Tag Archives: Scottish music

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)

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Artist Profiles: Harriet Earis

Harriet Earis – Photo by Mike Peters

Harriet Earis was classically trained on concert pedal harp, but now specializes in the Celtic harp. She was the ‘Harper of All Britain’ in 2000 and 2002.

Harriet studied Irish, Scots Gaelic and Welsh and has a degree in Celtic Studies from Trinity College, Cambridge. She is a member of Siansa, a six-piece, London-based traditional Irish band that includes several All Ireland Champions.

Harriet’s first solo recording was Jumping Ahead, released in 2003. It featured Irish and Scottish harp music with backing from a variety of world music instruments.

Her second album, From the Crooked Tree (2007), featured The Harriet Earis Trio (harp, bass and drums). Another trio album, Alignments was released in May 2016.

Harriet has recorded on various other albums, including the London Irish group Siansa’s debut album (2001), two CDs titled “Through These Eyes” (1999) and “A Hundred Thousand Angels” (2000) by pop singer Luce Drayton and “Shake the Blossom Early” (2004) by London Irish singer Helen Roche. Other collaborations include “Craic of Dawn” by the German-Irish band An Tor (2006), “Ear to Ere”, an American-Welsh crossover album produced by Red Kite Records (2007), “Dragons” (2007) with Welsh trio Triban.

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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: 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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Artist Profiles: Arthur Cormack

Arthur_Cormack – Photo by Cailean Maclean

Arthur Cormack was born in 1965. He is one of the finest Gaelic singers of his generation. Since winning the Mod Gold Medal in 1992, he has sung world-wide with fellow Skye musician and former Cliar member Blair Douglas and with the highly-acclaimed MacTalla.

He runs the Macmeanmna record label and is known as the busiest man in Skye, also running the youth tuition festivals organization, Feisean nan Gaidheal and The Aros Experience, a tourist center, theater and restaurant in Portree. He has also made two CDs with Cliar in addition to his own releases Ruith Na Gaoith and Nuair Bha Mi Og.

Discography:

Nuair a Bha mi Òg (Temple Records, 1984)
Ruith na Gaoithe (1989)
Seinn O Ho Ro Seinn!, with Fiona Mackenzie ‎(Mairi Mhòr, 2003)
Buanas (Macmeanmna, 2017)

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Artist Profiles: Back of the Moon

Back of the Moon

Back of the Moon was Scottish group that formed in 2000. Back of the Moon rapidly gained a reputation for their dynamic live performances. Gillian Frame, Ali Hutton, Findlay Napier and Hamish Napier made up the band.

The giant acoustic sound came from their tightly woven frontline of Scottish pipes and fiddle, the intimate pairing of low whistle and flute, the distinctive rhythmic force of their guitar and piano rhythm combo, and the three-part vocal harmonies in their Scottish songs – in which each unique singer took the lead.

Back of the Moon released three albums, and were named Best Folk Band at the 2005 Scottish Trad Music Awards.

Discography:

Gillian Frame and Back of the Moon (2001)
Fortune’s Road (Foot Stompin’ Records, 2003)
Luminosity (Foot Stompin’ Records, 2005)

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Artist Profiles: Alyth McCormack

Alyth McCormack

Alyth is one of today’s most exciting new talents in the world of Gaelic song. Born in 1970 and raised on the Isle of Lewis (Outer Hebrides, Scotland), Alyth was immersed in the music, poetry and drama of her native Scottish Western Isles from a very early age.

Although aware of the long tradition in all things Gaelic, McCormack understands that within the tradition there is and must be a constant transition for the Gaelic language, culture and heritage to survive. With this in mind, she recorded her debut album An Iomall (The Edge). “This recording began a long time ago in my mind. I come from the Island of Lewis and loved being raised there. Lewis is exposed and weather torn and this is evident in its culture, but it is also beautiful and compelling. In this album I wanted to express these extremes which are also inherent in Gaelic song and Gaelic culture. The songs stand alone, so to work with them I chose a careful approach. Changing musical styles from arrangements but don’t always remain true to the spirit or beauty of the original. I have listened to the stories of these songs, and with these musicians, have interpreted them. The response is honest: the songs remain timeless.”

In 2009, Alyth released her second solo album, People Like Me that included members of the Scottish band Lau.

Discography:

An Iomall – The Edge (Vertical Records, 2000)
People Like Me (Navigator Records, 2009)
Red & Gold, with Triona Marshall ‎(ANE Records, 2011)
Homelands ‎(ANE, 2015)

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