Craving for new sound? Get Windmills in the Sky by Coast.

Craving for new sound? Get Windmills in the Sky by Coast.

River is one of the catchiest Celtic rock songs I have heard in ages. There is no comparison because the style is original. Perhaps I would  mention a little bit of Dougie MacLean, Luka Bloom and Simple Minds for reference but I mean when I say that they’re quite unique and captivating. The song (River) starts with a banging of (alsmost gated) drums. The chorus “Take me down to the river..’ is so well-written and recorded that it makes me sing along! It is taken from their new album Windmills in the Sky, consisting of ten songs reflecting their Scottish roots but with modern appeal.

COAST Windmills in the Sky cd cover HIGH RES

New album: Windmills in the Sky

There are five people in the band with Paul Eastham ( Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Piano)
Chris Barnes( Percussion and Vocals), Finlay Wells (Electric & Acoustic Guitars and Vocals)
‘Mop’ Youngson ( Drums) and Dave Williamson (Bass and additional Vocals). Here’s a brief background from their website:

COAST is a world class, UK based professional rockband started by brothers Paul Eastham and Chris Barnes in 2009.

Paul is an outstanding songwriter, vocalist, performer, producer and virtuoso pianist with an extensive industry CV which includes credits and collaborations with some of the most highly regarded international artists, songwriters and producers.
Having spent many of their childhood years on the Island of Benbecula in Scotlands’ Western Isles, the musical work of COAST has a character and style which is shaped and coloured by the dramatic landscapes and cultural aspects of the region.
With two albums, three EPs and many UK, European and Scandanavian festival appearances behind them, COAST continue with what has been a rapid rise to international acclaim with a new album launching in early 2017 followed by extensive touring of their new high energy show.

Their songs touch various topics and one has such historical content like the ballad “1884.” At times, their music approaches a cinematic scope like the soaring and frisky “Old Atlantic Sky.”  Like their Irish cousins Clannad (who ventured into soundtracking), they’re able to come up with a haunting instrumental piece called “You’re So Beautiful To Me.” I think this track will get Celtic music aficionados (like me) to put them in the elite category of the musical culture. They know how to make a grand close with the title track which showcases their propensity for a grand sound.

Windmills in the Sky is now available for purchase through their website. You can also pre-order CD and vinyl versions.

Lau, So Happy To Be Playing Live in the US (Q & A with Martin Green)

Lau, So Happy To Be Playing Live in the US (Q & A with Martin Green)



The band members of Lau are in middle of their American tour. You can get the tickets here. Now is your chance to hear their epic recordings getting a live treatment. And if you are lucky enough, you might even get to interview band members. I am so happy to have my questions answered by Martin Green (accordion, wurlitzer, keys, electronics) courtesy of my friend Anita Daly.

1. You are starting  your US tour. Are you excited?
Always exciting to be in America, we have some good friends here and there is such remarkable music to enjoy.

2. Is this your first time performing in the US?
Lau have been in the US several times, but this is the longest tour to date, fantastic to get a chance to explore a bit more.

3. The Bell that Never Rang continues to receive positive reviews. How’s the recording process?
It was an extremely enjoyable process Joan Wasser came over from New York to record with us in Scotland, she has an amazing energy about her as a person and as a musician. We learned a lot from her during the recording.

4. The title track is an epic track that calls to mind British bands like Renaissance and Fairport Convention. What’s the story behind this song?
The Bell that Never Rang is part of the city of Glasgow’s coat of arms. The piece was commissioned by Celtic Connections festival in Glasgow. It is a celebration of Glasgow (a place we love very much).

5. What have you learned collaborating with other bands and also maintaining Lau creatively?
Lau is a small band, and has never changed line-up (and never will) and so we find it hugely useful to collaborate with other musicians, it brings new ideas on and helps keep us open to new ways of thinking.

6. What’s your favorite song in the new album?
Death of the dining car, Kris sounds like Paul Simon, and I’m into that.

7. Your message to fans?
It’s great to be over here, hope you can make it out to one of the shows!
My Short But Sweet Interview With Scottish Superstar Eddi Reader

My Short But Sweet Interview With Scottish Superstar Eddi Reader

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I put Eddi Reader up there with the best artists in the world. Artists whose every release is always anticipated and also celebrated. She recently dropped her Best Of album and if you haven’t read my review yet, please check it out.

This little Q&A was arranged by my good friend Anita Daly. I got a kick after discover this in my mailbox. Eddi Reader has taught me that tact and simplicity always yield good results.  $_35

She also shares with us how she is able to maintain that amazing voice! We should all try her techniques if we want to have a singing career.

  1. The Best of presents the evolution of your musical evolution through the years. Was it an arduous process trying to decide what tracks finally make it to the compilation?

I didn’t choose the tracks, it would have been almost impossible.. I never look back musically so although it sounded like the right time to assess and look at the path I have been on, It was best to keep a good distance so that when I listened I could hear it as a new complete experience.  I set aside some time one afternoon and listened afresh to what my Manager Tom Rose chose.

I was very happy with it.

  1. Looking back, have you known all along that you are going to be this influential?

I don’t have any idea that I am.  I do meet people and younger ones who love bits and pieces of what Ive offered up.  But if I have influenced I didn’t mean any harm. haha

  1. What do you miss the most about being with Fairground Attraction?
Being in my twenties with energy of a cheetah!
  1. Your voice is a fascinating instrument. How did you develop that style of singing and how do you maintain the your beautiful voice?
I drink loads of water when I work.  I try to nap if I have no energy.  Sleep repairs muscle and tissue.  I try to remember not to shout too much when I talk.
  1. How’s the book coming along?(Reader is writing a book for publication  about her great-uncle Seamus (or James) Reader).
I will be relieved when it decides its done with me.  I miss it when I’m away from doing it. But it sometimes seems endless.
  1. Your success has influenced young women singer-songwriters to be brave. How do you see the music business today as compared to the time you fronted your first band?
Thank you . I hope that’s somehow true. But I think every human has a love of something and a feeling of purposeful drive.  Nothing can stop anyone expressing themselves musically if that’s what they love to do.
I am not sure what the music biz is doing now. I ignore it as much as possible.  I think the same is true today as it was before my time: Do it with love and light and the joy will be a great reward, the Mercedes will come later.
  1. And finally, your message to your fans?

To anyone who has spent time listening while I sing I want to say thank you so much. xxxxx

The Best of Eddi Reader

The Best of Eddi Reader

The Best of Eddi Reader: Her life,  art and her persistence that is truly Scottish

30 Song career spanning remastered Double CD.
Compiled by Tom Rose. Mastered by Mark Freegard

My introduction to the beautiful voice of Eddi Reader was through the TV program of Jools Holland. I think she was promoting her album  Angels and Electricity. What a gorgeous voice! I started paying attention to her releases.That is why I am gushing all over when I got the chance to review her 2-disk Best of Album. The Best of Eddi Reader takes us to several decades of music- when she shot into international recognition with Fairground Attraction up until her more recent Celtic influenced music. $_35

The album has 30 songs and it is eclectic. You can hear original pinned tunes as well as covers-I love her version of Declan O’Rourke’s Galileo-a song that has been covered by many artists. She closes the collection with Henry Mancini’s Moon River from Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Her voice is bright and clear as sunrise.It is a fine instrument of nuance (delicate as rose petals) and with  heartbreaking intensity that is very Scottish. Her music combines influences from American Rockabilly, fifties standards, traditional Scottish and pop. There is always something for everyone, in this album.

Her gifts extend to acting as well. She played Jolene Jowett, a singer and accordionist, in John Byrne’s Your Cheatin’ Heart,a comedy-drama series for BBC Television, set in the country music scene in Scotland. In 2009, she performed in period-drama Me and Orson Welles, and starring Zac Efron,  and Claire Danes, performing a song in a style of 50s standard.

She is also a prominent advocate of the Yes Scotland movement. In fact, Reader is writing a book f(or publication in 2016) about her great-uncle Seamus Reader, who was head of the Scottish Brigade of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, when the Irish War of Independence broke out in 1919, later becoming a founder of the abortive Scottish Republican Army, which attempted to replicate the Irish struggle in Scotland between the wars.

The Best of Eddi Reader is a closer look at her interesting musical career and which makes her a fascinating Scottish treasure. Call her feisty or amazing-she’s got it all covered, being able to maintain a multi-faceted career which continues to enchant listeners and will continue to do so.


CD 1

  1. Find My Love
  2. Perfect
  3. Whispers
  4. Patience of Angels
  5. Dear John
  6. What You Do With What You’ve Got
  7. Kiteflyers Hill
  8. Wings On My Heels
  9. Muddy Water
  10. Leezie Lindsay
  11. My Love Is LIke A Red Red Rose
  12. Wild Mountainside
  13. Love Is The Way
  14. Roses
  15. Baby’s Boat
  16. Vagabond


CD 2

  1. My Old Friend The Blues
  2. Dolphins
  3. Hummingbird
  4. Semi Precious
  5. The Girl Who Fell In Love With The Moon
  6. Galileo
  7. Willie Stewart
  8. Ae Fond Kiss
  9. New York City
  10. Dragonflies
  11. Follow My Tears
  12. Snowflakes In The Sun
  13. Love Is A Losing Game
  14. Moon River

You can buy the album here:

Thanks to Daly Communications.


Happy New Year

Happy New Year

Wow it’s really 2016. More exciting things happening in music. There many bands lining up to be featured, and so many tunes to be savoured. Yes you will hear then soon. I just keep them in my ‘drafts’ section and I am not revealing yet as I want to keep the suspense 😉

So for starters let me wish everyone a great new year and the best in 2016. Here are the picks of the day :


The Lush and Vibrant “The Promise” by Caitlin Grey is Here!

The Lush and Vibrant “The Promise” by Caitlin Grey is Here!

I am enjoying the new album of Caitlin Grey called The Promise. One thing I noticed upon playing this album for the first time is her beautiful and supple voice. It has the ease of a folk singer and the refined muscle of a classically trained vocalist. She uses these influences seamlessly in this new album, consisting of twelve songs.There are original songs as well as interpretation of traditional materials. I love her rendition of She Moved Through The Fair because of its melodic simplicity and emotional power. a1763992850_16

The title track is something that will please fans of Clannad, Loreena McKennitt and Anuna or even Secret Garden. Her arrangements are also spot on. I love the drumming on this one because it sounds almost like a pop ballad. But then again we know that with Ms Grey, every song can be a magical journey between classical and folk.

Her approach to singing tells you  this is how to sing these songs. Yes, especially these kinds of songs because it takes a special artist to pull this off. Because in the hands(or throat) of an ordinary singer, they will sound weird. These songs choose a singer and that singer is Caitlin Grey. I love it when she harmonises in some songs.They sound whispery, airy and crystal clear. I love the style of Innisfrie because I love movie soundtracks. Ailein Duinn is haunting  especially with the harp. An original from Scottish group Capercaillie for the movie Rob Roy. I love her singing in Scottish Gaelic. She maintained the beauty of the original but added her own unique style.

I love ballads that build up gradually. And this is the style that is present in most of the songs in The Promise. Black is the Color is another personal favourite. She sings that sense of loss where words fail.

In My Awakening, I like that part of the chorus where she sings the line “..When all my life fades away in tomorrow..” deeply moving! In Anam Cara, her voice is a powerful instrument that can transport us to anywhere in the world where she wants to take us. Call of the Clans closes this wonderful album with an arrangement that can rival any operatic aria. Listen to the latin chants at the end of the song. If that does not conjure something in you, then you are not human.

The Promise is a work of magnificent sound craftsmanship and artistic maturity. Looking forward to her third album!

I love Skipinnish!

I love Skipinnish!


Randomness is beautiful. I stumbled upon this group while looking for a Science documentary on YouTube mobile. They appeared on my feed. The name itself is interesting. Skipinnish. I was sure it’s Scottish. I watched Walking in Waves featuring a woman with red hair throwing bottles in the ocean. These bottles contain messages. With a great surprise at the end of the video. Ok, I was impressed

Then I watched December which is their latest single. And that’s it. I became a fan. The music is haunting, beautiful and unforgettable.

Current line-up consists of:
Angus MacPhail: Accordion, Vocals
Andrew Stevenson: Highland Bagpipes, Small Pipes, Whistles, Fiddle.
Robert Robertson: Lead Singer, Guitar
Ross Wilson: Piano, Bass
Alasdair Murray: Drums, Highland Bagpipes

Regular Guest Musicians Also Include:
Archie McAllister: Fiddle
Duncan Nicholson: Small Pipes, Bagpipes, Whistles

Trine: They are now playing

Trine: They are now playing

You think Celtic music is rare in Asia? That may change soon as Filipino group Trine play music that could only come from Ireland, Scotland and Bretagne. They are playing music all over the Philippines and of you are a tourist in need of some Jazz spliced with Traditional music then look for them.

Now, all they need are regular YouTube video posts, a blog page and music site where fans can hear and share music!

The Ashokan Farewell and McIlroy Guitars.

The Ashokan Farewell and McIlroy Guitars.

His arrangement of The Ashokan Farewell for acoustic guitar. Played on a McIlroy AJ16

Dermot McIlroy is a versatile artist. Apart from playing in his project bands, he is also a guitar builder. Have you tried visiting McIlroy Guitars? The video will give you an idea what one of them sounds like(the McIlroy AJ16). And he plays really good! He executes that depth and craft in the video Ashokan Farewell which has a rather interesting background.

Dermot McIlroy in Antrim, Antrim, United Kingdom.

Dermot McIlroy in Antrim, Antrim, United Kingdom. Photo by Daniel Burne.

I love instrumental music. They don’t have resistance or aggression. They are compatible with almost anything. The Ashokan Farewell plays like a peaceful river. Everything flows without bumps and uncertainty. And the notes are clear like golden silver. Can you hear it? That certain feel to it?

I think there should be a solo instrumental album from McIlroy don’t you think? I think, for that to be realized one day will be a truly wonderful experience. Solo guitar music is timeless. I love collecting them. I can play them anytime and anywhere. I hope this post(and most importantly the accompanying music lights up your week) inspires you as you start your day or recline to sleep.


I will be posting a blog about Derek Smith of this Welsh trio, Glasnant. According to him:

“Glasnant means Blue Stream in English. Our music will be like a stream flowing through the Celtic countries.” They will go to Ireland on March 12th-16th to take their interceltic music to the Aran Isles. Sounds exciting!



Make way for Talisk

Make way for Talisk


 Mohsen AminiHayley Keenan and Craig Irving

Above are the stunning previews of this interesting band from the Glasgow. I know of them from Mohsen Amini(accordion) who also collaborated with other traditional bands. It also features Hayley Keenan (fiddle) and Craig Irving(Guitar). This new project called Talisk is straightforward and the music celebrates the beauty of Scottish music. They now often appear on Celtic festivals all over UK and will definitely spread their wings further.

There is not much material to present here, as the trio is still organizing and recording new tunes which will hopefully become an album one day.

 With Mohsen Amini, Hayley Keenan and Craig Irving

With Mohsen Amini, Hayley Keenan and Craig Irving

A fantastic essay from Fraser Fifield and more updates.

A fantastic essay from Fraser Fifield and more updates.

Here is an interesting update that musician Fraser Fifield posted on his Facebook page. I thought that it would be great to share this post for everyone (with his permission of course) to read. And yes he gave his approval:

“A jig with no melody per se, perhaps.a wee pre referendum musing, feeling pensive at the time I think, but optimistic, stupidly. audio a bit a low side, but you can just turn it up, a fair bit. hope you like. it’s optimistic with a hint of certainty of getting done in and overtones of despair. ” for more

My newsletter, to show unsubscribers just what they’re missing out on…

Welcome. Enough has happened in the life of this freelance musician, I feel, to warrant sharing an update for any vaguely interested, muse upon an existence which is pretty varied if not opulent, recount some highs and lows of the past year and so draw a line in the sand.

Then step over it and into the future. 2015 looks interesting, but first a non-chronological look at some of what was has been so far, 2014.

(Why? Because I like my work to remain current and vaguely in people’s consciousness at times, it’s healthy given my job, plus there’s good music involved which I’m genuinely happy to advertise).10387424_790070994388029_5241127912082493114_n

I’m happy to have contributed to a variety of nice recordings. Still unreleased, but soon to be, are 2 lovely records by Inge Thomson ‘Da Fishing Hands’ and Sophie Ramsay’s 2nd solo album, respectively. Already filtering through to discerning ears are records by Patsy Reid ‘The Brightest Path’ and Jim Sutherland aka Struileag aka Children of Smoke and one by me and Graeme Stephen lest I forget – Esotero, released this time last year, and still flying off the shelves. And there’s an unmixed record by David Milligan, Graeme Stephen and I, resting on a hard disk for some months now, quite happy, look forward to share that in due course.

A pleasure to play alongside and learn from (and travel, rehearse, eat, drink etc) Angus Lyon/Duncan Lyall Band, Gavin Marwick’s Band, Corrina Hewat’s Band, Graeme Stephen, Dave Milligan, Mr McFalls Chamber, Red Note Ensemble, Allan MacDonald’s ‘Bruce 700′, Big Big Sing, Jerry Donahue and crew, and all others..Thank you all, very much.

And the Eurovision song, for Montenegro, glorious, I didn’t see that one coming. Thanks Slobodan. A lovely song too… No, no I didn’t appear in the final, just the singer and a rollerskater did. I didn’t even leave my own flat…been doing a few bits of remote recording this year – just last week on a cover of You Shook Me All Night Long by AC/DC for a musician in USA. And also last week, in another studio right enough, a kind of sultry Marilyn Monroe version of the Proclaimers’ 500 Miles kind of gobsmacked me momentarily, but I regained composure and pitched in with everything I could blow or squeeze no problemo. They won’t mind me mentioning, it’s not meant for folks like you.

My week in Gavoi, Sardinia, in June, courtesy of the British Council, collaborating and making friends with fellow European musicians, was a small sunny highlight and felt perhaps like something of a holiday whilst being allowed to pursue an interest in making experimental music, without guilt. I’m not an experienced holiday-maker, some would argue a professional one, but they don’t know.

Sad news came regarding the untimely passing of Georgi Petrov this year. He’s missed. A virtuoso player of the Gadulka, he kindly played along with Nedyalko on my 2008 record Traces of Thrace. His warmth of character, stories, good company and the music which resulted was loved by all who knew him.

The musical year started with a chance to play on a couple of songs with Capercaillie on their 30th anniversary gig in the Glasgow Concert Hall. Having gone through teenage years listening to them a part of me felt a tiny bit fraudulent being on stage.. For the 15 mins on the night and only a day or two of anticipation beforehand in typical, loveable, Shaw style, this was really exciting. Later in the year if I hadn’t missed his call I could have got to play my whistle with Kylie Minogue.

The musical year actually started bang on the 1st with Graeme and I playing our part in Lau-Land Edinburgh, which was perfect, my guitarist colleague almost managed to sleep in, but didn’t.

What else…became increasingly politically charged re the Scottish referendum for a while, insulted quite a few people with contrasting views probably, got crushed, returned to normal.

The Martyn Bennett Prize for composition happened for the 2nd year in Edinburgh. This time I had the job of trying to play the finalist’s pieces along with 4 other musicians – fun and challenging. The standard was great but I would urge more composers to have a go – it’s restricted to Scottish based composers (I think) but that’s pretty much the only restriction. It’s got a 1st and 2nd prize of 2 and 1k respectively. It’s a kind of high-brow X factor, not to be taken overly seriously as competitions shouldn’t, but an event that can help motivate new ways to integrate elements of our traditional music in composed music. Fingers crossed it’ll run next year.

Now, looking over that line and beyond the approaching festival of consumerism, is Celtic Connections Festival 2015 and my pal Greg Lawson’s work to arrange Martyn Bennett’s great last album, Grit, for a large bespoke acoustic ensemble. As you do. To be performed in the festival’s opening concert, January 15th. All being well it will (must surely) be quite epic I imagine.

Inge Thomson’s Da Fishing Hands – Celtic Connections 23rd January, Glasgow. Inge and I are also beginning to play as a duo which I’m chuffed about. More info about this soon. But the Celtic Connections gig is a 5 piece and will surely be lovely. The 1st gig of this collection of music/song, on the tiny island of Fair Isle, May 2014, was one of my favourites. Inge and I also play Dec 12th in Kilbarchan, nr Glasgow.

A great opportunity has come along for me to join the tabla maestro Zakir Hussein’s ‘Pulses of the World’ project which will tour in Dubai and India at the beginning of February and in the USA in March. With Rakesh Chaurasia and Jean-Michel Viellon on flutes… shelves of my CD collection just came to life. Not that often I can reel off a tour list like this, so I’ll take this opportunity to:

13th March – Pabst Theater, Milwaulkee
14th March – Purdue University, Fort Wayne IN
15th March – Cullen Theater, Houston TX
17th March – Lisner Auditorium, Washington DC
20th March – Moore Theatre, Seattle
21st March – Chan Centre, Vancouver BC
22nd March – Boulder Centre, Boulder CO
27th March – Painted Bride Arts Centre, Philadelphia
28th March – Carnegie Hall, New York
29th March – Somerville Theater, Boston MA
31st March – Rio Theater, Santa Cruz CA
2nd April – Jazz Centre, San Francisco, CA
3rd April – Jazz Centre, San Francisco, CA

Audiences in the Scottish Highlands (mostly) will get a chance to hear my collaboration with Red Note Ensemble and Kuljit Bhamra (tabla) at the beginning of March. It was nice to meet and try some material out at the recent Sound Festival in Aberdeenshire. The Highland dates will be posted in due course.

I’ll leave it there, just before I begin to tell of a big bit of news, good news, which I had to read a few times when it arrived the other day. But that perhaps would turn this simple newsletter into something else, a short story at the least so, back soon on that.

Nice to write to you. Nothing to sell you directly but perhaps some CDs for Christmas presents, always an option, always a tenner.

Any correspondence always welcome.

All the best,


ATHY “The Electric Harper”

Athy from Latin America.He’s got style, he’s got the funk. He plays the harp like no other. Mix the Spanish soul with Irish tradition and you get Athy Electric harper. He is passionate in propagating the harp as popular instrument and not confined inside the doors of classical standards. I made an interview with him before and he is down to earth and filled with a great sense of humour. It is good to see how his fans are multiplying year after year. He has toured around the world ad have performed with the greats in the world of traditional and contemporary music.He is embraced by fans of Jazz, World, Classical and Folk. Irish musicians hold him in high regard and well, hearing his recordings myself made me a fan!


Moya Brennan and Cormac De Barra – Sailing

For those who missed this track the day it came out, here it is. So lovely! Enjoy your weeks ahead friends.


Repair by Fraser Fifield

Repair by Fraser Fifield

I was perusing my Soundcloud wheimagen I found that Scottish piper Fraser Fifield has a new tune out. It is called Repair and it is a gradual tune that has the same abstract beauty as his earlier releases. What I admire about Fifield is his ability to make timeless melodies. They don’t sound tired after repeated listens even for years. Part of me loves Jazz and this is the element that he introduces to his compositions. Repair evokes the calm of the Scottish countryside. The title speaks to me in a personal level in a sense that is what I am doing with my life. Slowly but surely. Somehow we have to get back to the loop of things but we do it in a phase that is right for us. I hope you enjoy this track and give the man a follow.

Fraser Fifield: Relationship of sounds and styles(Interview)

Also in this edition: Colin Nea, Therese Honey and Enda Seery

Fraser Fifield: Pic by Barryjohn Bj Stewart

Plays: saxophone/whistle/kaval/bagpipes/percussion/composition

From: Edinburgh, United Kingdom.

About: musician, composer and producer.

With the excitement of an upcoming album, Fraser Fifield talks to The Celtic Music Fan about music and what makes collaborative musical work interesting.

This week’s special attention is given to Scottish musician, composer and producer Fraser Fifield.  I was captivated the first time I listened to one of his tracks. There’s sensitivity, intricacy and a sense of underlying elegance in his musical voice. I think I read and heard his music a couple of years ago, way before I even started writing about Celtic musicians. It is only now that I got an opportunity to communicate with him directly for this edition.

He plays the traditional instruments in a way a Jazz musician would, and then reverse the process with the Traditional instruments. It is like what happens when you put different people in different attires and situations and see how they react or how they look in that environment. This is what he did with music and instruments. I think his striking importance is being able to walk between different worlds and still maintaining the authenticity of his artistry in playing. This edition is about relationships: between different types of music, musicians and instruments.

I think you will enjoy how this interview turned out. I had fun making this one.

What’s keeping you busy these days Fraser?

What’s going with me? Well, the main thing just now is having eventually started recording an album with Graeme Stephen, guitarist and long term colleague – just duo, focusing on live performances basically – meaning played live together, not actual concert recordings..lots of electronics too but hardware boxes used in live performance on the whole as opposed to studio laboratory type of process – which is cool, but not what we’re doing here.

So we started that last week…and will be ongoing as time permits over the next wee while. Just had a flurry of CDs through the door as other projects I’ve recorded on came to fruition – Maeve Mackinnon, Sophie Ramsay and Wingin It…maybe you’ll hear some of these soon

Looking forward to playing London jazz festival with the Take 5 Europe ensemble plus a couple of gigs in Poland one with Maciej Obara 4tet and Take 5 again. Playing duo with Graeme in St Andrews Scotland in a couple of weeks…

Doing a recording session for Angus Lyon this week and hooking up for a small gig with an old friend – wonderful clarinet /sax player Dick Lee..

With John Surman and Tom Arthurs last week on Take 5 Europe. By Emile Holba

 What can listeners expect from this new album in terms of style and sound?

I’m hoping folk will hear two musicians enjoying playing together who’ve built up strong dialogue between them (we’ve been playing together some 16 yrs I think). A general rule seems to be emerging – remember we’ve just started – to avoid layering performances/multitracking ourselves i.e. you’re essentially going hear two musicians playing live together, there’s no click track etc… that’s not too say sonically the record will be simple – early results suggest anything but…this is often just low whistle and guitar but like you’ve never heard.

A bold statement perhaps..but I’m being fairy serious… The live recordings on the soundcloud page hint at the sound of course, but I am enjoying working a little more on our recordings after the initial performance, resampling ourselves in a way, extracting small bits of audio and changing it’s function…I’ll say that much. Will it sound folk or jazz – I’m bound to be asked that… and the answer is I have absolutely no idea..a bit of both, or plenty of both actually. The compositions are mine but compared to my previous records I’d say improvised passages will turn out be more featured.

I think making music is also a relationship between you, your fellow musicians and your fans. What have you learned so far in maintaining this relationship since you started? What are the things you avoid now and what are the things you consider essential?

….Essential in regard to making music with other musicians, for me, is a sense of openness, trust and maybe some kind of mutual understanding of what it is we’re doing, not necessarily verbalized but that the feeling of all being well is present…all makes for a good starting point, at least musically; you could be having the worst week imaginable, but sometimes these things can twist around into good musical moments. Sometimes, hopefully not often, one can’t get into the right vibe to make music creatively for whatever reason, cat gone missing, who knows, but assuming all is fine there should be something you can switch on to be excited about what you’re doing, if you’re not already. Basically it helps to be in good mood is what I’m saying I suppose.

Musical situations I try to avoid are those where none of the elements to my previous answer are present. Also I’ve not been drawn into a ‘band’ situation for a wee while now, which is maybe down to my personality, I don’t know..I kind of miss it in a way, the band thing, but at the same time value the diversity of music I’m currently able to fit on my modestly sized internal drive.

Be nice to audience members if they’re being nice to you…i.e. paying to hear you play….would be a good general rule…

Try and have a relationship with the people that enjoy your music, if you want to that is…unless you have some Garbarek like qualities, and I try to mean that in a nice way, it’s a probably good idea business wise to interact a bit.. which I guess is what I’m doing right now..but I’m sort of enjoying the therapy of answering your questions. How’s this piece shaping up now by the way ?

Oh this is shaping my work nicely!

If you evaluate all the tracks you composed throughout your career, which one has an impact to you in terms of the manner it was composed and the inspiration behind it?

I’ve chosen the track called Psalm from my first solo album Honest Water as it’s perhaps the tune or idea which has had the longest and most interesting journey with me to date. The first idea was to try and imitate the sound of psalm singing from the Scottish Gaelic tradition – a most beautiful and peculiar art form in itself. My approach is a very simple one and one that has worked for me in many situations over the years, the more instruments playing together the better the effect, so great if working with groups of students of varying levels of ability for example.

Most recently I used this idea in the opening section of my piece ‘Playground Tales’ written for the group Mr McFalls Chamber with guests Corrina Hewat, James Ross, Aidan O’Rourke and myself – hopefully a recording next year. So the track Psalm from Honest Water began life as one of five parts of a suite for saxophone quintet titled Traditions – one of the first years of the ‘New Voices’ series of commissions made annually by Celtic Connections, and it’s still running – quite a body of work in there now. My turn was 2001, a long time back now!

I’ve never played the tune much on my own gigs for some reason, actually probably no reason, but have used it often in a variety of other settings, I recall…a group of 7 different European bagpipes at Rudolstadt Festival Germany, recently with Dutch trio the Nordanians, with the Take 5 Europe group this year, it’s served me pretty well, and I think it’s a nice melody.

With Corrina Hewat

If you have the time, the energy and the means to be an album producer, whom would you work with and what types of musicians would you help in producing records?

Well I’m doing that very thing right now in a kind of self-medicating manner along with Graeme Stephen in the making of a duo album together which is actually a bit overdue I feel, but at last is progressing nicely. I’ve always enjoyed being very hands on with every aspect of my own record making, from the engineering through arrangements, performance to mixing. I like having the freedom to work at my own pace with things and review/adjust at will…does end up taking forever sometimes though…and that’s not so cool always.

With other artists I’ve occasionally become involved in the role of producer or perhaps co-producer in some instances – for example where a group has developed a sound collaboratively and go on to then record. I’ve never been great at adopting a workmanlike attitude when it comes to making records. I think its quite a big deal. An example I can think of is with my friend Mick West, a traditional singer from Glasgow whom I first met whilst a student there. I’d played with him in various line-ups of the Mick West Band ever since, so when the chance to make his last album ‘Sark O Snaw’ came round I really wanted to do it, not least because having played with Mick for many’s the year he’d never properly captured the best of his music on record – I wanted to change that, and I think we did, to cut a long story short. It was a labour of love like most records I’ve worked on, probably ending up with a negative hourly rate or something close it, who cares, it’s a lovely document to have.

In terms of who to work with…if they can play well with heart and soul and give and take, and we can get along well, that’s the only ingredients required. I’m pretty happy doing a lot of the work I do for those very reasons.

Take 5 is an ongoing project you are involved with. Can you tell us a little bit about it and how’s it going so far?

It’s been a very nice experience. Firstly Take 5 then this year Take 5 Europe which is new extension of it. It’s about artist development essentially, through talks/discussions/networking (that mostly over one week) and making music with the other Take 5 participants you’re given tools or ideas at least aimed at perhaps focusing one’s career, taking a look over what you’re doing and what you might be doing…it’s positive certainly if anything at all.

This year the ensemble of musicians on Take 5 Europe proved to be a surprisingly cohesive group – not a typical line-up – 2 basses, vibes, drums, guitar, trumpet, 2 saxes + me. They’re a very nice bunch of people and amazing players, in late 20s or 30s – 2 each from Netherlands, France, Poland, Norway and the UK. We’ve been playing at the festivals run by partners of the scheme in Molde, Rotterdam, Coutance, with just 2 performances left to do in November in Poland and London. Playing and hanging out with John Surman on both these Take 5 weeks was certainly noteworthy, great musician and lovely chap.

I know you have played the bagpipes for a long time. But if you were a listener, what makes a bagpipe and amazing instrument?

There’s something primal going on with it that’s for sure. I can’t get into any physics that’s for sure too…I can but agree there is something about the sound that speaks to an enormous variety of people from every part of the world. Being very loud (if we’re talking the GBH here) is surely a bonus.


There you have it folks. Be sure to keep track of  his schedules and keep him on your radars. The new projects sound amazing!

Fraser Fifield


Pic of the day: Colin Nea-Between the Jigs and Reels

COLIN NEA will be launching his CD ‘Between the Jigs and the Reels’ at 9pm, Thursday the 8th November in the Temple Gate Hotel


Enda Seery: Website updated and revamped!

The musician/composer of The Winding Clock has introduced a new feel and look to his official website. Visit :


Featured Video: Therese Honey: Paddy Cronin’s Jig – Jenny Pippin from ‘Summer’s End’

Yes yes! We have a new addition to our list of harpists to watch out for. Therese Honey creates a relaxing wall of strings with with the talent of Jenny Pippin. Have a listen 😀

Track 2 from the 2012 release, Summer’s End. Photos of the Dingle Peninsula were taken in April 2011 by Therese Honey and Larry Mallette. Therese learned Paddy Cronin’s Jig from Gráinne Hambly. Jenny Pippin is from O’Neill’s “Music of Ireland,” 1903.

Monster Ceilidh Band: A Foray Into Electronic Folk

There is no monstrosity here. Just interesting lively music from UK based Celtic electronica band  the Monster Ceilidh Band. The website design is really cute. But wait until you listen to one of the tracks. You will be overwhelmed by how much artistry and innovation this band have placed in their compositions. Part Japanese anime music, part traditional Scottish.

They have made quite a stir in the UK being electronic and folk crossover band.  They are on tour this month and with the kind of style they have, they will draw a lot of cult following from those who are into the hip and the novel. Just take a look at that video below. I love what I am seeing and hearing!

The band are:
• Amy Thatcher – Accordion.
• Carly Blain – Fiddle.
• Kieran Szifris – Mandocello
• David de la Haye – Electric Bass
• Joe Truswell – Drums

Have a listen to the tracks here

or go to the website :

Margaret Bennett: A Mother’s Lament to Her Son.

The healing power of songs…

My friend Christi posted this video and while I was watching I realized the woman singing is Margaret Bennett, the mother of the late Scottish piper who passed away in 2005, losing his battle with cancer.

I can’t pretend I know the intensity of the pain a mother suffers when she loses her child. But I can imagine that it must be so devastating. And Margaret found a way to deal with it-singing.  Doesn’t it touch the universal chord in all of us? Singing one’s blues is the ultimate consolation.

“How do you come into terms losing a son like that?”

“I think you just have to learn to live with it. I know that anybody who has experience it will tell you that nothing again will ever hurt. But of course, music is a great consolation”.

look for her album : Love and Loss – Remembering Martyn in Scotland’s Music, 2007.

The late Martyn Bennett.

Songs of Loss.

“Never allow someone to be your priority while allowing yourself to be their option.”
― Mark Twain

“Well, now
If little by little you stop loving me
I shall stop loving you
Little by little
If suddenly you forget me
Do not look for me
For I shall already have forgotten you

If you think it long and mad the wind of banners that passes through my life
And you decide to leave me at the shore of the heart where I have roots
That on that day, at that hour, I shall lift my arms
And my roots will set off to seek another land”
― Pablo Neruda, Selected Poems

“Ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation.”
― Kahlil Gibran



What I learned about life is that, never ever be ashamed of your pain just because other people tell you so.In the end people will do what they must do either for practical or for selfish reasons. Everyone is guilty of doing what they must do because it is either survival or because it looks right.  I have established this blog in such a way that I can just write about anything without losing followers.  So today’s article is dedicated to heartbreak.

These are recurring themes to most Irish and Scottish tunes and also in anything that is relatively Celtic. I think that we all have our dark times but what sharing it with true friends can ease down the pain. Before I post songs let me share a prose I wrote today. I won’t call it poetry because I don’t think it has what it takes to be called poetry, but what is important is the emotional feeling behind it.

It’s Just Blood and Milk  

Like a mother of a dead baby

whose breast is aching

because she is full of milk

that’s what this heart is suffering now

bleeding because it has no one to give its love to

not anymore…

and if you happen to pass by

please take what I can give

until the walls stop turning

until the pain subsides…

it’s all that I got now

all dreams

all hopes

now dying slowly….

so take what you can

out of this blood that is given freely

until time erases

what’s left,

and all shall fade in the wind

like the husk of memories

turning to ashes.

But don’t despair dear readers…at the end of this is a redemption song.

The first track is called  I Used To Dream by Scottish band Broken Records. It’s taken from their album Let Me Come Home released in 2010. Here’s an interesting blurb:

Use of the violin, cello, and accordion gives them a distinctly Scottish edge and their faster numbers have been known to provoke ceilidh dancing at gigs. The NME branded them the Scottish Arcade Fire, although this is an accolade previously bestowed on My Latest Novel. The band, who swap instruments when performing live, have received numerous comparisons to Arcade Fire, and have also been compared to The Verve and The Levellers. They were described by NME in 2008 as “one of the country’s most exciting new bands.”

My heart is sore, I dare not tell, my heart is sore for Somebody
I would walk a winter’s night all for a sight of Somebody

Music: traditional Irish; lyrics: traditional Scottish
Adapted by Connie Dover
From the CD, Somebody (Songs of Scotland, Ireland and Early America) by Connie Dover

“Ailein Duinn” performed by Karen Matheson (from the film’s OST)

Here is a story that ends tragically. The song itslef has an interesting background:

Ailein duinn (“Dark-haired Alan”) is a traditional Scottish song for solo female voice, a lament that was written in Gàidhlig for Ailean Moireasdan (“Alan Morrison”) by his fiancée, Annag Chaimbeul (“Annie Campbell”). In 1788, Ailean, a sailor, set off with his ship to Scalpay, Harris, where he and Annag would be married. In a tragic twist, the ship sailed into a storm and all on board were lost. Annag was devastated and lost her will to live, dying several months later. Her body was later discovered on the beach, not far from where Ailean’s body was found. Before she died, Annag composed this lament for her lost love.

Jealous Heart-Moya Brennan

Two thumbs up to the wonderful haunting voice of Moya Brennan.

Sinead O’Connor performing The Wolf Is Getting Married from her forthcoming album ‘How About I Be Me (And You Be You)?’ live on The Graham Norton Show 17th February 2012.

Here is the older and wiser Sinead O’Connor performing to the beat of her drum. Her style has always been a cross between traditional Irish and also modern rock. After all these years, the voice is still beautiful as ever.

October 5:Music that Uplifts

Donal McCague (fiddle): Sep 20, 2011 Unitarian Church, Dublin( with Dave Sheridan (flute) and Michael McCague (bouzouki)

Donal McCague (fiddle): Sep 20, 2011 Unitarian Church, Dublin( with Dave Sheridan (flute) and Michael McCague (bouzouki)

A friend told me that the mother of the dog that he has passed away. On top of that I have this frustration that I find hard to describe except this: the feeling you get being nominated several times but  not bagging even just one award. So what to do? Nothing. But the feeling of being confined eats you. In times like this only music is the way out.  Let me give you a list of performers that merit a listen in situations like these artists:

Eden’s Bridge: Grow- Taken from the upcoming  The Longest Day EP. The freshness of this track will carry you into caress of waves and prairie leaves. Transporting, uplifting, let it carry you to the silver lining of your personal clouds:


Visit :


Listen to Donal McCague’s Bit’s and Pieces

Explosive shimmering interpretation of traditional pieces from this young Irish fiddle player. The golden album cover speaks of the tracks-utterly timeless, radiant and mesmerizing.  Here’s the preview:



Nuala Kennedy creates a mood that kicks off the blues. This Scottish singer/flutist has made a following of her own with her style. Check this info from reverbnation :

Based in her adopted homeland of Scotland, Irish singer and flautist Nuala Kennedy performs a range of material from across the Irish and Scottish traditional music repertoires.

She also composes her own idiosyncratic brand of traditional music and tours in a variety of lineups from duo and quartet to a nine-piece festival band.

She has a new album (Tune In) released on Compass Records in March 2010. It was described as ‘A Picaresque Adventure and A Delight’ **** by THE IRISH TIMES


Feel free to share your own tunes and we will discuss it .

Scottish And Manx Music For Your Start Of The Week.

Pipedown is a band from Scotland  under Greentrax records. It’s the same record label that brought us the wonderful vocals of Fiona J Mackenzie.  If you like your Scottish pipe music as quirky and upbeat,  then this  band will satisfy your cravings. The extensive use of poly-rhythms and solid  harmonies make them a force in the Scottish Folk scene. They are currently working on a third album.


Lee Moore-Highland Bagpipes and Scottish Smallpipes

Steve Reid-Guitar

Axel Campbell-Mandolin

Stevie Fivey-Percussion

I love this solo from Lee Moore


Acapella group Caarjyn Cooidjagh from the Isles of Man have been warming  ears from both sides of the Atlantic with their blend of  folk hymns and subtle arrangements. Like Irish or Scottish music, I would characterize Manx to be on the same league in terms of subtlety and gentleness of tone.  They sing in their native Manx dialect which calls to mind(like all Celtic music) the maritime beauty and the mystery of the sea. Beautiful, at times energetic but generally relaxing. This is worth a listen.

Check this video called Cre raad t’ou goll, my chaillin veg dhone?(Where are you going, my little brown girl?)  a youtube site.

The words to this song come from a collection of ballads noted by A W Moore in the late 19th century. The song is a conversation between a young man and woman, he asking her where she’s going and if he can accompany her and she replying that she’s going milking and yes, he can come along…

Caarjyn Cooidjagh is a group of singers based in the Isle of Man. Performing a selection of traditional and contemporary Manx songs, they usually sing arrangements in Manx Gaelic by the group’s director, Annie Kissack. The nine women and five men who make up the group come from various
musical backgrounds, and, although they differ in their formal training, they share an enthusiasm for Manx culture and good music performed simply. Their busy yearly schedule usually includes ceilis, church services, music festivals and community events.

Caarjyn Cooidjagh means ‘friends together’ in Manx Gaelic.

For more information on booking this band for your festival please contact

Filmed by the Manx Heritage Foundation for the promotional DVD Manx Music & Dance/ Kiaull as Rinkey


Music News & Gigs

Liam Ó Maonlaí & Glen Hansard @ Whelan’s, Dublin, Ireland

07 March · 20:00 – 23:00

Wexford Street, Dublin 2, Ireland

Created by:

More info
Tickets €17.50 including booking fee available from WaV Tickets [Lo-Call 1890 200 078] and On sale Friday February 18th, 10 AM.


Today at 21:00 – Tomorrow at 00:00


Created by:

More info
LIMITED NO of SPECIAL RE-LAUNCH TICKETS €12 ARE ON SALE AT THE HOTEL – MUST BE PURCHASED IN ADVANCE . ON SALE UNTIL Sun 20th or until all sold.Spring Sessions Launch Mon 21st Feb 9.15[m till late…. with support.

The De Danann ensemble is lead by Frankie on fiddle, flutes and whistles.
Damien Mullane on accordion, Eric Cunningham on percussion, flutes and whistles, Mike Galvin on bouzouki and guitars and Michelle Lally on vocals.

A new Album entitled “Jigs, Reels and Rock ‘n’ Roll was released in Sept ’10 includes a Guest appearance by Ronnie Wood of the “Rolling Stones”.

“Frankie Gavin and De Danann are the jewel in the crown, and as the musicians hit top gear some of the fast reels in particular are mesmerizing! – The Irish Examiner

“Rightly heralded as the greatest Irish fiddle player, Frankie gavin has nothing left to prove… Gavin is a true fiddle-playing genius, one who continues to inspire and dumbfound in equal measure! – The Scotsman

Fiach Moriarty and Colm Lynch – RESCHEDULED FOR FEB 25TH

25 February · 20:00 – 23:30

The Cobblestone Back Room Venue

Created by:

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Two of Ireland’s finest songwriters team up for a one-off Christmas special in Dublin’s Cobblestone. Meteor Award nominated Colm Lynch has received critical acclaim for his latest album Tickety Boo while similarly Fiach’s debut album So I was instantly made RTÉ 1’s ‘Album of the Week’ upon its release. Adm €7

Damien Dempsey In A New Book

The Irish Lion is featured in a new book along with other news..

Damien Dempsey is among those featured in a new book called With Love, From Me…To Me Letter to my sixteen year-old self  here .

About the book:

With Love, From Me…To Me gathers these words of advice, reassurance, admonition, praise and comfort. The letters range from funny to encouraging, hopeful to regretful, but always heartfelt. Contributors include Miriam O’Callaghan, Joe O’Connor, Ray D’Arcy, Sonia O’Sullivan, Maeve Binchy, Charlie Bird, John Boyne, Jason Sherlock, Nell McCafferty, Paddy Moloney, David Norris, Ross O’Carroll Kelly, Ardal O’Hanlon, Patricia Scanlan and Victoria Smurfit. With Love, From Me . . . To Me: A Letter To My Sixteen-Year-Old Self is the ideal gift this Christmas for family, friends – or yourself!

All royalties from this book benefit the Irish Youth Foundation.

You can buy the book @ Amazon.

He will also join Glen Hansard for  a Christmas charity single. More news here.


But of course we are always awed when we hear something about Julie Fowlis and Salsa Celtica-the latter which has my pal  Kenny Fraser playing the fiddle.


More info on the Golowan Festival 2010 in Cornwall and Sue Aston’s pics.

It is Cornish and Celtic. It happens every year. Penzance come alive with parades and music. Colorful people come from all over the world. Musicians play their wonderful tunes.

Sue Aston

Karen Matheson and Fiona Kennedy

For lack of any news today,I am featuring two wonderful Scottish singers.What attracted me to this song is the rapid firing of Gaelic language. I think more than the music, it is the language that defines the authenticity  of the rt. Without  it, then Celtic music would be incomplete. That is why I admire singers who  perfect the art of singing the language.

American singers like Connie Dover earn my respect for being fluent both in Scottish and Irish Gaelic. Then there are those who sing in Breton and Welsh…or any of the languages. It is this sense that colors the art. English after all, is not the only important language there is. We need it to communicate. But it is not as beautiful as the Celtic languages.  Enjoy.