Tag Archives: Scottish music

Artist Profiles: Rua Macmillan

Rua Macmillan

From Nairn in the Scottish Highlands, fiddler Rua Macmillan has quickly made a name for himself as one of the stars in the highly competitive world of Scottish traditional music for his captivating high energy performances.

Rua graduated with a B.A. Hons (Scottish Music) from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow. He was taught by Bruce Macgregor Alpha Munro Sharon Hassan and most notably Aonghas Grant Snr – the great Left-handed fiddler from Lochaber.

In February 2009 Rua was awarded the prestigious title of BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year. The following summer he performed at Cambridge Folk Festival and has since toured extensively throughout Europe and the U.S.

His debut album ‘Tyro‘ (CDTRAX 346) was released on the Greentrax label in May 2010.

Rua performs in a trio with Tia Files (from Bodega) on guitar and Adam Brown on bodhran.

Rua is also a member of the Paul McKenna Band who were voted Best Up and Coming Act in the 2009 MG Alba Trad. Music Awards.


Artist Profiles: Rory Campbell

Rory Campbell

Rory Campbell is widely regarded as one of Scotland’s finest pipers and tunesmiths. Rory was a cornerstone of Deaf Shepherd’s sound since its earliest days. Like his sister Marianne, he was encouraged into music from childhood learning first from his father Roddy, a noted piper and Gaelic singer, then in pipe bands adding the whistle to his repertoire en route.

As well as his work with Deaf Shepherd, Rory has performed with The Big Spree, led by champion piper Fred Morrison, the Scottish supergroup Caledon and as part of the Uncharted Territory project, a highly successful 1998 collaboration between jazz and folk musicians.

Other recordings include his 1996 solo debut and Field of Bells with Deaf Shepherd colleague Malcom Stitt in 1998. Their recording Nusa was hailed as one of the most unique recordings of the year. The album features drums and percussion from Donald Hay bass from Neil Harland and DJ Bryan Jones on decks.

Rory is also a member of another leading contemporary Scottish outfit the Old Blind Dogs and continues to juggle his commitments to both bands. He is a prolific composer and published his first book of original tunes in November 1999.


Field of Bells (KRL, 1999)
Magaid a Phipir – The Piper’s Whim (KRL, 2000)
Nusa (Vertical Records, 2003)
Intrepid (Vertical Records, 2007)


Artist Profiles: Rachel Hair

Rachel Hair

Rachel Hair is one of one of Scotland’s finest players of the clarsach, the Scottish harp. Originally from the Highland village of Ullapool, Rachel was introduced to the clarsach through the work of the Feis movement. She has since graduated with a first class honors degree in Music from the University of Strathclyde where she was also awarded the Alexander Stone Prize for Outstanding Performance in her solo clarsach recital.

Rachel has been going from strength to strength as a professional musician and has steadily begun to gain recognition as a performer and a composer. Over the past year she has played several times throughout Europe India toured twice throughout the USA as well as playing regularly throughout Scotland and the UK. She has also performed on the infamous BBC Hogmanay Live show with top musicians Eddi Reader, Phil Cunningham, Karen Matheson, Michael McGoldrick, John McCusker and Aly Bain as a soloist at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and the much coveted Edinburgh International Harp Festival.

Rachel is a member of the harp trio Starlit 3 (Rachel Hair, Jennifer Port and Rachel Newton) whose exciting new approach to traditional music on the Scottish harp has gained critical recognition. Their debut album came out in early 2006.

Her debut solo album, Hubcaps and Potholes, was released in 2006. In 2009, Rachel released her second album, The Lucky Smile, with a trio format, featuring jazz musicians Paul Tracey on guitar and Andy Sharkey on bass.

No More Wings, released in 2012 include original compositions together with traditional and contemporary pieces from Scotland, Ireland, Brittany (France), Asturias (Spain) and Sweden.


Hubcaps and Potholes (March Hair Records, 2006)
The Lucky Smile (2009)
No More Wings (2012)
Tri (2015)


Artist Profiles: Phil Cunningham

Phil Cunningham – Photo by Annie Tuite

Accordionist Phil Cunningham was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1960. His musical career began with accordion lessons at the age of three and violin a few years later. His initial training was in classical music with a deep interest and love of the traditional music of his homeland developing simultaneously. In 1976 he joined his brother Johnny Cunningham in the highly acclaimed Scottish band Silly Wizard and was a full-time member until 1983. Phil contributed many of his own compositions to their mostly traditional repertoire adding to the musical heritage of Scotland and keeping the tradition alive.

Phil left Silly Wizard in 1983 to pursue a solo career as he found himself in demand as a composer and performer for television, radio, film and stage. Between 1985 and 1987 he toured and recorded with supergroup Relativity with his brother Johnny and Irish brother and sister Michael and Triona O’Domnaill.

Phil and fiddler Aly Bain formed one of the most celebrated acts 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.

Phil has produced albums for many popular traditional artists including Dolores Keane and Altan. In 1990 he wrote the music for Bill Bryden’s spectacular theater productions “The Ship” (1990) and “The Big Picnic” (1994). He has worked as music director and composer for various BBC Scotland series and also wrote The Highlands &Islands Suite, an orchestral work which was performed at The Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. He has also toured with Bonnie Raitt and Kepa Junkera in addition to running CAP recording studios with his partner Donna.

In 2002 Phil was awarded the MBE for services to Scottish Music and was voted Best Instrumentalist in the inaugural Scottish Traditional Music Awards in 2003.

His compositions are covered by musicians the world over and he continues to write and add to his prolific repertoire. His proudest moments have been the premiers of his two orchestral suites for Symphony orchestra and Celtic instruments. His piece Ceilidh was written for and performed by acclaimed Scots percussionist Evelyn Glennie and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.


Caledonia’s Hardy Sons, with Silly Wizard (1978)
So Many Partings, with Silly Wizard (1980)
Against the Storm, with Johnny Cunningham (1980)
Wild and Beautiful, with Silly Wizard (1981)
Kiss the Tears Away, with Silly Wizard (1983)
Airs and Graces (Green Linnet 1984)
A Glint of Silver, with Silly Wizard (1986)
Relativity, with Relativity (1986)
Gathering Pace with Relativity (1987)
Live Wizardry, with Silly Wizard (1988)
Palomino Waltz (Green Linnet, 1989)
Fire in the Glen (Shanachie, 1989)
Somebody, with Connie Dover (Taylor Park Music, 1991)
The Wishing Well, with Connie Dover (1994)
The Pearl, with Aly Bain (1996)
If Ever I Return, with Connie Dover (Taylor Park Music, 1997)
The Ruby, with Aly Bain (Green Linnet, 1998)
The Border of Heaven, with Connie Dover (Taylor Park Music, 2000)
Another Gem, with Aly Bain (Compass, 2001)
Spring The Summer Long, with Aly Bain (Whirlie Records, 2003)
Best of Aly and Phil, with Aly Bain (2004)
Roads Not Travelled, with Aly Bain (Whirlie Records, 2006)
Portrait, with Aly Bain (Whirlie Records, 2010)
Mark the Hard Earth, with Kris Drever (2010)
Five and Twenty, with Aly Bain (Whirlie Records, 2012)


Artist Profiles: Pete Clark

Pete Clark

Pete Clark is regarded as one of Scotland’s greatest fiddlers. Pete now lives in Perthshire not far from the birth places of Niel Gow and Robert Mackintosh.

The beautiful Perthshire landscape has been the inspiration for many of Pete’s compositions. Adding to his busy schedule of performing both in solo concerts and bands such as the Benachally Ceilidh Band and composing” Pete is also an instructor at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow.

Now & Then (INVER226 2006) is a collection from Pete Clark featuring some of his own compositions alongside a few gems from those of the great Scottish fiddle composers Niel Gow, Willam Marshall and James Scott Skinner.


Artist profiles: Peatbog Faeries

Peatbog Faeries

Based on the Isle of Skye, The Peatbog Faeries have played to audiences all over the world. They incorporate many influences which take them from traditional jigs and reels through rock, jazz, reggae and more.

Mellowosity and Faerie Stories, the Peatbogs first two albums remain two of Greentrax Recordings best ever selling albums.

The Peatbogs released their third album Welcome to Dun Vegas on July 28th 2003 on Peatbog Records. It sold well and enjoyed some great reviews including 5 stars from the Glasgow Herald.

In 2005 the band promoted its new album Croftwork with some extensive touring including festivals such as Glastonbury Cambridge Folk Festival and Beautiful Days. In November the band won the award for Best Live Act of 2005 at the prestigious Scots TradMusic Awards.

Their music has been used for several TV and DVD soundtracks they have undertaken numerous TV and radio performances as well as being commissioned by Scottish Ballet for an original piece performed for the first time in the Citizen’s Theatre in Glasgow.

Released on 25th April 2005 on the band’s own Peatbog Records label the Peatbogs fourth album Croftwork is their most ambitious and dynamic offering to date.

The Peatbog Faeries are:

Peter Morrison – Pipes & Whistles
Adam Sutherland – Fiddles
Tom Salter – Guitar
Graeme Stafford – Keyboards
Innes Hutton – Bass & Percussion
Iain Copeland – Drums


Mellowosity (Greentrax Recordings, 1996)
Faerie Stories (Greentrax Recordings, 2000)
Welcome to Dun Vegas (Peatbog Records, 2003)
Croftwork (Peatbog Records, 2005)
What Men Deserve to Lose (Peatbog Records, 2007)
Live (Peatbog Records, 2009)
Dust (Peatbog Records, 2011)
Blackhouse (Peatbog Records, 2015)


Artist Profiles: Old Blind Dogs

Old Blind Dogs


Over the years Old Blind Dogs have evolved and grown into one of Scotland’s favorite folk bands. In the early days, Dave Francis was involved on percussion and Carmen Higgins on fiddle. In 1992 Davie Cattenach joined the band and they toured as a four piece and recorded four great CDs with Scotland’s record label KRL – New Tricks, Close to the Bone, Tall Tails and Legacy.

In 1996 Fraser Fifield became the fifth member of the Old Blind Dogs adding to the bands cutting edge sound with his tasty jazz licks on the sax and his superb playing of the small pipes. Their first album as a quintet titled Five aptly enough and released in 1997 – completed their five-album deal with KRL. Then in early 1997 Graham ‘Mop’ Youngson (ex – Wolfstone) replaced Davie Cattenach with his funky hard-hitting rhythm kit. The band was busy in 1998 touring in the United States of America, Germany, Spain, Denmark and the UK.

1999 saw the Old Blind Dogs embracing the New Year with a new and evolved line up. Ian Benzie retired from the band in January. Ian was the lead singer with OBD since the band was born in 1990 and was soon missed by the band members and fans. Fraser Fifield also moved on to develop other musical projects. The Old Blind Dogs continue on with the introduction of another great Scottish singer and songwriter Jim Malcolm and Rory Campbell (Deaf Sheppard) on small pipes and whistles.


Old Blind Dogs


Jim Malcolm is a performer of traditional Scots music and song with particular strong links to the ballads of Perthshire and Angus. In addition he is a fine exponent of simultaneous guitar and harmonica playing. His debut album Sconeward was well received by critics both at home and abroad. A new album Rohallion went straight to the top of Greentraxs best seller’s list.

Piper Rory Campbell will be most recognized through his contributions in another great Scottish Folk band – Deaf Sheppard.

The World’s Room was released with Green Linnet Records in October 1999.

The lineup of the band has changed frequently with only Jonny Hardie (Fiddle mandolin and backing vocals) remaining from the original group.


New Tricks (KRL 1992)
Close to the Bone (KRL 1993)
Tall Tails (KRL 1994)
Legacy (KRL 1995)
Five (1997)
Live (1999)
The World’s Room (Green Linnet Records 1999)
Fit (Green Linnet Records 2001)
The Gab o Mey (Green Linnet Records 2003)
Play Live (Green Linnet Records 2004)
Four On The Floor (Compass Records 2007)
Wherever Yet May Be (Compass Records 2010)


Artist Profiles: Na h-Oganaich

Na h-Oganaich

Na h-Oganaich (pronounced “na hawkanich” and means Young Blood) are widely credited with reviving interest in Gaelic music in the 1970s for a younger generation and influencing many musicians who followed in their footsteps, including Capercaillie.

Founding members Margaret and Donnie MacLeod were brought up in Edinburgh and Peterhead (Gaelic was always spoken in their home as their parents came from the Isle of Lewis). Following many musical and Mod successes Margaret won the Gold Medal at the 1970 Mod and the following year she formed Na h-Oganaich with Donnie and friend Noel Eadie. Na h-Oganaich went on to win the folksong competition at the National Mod in 1971 and the Celtavision Song Contest at Pan-Celtic week in Killarney in 1972.

Over the following years they breathed new life into Gaelic music with their three part harmonies accompanied by guitars bodhran and whistles. Their youth and energy combined with the inspiring words of Murdo Macfarlane the Melbost Bard successfully took the Gaelic world by storm. Gradually their appearances onstage and television spread through the Celtic nations Europe Canada and the USA earning them the cult status that they now enjoy.

Na h-Oganaich disbanded in 1976 and went on to enjoy individual success as musicians and broadcasters but their huge fan base from the 1970s haven’t forgotten them.


The Great Gaelic Sound of Na h-Oganhaich (Beltona Sword SBE 145, 1972)
Gael Force Three (Beltona Sword, 1973)
Scot-Free (Beltona Sword SBE 184, 1975)
Gun Stad (2009)


Artist Profiles: Mouth Music

Mouth Music (Martin Swan and Talitha MacKenzie) – Photo by Gavin Evans

Through perceptive experimentation and with undeniable confidence, Mouth Music combined the ancient puirt-a-beul vocal tradition of Gaelic Scotland with the powerful rhythms of Africa and cutting edge electronica. Puirt-a-beul is the vocalization of instrumental music.

The Edinburgh-based group’s haunting and sensual compositions seamlessly combined vocals and acoustic instrumentation with synths and samples.

On Mouth’s Music debut album, fiddler Martin Swan and vocalist Talitha MacKenzie developed their distinctive mix of “mouth music.” Swan and MacKenzie based Mouth Music on traditional Gaelic source materials much of which MacKenzie first discovered when she traveled to Edinburgh to study Scottish and Gaelic culture in depth. “There’s something about ancient Gaelic songs that’s different….straight from the heart and very intense,” said MacKenzie.

Jackie Joyce replaced Talitha MacKenzie in 1994.

Mouth Music’s third release, 1995’s Shorelife, which reached #1 on Billboard’s World Music Chart, was powered by the ever-evolving musical vision of founder Martin Swan and the passionate voice of Jackie Joyce.

Although Mouth Music sound delved deeply into sounds with dance floor pleasing beats, Seafaring Man returned the group to a more primal state with passionate vocals. Seafaring Man vocalists included Michaela Rowan and Gaelic singers Ishbel McCaskill and Martin Furey.

Mouth Music disbanded in 2005.


Mouth Music (Triple Earth/Rykodisc, 1990)
Blue Door Green Sea, EP (1992)
Mo-Di (Triple Earth/Rykodisc, 1993)
Move On, EP (1994)
Shorelife (Triple Earth/Rykodisc,, 1995)
Seafaring Man (Meta 4/Nettwerk, 2001)
The Scrape (Skitteesh, 2003)
The Order of Things (Skitteesh, 2005)


The Best of Lau 2007-2017

Lau – Decade – The Best of Lau 2007-2017 (Reveal Records, 2017)

The Best of Lau 2007-2017 is a great opportunity to discover the music of Lau, one of the finest British folk groups of the past decade. The trio’s inspiration draws from Scottish and English folk music as well as contemporary bluegrass and acoustic jams.

The album features a well-balanced mix of instrumentals and songs, with masterful accordion, fiddle and guitar work along with memorable songs.

The lineup includes Kris Drever on guitar and vocals; Martin Green on accordion, piano, electronics; and Aidan O’Rourke on fiddle.

The song selection was chosen by fans and band members so sit back and enjoy this outstanding band.

Buy Decade – The Best of Lau 2007-2017 in Europe

Buy Decade – The Best of Lau 2007-2017 in the rest of the world