Celtic Connections 2015

Hi folks,

I’ve found myself with a bit of downtime so thought I’d write a wee blog about Celtic Connections!

The festival started with a gig I was very much looking forward to and honoured to be a part of. Greg Lawson spent most of his time in 2014 working out the best way to orchestrate Martyn Bennett’s last studio album “Grit”. Martyn is a big hero of mine and getting to play his music live was a real thrill! It was also brilliant to get together with Ali Hutton, Fraser Fifield, Donald Shaw, Sorren Maclean, Duncan Lyall and James Mackintosh to play a tune of Martyn’s called “Karabach” – I first heard the tune on the album Ceol Tacsi which was from a Gaelic TV music series.

Here’s some links from the BBC website from the night.

CHANTER with Full Orchestra

KARABACH with Ali Hutton and Fraser Fifield

The second weekend was full on for me. It started on the Thursday with a gig at the Piping Centre with new composers band ‘Tunebook’. The band features Simon Bradley on fiddle, Mairearad Green on accordion and myself on pipes & whistle. We’re accompanied by Matheu Watson on guitar and Mhairi Hall on piano. We don’t get to play together very often because of everyone’s busy schedules, so it was great to meet up and play some music! We released an album in 2014 with music from our three tune books. If you’d like a copy you can order one from here!!

I played a gig with Shooglenifty a few years ago and was delighted to be asked to play on their new album “The Untied Knot” which is to be released on 16th May this year! The guys were showcasing the album and celebrating 25 years as a band at the Fruitmarket on Friday night. I’m going to be playing with them again at Knockengorroch Festival on 24th May. Looking forward to it!

I had 2 gigs to do on Saturday the first was a guest spot with the amazing Asturian band ‘Llan de Cubel’ who were celebrating 30 years as a band. Thanks to them for having me, was great to play some of their music.

So from the Mitchell Theatre to the Concert Hall to meet up with the Treacherous boys… It was a big gig with four acts on including Coco Mbassi, Mike Mcgoldrick Big Band, Songhoy Blues and us to finish the night. Was great to have ace lighting engineer Gary Ebdy with us for the gig.

It’s always good fun to play at the festival club after the Treacherous gig so we packed up quickly after our gig and headed straight to the Art School to end the night in style!

So after not very much sleep, I got up early to head to the Strathclyde Suite in the Concert Hall to get set up for the debut performance of my New Voices piece ‘Remembering’.
This piece was very different for me as it consisted mostly of songs. I was lucky to have in the band Hamish Napier on vocals and keys, Laura-Beth Salter on vocals and mandolin, Laura Wilkie on vocals and fiddle, Gordy Duncan Jr on vocals and drums, Ali Hutton on guitar, pipes and whistle, John Somerville on accordion, James Lindsay on bass and Matheu Watson on electric guitar. The gig went really well so thanks to all of them for all their hard work!

After a few hours break I was back into the Strathclyde Suite to sound check with Jarlath Henderson for a support gig to old pal and fantastic fiddler, Adam Sutherland and his band. Was great to join forces at the end of the night and play 2 of Adam’s classics!

So to complete the weekend and third gig of the day we headed down to the club to play a couple of songs from my New Voices gig! It was some weekend of music and really chuffed with all the gigs.

Nice to get a mention in one of the Celtic Blogs too.

Thanks to David Allison for inviting me to perform my New Voices piece live on the radio. We were on Bruce Macgregor’s show ‘Travelling Folk’. It was a treat to be able to play the stuff again! Here’s 2 songs from the live session.

My last Celtic gig was with the mighty Ian Carr and his band of Various Artists. I’ve been a mega fan of Ian’s for as long as I can remember so to be asked to join him for a couple of tunes was amazing!

I’m going into the studio on 20th April to record my New Voices piece and I’m hoping to have it released late summer so I’ll let you know when I have a date.

I’ve a fairly busy summer ahead, a UK tour with Jarlath henderson in May, UK tour with Treacherous in June then Canada and America with Jarlath in July/August so I’ll post another blog on the other side!

All the best


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