Tag Archives: Scotland

Artist Profiles: Tony McManus

Tony McManus

Guitarist Tony McManus was born in 1965 in Paisley, Scotland. He is a leading figure in contemporary Celtic music. His style is influenced by the entire Celtic diaspora – Scotland, Ireland, Brittany, Galicia, Asturias, Cape Breton, Quebec – along with still further-ranging flavors, such as jazz and east European music.

His skills are also in constant demand by fellow musicians and he has featured on over 50 albums by other artists, including Kate Rusby, Alison Brown, William Jackson, Brian McNeill, Liz Doherty, Colin Reid and Catriona Macdonald, in addition to innumerable live guest appearances.

Other collaborations include his celebrated partnership with master Scottish fiddler Alasdair Fraser. In 2005, McManus released a CD with Breton fretless bass player, Alain Genty titled Singing Sands.

Discography:

Tony McManus (Greentrax, 1996)
Pourquoi Quebec (Greentrax, 1998)
Return to Kintail, with Alasdair Fraser (Culburnie, 1999)
Ceol More (Compass, 2002)
Singing Sands with Alain Genty (Compass, 2005)
The Maker’s Mark (Compass, 2008)
Mysterious Boundaries (Compass, 2013)
Round Trip, with Beppe Gambetta (Borealis, 2015)

Share

Artist Profiles: Maeve MacKinnon

Maeve MacKinnon

Maeve Mackinnon is one of Scotland’s foremost young Gaelic and Scots singers. A versatile singer, she studied Gaelic song at RSAMD and maintained a deep interest in Scots and Irish folk song and bluegrass.

Her dynamic vocals and warm stage presence have led to her being invited to broadcast numerous times on national radio and in several Gaelic music TV series; most recently Bob Kenyon’s current Gaelic music series, Guthan nan Gaidheal (STV, 2006).

Maeve is currently finishing off her debut solo album, produced by Duncan Lyall (Croft No.5) and Ali Hutton (Back of the Moon). Comprised of Gaelic and folk songs from different areas and with a distinctive groove throughout, Maeve’s debut album was released on Footstompin Records.

Discography:

Don’t Sing Lovesongs (Footstompin Records, 2007)
Once Upon an Olive Branch (2012)

Share

Artist Profiles: Dick Gaughan

Dick Gaughan – Photo by Genia Ainsworth

Dick Gaughan Dick Gaughan has been a professional musician and singer since 1970 and made his first solo album in 1971. Working mainly in the areas now known as Folk or Celtic music, he has recorded quite extensively since then in many countries and in various combinations. Has also worked extensively as a session musician in a wide variety of musical styles.

Having very eclectic tastes, he also plays everything from free jazz and rock to country music and has studied orchestration to develop his compositional and midi programming skills. He plays most fretted stringed instruments but his natural instrument is acoustic guitar. With 28 recordings to his credit, including the seminal Handful of Earth (1981), A Different Kind Of Love Song (1983) and Redwood Cathedral (1998) Gaughan remains a powerful force in the world of contemporary and traditional music and song.

Dick Gaughan was born in Glasgow in 1948 – he was an accidental Glaswegian, because his father was temporarily working as an engine driver at Colville’s Steelworks there. Dick really belonged to Leith, the one-time thriving port on the Firth of Forth now absorbed by Edinburgh, where his parents returned after a short while.

His mother, Frances MacDonald, was from Lochaber, and her first language was Gaelic. With the language came the Gaelic songs – as a child she had won a silver medal at the National Mod of An Comunn Gaidhealach, the annual Gaelic festival in Scotland. Dick’s father – also Dick – was born in Leith of an Irish father who spoke the Irish version version of Gaelic and played the fiddle. Dick’s grandmother, Bridget, born in Glasgow of Irish parents, played accordion and also sang.

It’s not surprising that Dick Gaughan picked up a guitar at the age of seven. As a teenager, growing up with guitar skills in an urban environment in the Sixties, he dabbled with rock, country and blues. It was a fabulous time for music-making, when no holds were barred. But for him, increasingly the music and the politics began to come together. Rock may have been an angry outpouring of sound, but it was on the quieter folk scene, with the great Hamish Henderson, Ewan MacColl, Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger all leading the protest march, that the most penetrating and persuasive statements were being made about war and peace, about the state of society. Dick was soon in the thick of the burgeoning folk revival, and at the age of 22 decided to hit the road as a solo singer and guitarist.

By 1972, he had replaced Mike Whellans in the outstanding all-acoustic, Scots-Irish band the Boys of the Lough, that included the great Aly Bain on fiddle, and appeared on their first album. He left the Boys in the following year.

His own first album, No More Forever, issued in 1972, was well received. Few could have expected his next move – joining fiddler Chuck Fleming and others in a wild and often wonderful electric band called Five Hand Reel, whose rocking rhythms and great songs – including Dick’s irresistible stab at the Gaelic lines of Bratach Bana – exasperated the purists and found a newer, younger audience. He was out of it by 1978 and returned to solo work.

In 1981 he laid down his marker as one of the great voices of contemporary Scotland with Handful of Earth. With Ed Pickford’s Workers’ Song and Leon Rosselson’s World Turned Upside Down – about the Diggers’ revolt that reminded Dick that “the first colony of the British Empire was England” – Dick Gaughan became a fully-fledged troublemaker of song. But alongside these polemical eruptions were softer, ruminative pieces such as Phil Colclough’s achingly wistful Song for Ireland, Robert Burns’ Westlin’ Winds, and a reworked version of Both Sides the Tweed, which served to express Dick’s abhorrence of anti-English sentiment in pursuit of the rightful cause of Scottish self-belief. A poll conducted by the magazine Folk Roots voted Handful of Earth the top album of the 1980s.

In 2004, Dick was voted Scots Singer of the Year in the Scottish Traditional Music Awards.

In 2016, Dick Gaughan had a stroke and stopped performing.

Discography:

No More Forever (Trailer, 1972)
Kist o’ Gold (Trailer, 1976)
Coppers and Brass (Topic, 1977)
Gaughan (Topic, 1978)
Handful of Earth (Topic, 1981)
A Different Kind of Love Song (Celtic Music, 1983)
Live in Edinburgh (Celtic Music, 1985)
True and Bold: Songs of the Scottish Miners (STUC, 1986)
Call It Freedom (Celtic Music, 1988)
Sail On (Greentrax, 1996)
Redwood Cathedral (Greentrax, 1998)
Outlaws and Dreamers (Greentrax, 2001)
Prentice Piece (Greentrax, 2002)
The Definitive Collection (High Point, 2006)
Lucky for Some (Greentrax, 2006)
Gaughan Live! at the Trades Club (Greentrax, 2008)

Share

Artist Profiles: Ryan Young

Ryan Young

Ryan Young was born October 27, 1990. He fell in love with the violin after watching Scottish music legend Aly Bain play.

Aged only 16 in 2007, Ryan is a fiddler from Cardross. A pupil at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (RSAMD Junior Academy, he was the winner of the Associated Board of Music Scholarship in 2005.

He was a finalist in the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Musician Competition at the Union Chapel in London, and has twice been named as the Lomond Young Tradition Musician at the Balloch Folk Festival.

Discography:

Ryan Young (2017)

Share

Artist Profiles: Shona Mooney

Shona Mooney

Shona Mooney is originally from the Scottish Borders, born in 1984 near Linlithgow in Scotland. In 1999 and 2000 she reached the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award semi-final.

After reading a new course in folk and traditional music in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, she worked with other fiddlers from the Borders in a project called Borders Young Fiddles – promoting the traditional music of their area and combining it with their own compositions. Their CD was released in 2004.

Discography:

Heartsease (Foot Stompin’ Records, 2006)

Share

Artist Profiles: Mike Heron

Mike Heron, together with Robin Williamson and Clive Palmer, was a founder member of Edinburgh’s Incredible String Band. Formed in 1965, they soon broke from folk club beginnings and pioneered an eclectic, world music approach on such albums as The 5000 Spirits or the Layers of the Onion and The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter, which propelled them into the Top 5 of the British charts behind the Beatles, Cream and the Rolling Stones.

Incredible String Band produced over 14 seminal albums and appeared at the famous 1969 Woodstock Festival. Mike’s 1971 solo album Smiling Men with Bad Reputations featured a stellar cast from some of the most iconic folk, pop and rock musicians of the era, including Pete Townshend, Richard Thompson, Elton John, Jimmy Page, Steve Winwood, Keith Moon, Dave Pegg and Ronnie Lane.

The Incredible String Band, together with a dance troupe called Stone Monkey, went on to form a late-Sixties artistic community at Glen Row in the Scottish Borders and took in enthusiastic experiments with theater, film and a wide variety of musical approaches until their final incarnation as a six-piece folk-rock band.

Mike’s solo album Where the Mystics Swim revealed a songwriter pushing the boundaries, but retaining his originality, creativity and musical integrity.

Solo discography:

Smiling Men with Bad Reputations (Island Records, 1971)
Mike Heron’s Reputation (1975)
Diamond Of Dreams (1977)
Mike Heron ( Casablanca, 1979)
The Glen Row Tapes (1988)
Where the Mystics Swim (Strange Ways Records, 1996)
Conflict Of Emotions (Unique Gravity, 1998)
Futurefield (2002)
Echo Coming Back (2005)

Share

Artist Profiles: Session A9

Session A9

Originally conceived by Capercaillie’s fiddler Charlie McKerron as a one-off album project, Session A9 evolved into one of Scotland’s most sought-after bands. fiddlers McKerron, Gordon Gunn, Adam Sutherland and Kevin Henderson, singer/guitarist Kris Drever, accordionist/guitarist Tim Edey and keyboardist Brian McAlpine

As Charlie McKerron of Capercaillie explained they “are basically a bunch of friends who just enjoy music and like to share the good feeling around a bit!”. McKerron, Duncan Chisholm of Wolfstone, Gordon Gunn of the Gordon Gunn Band and Adam Sutherland of Croft Number Five came together for this project in a desire to bring fresh, creative and original music to a worldwide audience. They form the nucleus of the band.

Discography:

What Road? (Real Acoustic Jam Records, 2003)
Bottlenecks and Armbreakers (Real Acoustic Jam Records, 2008)
Live at Celtic Connections (Threads of Sound, 2010)
Session A9 (Real Acoustic Jam Records, 2012)

Share

Artist Profiles: Lori Watson

Lori Watson

Lori Watson completed doctoral studies at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow and St Andrews University in 2013.

She was a finalist at the Scottish Young Traditional Musician Awards and toured extensively at home and abroad. Lori has composed music for theater and has broadcast on radio and television.

Her research into the Borders traditions continues and she is a dedicated ‘tradition bearer’ of Borders fiddle playing. At the age of 12, Lori was a founding member of renowned Borders youth traditional music group, the Small Hall Band and also played with Borders ceilidh band Clarty Cloot.

Discography:

Three, with Fiona Young, Innes Watson & Barry Reid (ISLE Music Scotland, 2006)
Pleasure’s Coin, with Rule of Three (ISLE Music Scotland, 2009)
Yarrow Acoustic Sessions (ISLE Music Scotland, 2018)

Share

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)

Share

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)

Share