A cracking couple of albums featuring pieces of my music have been released in the last month. The Afro Celt Sound System’s new album “Flight” was released on November 23rd and features a number of my tunes as well as collaborations with some incredible musicians from Celtic and African backgrounds.
Top Scottish folk band Breabach also have a new album out, entitled “The Frenzy of the Meeting”. I was delighted to be asked to write some Gaelic bàrdachd for Track No. 2 (“Knees-Up”) on this fantastic album. And it’s nice to help your wee sister out every now and then. Here are the words and a loose translation for anyone interested:
Thèid sinn thar a' chuain; thèid sinn thar na linne,
a' fàgail mar bu dual, do gach àite 's cinneadh.
'S fheudar dhuinn a bhith gun tàmh, 's fheudar falbh an rathaid;
beò an dòchas glan na fàire gus am bris an latha.
'S fheudar dhuinn a bhith gun tàmh, 's fheudar ceum a ghabhail;
's iomadh adhbhar, gnè 's gràdh a' tarraing air an ràmh.
We'll go over the ocean; we'll go over the strait,
leaving as is hereditary to every place and tribe.
We must be without rest/must not dwell, the road must be taken,
living in the pure hope of the horizon, until the day breaks.
We must be without rest, a step must be taken,
many reasons, kind/types and loves, pulling on the oar.
The Afro Celt Sound System’s new album ‘Flight’ is now available for pre-order from ECC Records! I had a brilliant time contributing to this album over the summer, collaborating with a fantastic line-up of more than 17 musicians from all over Europe and Africa. The new album explores themes of migration – both human and avian – and will be on general release from November 23rd.
A few months ago, I had the pleasure of working with composer and musician Ged Grimes (Simple Minds) on the soundtrack of a new computer game “The Bard’s Tale IV: Barrows Deep”.
Ged recruited a stellar line-up of traditional musicians ( Kathleen MacInnes, Ali Hutton, Eilidh Cormack, Martin O’Neill, Brain McAlpine and Rona Lightfoot, to name but a few) for the recording sessions and the resulting soundtrack is outstanding. Certainly a far cry from the computer game soundtracks of my youth, not that the Super Mario theme tune wasn’t a tour-de-force in it’s own frenetic way!
Here’s a taste of what gamers can expect to hear.
Last September, I welcomed top Canadian fiddler Colin Grant over to Scotland as part of a documentary examining the close cultural ties between Scottish and Cape Breton styles of fiddle playing. We spent the week travelling around the country meeting tradition-bearers and leading-exponents of various styles of Scottish fiddle playing, comparing and contrasting accents and influences with our own.
I was then fortunate enough to take a trip to Nova Scotia for the "away-leg" where Colin took me to meet various legends of Cape Breton music and visit several sites central to the history of Scottish and, in particular, Gaelic emigration to the Maritimes of Canada.
The culmination of this trip was a special, one-off concert at the Celtic Colours festival where myself and Colin (alongside the wonderful Scott MacMillan, Jason Roach, Ingrid Henderson and Seonaidh MacIntyre) presented a musical representation of our respective journeys of discovery through Scotland and Cape Breton. For me personally, it was an incredible experience and not one that I'll forget in a hurry. However, if I were to forget, the Canadian version of the documentary was broadcast on August 11th so I'd only have to check that out to jog my memory.
Here's a link for the CBC documentary*
A Scottish edition of the documentary is due to be broadcast on BBC Alba later in the year - I'll keep you posted on that. In the meantime, if you're keen to hear what the concert from Celtic Colours sounded like, I've shared a short video of one of the pieces below.
*Only available to viewers in Canada. (Unless you use a VPN but I didn't tell you that...)
Welcome to the cèilidh!
Hello and welcome to this, the rather inauspicious opening of my new website and, indeed, my first reluctant steps into the world of online self-promotion. It's my intention to keep this page regularly updated with news of my latest adventures and occasional misadventures but, then again, I also promised myself I'd start learning Spanish. That was in 2012 and, to date, your average Tapas menu still reads like the Dead Sea Scrolls to me. This is also to be the only area of the website where I do not refer to myself in the third person - a practise I tend not to engage with in "real" life but one that seems appropriate when blowing one's own trumpet all over this little corner of the internet in which I've decided to set up camp.