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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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