Ross Ainslie is one of Scotland’s finest traditional musicians and composers, highly sought after on the Scottish contemporary folk scene for his skill on pipes, whistles and cittern.

Born in Perthshire in 1983, Ross’s interest in music was instilled at an early age when he first picked up a chanter at the age of 8...
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Spring Blog 2014

Hi folks,

I’ve got a day off so thought I’d fill you in on what’s been happening the last few months!

March was taken up with a 15 gig UK tour with Salsa Celtica. The band were on form and we played some really great gigs. We missed fiddler and vocalist Megan Henderson who was on Breabach duties but her spot was aptly filled by Aileen Gobbi (Gaelic Singer of the Year 2014) for the first leg, then Laura Wilkie and Maeve Mackinnon for the second leg, well done to them for learning all the material!

April started with getting pipes and whistles recorded for the new Treacherous Orchestra album. We were lucky enough to use Hamilton Mausoleum to record a slow piece on the album. The mausoleum held the record for the longest echo for a man-made structure in the world – 15 seconds reverb. Some place! It’s nearly finished and we are all really happy with where its going –  keep a look out later in the year for it’s release!

www.treacherousorchestra.com

 

Next up was a wee trip to Mieres in Asturias. I had my first proper tour in the North of Spain with Gordon Duncan and Ali Hutton when I was 17 so it was great to go back with my own band. Unfortunately regulars Ali Hutton and James Mackintosh couldn’t make it along but I was joined by Mike Bryan on guitar and Gordy Duncan Jr on drums, the boys did a great job so cheers to them!

April came to an end with some Treacherous Orchestra gigs, one in Strathpeffer Pavilion supported by great new band Elephant Sessions followed by a rammed gig the next day in Stirling at the Tolbooth.

May was a really busy month that started off in Belfast with Jarlath Henderson. We were asked to play for the opening of Duncairn Centre for Culture and Arts. It’s an amazing venue to play and we’ll hopefully be back soon, cheers to Ray Giffen for looking after us!

We had an early flight back from Belfast so that we could drive up to Oban to catch a ferry to Mull where we were playing for a showcase weekend called “The Visit”. Thanks to Innes Watson for filling in for Ali Hutton who was on Old Blind Dogs duties!

I had another early start to get the ferry back to Oban and drive over to Aberlour where I had a gig with Charlie Mckerron and Tim Edey for the Spirit of Speyside Festival. It’s always great to play with the guys and good to see some Dunning pals who came up to visit!

To finish the run of gigs, Jar and I drove down to Edinburgh to meet Ali Hutton to play as part of the Tradfest. It was a piping night so we were sharing the bill with Roddy MacLeod, Hamish Moore, Gary West and a quartet from the Boghall and Bathgate Pipe Band.

Next up, I had four gigs with singer/melodeon player Luke Daniels, playing some new music called “Songs of the Scottish Enlightenment”.  We played at Edinburgh House Concerts, the Glad Cafe in Glasgow, Tolbooth in Stirling and finished in the Woodend Barn in Banchory. There was some great musicians involved including Matheu Watson on guitar, Patsy Reid on fiddle, Signy Jacobsdottir on percussion and brilliant American gaelic singer Yaffa Quan-Weinreich.

I drove back to Glasgow after Banchory to catch a few hours sleep before driving to Kennacraig to meet Dougie and Jenny Maclean so that we could catch another ferry – this time to Islay to play at the Whisky Festival, where we were playing in the Bowmore Village Hall. It was great to have Dougie’s camper van over with us (Hotel Caledonia 2). It provides a great backstage area… definitely the way to tour! Cheers to Jenny for looking after us and cooking!

The following day I had to get to Dumfries to play at Knockengorroch festival and had another really early start catching the 7am ferry back to the mainland. I met up with Ali in Glasgow and we drove down to meet the hippies! If you’ve not been to Knockengorroch I’d recommend it, it’s definitely a unique festival to say the least!

May ended with two big gigs, the first at Aberdeen Music Hall with Treacherous Orchestra. The gig was part of their Northern Arc Series and we were paired up with Icelandic band Lay Low. It was great to do a bit of collaborating with the guys on the night!

The second was in Perth Concert Hall with Dougie Maclean. This was a brand new commission by Dougie called “Perthshire Cantata” and playing as part of the night was Jenna Reid on fiddle, Sorren Maclean on guitar, Iain Sandilands on percussion and a string ensemble led by Greg Lawson. It was a magic gig which also included Dougie’s “Perthshire Amber Suite” if you’d like to watch the concert you can subscribe to Butterstone TV.

I’ve got a really busy summer ahead so I’ll post another blog in September. In the meantime, check out my gig page to see where I’ll be. Hope to see you along the way.

All the best

Ross

 

 

Autumn and Winter Blog

Hi folks,

I’ve got a weekend off (for once) so just catching up on things! It was September since my last blog and there’s a lot been going on so bear with me.

October started with a tour of the UK with Jarlath Henderson and Ali Hutton with a one off gig in Leon, Spain to begin. It was the first tour in 5 years for us and its great to be back on the road. We played 12 gigs, Bury, Stirling, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, New Galloway, Paisley, 2 shows in Cardiff, 2 shows in London, Peebles and finishing off in Pitlochry at Dougie Maclean’s festival “Perthshire Amber”.

Perthshire Amber was busy as usual, the day after the Pitlochry gig myself and Jarlath played a duo concert in Caputh Church which is an amazing place to play. It was really relaxed and we took some time to talk about the pipes, some good feedback from the festival on this one!

Dunkeld Cathedral was up next and this was with Charlie Mckerron’s trio billed with Dougie Maclean and Tim Edey. I’ve been playing on and off with Charlie and we’re hoping to record an album this year at some point so keep an ear out for that!

Next few gigs were in Perth Concert Hall, “The Maclean Project” was first. It’s a really new band consisting of Dougie and his son Jamie, Mull’s Gordon Maclean and his son Sorren, Chris Marra, Laura-Beth Salter, Hannah Fisher, Pete Garnett and myself.

Then it was the “Friends” concert where I played with Charlie Mckerron, Buddy Macdonald, Anderson, McGinty, Webster, Ward and Fisher and of course Dougie himself.
Well done to the all the Perthshire Amber team for another successful year!

November was a full month of travelling starting off with a wee holiday in Thailand with India Alba band mate Nigel Richard. I was there for 6 days and stayed in Bangkok putting the feet up. It’s such a cool place, the foods great and people really chilled out. Managed to catch a few tunes with new pals Alice and Mick and fit in an informal gig in the Blues bar. Also got myself a proper Thai tattoo!

I left Nigel in Bangkok and I flew to Delhi to catch a flight to Doha to meet Jarlath Henderson and the boys to play a concert for “Scotland Day”. The band was sounding great and they definitely seem to be into the pipes in Qatar.

I flew back to Delhi to meet up with the India Alba guys and start rehearsing for “Strings of the World Festival”, the festival is on it’s second year and the director is my good friend and India Alba band mate Sharat Srivastava. Sharat has collaborated with many bands/artists over the years and this festival allows him to invite musicians from all over the world to Delhi and perform together. This years festival included the Trondheim Soloists from Norway, folk/blues guitarist Knut Reiersrud from Norway, violinist Greg Lawson from Durham, accordionist Donald Shaw from Scotland, Dutch/Indian Classical Duet Heiko and Lenneke, Slovenian guitarist Igor Bezget, Delhi fusion band Mrigya and India Alba. Well done to Sharat and team for all the hard work!

To finish off the month was a gig in Dunedin, New Zealand with Jarlath Henderson and Kiwi guitarist Gerry Paul. It was great to catch up with old Vale of Atholl pipe band pal Duncan Gordon who has a family now and living in Dunedin. We were over playing to help celebrate the Glasgow Commonwealth Queen’s Baton and St.Andrews day in NZ. The video is us practising before been filmed for New Zealand news.

After a few days off December started with the Trad Award warm-up gigs with my own band, one in Stereo in Glasgow and the second in the Tunnels in Aberdeen. The 2 gigs were recorded and filmed by a company called Threads of Sound and I think they will be releasing an album from the gig soon! Also playing were Scott Wood Trio, Tina Jordon Rees, Adam Holmes and Adam Sutherland.
The Scots Trad Music Awards were on the next day and I was delighted that my album “Wide Open” was nominated for Album of the Year. It was also great to play a couple of sets on the night in the Aberdeen Music Hall.

Last bit of work before christmas was a live stream for Dougie Maclean up in Butterstone. Every month for the last 2 years Dougie and co have been putting out 1 hour shows. They’re going great – well worth the monthly subscription to their site. There’s loads of footage from the streams plus access to archive videos. Here’s the link if you’d like to join!

http://butterstone.tv/index.php/login/join/levels

I got some great news in-between Christmas and New Year I was absolutely shocked and delighted that my solo album “Wide Open” was voted 9th in Scotland’s top 50 albums of 2013!

http://www.heraldscotland.com/arts-ents/music/the-scottish-albums-of-2013-x.23040765

So to finish off the year I had a gig with Treacherous Orchestra at the Edinburgh Hogmanay Street Party, it was a brilliant night and we finished off the Scottish stage on Fredrick’s street. Also on the bill was Fiddler’s Bid and King Creosote.

So now, into 2014 and like every other year it always starts with Celtic Connections, it was another busy time! My first gig was with Treacherous Orchestra and it was the schools concert in Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. It’s a great gig to play, with the kids well up for it helped along by festival club compere and Singing Kettle star Kevin Macleod. Later that day we went down to the Apple Store on Buchanan Street and crammed onto a tiny stage to play a short set!

The next day was at the Fruitmarket with Treacherous Orchestra. We’d been rehearsing a lot as we have a new album coming out this year and this gig was showcasing the new material. It turned out to be one of the best gigs yet!

Next day was my own gig at Oran Mor shared with the Ollum, I wanted to try and play most of my album material live so recruited Innes Watson, John Somerville, Duncan Lyall, Hamish Napier and regulars Ali Hutton and James Mackintosh. I’ve just started writing songs over the last 6 months and decided to give one of them a go, obviously not me singing but thanks to Hamish for singing and the boys for learning the arrangements!

I met Papon a few years back now when we were filming “The Dewarists” so was great to catch up with him again and play some songs with his band, we played at the Old Fruitmarket and also in the club. Here’s a link to the Dewarists show.

Salsa Celtica was up next and we had 2 gigs, the first in the O2ABC where we shared the bill with Rura who were sounding great. Salsa have also been working on a new album so we were showcasing a lot of new music including a Salsa Gaelic song!

The second gig was in the brand new SSE Hydro for Celtic Connections International Burns Night, It’s some venue! In the afternoon I managed to sneak in a gig with Jarlath Henderson and Ali Hutton at the Concert Hall for the Piping Concert, was great to get a tune with Xose Manuel Budino.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/events/enpv4f/acts/ac5bj5#p01qvdlv

I managed to get a couple of days rest then Salsa were off to Columbia for the first time! We started with a day off in Cartagena which was great as the hotel was right next to the beach so we spent most of the day sunning it up and swimming in the sea. Its not often when touring you get such luxuries so we made the most of it! The next day was a gig at the Hay festival sharing the bill with Grammy winners Chocquibtown.

We flew to Bogota for the next gig and it was a total cracker, probably one of the best audiences I’ve ever played too. It was incredible! I’ve got a feeling we’ll be back in Columbia! The new Salsa album “The Tall Islands” is out now if you’d like a copy here’s the link.

http://salsaceltica.bandcamp.com/album/the-tall-islands

Next was a mini tour with Jarlath and Ali again. We started off in Shetland at the Mareel a great new venue in Lerwick. Thanks to Davie Gardner for looking after us so well and cheers to Tim Matthews for doing sound. Good to see our pal Kim Coutts again! The other gigs were Tayvallich, Derry, Perth, Essex and London.

We got a good couple of days rest then myself and Jarlath headed down to the Royal Albert Hall in London for the Radio 2 Folk Awards, we were delighted to be nominated for Best Duo.

February finished with a couple of gigs with a fairly new band called Tune Book Trio. The core is Simon Bradley, Mairearad Green and myself backed by Matheu Watson on guitar and Mhairi Hall on piano, we all have tune books out now and Simon thought it a good idea to join forces and start a band playing music from the 3 books. We are recording a new album in the summer so hopefully out for Autumn.

Now that brings me up to date!

I’m on tour with Salsa Celtica this month then gigs are shaping up nicely for the year so hopefully see some of you around!

All the best

Ross

Album of the year

Hi folks,

I’m writing to you from Dubai airport I’ve a 7 hour wait for my flight to Delhi so thought I’d write a wee update!

I’m delighted to say that my Album “Wide Open” is nominated for Album of the Year at the Scots Trad Music Awards held at Aberdeen Music Hall on 7th December, if you’d like to vote for it please go to this link.

All the best

Ross

Summer Blog

Hi folks,

June started with a gig over at the Arran Folk Festival, it was about 8-9 years since I’d been to the festival so was brilliant to be asked to play and must give Robin Fisher and team a mention for doing such a great job in keeping this festival alive, well done guys! Neither James Mac or Fraser Stone were free for this gig so I asked Salsa Celtica leader Toby Shippey to join myself and Ali on drums, good to hear some songs from Toby too.

Sharat and Gyan arrived over from Delhi for a short India Alba tour starting off on 15th June at a rainy Glasgow Mela in Kelvingrove Park. We were delighted to be joined for the next 3 gigs by the amazing Su-a Lee on cello, we played at Douglas Robertson’s House Concert in Edinburgh, Solas Festival and Insider Festival. It was a busy week as I was also teaching at Charlie Mckerron’s fiddle school during the day, it was the first year for the school and is an amazing setting to learn music – if you think its something you’d be interested in here’s a link to the facebook page.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Charlie-Mckerron-Music-School/172018222948599

July started with another gig for my Trio this time with Fraser Stone on drums and we went over to Sark to play at the festival. We flew out from Glasgow really early on Saturday morning for a gig that night not realising just how much travelling was on the cards, so after missing our ferry from Guernsey to Sark we managed to get the later one and get there just in time to check-in, eat and get ready for the gig. If you’ve never been to Sark I would thoroughly recommend it, but make sure you have at least a week not a day! It’s a crazy place with no cars and no street lights (which made for an interesting walk to find the hotel) just bikes, couple of tractors and torches. Next day was the Wimbledon Final which we managed to catch a wee bit of at Guernsey airport, then caught the end at Southampton airport. Nice one Andy Murray!

The following week was down to Priddy Folk Festival where I played with Jarlath Henderson on Saturday night and then with Treacherous Orchestra on Sunday afternoon. It was the first trip for me driving down south for gigs so I experienced the 2 hour tailback on the motorway. It was an absolute scorcher that weekend too if I remember rightly.

The week following was spent up in Lewis. I’ve been playing with Dougie Maclean for about 11 years in all kinds of set ups but for Heb Celt Festival this was a brand new band called The Maclean Project. It featured Dougie and his son Jamie on drums, Gordon Maclean from An Tobar in Mull on bass and his son Sorren on guitar, Laura-Beth Salter on mandolin, Hannah Fisher on fiddle, Chris Marra on electric guitars, Pete Garnet on accordion and myself on whistle and cittern. We decided to travel up early to stay at Dougie’s house in Uig and rehearse and generally have a wee holiday. It was also my 30th birthday when we were there so we managed to order in 10 lobsters, 40 scallops and 10 steaks for the birthday tea. Thanks to Julia Maclean for making the biggest cake I’ve ever seen! It was great to have Charlie Mckerron and Sandra Mackay and their two boys for a couple of days, also big thanks to Donald Macauley for taking us out on the boat – it was magic. The gig was a success and were all looking forward to the next which is at Dougie’s festival, Perthshire Amber, on 1st November in Perth Concert Hall. Here’s a link to the gig if you want to go!

http://www.perthshireamber.com/index.php/2013-festival/general/programme

Cambridge Folk Festival was up next and I was playing with Iain Copeland’s band Sketch, I was in the first line-up of this band but due to work load couldn’t keep it going so it was great to join the guys for this gig as it went down a storm! Highlight for me was jumping up for a tune with Capercaillie, a band I’ve been a fan of for years!

August started with a trip to Canada and Edmonton Folk Festival with fully fledged doctor Jarlath Henderson. Well done to Jar for all the hard work and study over the years! Edmonton festival is class and so well organised, they have gigs called workshops where 3-4 bands/artists share the stage and you’ll play a couple of your own sets then collaborate with everyone thats on the stage, so we ended up playing with some amazing bands/musicians including Tim O’Brien, Dick Gaughan, Tony McManus, Jason Wilson, Carlos Nunez, John Smith and many more.

Myself and Ali were pretty much off the flight from Canada into a rehearsal with the Inveraray and District Pipe Band for their concert “Ascension” in Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. Every year the Glasgow Skye Association put on a concert before the World Pipe Band Championship and this year was `Inveraray’s turn. It was great to be back in the pipe band thing again even though it was just on the cittern. The gig was sold out and the guys put in so much work and effort so fair play to them it was a great concert! My debut solo album also arrived the morning of the concert so was glad to get that finished and see the finished product, if you’d like to get a copy you can order it on here or you can download it from bandcamp here’s the links!

http://rossainslie.bandcamp.com

http://www.rossainslie.com/shop/ 

Piping Live was on this week and I had a wee launch for my album at the Street Cafe outside the Piping Centre. Myself and Ali played a half hour set then Jarlath Henderson played a couple of tunes, Ian Duncan played a few tunes and then finished off with a big set of tunes with Ali, Jarlath, Finlay Macdonald and myself. Thanks to everyone for coming along! I had a gig with Jarlath Henderson and band that night at the Oran Mor also on the gig was Cillian and Niall Vallely and Angus Mackenzie and Ross Martin.

 

Next day Treacherous Orchestra had a gig down in Devon at Beautiful Days festival so as it was a long drive. We decided to get the tour bus over-night (a first for most of us). I’ve played at the festival a couple of times before with Salsa Celtica so great to be back!

 

To finish off August was a trip to Denmark to play at Tonder festival with Jarlath Henderson, we had Ali Hutton on guitar, Duncan Lyall on bass, James Mackintosh on drums and Matheu Watson on fiddle, cheers to Matheu for filling in for Innes!

To end the festival season Treacherous Orchestra were invited to play at BBC Radio 2 Festival in a Day at Hyde Park and sharing the bill with Smokey Robinson, Jessie J, Josh Groban, Jack Johnson, Simple Minds, Texas and a few more. It was such a good gig for us to get and we all had a great time and what a way to finish off the season!

Here’s a link to the gig on BBC iPlayer.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p01gbp31/Radio_2_Live_in_Hyde_Park_2013_Treacherous_Orchestra_at_Radio_2_Live_in_Hyde_Park_2013/ 

Bringing things right up to date, myself and Jarlath are working on our 2nd album and we’ve set up a Pledge Music page, we’d be very grateful if you helped us out. Here’s the link to the page – even if you want to just pre-order an album that would be great!

http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/rossandjarlath 

There’s a lot more stuff going on this year I’ve got a tour with Jarlath in October, Dougie Maclean’s Perthshire Amber Festival, then in November I’m going to Thailand, Qatar, Delhi and New Zealand and back in December for the Scots Trad Music Awards. I’ll be posting as I go so please check back every so often!

All the best

Ross