Category Archives: Artist Profiles

Artist Profiles: Hamish Napier

Hamish Napier

From Strathspey, multi-instrumentalist Hamish Napier comes from a family steeped in traditional music. He received excellent tuition in many instruments at the renowned music department at Grantown Grammar School and his local Gaelic Arts Festival, Feis Spe.

As part of award-winning band, Back of the Moon, he performed in many prestigious venues and festivals and toured in the US, Canada, France, Italy and Switzerland.

Napier produced Gràs (Grace) , the album by acclaimed Scottish vocalist Mairi MacInnes.

Discography:

The River ( Strathspey Records , 2016)
The Railway (2018)

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Artist Profiles: Guillermo Barrón Ríos

Guillermo Barrón Ríos

Mexican percussionist Guillermo Barrón Ríos has developed his style with different ensembles that cover a wide range of musical genres such as classical music, rock, pop, flamenco, Mexican music, salsa and Latin jazz, among others. He has performed with many international artists: José Feliciano, Luisito Quintero, Charlie Sepúlveda, among others.

Barrón has one Latin jazz musical production under his belt, “¿Cuál es la prisa?” (What’s the rush?), that includes original compositions and arrangements, featuring his main musical influences: Latin-American music, jazz and flamenco. Additionally, he has participated in a great selection of musical recordings, sharing credits with Gilberto Santa Rosa, among many others.

He currently lives in New York City, where he collaborates with different musical projects.

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Artist Profiles: María Toro

María Toro

Spanish musician María Toro was born in 1979 in La Coruña, Spain. She is a respected flutist and flamenco-jazz composer whose career path has taken her across many countries in different continents over the years. Seven years after moving from her native Galicia to Madrid, in 2009, she joined an international flamenco company in Zurich, Switzerland.

Afterwards, she crossed the Atlantic to form part of the flamenco and jazz movement in New York City. Later, she settled in Rio de Janeiro in order to integrate her music with the effervescent musical sounds of the city.

In Switzerland, she started to compose her first album, A Contraluz, finally recorded in the United States in 2014 with renowned jazz performers in New York City. In 2016, while living in Rio de Janeiro, she recorded her second album, Araras, accompanied by great performers such as Hermeto Pascoal, who provided Brazilian rhythm to her proposal.

In 2017, Maria Toro returned to Madrid, where she continues composing and performing her musical repertoire throughout Spain and Europe.

Discography:

Jose Romero Project (2012)
A Contraluz (Jazz Activist, 2014)
Araras (Jazz Activist, 2018)

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Artist Profiles: María Terremoto

María Terremoto

María Fernández Benítez, better known as María Terremoto, was born in Jerez de la Frontera in 2000. She is part of a famous family of flamenco artists; her grandfather was Fernando Fernández Monge “Terremoto de Jerez” and her father is singer Fernando Fernández Pantoja “Terremoto.”

Since she was a child, María Terremoto has participated in many flamenco zambombas (Flamenco Christmas carols performed during Christmas in Jeerz) with her family, in which she unexpectedly became the central character of each performance. At nine years old, Maria was responsible for a crucial moment in her father’s life, the great Fernando Terremoto, when she performed on stage in the flamenco nightclub (tablao) that bears his name. That day will be evoked forever by all who were there, because unsuspectingly, Fernando passed the artistic torch to his daughter Maria in what would be his final farewell to the stage.

In mid-2014, at just fourteen years old, Maria began to make infrequent performances in Jerez. Progressively, she began to perform more often and traveled outside of Jerez, making her mark in the jondo (flamenco deep roots) scene.

Her big opportunity came in February 2016, during the significant Festival de Jerez. María gave a flamenco performance at the Palacio de Villavicencio that left everyone astonished. That moment generated unparalleled press acclaim for such a young artist. She was just sixteen years old.

This performance was the beginning of a tour of flamenco clubs and major festivals, such as the peñas de Huelva, Torres Macarena de Sevilla, La Niña de los Peines de Arahal, Casabermeja de Málaga , Pozoblanco, Baeza…and festivals such as Grazalema, Pedrera, Casariche, Pruna, La Caracolá Lebrijana and the Flamenco Fridays of Jerez, among many others.

María Terremoto – Photo by Paco Barroso

On September 22, 2016, Maria performed a concert at Seville’s Flamenco biennial that many have called historic. After numerous positive reviews, she was the youngest artist to ever be awarded the high-status ‘Giraldillo Revelación 2016’ prize, which catapulted her to the vanguard of the flamenco scene. In 2018 she received the prestigious ‘Venencia Flamenca’, an award given by the Flamenco community ‘El pozo de las penas’. After receiving this recognition, María made the rounds on the most prestigious stages throughout Spain.

María Terremoto released her first album: “La huella de mi sentío” (IR Music, 2018). The album was officially debuted at La Bienal de Flamenco de Sevilla.

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Artist Profiles: Flook

Flook in 2019

The idea of Flook was first conceived in Manchester, November 1995, when Michael McGoldrick (flutes), Brian Finnegan (flutes) and Sarah Allen (flutes, whistles, accordion) got together for one tour titled Three Nations Flutes. The unusual line-up included three flute players. Guitarist Ed Boyd was drafted in at the end of the tour and they changed their name to Fluke!, later to Flook.

In 1997, the band released Flook! Live!, which captured the three talented flutists at their best during the Sidmouth Folk Festival. Michael McGoldrick and was part of the Manchester Irish scene from a young age. Brian Finnegan was raised in Armagh in Ireland while Sarah Allen was originally from London. Ed Boyd spent his childhood in Bath before he moved to Manchester and formed Red Ciel prior to Flook!

When Mike left to pursue solo projects in 1998, John Joe Kelly (bodhran), who was also a veteran of the Manchester Irish scene, was brought in full time, having previously appeared as an occasional guest.

Flook’s unique combination of flutes, underpinned by fluid guitar and hugely impressive bodhram playing made them one of the most popular groups on the live music circuit in the UK.

Flook won Best Band at BBC Folk Awards in 2006.

The group disbanded in 2008 and reformed in 2013. A new album titled Ancora was announced in 2019.

Discography:

Flook! Live! (Small CD 945 1997)
Flatfish (Flatfish 2CD 1999)
Rubai (Flatfish4CD 2003)
Haven (World Village, 2006)

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Artist Profiles: Asian Dub Foundation


Asian Dub Foundation

Asian Dub Foundation was founded in 1993 with the intention of the fusion of musical styles. Ever since the release of their first album Facts and Fiction in 1996, the collective – a label that fits them more snugly than group- has been constantly evolving towards ever more ambitious projects, from giving rabble-rousing performances and drawing attention to sensitive issues, to adding new layers to its alloy of sounds.

Although Asian Dub Foundation’s early output failed to grab their public’s imagination, the midi warriors, as they call themselves, later generated widespread enthusiasm.

With the inaugural sound system line-up including bassist and teacher Dr Das, DJ and civil rights activist, Pandit G, and Deedar Zaman, a brilliant MC from a London music school, Asian Dub Foundation established the building blocks of its cross-cultural identity in 1993. Soon joined by guitarist Chandrasonic and programming prodigy Sun J, the group moved from playing at anti-racist gigs to becoming major challengers on a British music scene still gripped by Britpop fever.

ADF’s members were all born in England to immigrant parents and share an open-minded approach to musical culture, from the latest electronic vibes and traditional Eastern sounds, to rebellious rhythms of punk rock and hip hop that express their everyday struggle for respect and tolerance.

Their charisma and social conscience have won praise from a whole host of major names in the music industry: ADF toured with Primal Scream after the release of their second album R.A.F.I. (1997), before being invited to provide the warm-up act at a David Bowie concert. The campaign for the release of Satpal Ram, an immigrant worker convicted of murder after defending himself from a racist attack, thrust them into the spotlight.

ADF was asked to perform at the Fuki Rock Festival in Japan, where the group has always enjoyed an enthusiastic reception, before hitting the road with the Beastie Boys. After the release of their third album, Community Music (1999), the group was joined by drummer Rocky Singh and Pritpal Rajput (who plays the Dohl, a traditional Panjabi drum), securing their reputation for high energy live stage performances.

Struck by the social message of La Haine, Mathieu Kassovitz’s film about the lives of three teenagers in the Paris suburbs (Ghotika), ADF re-wrote the soundtrack, which they performed live at screenings of the film. Their most moving performance was on 31 March 2001 at the Barbican in London when Satpal Ram, released just the day before, joined the band on stage.

When Deedar decided to call it a day, ADF invited two MCs (Aktar and Spex), graduates of the same music school as them, to join them on their latest adventure: the recording of their fourth album Enemy of the Enemy (2003). Heavily influenced by world events – the opening of Europe’s borders and September 11 ? the album also portrays the production skills of one of the pioneers of British dub, Adrian Sherwood, boss of the On-U Sound label. The album also featured an unexpected guest artist, Sinead O’Connor, who tackles the issue of domestic violence on the track 1,000 Mirrors. Radiohead guitarist Ed O?Brien cut in on the sessions and the two groups teamed up for a landmark European tour. ADF also joined French activist Jose Bove at an anti-globalization rally in the Larzac region of southern France, in August 2003. Keep Bangin’ on the Walls, their highly-charged live performance, was released in the heat of the moment as a CD and a DVD.

Reluctant to stick to the distinctive sound that had made their name, ADF chose to reinvent itself by inviting a number of new members to join the team. Ghetto Priest, an artist on the On-U Sound label, was the first to arrive on the scene, infusing the tracks on Tank with a whole new flavor. Priest’s steady flow recalls the great Jamaican vocalist Horace Andy, a stark contrast with the more hip-hop inclined Spex. By hooking up with Ben Watkins (composer of the soundtracks for the Matrix trilogy and member of Juno Reactor) and Adam Wren (Leftfield?s sound engineer), ADF has steered a more electronic course as revealed by the irresistible dance rhythm of the first track, Fly Over. It sums up ADF?s calling to make music that gets the mind and body moving by raising awareness on the dance floor.

As the title suggests, Tank is an album created in a world at war. Oil makes a stark reference to the economic interests at stake for the countries involved, Take Back the Power is an attack on the abuse of power by dictators, Warring Dohl focuses on the situation in Pakistan and Bangladesh, while The Round Up sounds a particularly grim warning: “When you hear the marching drum/You know your time soon come”. As in their previous albums, the lyrics are shot through with meaning, while the album’s enormous energy prevents it from sliding into dogma. ADF remains first and foremost a musical laboratory overflowing with ideas, drawing on sophisticated programming, deep bass sounds and searing riffs to create its one-of-a-kind kick.

The collective reveals once more that it is open to new sounds: Mad Mike from the Detroit Underground Resistance (founded with Jeff Mills), another great name in the realm of integrity, collaborated on Powerlines while Tomorrow Begins Today takes an original reggae stance. Melody 7, the album?s closing instrumental piece, recalls the group?s work on the soundtrack for La Haine, which they have taken up again with La Bataille d’Alger, a film banned in France on its release in 1965 because of its political stance. And it’s still hot stuff: the Pentagon viewed the film in 2003 as part of its fight against rebel groups in Iraq.

After a number of performances in England and just finishing the recording of Tank, ADF plunged head first into a new project. The English National Theatre commissioned the collective to compose and perform an opera on the life of Libyan leader Colonel Gadaffi. The project posed a new challenge for which this inventive and ambitious group are particularly well suited.

Discography:

Facts and Fictions (Rough Trade, 1995)
Rafi’s Revenge (1998)
Community Music (2000)
Enemy of the Enemy (2003)
Tank (Virgin, 2005)
Punkara (Beat Records, 2008)
A History of Now (Beat Records, 2011)
More Signal More Noise (ADF, 2015)

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Artist Profiles: Alasdair Fraser

Alasdair Fraser at the Carrboro ArtsCenter – Photo by Angel Romero

Alasdair Fraser was born on may 14 May, 1955 in Clackmannan, Scotland. He is widely acclaimed as a top performer, recording artist and teacher of the rich fiddling tradition of his native Scotland.

His vast repertoire spans several centuries of Scottish music and also includes his own compositions, blending a profound understanding of the Scottish tradition. Fraser is justly renowned for his ability to communicate with his audience through his personal warmth and wit as well as through music. His richly expressive playing transports listeners across a broad spectrum ranging from haunting laments drawn from the Gaelic tradition to classically-styled airs and raucous dance tunes.

In addition to releasing critically acclaimed solo albums, Alasdair’s compositions and performances have also been included on top selling Celtic and New Age compilation albums (Celtic Twilight on the Hearts of Space label, and Wilderness Collection and Celtic Odyssey on Narada). His solo violin can be heard on the soundtracks of several major films, including The Last of the Mohicans and Titanic.

Alasdair Fraser with Skyedance Band

In May 1996, Alasdair’s album Dawn Dance received the prestigious NAIRD (now AFIM) Indie Award for best Celtic album of the Year. This is the first album by Alasdair to feature entirely his own compositions. The music brings together the best of Scottish, Baroque, Rock and Medieval/Ancient ideas and features some of the best musicians in these respective fields. Shortly after the release of Dawn Dance, Alasdair and the other musicians decided to name their band Skyedance.

Fraser has founded five summer fiddling programs in the USA, Spain and Australia.

Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas at the Carrboro ArtsCenter – Photo by Angel Romero

In recent years, he has been touring and recording with American cellist Natalie Haas.

Fraser lives in northern California, in the United States.

Discography

Portrait of a Scottish Fiddler (Brownrigg Productions, 1982)
Skyedance, with Paul Machlis (Culburnie Records, 1985)
The Road North, with Paul Machlis (Sona Gaia/Narada, 1987)
The Driven Bow, with Jody Stecher (1989)
Dawn Dance (Culburnie Records, 1996)
Way Out to Hope Street, with Skyedance Band (1997)
Return to Kintail, with Tony McManus (Culburnie Records, 1999)
Labyrinth, with Skyedance Band (2000)
Legacy of the Scottish Fiddle, Vol 1, with Paul Machlis (Piano) and Natalie Haas (Cello) – released 2002
Live in Spain, with Skyedance Band – released 2002
Legacy of the Scottish Fiddle, Vol 2, with Muriel Johnstone and Natalie Haas (Culburnie Records, 2004)
Fire and Grace, with Natalie Haas (Greentrax Records, 2004)
In the Moment, with Natalie Haas (Culburnie Records, 2007)
Highlander’s Farewell, with Natalie Haas (Culburnie Records, 2011)
Abundance, with Natalie Haas (Culburnie Records, 2014)
Ports of Call, with Natalie Haas ( Culburnie Records, 2017)

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Artist Profiles: Aly Bain

Aly Bain

Aly Bain was born on May 15 1946 in Lerwick, Shetland, Scotland. Lerwick is a small, enchanting town on the Shetland Islands. Aly began learning fiddle at the age of eleven. Tom Anderson, his teacher, is acknowledged as one of the true masters of Shetland music. Aly developed a highly dramatic style of playing, matching his great tone and technical ability with genuine emotion. Alert to the musical potential of the dynamic interaction between Irish and Scottish traditions, he helped establish the Boys of the Lough. The group is now recognized as one of the best in the tradition.

Simultaneously, Aly pursued his solo career. Since 1986, he has been working with Pelicula Films on various television series dealing with folk music. The first series, “Down Home,” traces fiddle music from its roots in Scotland across the Atlantic to the United States and Canada. The second, entitled “The Transatlantic Sessions” (1995), featured many prominent artists, such as Emmylou Harris, Iris DeMent, Kathy Mattea, Kate and Anna McGarrigle, Mary Black, Karen Matheson, Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh, Donal Lunny, Dick Gaughan, and Phil Cunningham.

Aly Bain (left) &Phil Cunningham (right)

Aly Bain and accordionist Phil Cunningham are two of the most celebrated musicians on the Scottish traditional scene. The duo first worked together on a television series in 1988, and embarked on their first tour shortly after. They were so well received that they have been touring Scotland annually ever since, in addition to frequent performances in Europe and North America.

In 1993, his autobiography, Fiddler on the Loose, was published, co-written by journalist and editor Alasdair Clark. He continues to tour extensively with the Boys of the Lough in addition to his collaborations with Phil and many other musicians.

Aly Bain also tours with Swedish multi-instrumentalist Ale Möller and with American fiddler, singer, guitarist and banjo player Bruce Molsky.

Discography:

Aly Bain ( Whirlie Records, 1984)
Aly Bain & Friends (Greentrax Records, 1989)
Lonely Bird (Green Linnet, 1992)
The Best of Aly Bain:Volume One:A Fiddler’s Tale (2008)

With Phil Cunningham:

The Pearl (Green Linnet, 1995)
The Ruby (Whirlie Records, 1997)
Another Gem (Whirlie Records, 2000)
Spring the Summer Long (Whirlie Records, 2003)
Best of Aly and Phil, Volume One (2004)
Roads Not Travelled (Whirlie Records, 2006)
Portrait (2010)
Five and Twenty (Whirlie Records, 2012)
Best of Aly and Phil, Volume Two (2013)

With Ale Möller

Fully Rigged (Whirlie Records/Northside, 1999)
Beyond the Stacks (Whirlie Records/Northside, 2007)
Meeting Point, with Ale Möller and Bruce Molsky (2013)

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Artist Profiles: Anna Wendy Stevenson

Anna Wendy Stevenson

Raised in Edinburgh, and surrounded by music from a family steeped in the arts, violinist, composer and producer Anna Wendy Stevenson has made her name as a highly respected performer and teacher of traditional fiddle. She studied music with her grandfather, composer Ronald Stevenson, and won a scholarship to study in the USA when she was only 19.

A founding member of highly successful trio Fine Friday, Anna Wendy has recorded and toured extensively throughout Europe, Canada and Australia performing at many of the top festivals (The National Festival, Celtic Colours International Festival, Celtic Connections, Port Fairy). She is also a member of all female quartet Calluna and was a member of globe trotting band Anam. Anna-Wendy also performed with the Bella MacNab Dance Band, the ceilidh band of choice for the Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Revels at the Assembly Rooms.

A holder of the London College of Music LLCM, ALCM (diplomas in teaching and performance) and renowned for her innovative approach to teaching, Anna-Wendy is a principle teacher at Lochgoilhead Fiddle Workshop and is involved with the Feis and other teaching organizations. Her excellent communication skills have led to extensive work with Yehudi Menuhin’s Live Music Now Organization bringing music to people with special needs.

Anna-Wendy released the CD Gowd and Silver with her grandfather Ronald Stevenson featuring a selection of Ronald’s arrangements of Scottish melodies as well as some of his original compositions.

Discography:

Dance Tunes, Airs and Songs from Scotland, with Calluna (Scottish Mill Records, 2000)
Gone Dancing, with Fine Friday (Foot Stompin’ Records, 2002)
Mowing the Machair, Fine Friday (Foot Stompin’ Records, 2005)
Gowd & Silver (Eclectic Records, 2005)
Anna-Wendy Stevenson (2006)
My Edinburgh (Anna-Wendy Music, 2010)

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Artist Profiles: Annie Grace

Annie Grace

Annie Grace grew up in the Scottish Highlands. Music played a large part in her formative years, and she began learning to play the bagpipes at the tender age of ten. Music festivals and close harmonies with her four siblings gave her a solid grounding in singing and her wasted youth was spent marching up and down Fort William High Street with the Lochaber Junior Pipe band.

During her four years at Glasgow School of Art, she performed with The Gunsmoke Trio and Pedro, and The Mighty Peelly Wally Ceilidh Band before being invited to join a new band subsequently named Iron Horse. Iron Horse became one of the acclaimed new wave folk bands of the nineties. The group was in huge demand. Constantly touring and recording, they visited all corners of the world and headlined at major festivals. Annie?s voice became a feature of the band, as well as her ability to entertain audiences with her stories and infectious humor.

Musical projects with Iron Horse included the award-winning Voice of the Land (1995) commissioned by the BBC, Stri (1997) a collaborative fusion piece with the RSNO and tours with British Council projects in Central Asia. In 2002, Iron Horse collaborated with Sogdiana, the national orchestra of Uzbekistan, touring parts of the country, and producing a CD of the project.

Annie started to expand her musical horizons by guesting on other albums with backing vocals or instrumentation. In 1998, she found herself surrounded by thirteen world music divas in the fantastic Female Factory show. Based in Amsterdam, this show toured Russia, Spain and Holland with a ten-piece band. Other projects included Scottish Women (2001-2002), commissioned by Celtic Connections. Annie is also a member of the Scottish big band The Unusual Suspects, who were formed at Celtic Connections 2003.

In February 2004, Annie released her debut solo album Take Me Out Drinking Tonight to an overwhelming response, including a 5 star review in the Sunday Herald. The album, a sparkling collection of contemporary and traditional material, shows Annie at her mature and confident best, living up to her reputation as a superb singer and exponent of the whistle.

Discography:

Take Me Out Drinking Tonight ‎(Greentrax Records, 2004)
The Accidental Death of An Accordionist, with The Tour-a-Rural Ceilidh Band (2008)
The Bell (Gracie Records, 2011)

With The Iron Horse:

The Iron Horse (Lochshore, 1992)
Thro’ Water, Earth and Stone (Lochshore, 1993)
Five Hands High (Lochshore, 1994)
Voice Of the Land (Lochshore, 1995)
Demons and Lovers (Lochshore, 1997)
The Wind Shall Blow For Ever More (Lochshore, 2004)

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