Tag Archives: Scottish music

Artist Profiles: Bad Haggis

Bad Haggis – Photo by Wayde Carroll

 

Virtuoso bagpipe player Eric Rigler and his Celtic-infused, world music fusion band Bad Haggis combine the traditional sounds of Scottish and Irish bagpipes and tin whistles with Latin American music, Jazz, rock, and African influences. Based in Los Angeles, the band was formed in formed in 1998 and has toured the United States, Scotland and Spain.

Rigler fell in love with the sound of bagpipes at age two. He learned the traditional forms of bagpipe music, but as he got older he was interested in other genres and decided to combine them.

Rigler ‘s bagpipes and whistles are heard on several movie soundtracks, from Hollywood hits Braveheart and Titanic to the 2005 Oscar winner Million Dollar Baby. Eric Rigler also is heard on Troy, Master and Commander – The Far Side of the World, Ladder 49, Road to Perdition, Death to Smoochy, Austin Powers – The Spy Who Shagged Me, Bobby Jones, Stroke of Genius and many others.

Bad Haggis is led by Rigler on Scottish and Irish bagpipes and various whistles. The lineup has varied throughout the years.

 

Eric Rigler – Photo courtesy of Aix Records

 

Rigler has recorded with various artists such as Phil Collins, Rod Stewart, Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey, Rod Stewart, Barbra Streisand, Josh Groban and Tracy Chapman.

He’s also heard and sometimes seen on A&E television’s Crossing Jordan as well as other TV series like JAG, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and others. Rigler was the piper who led former President Ronald Reagan’s burial, televised worldwide.

 

Discography:

Ark (2000)

Trip (2001)

Span (2004) Live-concert, double-sided DVD

Wine Dark Sea (2005)

website: www.badhaggis.com

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Artist Profiles: Corrina Hewa

Corrina Hewat – Photo by Van Gill Media

 

Singer, harp player, composer and arranger Corrina Hewat was born in Edinburgh on December 21st, 1970. Over the past years Corrina has attracted attention with her original mix of traditional jazz, folk and classical music in formats ranging from solo to a 31-piece “folk orchestra.”

Corrina grew up  in Inverness in the Scottish Highlands where her parents were both folk music fans and amateur performers themselves . After a few years learning fiddle and piano Corrina started playing the Scottish harp (clarsach) at 12, and was soon performing at local festivals and ceilidhs.

After a year studying classical harp with the late Sanchia Pielou at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, Corrina switched to a BA degree in Jazz Popular and Contemporary Music at the Leeds College of Music, becoming the first ever harp player to take the course and graduating with honors in 1993. It was during this time that she met her musical partner and now husband pianist David Milligan with whom she played in an extra-curricular jazz-funk band.

Corrina turned professional early in 1994 launching her new duo with David Bachue (then Bachue Cafe) at the inaugural Celtic Connections festival. Ever since then Corrina has found herself in increasing demand as a skilled harp player, vocalist and prestigious composer.

 

Corrina Hewat – Photo by Dougie Cunningham

 

In 1998 she formed the band Shine that features Corrina on electroharp and vocals; Mary MacMaster on electroharp and vocals; and Alyth McCormack on vocals.

 

 

Corrina published a music book with accompanying CD titled Scottish Harp that received critical acclaim from teachers and pupils alike. It comprises of traditional-style pieces and compositions for solo harp.

Her projects include a duo with Kathryn Tickell exploring the Scottish and Northumbrian Borders traditions and vocal trio Grace, Hewat, Polwart with Karine Polwart & Annie Grace.

 

 

Discography:

A Certain Smile with Bachue (Culburnie Records CUL114D, 1999)
Bachue Caffe, with Bachue (Highlander Music HRMCD1)
Primary Colours, with Chantan (Culburnie Records CUL18D)
The Dunedin Consort – Silhouette by Corrina Hewat (Tob Records TRCD15)
Photons In Vapour (Tob Records TRCD7)
The Sea King’s Daughter (Saltire Society SSACCD1)
My Favourite Place (Footstompin’ Records FSRCD1719, 2004)
The Sky Didn’t Fall, with Kathryn Tickell (Park Records PRKCD88, 2006)
The Butterfly with Bachue (Big Bash Records BBRCD15, 2006)
Harp I Do (2008)
Live in Scotland, with The Unusual Suspects (Foot Stompin Records CDFSR1727 2011)
Big Like This, with The Unusual Suspects (2014)
Sugarcane, with Shine (2014)
Fire and Frost, with Shine (2015)

http://www.corrinahewat.com

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Artist Profiles: Chris Stout

Chris Stout

Shetland fiddler Chris Stout is one of the finest fiddlers of his generation in the UK. Stout was best known as a frontline member of Fiddlers’ Bid. His debut solo release First O’ the Darkenin’  however focused attention on his formidable individual talents at the helm of his own five-piece band winning him a nomination for Best Traditional Track at 2005’s Radio 2 Folk Awards.

Stout was born in Lerwick and grew up in Fair Isle until he was 7 years old “…where I caught my first glimpse of the fiddle when I was only 3! It was being played by my friend Ewan Thomson who was 7 years old at the time but has subsequently made the art of violin making his career. I now play two of his instruments a fiddle and viola.”

He played classical music at school and traditional music at home with his father who plays the accordion. “He took me to play at the Accordion and Fiddle clubs which was my introduction to traveling round the halls in Shetland and gave me my first performance experience.”

1990 was an important year for Stout. “I moved schools and became friendly with other young musicians who were mainly fiddle players. This group of youngsters were given the name ‘Fiddlers’ Bid’. They enjoyed frequent afternoon sessions possibly in place of classes such as Math or English with their teacher Willie Hunter. Countless concert experiences at coffee evenings and such like came rolling in.”

In the same year he won Shetland’s ‘Young Fiddler of the Year’ competition for his traditional fiddling. “I became Shetland’s ‘Young Musician of the Year’ for performing a classical repertoire. Having studied for a year with fiddle player Arthur Scott Robertson it was the advice of my classical tutor Teresa Mooreland that I should continue my studies on the mainland.”

In 1991 Stout gained a place at the music school of Douglas Academy in Glasgow where he studied for two additional years before gaining a place at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (RSAMD). “During this time I played most weekends with the popular singing group ‘The Clydesiders’. This gave me a real appreciation and understanding of using the fiddle in an accompanying role to the voices. In retrospect it was probably my first opportunity to use the fiddle in an improvisatory style.”

Throughout his studies at the RSAMD he became more fascinated and excited by contemporary classical music. “As part of my degree I spent time working in an electro acoustic music studio. I completed my degree in classical violin and went on to do Masters in electro acoustic composition studying with the leading composer Alastair MacDonald. I was lucky enough to have one of my pieces released on a compilation CD of electro acoustic music featuring some of Britain’s top composers in this field.”

In 2000 Stout took part in a UK tour called ‘Fiddles on Fire’ with fiddlers Dezi Donnelly (Manchester) Eliza Carthy (England) and Susanne Lundeng (Norway). “This gave me my first independent break as a solo fiddle player on a national level.”

Stout has put this eclectic musical experience to good use. “I work with jazz musicians including London based trombonist Annie Whitehead drummer John Rae with his ‘Celtic Feet’ band saxophonist Phil Bancroft and ‘Orquestra Scotland Brasil’ 2003 collaboration.”

I am in demand as an electro acoustic composer. I composed a piece for Phil Bancroft in 2002 which was performed as part of the UK tour ‘Double Helix’. This was one of 3 professional commissions since leaving music college.”

Chris Stout’s quintet features Fraser Fifield (soprano saxophone) Catriona Mackay (harp piano) Malcolm Stitt (guitar) and Neil Harland (bass). The Quintet’s sound draws on the full breadth of Chris’ diverse skills and interests centered on his beloved Shetland traditions but weaving in a rich array of jazz and world-music influences.

In 2007 Stout released his solo album Devil’s Advocate.

Discography:

Around the World, with Fiddlers’ Bid (1994)

Hamnataing, with Fiddlers’ Bid (Greentrax, 1998)

Da Farder den Da Welcomer, with Fiddlers’ Bid (Greentrax, 2002)

First O’ the Darkenin’ (2004)

Naked and Bare, with Fiddlers’ Bid (Greentrax, 2005)

Laebrack, with Catriona McKay (2005)

Devil’s Advocate (Greentrax, 2007)

All Dressed in Yellow, with Fiddlers’ Bid (2009)

White Nights, with Catriona McKay (2010)

First O’ the Darkenin (Greentrax, 2011)

Chris Stout’s Brazilian Theory Live in Concert (2011)

Cauld Wind, with Finlay Macdonald (2013)

Seavaigers, with Catriona McKay (2014)

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Artist Profiles: Ceolbeg

Ceolbeg – Ceol beag is a Gaelic phrase meaning literally small music. It refers to the jigs, reels, and strathpeys of traditional Scottish pipe music and contrasts with ceol mór, the big music of the pibroch or classical Highland bagpipe repertoire. Ceolbeg’s music ranged from solo instrumental pieces to powerful bagpipe driven Celtic rock.

The original lineup included Peter Boond on flute and whistles; Mike Katz on bagpipes, whistles and bass; Colin Matheson on bass, keyboards, guitar, and mandolin; Davy Steele on vocals; Wendy Stewart on clarsach (harp); and Jim Walker on percussion.

The group disbanded in 2001.

Discography:

Not the Bunnyhop (Greentrax Recordings, 199)

Seeds to the Wind (Greentrax Recordings, 1991)

An Unfair Dance (Greentrax Recordings, 1993)

5 (Greentrax, 1996)

Cairn Water (Greentrax Recordings, 2000)

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Artist Profiles: Catriona MacDonald

Catriona MacDonald – Photo by Leila Angus

Catriona MacDonald began playing as a child back in 1981. Less than two years later, she took both the title of Young Fiddler of the Year in the annual Shetland Folk Society competition and the deputy leadership of a new fiddle group, Shetland’s Young Heritage, set up to help preserve Shetland traditional music and to help teach Shetland traditional fiddle to local school children. In 1991 her dexterity and presence became acknowledged on a wider stage, when she won the prestigious BBC Radio Two Young Tradition Award, a high profile competition featuring the cream of Britain’s young traditional players.

However, fiddle playing was not her only talent and at the age of eighteen, Catriona found herself studying voice at the Royal College of Music in London (where she met former playing partner accordionist Ian Lowthian). After graduating from four years study it was time to focus on Catriona’s first love the Shetland fiddle so she returned to Scotland and started her professional career.

Catriona has worked closely with accordionist Ian Lowthian and was behind a fantastic project the String Sisters premiered at Celtic Connections in January 2000, bringing together six of the most exciting female fiddle players in the world. String Sisters features a stellar international line up comprising Liz Carroll (USA), Liz Knowles (USA), Annbjorg Lien (Norway), Natalie MacMaster (Canada) and Altan’s Mairead ni Mhaonaigh (Ireland). Catriona was also a member of Blazin’ Fiddles.

Discography

Bold (2000)
The Old Style, with Blazin’ Fiddles (2004)
Magnificent Seven, with Blazin’ Fiddles (2005)
Live in Scotland, with The Unusual Suspects (2005)
Blazin’ Fiddles Live, with Blazin’ Fiddles(2007)
Over the Moon (2007)
Live, with String Sisters (2009)
Big Like This, with The Unusual Suspects (2010)
Thursday Night in the Caley, with Blazin’ Fiddles (2011)

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Artist Profiles: Catherine-Ann MacPhee

Catherine Ann McPhee
Catherine Ann McPhee is one of the great Gaelic voices. She was born in the Island of Barra (Scotland) and worked as an actor and singer proud of her heritage for many years. Her big break came in the 198s when she was asked to record an album. She now has three albums in her repertoire and her voice has become one of the most after in the Gaelic language world. She has recorded with Hector Zazou and has recently sung alongside Bjork, Siouxie and the Banshees and Suzanne Vega.

Catherine-Ann MacPhee was brought up on the Island of Barra. The Barra of her childhood was predominantly a singing island, especially Eoligarry, the small village where her home was. It was also home to many of the Island\’s singers, not least her grandmother and various other members of her family who encouraged the natural talent that they all saw in her at a very young age. At the age of seventeen, she was invited to join the first Gaelic Touring Repertory Theatre Company Fir Chlis. She toured with them for three and a half years throughout Scotland and England.

After Fir Chlis’ premature demise, Cathy Ann joined John McGrath’s 7:84 Theatre Co. and continued to tour as an actress and singer for some years. During this time she released her first recording, Canan Nan Gaidheal, followed in 1991 by Chi Mi’n Geamhradh, then the Sings Mairi Mhor album in 1994 and Suil Air Ais, ten years later. She is now in demand performing and teaching at many feisean, from Barra to Seattle.

After living in South Uist (Outer Hebrides) for some years Cathy Ann moved to Ottawa, Canada.

Discography:

Canan Nan Gaidheal [The Language of the Gael] (Greentrax, 1987)

Chi Mi’n Geamhradh [I See Winter] (Greentrax, 1991)

Sings Mairi Mhor (Greentrax, 1994)

Òrain nan Gàidheal (1997)

Suil Air Ais [Looking Back] (Greentrax CDTRAX25, 2004)

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Artist Profiles: Calum MacKinnon

Calum MacKinnon

Calum is from the island of Tiree in the Hebrides. He started learning the fiddle at an early age, from a neighbor, Willie Kemp, who studied with James Scott Skinner. He was runner-up at the 1988 US National Scottish Fiddle Championships, and returned to judge the Nationals in 1989, 1991, 1998 and 2001.

The irresistible energy and sensitivity of Calum’s playing has made him a highly sought-after performer and teacher. His busy performance schedule of concerts and workshops has taken him across the United States and Canada and to Scotland, England and Japan. Calum plays extensively for Scottish country dances across the US and Canada with his band, The Music of Spey that includes pianist Andy Imbrie and bass and cello player Ralph Gordon. He also plays frequently for dances with Muriel Johnstone, Scotland’s premier country dance pianist.

Calum performed with harper Sue Richards on her solo CDs, Grey Eyed Morn, and Hazel Grove, and on the highly popular Scottish country dance recording, Memories of Scottish Weekend, recorded live at the Ramblewood Scottish Weekend in 1998.

Discography:

It’s About Time, with Muriel Johnstone (Skerryvore Records, 2003)

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Artist Profiles: Burach

Burach

Burach is one of the most innovative and popular bands to come out of the new wave of Scottish musical inventiveness combining Celtic music and contemporary rock influences to create a unique sound that is popular with young and old alike.

Formed in the autumn of 1994, Burach won the 1994/95 Scottish Folk Group Competition. Since the release of their first album, The Weird Set, Burach have been making a name for themselves with tours to Scandinavia, Brittany, France, Holland and Italy, they have played as far as Turkmenistan in Central Asia and shared the stage with a number of prestigious performers including Big Country, Alison Moyet, Nils Lofgren and Goat’s Don’t Shave and have appeared on MTV, the BBC, and Russian television.

Burach is a Gaelic word colloquially meaning a mess, or more formally, “a delving in the earth.” The band’s second CD Born Tired, was released in 1997. Tracks from both albums have been licensed to several compilations albums, such as The Electric Muse II, EMI’s Folk ‘n Hell, and the Scottish Arts Council’s recent release, Seriously Scottish.

Band members include: Doug Anderson on guitar, mandolin and vocals; Eoghain Anderson on drums and percussion; Gregor Borland on fiddle and background vocals; Sandy Brechin on accordion and background vocals; Alison Cherry on lead vocals and whistle; Roy Waterson on bas and background vocals.
mp;Backup Vocals

Discography:

The Weird Set (Greentrax Recordings CDTRAX93, 1995)

Born Tired (Greentrax Recordings CDTRAX136, 1997)

Deeper (Greentrax Recordings, 2000)

Unstoppable (Brechin All Records, 2006)

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Artist Profiles: Bodega

Bodega

Bodega were Gillian Chalmers (Fraserburgh – pipes, whistle and fiddle); Ross Couper (Shetland – fiddle); Tia Files (Oban – guitar, bass guitar and percussion); Norrie Maclver (Isle of Lewis – lead vocals, accordion and guitar) and June Naylor (Isle of Skye – clarsach). The band formed in March 2005 and met while they were attending The National Centre of Excellence for Traditional Music, Plockton, Ross-shire. Late in 25 they won the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award and early in 2006 the Band signed to Greenstrax Recordings. Their debut album is titled simply Bodega.

Jack Evans, who produced the album, wrote – “Bodega is highly talented and versatile and together their music has a kind of fierce energy, imagination and joie de vivre, that you just don’t hear very often. They do songs brilliantly. They do tunes superbly. They sing in Gaelic and English.

They’re funky, yet respectful of traditions. They have clever arrangements. They improvise. Individually they’re among the very best young musicians we have today. Collectively, they may just be the future of traditional music. Get into Bodega now, because where they lead others will follow.”

Bodega disbanded at the end of 2011.

Discography:

Bodega (Greentrax CDTRAX 295, 2006)

Under the Counter (Greentrax, 2008)

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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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