Edinburgh-born fiddler Gavin Marwick is a past or present member of Iron Horse, Burach, Cantrip, Ceilidh Minogue, the Unusual Suspects and Bellevue Rendezvous, among others. He has also worked extensively in theater and broadcasting.
Equally renowned as a performer and composer, he has played probably thousands of gigs and festivals around the world.
Fred Morrison is widely regarded as one of the greatest Scottish pipers alive today. His performances on the Highland, bellows blown and uilleann pipes and on the low whistle have taken the world music scene by storm. His approach is firmly rooted in the musical tradition of the Hebridean islands of Scotland but he constantly pushes the boundaries, creating a fresh new sound that is forever evolving. Fred began taking lessons from his father at the age of nine. His father, a noted piper, was from the small remote island of South Uist – which is to be found off the north-west coast of Scotland – a wild, beautiful place with a particularly rich tradition in piping.
He taught using cainntearachd, a unique singing style where notes and rhythms are given particular sounds. Before long, Fred had won most of the top international prizes of the piping world. The immense technical expertise required to compete in such events was to provide the foundation to allow him to experiment musically and he began to develop his own sound
Fred was soon playing support, solo, to Capercaillie and Runrig – two of Scotland?s best known bands. Before long, he was touring Celtic Europe – especially Spain and Brittany – where he earned the name The King of the Pipes. He went on to play with Clan Alba and spent 3 years touring and recording with Capercaillie. He also appeared in and was involved in arranging music for the Hollywood blockbuster, Rob Roy.
At this time, Morrison began to play the bellows-blown Border pipes. He has since performed on the Border pipes on the major stages across the world and can be credited with popularizing this instrument which is played by so many contemporary pipers.
He joined forces with master of the bouzouki, Jamie McMenemy (Battlefield Band, Kornog). The duo released an album, Up South, that received exceptional reviews, as did their live performances. Most of the pieces played by the duo were composed by Morrison.
Fred was voted by the public as Instrumentalist of the Year at the 2004 Scottish Traditional Music Awards.
Fraser Shaw learned the bagpipes from the renowned piper Fred Morrison of South Uist, and latterly from the Tiree piper Kenny MacDonald. At the age of 16, Fraser moved to Skye to study at Sabhal Mor Ostaig and became immersed in the trad music scene. He co-founded four-piece band Cluanas with whom he has toured extensively. He has recorded with Farquar McDonald and Aidan MacEoins and appeared on Radio Scotland’s Pipeline.
Filska is a band from the Shetland Islands, who built their music on the Islands tradition of fiddle playing. The word Filska comes from the Shetland dialect, and means mischievous and high-spirited. The line up includes sisters Jenna (Fiddle/Accordion/Vocals) and Bethany Reid (Fiddle/Piano/Vocals), Gemma Wilson (Fiddle/Vocals) and Andrew Tulloch (Guitar/Vocals).
As girls, they grew up together playing traditional Shetland music through the encouragement of Jenna and Bethany’s mother, Joyce Reid. Throughout their upbringing, the late, great fiddlers Tom Anderson and Willie Hunter taught the girls. They also had tuition from Eunice Henderson, Margaret Scollay and Trevor Hunter. Under this fine direction, they each went on to become prominent prize-winners of Shetland’s Young Fiddler of the Year competition.
In 1995, the band recorded their debut album, titled Harvest Home. The album included traditional material from Shetland, Scotland and Ireland, and confirmed their musical talents from an early age. Following the success of this recording, Filska began to perform increasingly on the Mainland of Scotland at various concerts and festivals. Subsequently, Filska were invited to perform on the Grampian TV traditional music program Ceol na Fidhle, recorded live at Coo Cathedral, Aboyne, Aberdeenshire.
The band returned to the studio in 1998 to record their second album Time and Tide. Shetland singer, guitarist and recording engineer Andrew Tulloch, recorded the album and played guitar on the recording. Before long, Tulloch was a member of the band. Time and Tide introduced the band to a much wider audience, and their line up of three fiddles, guitar, accordion, piano and vocals delighted audiences throughout Ireland, France, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Canada and the States. Filska’s trip to the USA came as an invitation to perform at the millennium celebrations held in the Epcot Centre, Florida. On their return to the U.K., Filska performed as finalists in the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award in London.
Since the release of their second album, Filska has integrated an increasing amount of original tunes and songs to their set, as well as performing their own native music. This approach to traditional, Shetland and contemporary tunes is what gives Filska their highly unique and innovative sound.
Harvest Home (1995)
Time and Tide (1998)
A Thousand Miles Away (Foot Stomping CDFSR1723, 2003)
Fiddlers’ Bid is internationally respected as a leading exponent of their unique musical heritage and rich fiddle tradition. Global ambassadors for Shetland, this dynamic four-fiddle front line joins with a powerhouse of piano, bass, guitar and Scottish harp to create a ‘display of stunning virtuosity’.
Since their formation in 1991, the “flying fiddles and furious talent” of Fiddlers’ Bid have astounded audiences all over the world with their expressive, high energy music and performance.
Fiddlers’ Bid have performed at some of the largest folk festivals in the world including the 2003 Smithsonian Folklife Festival in USA and have had two hugely successful tours of Australia and Tasmania, performing at the Melbourne Concert Hall and Sydney Opera House. One tour earned the band a nomination for Best Contemporary Music Presentation at a national music award ceremony in Australia.
Their album Da Farder Ben Da Welcomer was the Greentrax best-selling album of 2002 and Naked and Bare received acclaimed reviews.
Around the World (Fiddlers’ Bid, 1994)
Hamnataing (Greentrax Recordings, 1998)
Da Farder Ben Da Welcomer (Greentrax Recordings, 2001)
Elspeth Cowie has become one of Scotland’s best-known traditional singers. By the late 1960s, she had left her native musical roots behind in favor of rock and blues like thousands of young Scots. Sandy Denny (Fairport Convention) and singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell were favorites. But a move to the traditional music heartland of Aberdeenshire got her back to traditional music in the 1970s and early 80s. There, she became a a regular at what was then the Aberdeen Folk Song Club and became acquainted with Lizzie Higgins, a great traditional singer and daughter of the celebrated Jeannie Robertson. Lizzie’s encouragement fired up a passion that led Elspeth to join the band Seannachie in 1986 after moving to Edinburgh.
Well known for its ingenious arrangement of Scots songs and tunes, Seannachie provided an ideal vehicle, superb musicians who could support the singer. Two great albums, Take Note and Devil’s Delight resulted, the latter still reckoned by aficionados to be a modern folk classic.
Seannachie still re-forms sporadically for tours, but Elspeth Cowie has moved mainly towards solo work to find the freedom and confront the challenge of putting her songs across without the aid of an instrumental safety-net.
In 1996, she became full-time National Organiser of the Traditional Music & Song Association of Scotland. She has helped to develop TMSA into an influential information, education and lobbying voice, listened to in the corridors of power. She also tutors for bodhran and song workshops at festivals, other events and the Edinburgh based Adult Learning Project.
The sounds of pipe music and jazz have also inspired her. Elspeth’s father was in the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles). So the sound of pipes playing ‘The Black Bear’, reputedly the fastest regimental march in the UK army, was a regular event during her childhood. Albums by jazz greats such as Billie Holiday and Peggy Lee are also constantly on the turntable at Elspeth’s home in Midlothian.
Elspeth released Naked Voice, a solo album of mainly unaccompanied songs. Elspeth is also a member of the talented trio Chantan.
Dougie Maclean has toured all over the world performing in many countries. Between 1979 and 1980 Dougie played with the respected Scottish band Silly Wizard also during this time his first solo album was recorded ‘Snaigow’. Dougie returned to Perthshire to consolidate his solo work at home and in North America with later widening his horizons with tours in Australia and New Zealand.
Since then Dougie has played at many prestigious music festivals including Shetland and Orkney and Edinburgh Festival. He has played in many famous venues throughout the world such as the New York City Hall and the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow where he joined Kathy Mattea and her band as part of the “Celtic Connections” concert series. Dougie has also performed live at Murrayfield to a crowd over 3 during the Five Nations Rugby Championship.
In 1997 listeners of US radio program “Thistle and Shamrock” voted Dougie as their “Favorite Male Vocalist”. The same year BBC network screened The Songroads – A musical friendship of Dougie MacLean with the American country music star Kathy Mattea. In 1999 Celtic Connections was yet another sell out. MacLean’s real music bar at the Taybank became established as a meeting place for spontaneous music sessions and draws people from all over the world. In 2 the Taybak was awarded Music Pub of the Year by the Scottish Licensed Trade Association. Also MacLean’s song ‘Turning Away’ featured in the Jennifer López film “Angel Eyes”.
In 2001 between touring and home performances Dougie took time out for filming in the Western Isle of Scotland where he circumnavigated the islands in his rib boat. The film Clann na Mara (Children of the Sea) screened on BBC TV and was nominated for the Celtic Film Festival.
On a Wing and a Prayer (1981)
Craigie Dhu (Blix Street Records 154 1982)
Singing Land (Dunkeld DUNCD4 1985)
Real Estate (1988)
Whitewash (Dunkeld DUNCD1 1990)
The Search (Dunkeld 1990)
Indigenous (Blix Street Records 16 1991)
Sunset Song (Dunkeld DUNCD17 1994)
Marching Mystery (Blix Street Records 162 1994)
The Dougie Maclean Collection (Putumayo 1995)
The Plant Life Years (Osmosys 4 1996)
Tribute (Blix Street Records 163 1996)
Riof (Blix Street Records 164 1997)
Perthshire Amber (Blix Street Records 165, 2000)
Dougie MacLean Live (Blix Street Records 174, 2000)
Donnie Munro from Uig on the Isle of Skye was frontman for Runrig during the height of the Scottish band’s popularity from 1974 until 1997 when with the UK general election looming he left the band to pursue a career in politics.
Munro’s prominence during that period accorded him a very special place in Scottish life and for many his voice became synonymous with a sense of Scotland itself. Similarly throughout Europe hundreds of thousands of music fans made that powerful association.
The singer who also studied and taught art and was a presenter for spells on Scot FM and BBC Radio Scotland returned to recording in 1999 and released his first solo album On the West Side in 2000.
Since his departure from Runrig the singer has been deeply involved in the development of his native Gaelic language and culture through his work with Sabhal Mor Ostaig the international centre on Skye and also in being able to develop his own work as a singer/songwriter something which he felt unable to concentrate on during his Runrig days. “It wasn’t that I wasn’t writing at that time but more that it was basically a case of ‘horses for courses’ and I saw my role then very much as the singer and front-man trying always to get these themes ideas and images across with a passion and in a way that at best makes the audience and performance one and the same This has always been the great stimulus for me of live performance just that it’s a really human and very privileged place to be. That has stayed with me throughout and remains the stimulus no matter how large or how small the setting.”
Donnie got a band together and they went off and played live again to the fans long starved of his unique voice. The success of these shows encouraged the band to record two live performances at Portree and Ayr and used the material to release the second album from Donnie Munro – simply called Donnie Munro. More tours in Scotland and Europe followed over the years as did a further batch of albums including Gaelic Heart (2002) which included traditional Gaelic songs from Skye.
In 2006 Donnie Munro released Heart of America – Across the Great Divide on Scottish based Greentrax Recordings (DTRAX 291). Munro signed to the label late in 2005. The singer said “It is realty great for me to present this new album through a company which has played such a major part in supporting and developing the Scottish music scene and particularly pleasing to do so as they celebrate their 2th year in business.”
The release of Heart of America and his association with Greentrax was another marker on the singers journey and one which he is clearly passionate about. “Getting into the studio to record new songs is really such a privilege and particularly where you find yourself surrounded by so many great players I approached this album in a very direct way with the songs at the centre of everything and everything being performed as live simply and directly In addition to the guys in the band who are all fantastic musicians I was lucky to have some great guests come in on the sessions and also to work on a couple of collaborations one with my long time friend musician and composer Blair Douglas on a song he had written in celebration of the links between Skye and Prince Edward Island and one with young talented guitarist Richard Macintyre from the band Stereoglo; fiddle player Duncan Chisholm of Wolfstone also makes a welcome appearance on the recording; along with the sensational Saxophonist Eraser Fifield; and the great new vocal talent Viv Scotston.”
The album was described as broadly thematic and centered on some of the broad themes of migration and movement emerging from the title track ‘Heart of America’. This song was written following a journey across the north eastern States of the US with his wife and two youngest children at the height of the Iraq War and an earlier visit to Ellis Island immigrant reception centre. Munro said “I was deeply moved by the whole idea of migration displacement travel hardship and opportunity and the very contradictory nature of the images America has presented throughout its history – this all tied in to themes and ideas of which many are very much a part of the social history of my own people in the Highlands and Islands and so it all became a part of a broad feel. As with many of my songs some are very firmly rooted in images and influences of childhood and the physical spaces we occupied and shared with people whose ideas and attitudes helped form us.”
Donnie continues to record and perform and has served as Development Director for the Gaelic-language college Sabhal Mor Ostaig on Skye.
Dochas attracted a lot of attention in the Scottish traditional music scene in 2003. The band initially featured five talented young women from the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. They used fiddle, accordion, pipes, whistles, clarsach, piano and guitar. This was complemented by powerful Gaelic singing.
The band’s self-titled album was released in 2002. The success of the band led them to be nominated as Best Newcomers 2003 at the Scottish Traditional Music Awards.
The final lineup included Kathleen Boyle on piano; Julie Fowlis on vocals, whistles and pipes; Carol-Anne Mackay on bagpipes, accordion and Scottish small pipes; Eilidh Macleod on clarsach; Martin O’Neill on bodhran; and Jenna Reid on fiddle.