Tag Archives: Scotland

Artist Profiles: Gregor Borland

Gregor Borland

Gregor Borland has had the good fortune of being the only current performing fiddler to have been taught by both Hector MacAndrew of Cults, (whose grandfather was a pupil of James MacIntosh of Dunkeld, the last pupil of the famous Neil Gow) and Donald Riddell of Clunes, who was the leader of the Highland Strathspey and Reel Society, also a prolific teacher in the Inverness area. Both these fiddlers are now legendary in Scottish traditional fiddle
music.

Gregor has also had much success in competitions, winning the Daily record Junior Golden Fiddle Award in 1978 and then going on to win as many as eight Scottish Championships throughout Scotland over the next five years, including the “Henry Williams Trophy” at the Scottish Championship Contest, held in Inverness.

He has recorded and toured with many bands and artistes, including the Kathryn Tickell Band, Burach, Caledon, (With Davie Steele) and also Jim Malcolm to name but a few.

Gregor currently is living in Spain with his family where he has started a Traditional Scottish Fiddle School, in the beautiful town of Biar, north of Alicante. He is also a fully qualified piano tuner. Gregor has also recently started making fiddles, he now faithfully plays one of them on tour.

The CD Bowstroke demonstrates Gregor’s versatility. He is a traditional fiddler, but also has a contemporary side, as he has played with some of the best British folk groups, Kathryn Tickell Band and Burach to name a couple and this contemporary element comes out on the new cd. He is accompanied by Julian Sutton on melodeon & Ian Stevenson on guitar and harmonium.

For the traditional portion, Greg has three pianists, James Gray, Morag MacAskill, and last but not least Bob Turner. They all add a different flavor with their wonderful playing and it all adds up to a very enjoyable mix of old and new.

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Artist Profiles: Daimh

Dàimh

Dàimh offer a fresh, up to date approach to Scottish traditional music, with a rich sound that moves from driving, fiery reels to slow sets of lyrical beauty.

Based in the West Highlands, with musicians from Cape Breton Island, Ireland, the West Highlands of Scotland and the ever-innovative Irish/American scene, the band effortlessly blends music from their native traditions with a few more tunes picked up en-route, producing a breathtakingly fluid and exciting sound.

Their music is a very high energy, fast-flowing mixture of tunes and songs from the traditions of their countries represented. Fusing together their individual styles on bagpipes, fiddle, banjo, guitar, bodhran and mandola to create a unique and compelling sound, their music knows no boundaries.

Its members are Angus MacKenzie (whistle, highland and border pipes), Gabe McVarish (fiddle), Ellen MacDonald (voice/bagpipes), Murdo Cameron (mandolin/accordion) and Ross Martin (guitar).

Discography:

Moidart to Mabou (2000)
Pirates of Puirt (2004)
Crossing Point ( Greentrax , 2007)
Diversions (2010)
Tuneship (2014)
The Hebridean Sessions (2015)

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Artist Profiles: Calum MacCrimmon

Calum MacCrimmon – Photo by Lindsay Addison

Calum MacCrimmon is a Scottish multi-instrumentalist born in Canada. He plays bagpipes, whistles, and bouzouki.

Calum MacCrimmon began learning the bagpipes at the age of 9 under a local piper and family friend in Edmonton, Canada. In 1991 Calum and his family moved over to a small town in the East of Scotland where he furthered his piping in and around many junior competitions with much success in the North and Southeast. Some of Calum’s tutors include Anne Spalding, Lindsay Ellis, Norman Gillies, John D. Burgess and Alan MacDonald of Glenuig.

In 2000 Calum was accepted in the traditional music course at the RSAMD in Glasgow. During his time in Glasgow, Calum has pursued the whistle, guitar, smallpipes, and Gaelic song. He has also taken a great interest in teaching classes in the National Piping Centre, Glasgow over the last two years.

Calum became involved with the Scottish Feisean movement as a tutor of pipes and whistle, he is also a member of the 52nd Lowland Regiment Pipe Band in Glasgow and Hamish Moore’s Na Tri Seudan, based in Edinburgh. Calum assisted the musical production of the National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland as a pipe teacher and accompanying musician alongside Paul Warren (director) and Brian McNeil (producer).

He has participated in various bands, including Breabach, Mans Ruin, The Unusual Suspects, Seudan, RTK9000, Knobsquad, and Saxon Pop.

In 2007 Calum MacCrimmon won the Dewar Award.

Discography:

The Big Spree, with Breabach (Vertical Records, 2007)
Man’s Ruin (Box of Chocolates Records, 2009)
The Desperate Battle of the Birds, with Breabach (Breabach Records, 2010)
Big Like This, with The Unusual Suspects (Big Bash Records, 2010)
String Theory, with Mike Vass (2010)
Seudan (Greentrax, 2011)
Bann, with Breabach (Breabach Records, 2012)

Seudan, with Seudan

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Artist Profiles: Wolfstone

Wolfstone

Fiddler Duncan Chisholm and guitarist Stuart Eaglesham first met in the late 1980s at a pub session in Inverness, Scotland and formed a band for ceilidhs (Scottish dances). In 1989 they performed at the Highland Traditional Music Festival in Dingwall fusing drums and bass with keyboards, pipes, guitar and fiddle. The combination was a hit. They were soon offered local gigs that expanded into tours up and down the length and breadth of the Highlands and the Islands.

Within two years Wolfstone recorded its first album Unleashed, produced by Silly Wizard accordion virtuoso Phil Cunningham. During this time the band was offered a support slot for the popular Scottish crossover group Runrig at Loch Lomond, near Glasgow. The exposure and experience playing for such a large audience catapulted them into a new circuit. They began playing larger venues and festivals not only in the UK, but also increasingly in Europe, the United States and Canada.

The follow-up album, The Chase, built upon their success and brought new members to their line-up. In 1992 drummer Mop Youngson, from Aberdeen and bassist Wayne Mackenzie, from Inverness joined the pack. The thrill of the Highland bagpipes was added with piper Alan Wilson, later succeeded by the talented Stevie Saint from Pitlochry. In the meantime Unleashed and The Chase went silver and gold respectively in Scotland.

In 1993 Wolfstone signed with Green Linnet Records and released Year of the Dog marking their third collaboration with Phil Cunningham. They began a hectic touring schedule on both sides of the Atlantic thrilling crowds at festivals and concert halls with their high-energy performances. Highlights included appearances at major American festivals like Telluride, Strawberry, the Philadelphia Folk Festival and the Milwaukee Irish Festival and in Europe at Tonder (Denmark) L’orient (France) and Cambridge (England).

Wolfstone

As their recognition increased so did the demand for their presence until they spent more time on the road than they did at home. After recording The Half Tail in 1995, keyboardist Stuart Eaglesham departed the band for a quieter life and Youngson followed suit. The remaining Wolfstone members took this opportunity to limit their appearances to festivals and take a new direction with their music. In the meantime a best-selling compilation, Pick of Litter was released in 1997.

In early 1998 Green Linnet released This Strange Place, an album featuring the accomplished acoustic guitar work and introspective songs of Ivan Drever. Co-produced by Drever and Wayne Mackenzie, the recording represented a departure from their previous work and offered proof of the band’s versatility.

Since then keyboardist Andy Simmers and drummer Tony Soave have stepped in and Ivan Drever has moved on to pursue other projects. Stuart Eaglesham now leads the pack as vocalist as well as penning four cuts on the group’s Seven. A diverse mix of Celtic pop and folk with a touch of rock, the album marked new territory for the band.

Discography

Unleashed (Iona Records/Green Linnet GLCD388 1991)
The Chase (Iona Records/Green Linnet GLCD393 1992)
Year of the Dog (Green Linnet GLCD1145 1994)
The Half Tail (Green Linnet GLCD1172 1996)
Pick of Litter (Iona Records/Green Linnet GLCD118 1997)
This Strange Place (Green Linnet GLCD1188 1998)
Seven (Green Linnet GLCD1198 1999)
Live – Not Enough Shouting (Once Bitten Records 2000)
Almost an Island (Once Bitten Records 2002)
Terra Firma (Once Bitten Records 2007)

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Artist Profiles: William Jackson

William Jackson, of Glasgow has been at the forefront of Scottish traditional music for more than three decades. One of the leading harpers and multi-instrumentalists in Scotland, William has also gained an international reputation as a composer. William was a founding member and primary composer of Ossian, one of Scotland’s best-loved traditional bands and an influence on a generation of musicians. In addition to harp he also plays tin whistle and bouzouki.

As a composer William has steadily combined Celtic influences with classical instrumentation in a style uniquely his own. He has an impressive list of commissioned works and subsequent recordings. He has released many CDs featuring his own compositions as well as traditional pieces, and composed and performed music for film and television.

Discography:

Contraband (1974)
Ossian (1977)
St. Kilda Wedding with Ossian (1978)
Seal Song, with Ossian (198)
Dove Across the Water, with Ossian (1981)
Borders, with Ossian (1983)
The Wellpark Suite (1985)
Light on a Distant Shore, with Ossian (1986)
Heart Music (1987)
St Mungo: A Celtic Suite For Glasgow (1990)
Celtic Tranquility (1992)
The Best of Ossian, with Ossian (1993)
Inchcolm (1995)
The Ancient Harp of Scotland (1998)
A Scottish Island (1998)
Celtic Experience vol. 1: Haunting Themes From Scotland and Ireland (1997)
The Carrying Stream, with Ossian (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 (2) (box set of the Celtic Experience albums)
The Celtic Suites (1999)
Land of Light (1999)
Notes From A Hebridean Island (2001)
Duan Albanach (2003)
The New Harp (2008)
Music from Ireland and Scotland with Grainne Hambly (2009)

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Artist Profiles: The Whistlebinkies

The Whistlebinkies

Formed during the great surge of interest in traditional and Celtic music and song in the late 1960’s The Whistlebinkies quickly evolved into a major force in this field.

The band led the revival in the use of bellows-blown bagpipes in Scotland and were the first to combine the three national instruments: fiddle, bagpipes and clarsach (small Scottish harp) in regular performance. Only authentic traditional instruments are used and where possible the group prefers to play in an acoustic setting. The repertoire is drawn from all periods of Scottish music and from all regions of the country.

Members contribute new compositions within the tradition and the group is always ready to explore connections with other cultures. The Whistlebinkies have toured extensively taking Scottish music to France, Germany, Italy, Finland, Iceland, Taiwan, Estonia and all the Celtic countries and regions.

In 1991 they were the first Scottish music group to tour The Peoples Republic of China.

The Whistlebinkies have also contributed much music to feature and documentary film television radio and stage drama productions.

Albannach (Greentrax CDTRAX 288, 2006) was recorded in 2005 and early 2006 and a lot of love and care went into its preparation both by the band and engineer Robin Rankin resulting in an album which the band consider to be their best effort to date.

The members of The Whistlebinkies in 2006 were Annaliese Dagg (fiddle and viola), Rhona MacKay (clarsach and vocals), Peter Anderson (bodhran Scottish side drum & percussion), Stuart Eydmann (concertina & fiddle), Mark Hayward (fiddle) & lain Crawford (double bass). Rab Wallace (pipes) Eddie McGuire (flute).

Discography

The Whistlebinkies (Deacon DEA 1053, 1971)
Various: The Streets of Glasgow (Topic 12TS226, 1973)
The Whistlebinkies and Ted McKenna (Amiga 8 45 127, n.d. – c.1975/6)
The Whistlebinkies (Claddagh Records CC22, 1977)
The Whistlebinkies 2 (Claddagh Records CC31, 1980)
The Whistlebinkies 3 (Claddagh Records CC34, 1981)
The Whistlebinkies 4 (Claddagh Records CC43, 1985)
The Whistlebinkies 5 (Claddagh Records CC50, 1988)
The King Has Landed
Albannach (Greentrax CDTRAX 288 2006)

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Artist Profiles: Finlay MacDonald

Finlay MacDonald

Finlay MacDonald was born in 1978. He is a Scottish bagiper and composer.

Finlay MacDonald started learning the highland bagpipe at the age of ten with his father, Pipe Major Iain MacDonald and later from Duncan Johnstone and Pipe Major Angus MacDonald.. Finlay was one of the first bagpipe players to receive a BA in Scottish music and piping from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.

He formed The Finlay MacDonald Band, where he played bagpipes and whistles along with Chris Stout on fiddle, Kevin Mackenzie on guitar, John Spiers on bass and Fergus MacKenzie on drums.
He has worked with many leading artists in the traditional music scene including Fred Morrison, The Unusual Suspects, La Banda Europa, Old Blind Dogs and Chris Stout.

Discography:

Pressed for Time (Foot Stompin’ Records, 2003)
First O’ the Darkenin (2004)
Reecho (Greentrax, 2007)
The Cauld Wind (2013)
Finlay Macdonald (2014)

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Artist Profiles: Tannas

Tannas was formed in 1993 by five Scottish musicians who met while playing in Edinburgh’s thriving session scene. They had a passion for Gaelic music and song. Tannas’ repertoire incorporated all forms of Gaelic Music from traditional melodic laments and strong rhythmic mouth music to contemporary compositions including its own distinctive compositions. The group’s music delivers air-filled vocal textures intensified by guitars, percussion, keyboard and fiddle.

Tannas have played in Spain, Austria, France and Great Britain and tour regularly in Italy where they enjoy a very strong following. In addition Tannas won the Folk Group championship held at the Lorient Interceltic Festival in Brittany.

Musicians: Sandra MacKay on vocals; Doreen MacKay on vocals; Julia Legge on fiddle, backing vocals; Malcolm Stitt on guitar, bouzouki, Highland, pipes, whistles; Steve Lawrence on percussion;
Jason Dove on keyboards; James MacIntosh on shaker; Chris Stitt on bass.

Discography:

Oighreachd – Heritage (KRL, 1995)

Suilean Dubh – Dark Eyes (KRL, 1999)

Ru-Ra (KRL, 2000)

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Artist profiles: Silly Wizard

Silly Wizard in 1983

Silly Wizard was one of the most phenomenal Scottish bands. It played the essence of Scottish music throughout Europe and North America for over two decades.

Silly Wizard was formed by some of the best musicians/composers in modern Scottish music: the Cunningham brothers Phil Cunningham and Johnny Cunningham, singer-songwriter Andy Stewart and one the best rhythm sections in the British folk world, Gordon Jones and Martin Hadden.

Scottish musician Dougie MacClean joined the band from 1979 to 1980 after Johnny Cunningham left.

The band split in 1988 after recording a farewell album Glint of Silver and an extensive final tour.

Most of the musicians moved on to pursue solo careers. Gordon Jones and Bob Thomas run Harbourtown Records.

Discography:

Silly Wizard (Transatlantic/Xtra, 1976)
Caledonia’s Hardy Sons (1978)
So Many Partings (Highway, 1979)
Wild & Beautiful (Highway, 1981)
Kiss the Tears Away (Highway, 1983)
Live in America (1985)
The Best of Silly Wizard (1985)
Glint of Silver (Green Linnet Records, 1986)
Live Wizardry (Green Linnet Records, 1988)
Live Again (2012), recorded in 1983

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Artist profiles: Shooglenifty

Shooglenifty

Shooglenifty is one of Scotland’s most unique exports. This six-piece band is credited for being the originators of ‘acid-croft,’ a fiery and infectious blend of Celtic traditional music and dance grooves that band members describe as “hypno-folkadelic ambient trad.” While their mainly instrumental sound is difficult to put into words audiences from around the world have fallen under their musical spell.

Many people think the name Shooglenifty has deep Scottish meaning but it was in fact a flash of inspiration that guitarist Malcolm Crosbie had in a Madrid tapas bar during one of the band’s early busking periods. Shoogle is a Scottish word for shake agitate move around and ‘nifty’ means dextrous.

Shooglenifty released their first album Venus in Tweeds in 1994. Since then the band has gone from strength to strength breaking down musical boundaries between the mainstream and folk music.
The band’s past recording credits include three highly acclaimed albums including a live record released on Peter Gabriel’s Real World label. They have also been joined onstage by Prime Minister Tony Blair who was seen in a photo in papers around the world holding up the Shoogles studio release A Whisky Kiss and delightedly proclaiming “Buy this CD!” They’ve performed in front of the Prince of Wales who was seen clapping along to their infectious beat alongside Robin Cook and Nelson Mandela. The band also appeared at The Bumbershoot Festival in Seattle, USA in 1997, as part of a line up that included Cornershop and Beck.

Solar Shears was Shooglenifty’s first U.S. release (Compass Records). Featured on the album are Angus Grant on fiddle” Garry Finlayson on banjo Conrad Ivitsky on bass Iain McCleod on mandolin, James MackIntosh on drums/percussion and Malcolm Crosbie on guitar. On Solar Shears” the band makes liberal use of distortion pedals and effects boxes in addition to pillaging DJ’s techniques working in all types of looped beats scratching, electro-atmospherics and sampled ‘discovered sounds’ from industrial clanks and rumbles to snatches of telephone conversation and recorded pelican-crossing announcements.

Bassist Conrad Ivitsky describes the recording process for Solar Shears. “The album was produced by Jim Sutherland” like our last two albums in his studio above Edinburgh’s Bongo Club which is great because that’s where we rehearse and do occasional gigs. Jim is a total audio pervert: if he can fry a sound he will. He goes through every single plug processor and file available and spends hours trying different permutations. You’ve got those thousands of dollars worth of equipment but Jim is very into unorthodox approaches to get whatever sound he is looking for.

He has a whole array of toys and he tends to play with all of them. His favorite things at the moment are a small Tandy mike worth very little and a little cheap plastic red speaker. On the track Igor he recorded all the drums through it and then used various compressors processors and equalizers to get a fat juicy sound.

As far as the recording process itself we came in with our live arrangements and Jim ripped them apart. They get multi-tracked then deconstructed and shredded down. The album is typical of Sutherland touches notably lots of sampled ‘found sounds’ such as The Shipol Airport and Berne Railway Station which are dropped into the mix.”

The Arms Dealer’s Daughter was released in 2003. The CD Radical Mestizo was recorded live at the band’s concerts at the Teatro de la Ciudad de Mexico and Celtic Connections in Glasgow.
Shooglenifty’s sixth studio album is Troots released in 26. Recorded between tours of Australia Europe and the US the new album features several new unique compositions plus the extraordinary vocals of North American Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq Gillis.In 2007 the band included Tasmania’s Luke Plumb (mandolin/banjo) and bassist Quee Macarthur alongside original members Angus Grant (fiddle) Garry Finlayson (banjo/banjax) Malcolm Crosbie (guitars) and James Mackintosh (percussion).

The Untied Knot was released in July 2015 on Shoogle Records. The recording features Gaelic vocalist Kaela Rowan and new mandolinist Ewan MacPherson along with connections with the music of Rajasthan (India).

Angus R Grant, one of the founders of Shooglenifty died in 2016. He was 49.

Discography

Venus in Tweeds (Greentrax, 1994)
A Whisky Kiss (Greentrax, 1996)
Live at Selwyn Hall (WOMAD, 1996)
Solar Shears (Compass Records, 2001)
The Arms Dealer’s Daughter (Compass Records, 2003)
Radical Mestizo (Compass Records, 2005)
Troots (Shoogle, 2007)
Murmichan (Shoogle, 2009)
The Untied Knot (Shoogle, 2015)

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