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!
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!
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.
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.
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