Tag Archives: Scottish music

Artist Profiles: Filska


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)


Artist Profiles: Fiddlers’ Bid

Fiddlers’ Bid

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)

Naked and Bare (Greentrax Recordings, 2005)

All Dressed in Yellow (2009)

website: http://www.fiddlersbid.com


Artist Profiles: Elspeth Cowie

Elspeth Cowie – Photo by Bryan Ledgard

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.


Artist Profiles: Dougie Maclean

Dougie Maclean

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.


Caledonia (1979)

Snaigow (1980)

On a Wing and a Prayer (1981)

Craigie Dhu (Blix Street Records 154 1982)

Butterstone (1983)

Fiddle (1984)

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)

Who Am I (2002)

Inside The Thunder (2006)

Muir Of Gormack (2007)

Resolution (Dunkeld Records, 2010)



Artist Profiles: Donnie Munro

Artist Profiles: Donnie Munro

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.


Artist Profiles: Dochas


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.


Dochas (Macmeanmna SKYECD 23, 2002)

An Darna Umhail (Macmeanmna SKYECD 34, 2005)


Entrancing Modern Celtic Sounds of Scotland and Brittany

Alain Genty and Joanne McIver – Eternal Tides (Buda Records, 2017)

Eternal Tides is a beautiful and mesmerizing album by two masters in the Celtic music field. Frenchman Alain Genty is a bass virtuoso, multi-instrumentalist, producer and composer who has been involved in Breton music for many years. Joanne McIver is a Scottish singer-songwriter from Arran Island who also plays the Scottish smallpipes.

Together, Alain Genty and Joanne McIver celebrate Scotland’s traditions through songs in Gaelic and English plus short instrumentals. It’s contemporary Celtic music, mixing tradition with tasteful modern electric bass, North African rhythms, jazz trumpet, and soundscape electronics. Some of us would call some the pieces progressive Celtic music.

Along with the remarkable vocals of Joanne Mciver and the outstanding bass lines of Alain Genty, you’ll also find an impressive list of well-known guest instrumentalists from the Breton Celtic music scene who add Breton and world music instruments into the mix.

Some of themes of the songs include the uncertainty of distant fishing; a longing of childhood summers on the beach; dockworker songs; and references to Scottish history.



The lineup includes Alain Genty on bass, guitars, keyboards, drums and electronics; Joanne McIver on vocals and Scottish smallpipes; Patrick Molard on biniou; Jean-Michel Veillon on bombard; Nicolas Giraud on trumpet and berimbau; Christophe Saunière on harp; Thierry Garcia on guitar; Kouider Berkane on violin; and Bachir Mokari on darbuka, bendir and karkabas.

Eternal Tides is an exquisitely-crafted, enchanting album by two giants in the contemporary Celtic music field who masterfully bring together Scottish and Breton traditions.

Buy the Eternal Tides CD or the digital download version.


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.



Ark (2000)

Trip (2001)

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

Wine Dark Sea (2005)

website: www.badhaggis.com


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.




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)



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.


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)