals, topical songs, and original ballads and lullabies. Their music demonstrates to old and young alike the rich and varied musical heritage of the Celtic people. These versatile musicians have received worldwide accolades consistently over the years for their exuberant performances and outstanding recording efforts.

Born of a session in Paisley, Scotland and named for the town’s historic weaving industry and local poet laureate Robert Tannahill, the group has made an international name for its special brand of Scottish music, blending the beauty of traditional melodies with the power of modern rhythms. The Tannahill Weavers began to attract attention when founding members Roy Gullane and Phil Smillie added the full-sized highland bagpipes to the on-stage presentations, the first professional Scottish folk group to successfully do so. The combination of the powerful pipe solos, Roy’s driving guitar backing and lead vocals, and Phil’s ethereal flute playing breathed new life into Scotland’s vast repertoire of traditional melodies and songs.

Three years and a dozen countries later, the Tannahills were a Celtic music sensation in Europe, having won the Scotstar Award for Folk Record of the Year with their third album, The Tannahill Weavers.

Since their first visit to the United States in 1981, the Tannahills’ unique combination of traditional melodies on pipes, flute and fiddle, driving rhythms on guitar and bouzouki, and powerful three and four part vocal harmonies have taken the musical community by storm.

Over the years the Tannies have been trailblazers for Scottish music, and their tight harmonies and powerful, inventive arrangements have won them fans from beyond the folk and Celtic music scenes.

1994 saw the release to critical acclaim of Capernaum, which won the Indie Award in the USA for Celtic Album of the Year from the National Association of Independent Record Distributors and Manufacturers (NAIRD, now AFIM).

Tannies veterans Phil Smillie, Roy Gullane, John Martin and Les Wilson are versatile musicians who have received worldwide accolades over the years for their exuberant performances and outstanding recordings. From reflective ballads to foot stomping reels and jigs, the variety and range of the material they perform is matched only by their enthusiasm and lively Scottish spirit.

The lineup that appeared on 2006’s Live and In Session featured Roy Gullane on guitar, vocals; John Martin on fiddle, viola, mandola, mandolin, cello; Colin Melville on Highland bagpipes, Scottish small pipes, whistles, guitar; Phil Smillie on flute, whistles, bodhran, vocals; Les Wilson on bouzouki, keyboards, vocals. Guests included Douglas Millar on keyboards and Hugh (Shuggie) MacCallum on assorted percussion.

In 2011, Tannahill Weavers was inducted into the Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame, and in 2014 they were joined by innovative piper Lorne MacDougall.


Are Ye Sleeping Maggie (Hedera Records HRCD11, 1976)

The Old Woman’s Dance (Hedera Records HRCD12, 1978)

The Tannahill Weavers (Hedera Records HRCD13, 1979)

Tannahill Weavers IV (Hedera Records HRCD14, 1981)

Passage (Green Linnet Records GLCD331, 1984)

Land of Light (Green Linnet GLCD167, 1985)

Dancing Feet (Green Linnet GLCD181, 1987)

The Best of the Tannahill Weavers (Green Linnet GLCD11, 1989)

Cullen Bay (Green Linnet GLCD118, 1990)

The Mermaid’s Song (Green Linnet GLCD1121, 1992)

Capernaum (Green Linnet GLCD1146, 1994)

Leaving St Kilda (Green Linnet, 1996)

The Tannahill Weavers Collection (Green Linnet GLCD1182, 1997)

Epona (Green Linnet GLCD1193, 1998)

Alchemy (Green Linnet GLCD121, 2000)

Arnish Light (Green Linnet GLCD 1226, 2003)

Live and In Session (Compass Records 445426, 2006)