Well that's anither year in! I'm enjoying being "off the road" with Malinky's break from touring, not least catching my breath after a long year with all the ups and downs from my father's passing to my wedding in August and a whole heap of things in between.
While I've been quiet-ish on the music side, I've been getting my teeth back into Traditional Arts strategy work with a number of organisations including the Traditional Music Forum and the Hamish Henderson Archive Trust. I'll be starting a project in my home town of Arbroath shortly, taking material from Kist o Riches into schools and back to the communities whence it came. I'm leading a workshop on using archive resources creatively as part of the Scottish Storytelling Centre's training and education programme on Saturday 14th Jan, before heading to Howth near Dublin for a Burns Night with the fab Fred Morrison the following weekend.
In the coming weeks (ok, months!) I hope to give this site a much-needed overhaul and expand it to include my more recent work in the world of Traditional Arts development. And some more up to date photies!! Watch this space!
4th Scottish Folk Night tour in Austria
Monday, August 01, 2011
I'll be jetting off to my old stomping ground of Austria in September for a 3-week tour taking in parts of the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Italy and Slovenia, organised by the Weltenklang agency. I'll be performing a solo slot each night, mostly material from Songs from Home. The latest dates have just been confirmed as:
Do 22.09.2011 WIEN Metropol
Fr 23.09.2011 GUTENBRUNN Buehnenwirtshaus Juster
Sa 24.09.2011 FREISTADT Salzhof
So 25.09.2011 ALLAND fiddlersgreen
Mo 26.09.2011 KORNEUBURG Gwoelb
Di 27.09.2011 ST.POELTEN Cinema Paradiso
Mi 28.09.2011 BAD ISCHL Leharkino
Do 29.09.2011 SALZBURG Oval-die Buehne im Europark
Fr 30.09.2011 VOELS Blumenpark Seidemann
Sa 01.10.2011 LIENZ Creativ Center
Mo 03.10.2011 GRAZ Bruecke
Di 04.10.2011 GLEISDORF forumKLOSTER
Mi 05.10.2011 AJDOVSCINA (SLO) Dvorana prve slovenske vlade
Do 06.10.2011 TRICESIMO (I) Teatro Garzoni
Fr 07.10.2011 ST.GEORGEN am Längsee Hutkultur
Sa 08.10.2011 ROTTENMANN Volkshaus
So 09.10.2011 tba
Mo 10.10.2011 BEROUN (CR) Ceska pojistovna
Di 11.10.2011 BAD GROßPERTHOLZ Eisenwerk - tbc
Mi 12.10.2011 WELS The Soundtheatre
Do 13.10.2011 tba
Fr 14.10.2011 SCHAFFHAUSEN (CH) Kammgarn
Sa 15.10.2011 ZUG (CH) Chollerhalle
I'm involved with the Hamish Henderson Archive Trust to secure the fate of the papers of the celebrated Scottish folklorist, poet, songwriter and activist - support the fundraising here hendersontrust.org
Scots Singer of the Year nomination
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
I'm most flattered to say I've been nominated for the second time as Citty Finlayson Scots Singer of the Year in the 2009 MG Alba Scottish Traditional Music Awards, particularly in such wonderful company as Shona Donaldson, Archie Fisher and Jimmy Hutchison.
It's a public vote, so if you feel so inclined you can cast a vote for me online at http://www.handsupfortrad.co.uk/tradmusicawards/. You can vote in as many or as few categories as you wish. Thanks in advance to those who find time to support me!
I'm hoping to write some more news updates this coming year than has been possible lately, with things being so busy in Malinky-land. I have a new solo album in the offing which I'll be working on in December 09. More news to follow 'soon'!
I took delivery of a wonderful new baby this week, a glorious 10 string spruce and maple bouzouki from a great instrument maker from southern Germany, Heiner Dreizehnter. I've spent the last couple of days playing it in sessions in Edinburgh and looking forward to taking it on the road tomorrow with Malinky and recording with it next week when we go to record album no. 4.
The lovely mother-of-pearl neck design is my own request, of the silhouette of Arbroath Abbey, from my home town.
A bit of good crack from one of the gigs with Fred in July - Paul Jennings on percussion. In Ostiano near Cremona.
Friday, July 20, 2007
Hi folks. It's been a mad busy few months yet again.
Just back from nearly three weeks constantly on the road.
Malinky had a great wee run of gigs in May and June, and at the beginning of July I was in Germany where, as well as having a few days holiday, we got to work on the details for what now seems to have become my annual September short solo tour in Germany. I'll be in Aschersleben (a return visit), Wernigerode and Marburg. Looking forward to it! Keep an eye on the gigs page for more details.
Over the first weekend in July, I had the pleasure of being being in sunny northern Italy with Fred Morrison. Myself and fab percussionist Paul Jennings joined Fred for two gigs, one near Cremona and one by Bergamo. Another couple of gigs organised by Frame Events, and we stayed again in the famous Bonanza hotel, well known to just about every Scottish folk musician who's played in the area. I stayed there almost four years ago to the day with Malinky.
Then last week I had my first proper experience of the wonder that is Brittany. Fred, Paul and I were at the Festival de Cornouaille in Quimper for five days. What a party! We had a return leg of the Bagad Kemper (traditional Breton bagpipe and bombarde group) concert that Fred and I participated in at Celtic Connections 2006. We were joined by the Clan Gregor Society Pipe Band from near Stirling, so at one point we had something like 70 pipers and bombarde players on stage behind us. Earplugs!
Also it was great to hook up with Julie Fowlis again, who was the Bagad's special guest. Her man
What's that on the front page?
Sunday, April 29, 2007
DISCLAIMER: The following views are purely my own personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of any of the organisations I work with or am employed by!
Simple, I'm supporting the SNP in the forthcoming election. Not purely for its policies on independence and a nuclear-free Scotland, but because it seems to me to be the only party taking the Scottish cultural sector seriously, with tangible, action-based manifesto commitments that really would make a difference to individual artists in Scotland.
This affects me and my many colleagues in the traditional music scene, not least as we're involved with identifiably 'Scottish' music, and for too long we have been undervalued as an important part of the country's cultural identity.
Working for a number of years as I have in arts administration, I have become well acquainted with government cultural policy and the various organisations involved in the adminstration of the arts. The recent Cultural Commission and subsequent Culture Bill exercises, both with their faults, along with the continued chopping and changing of Culture/Sport/Tourism ministers - not to mention the fact that there is no dedicated Culture brief - indicates to me that the current Scottish government has not taken the cultural sector seriously. Most importantly, in my view, the Executive has not found a useful and effective mechanism to engage with practising professional artists who are outwith the 'celebrity' mainstream, and often poorly served by local government arts policy, which is - naturally and quite rightly - often community-focused.
There is currently no uniform provision for individual professional artists, across artforms, at whatever level they may be at, in terms of financial support to advance their careers outside of the Scottish Arts Council schemes. Local authorities differ in what they can offer, some offering award schemes to visual artists, but budding young songwriters - with the same fundamental problems - find no such avenues open to them.
The debate about 'Cultural Entitlements' generated by the Culture Bill, following the Cultural Commission, has brought about little more than confusion and a vagueness on the part of those involved in administering them. Not least as no-one can decide what 'Cultural Entitlements' are. With the guidance from the Executive being so vague - in an attempt to allow democratic, local consultation and determination by local communities - the door is left open for a patchwork of imbalanced provision in each local authority, and thereby not resolving, at a national level across the board, the common problems faced by inidividual artists wherever they live. Another postcode lottery, in essence. And there is no checking mechanism. If one local authority decides to provide a grants scheme for local professional performers, and the neighbouring authority doesn't, there is no recourse to Scottish ministers.
It is also about the equalisation of value of all aspects of cultural life in Scotland, and none moreso than the traditional music sector. It's time to realise that it's not something to be taken for granted, or to be put on the TV just at Hogmanay, and it's not purely a tourism generator. It is the valid expression of Scottishness, in its highland, lowland and island forms, such is the people's right to express themselves, and, again invoking Alan Lomax, to have access to the airwaves. Until we hear more of our own traditional culture on the radio or see it on the TV in a positively represented form, we will not, as a people, recognise and accept it as 'normal'. People often groan when the comparisons with Ireland are made, but, as someone with a strong Irish background too, I'm perhaps a little more qualified than most - my experience is that the difference is considerable.
My reasons also extend to the SNP's policy on language. They are the only party, again in my view, who pay more than lip-service to the Scots language. The other parties seem to mention it as purely an add-on, and afterthought, without realising the cultural wellspring that Scots-speaking communities represent. The SNP proposes a question in the census regarding Scots, allowing Scots-speakers the first opportunity to self-identify their own language, which they have for too long not been able or allowed to do, seeing it as bad or second-class English.
Anyway, enough of my ranting, I know where I'll be putting my crosses on Thursday. I don't agree with all the SNP policies - as a much-travelled person I'm pro-tram and pro-airport rail link - but if you care about Scottish traditional arts, and the cultural life of Scotland in general, I'd urge you to vote SNP.
What a busy few months
Saturday, April 21, 2007
It seems like it's been all go since the New Year. Finally having a few days to live and breathe after the C
Final dates with Emily Smith announced
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
I've just returned from a great tour with Emily Smith in Germany, organised by the wonderful folks at CelticSound who have been Malinky's agents there for a few years now, so a few familiar gigs! We were joined by the splendid Joe Rusby on sound and general good crack.
While this tour was expected to be my last concerts with Emily, in fact I will have two final Scottish dates, in Peebles and Crawfordjohn on 2nd and 3rd March. See the gigs page for more details as I get them.
I will have played for nearly three years with Emily and it was a brilliant time, with visits to many wonderful places across the world, but as I posted here late last summer, the time has come for me to concentrate more on my main projects, namely Malinky and my solo work.
Malinky had a great time at Celtic Connections with our Swedish pals Ranarim, and we're hoping to do more work together soon. The band is also preparing to head to Memphis, Tennessee for the Folk Alliance conference on 21st Feb, and will record a new album later on in 2007. Our diary is also beginning to fill up with hopefully a trip to Italy amongst the dates.
I'm working on new songs, including a setting of the Marion Angus poem Courtin, with a view to hitting the studio myself at some point in the next year to begin a second record. I'm also working on booking another solo tour of Germany, and a folk club tour of the UK. It all depends on how much time I have!
cheers for now
Trad Music Awards Nomination
Thursday, November 02, 2006
I was very suprised but quite chuffed to hear this week that I've been nominated as 'Scots Singer of the Year' in the 2006 Scottish Trad Music Awards.
I'm up against some stiff competition in the shape of some fantastic established singers, fellow Angus man Joe Aitken, the wonderful Sylvia Barnes and Tom Spiers whose album with Pete Shepheard and Arthur Watson is just fab!
However, for me it's a big achievement for me that folk have felt strongly enough about my songs and my singing to even nominate me, so I won't be too sad if I don't win. It's great just to celebrate the music of where I come from and get it wider recognition on the national and international stage.
I've had a hectic couple of months since my last news item so it's been hard to find time to update the site as regularly as I'd hoped to!
In September I had a great run of gigs, Shetland Book Festival with Emily Smith, where I had a great time and saw the hilarious comedian Phil Kay live for the first time, then I was in Newtownards in Northern Ireland performing Songs from Home, where I also took part in Colum Sands's radio show, including an impromptu on-air jam with the splendid Kris Drever.
I then headed to Germany for my first ever solo tour there. Unfortunately the first gig in Berlin was cancelled at the last minute, so the tour began in the village of Stiege, in my partner Ines's home region of Sachsen-Anhalt, in an old wooden church by a lake. It was a lovely gig with nearly 100 folk from the village turning up. The next night was in Aschersleben, the nearest main town to Ines's home village, and it was a fantastic gig on a hot night in an ancient Fachwerk (like Mock Tudor) building, crammed to the gunnels. Then followed by a lovely night down in the back garden with many of us around a fire having a conversation with a bottle of Ardbeg! I then finished the tour with a house concert in Berlin which was a last-minute add-on, but very enjoyable indeed.
As if that wasn't enough, I then spent the next weekend in Ireland with Fred Morrison, where we played a splendid gig in Howth, the fishing village on the north Dublin coast, organised by the fabulous Francy Devine, who turned out not only to be a fantastic font of stories but also some great songs to boot - look out for them in my repertoire one day! It was a fundraiser for the hospice in nearby Raheny and it raised over
PLEASE NOTE: Berlin gig postponed
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
I've just received the bad news that the Berlin-L
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
It's with a wee tinge of sadness that I write this latest news update, but I have also a definite feeling it's for the best.
As of early next year, by mutual and very amicable agreement, I will no longer be working with Emily Smith. Nothing has been set in stone with regard to the timetable for changeover, but it is envisaged I will continue to play with her until her Germany tour in February 2007.
I first started working with Emily in late Spring 2004, around the time that Malinky was taking stock and I had a relatively quiet diary, and from a financial point of view it was a welcome opportunity, as well as a great musical opportunity to work with friends and people whose music I had admired for some time. I've had an amazing two-and-a-bit years in Emily and Jamie's company and seen some fantastic places and made many new friends for life along the way.
Since then of course, the new Malinky lineup has gradually been getting busier and busier, along with my solo project, as well as my new work with Fred Morrison. All that alongside my ongoing jobshare at the City of Edinburgh Council.
This summer past was one of my busiest, which was great, but also the most exhausting, and perhaps least musically fulfilling. My health was beginning to suffer quite badly and in June I had a brief stay in hospital with illness brought on simply by doing too much in too short a space of time and not being able to take adequate time off. While I don't want to over-dramatise that too much - in the end the illness wasn't very serious - I feel that that, along with my ongoing tiredness and exhaustion are signs that I have to learn to say no! Also I feel that I was beginning to lack proper focus on my musical projects, and going from gig to gig with four different sets of material in my head was far from easy! I found myself a bit under-rehearsed, lacking confidence and with no time or inspiration to write any new material for quite a long period. Not good.
On a similar tack, I will therefore not be part of the new Fred Morrison band project as previously announced, although this is more to do with my lack of availability in the latter half of this year, alongside the unfortunate cancellation of several rehearsals during the summer, meaning things have not moved along as quickly as hoped. Things were beginning to move on apace with talk of an album and major touring in December and Spring, and at this notice, with my current commitments (long-booked Malinky tours of Germany and the Netherlands, and the Ceilidh Culture festival in April), there was no way I could commit to being a major part of the band if things were to move at that speed. Much as I would have loved the chance to play with what I know will be a fantastic new project for Fred with much success following it, we agreed it was best that Fred should seek a replacement accompanist for the band. However, I do still have a few duo gigs with Fred in the diary and this is something that we both hope we will continue to find time to do on occasions in the future, and perhaps even record a live album of duo material.
So, this summer everything finally clashed, and some things had to give. I have recently moved in to a more affordable place to live, meaning less pressure to be gigging all the time to pay the massive Edinburgh rents. I've also begun to find confidence in my own material through some well-received recent solo gigs, to believe that I may have a viable future doing more of that. I now look forward to having more time to breathe, to rehearse, to relax and be a better, more focused musician, and to concentrating on my first loves, Malinky and the songs of Angus.
Getting ready for summer
Friday, June 16, 2006
As you'll see it's been quite a long while since I've been able to update certain parts of the site; the first half of 2006 has been completely hectic and it's only now, with a few spare days back at my folks up in Arbroath, that I can catch up with things a bit.
I'm not long back from two weekends in a row on the Isle of Arran where I had a great time teaching guitar and also playing with Fred Morrison and (last weekend) Malinky.
Recently the new Fred Morrison band got together for its very first rehearsal at studios in Glasgow, and over the next few months we'll be rehearsing lots more. Watch this space and Fred's site at www.fredmorrison.com for more details.
I've put up some new reviews in the press section of the site; thanks to all the lovely publications who've taken the time to send them on to me.
As you'll hopefully also see from the gigs page, a few more solo gigs are coming, including my first ever solo visit to Germany in September. I'll be developing more solo touring work later in the year as I get more time.
I hope to do a wee bit of a revamp of the site over the next few weeks too, once I've moved house and set up my new office, so look out for that. Also, if any of you have any live shots from any concerts you've been at, send them on and I'll see if we can use them on the gallery page.
cheers for now!
Featured on Radio 2 website
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
'Songs from Home' is currently featured on the Radio 2 Folk & Acoustic website. 'Fine vocals and multi-instrumentalism - an intelligent debut solo album from the Malinky founder member.' visit the Radio 2 Folk & Acoustic website
Monday, February 06, 2006
I've uploaded some short samples from the new CD on the 'music' page. The files are mp3s about 30 secs long, around 500kb in size. Enjoy!
'Songs from Home' officially released
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
My new album 'Songs from Home' is officially released by Greentrax Recordings today, 1st February 2006.
The album is now available for purchase directly from me via the 'music' section of the site. Sound clips from the CD will be uploaded within the next week.
hi folks, and welcome to my website. I've launched this site partly to coincide with my soon-to-be-released solo project of songs from Angus, my home area, entitled simply "Songs from Home" on the Greentrax label. The project has been some 5 years in the making and I've finally managed to get the time and money together to make it happen. A number of the poems I've known and wanted to do something with ever since I was in Mr McIntosh's English class aged 16 at Arbroath High School!
I also thought it might be interesting for folk to see all in one place exactly what it is that I do as a musician and the projects with which I'm involved.
Well, if it's not of any great interest to anyone, if nothing else it's a great tool for me to keep myself organised and know what's going on in my life! Hopefully you will find some if it interesting too!
ok, I'm off to fill in some more of the blank spaces elsewhere on the site....