September Summary


Hi aye and apologies, once more, for the continuing neglect of my news feed. I suspect my neglect is only matched by the ambivalence of the wider online world but, then again, perhaps ambivalence is no bad thing in this day and age. (On that note, you may want to check out this BBC Radio 4 programme “The Courage of Ambivalence” I listened to last week - interesting stuff!)

Cò-dhiù, I’ve had a rather enjoyable summer between getting married and all the usual festival shenanigans with Mànran, travelling all over Scotland plus a few gigs in France and Germany for good measure. I also managed a jaunt to the west coast of the United States for week’s teaching at the wonderful Fèis Seattle (see below) and a gig celebrating 20 years of the redoudtable Northern California Camanachd: California’s number one shinty team!

Now, further down this page I mentioned the work I’ve been doing this year on the soundtrack of an ITV period drama. “Sanditon” is now broadcasting on ITV (or STV if you’re fortunate enough to live on the pro-EU side of Hadrian’s Wall) and, with the previous cloak of secrecy now lifted, I can share a couple of photos of yours truly bedecked in Regency finery. Enjoy! The recording process for the soundtrack is now coming to an end but it’s been a fabulous experience working with and learning from some of the best musicians, engineers and composers in the Film & TV soundtrack business.


Fiddle Classes!


For a number of years, my touring schedule was such that I didn’t find time to do any teaching whatsoever but, over the last two or three years, this has relaxed a wee bit and it’s been my great pleasure to fit in the odd course and workshop both in Scotland and abroad. I’ve got another couple coming up this summer and I’m really looking forward to them. First up, I’m teaching a short-course at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig for the third year running between the 1st-5th July. I believe this course is now full but there is a waiting-list for anyone still interested.


Then in August I’ll be head Stateside to teach at Fèis Seattle for the heroes at Slighe nan Gàidheal. Founded in 1997, Slighe have done some terrific work over the years to encourage the continuation and the promotion of Gaelic language and culture in northwestern America and I am delighted to have been asked back to teach at their Fèis and, as they say themselves, bring the Gàidhealtachd to the Pacific Northwest!

Spring Update

It’s been a busy old time of it since my last update. Between touring, writing and recording with Mànran (you can read all about their adventures here) and edging ever closer to finishing my now-mythical “proper” solo album, there hasn’t been an awful lot of spare time for keeping this news page up to date. And then there’s wedding planning but that’s a whole different ball-game!

Outwith my usual work, I did find myself involved in making the soundtrack for a forthcoming ITV adaption of Jane Austen’s unfinished novel “Sanditon”. Working alongside top film & TV composer Ruth Barrett, I was tasked with sourcing dance tunes that had been popular during the Regency period and recording them for the soundtrack with a crack-team of the country’s top folk musicians. This, perhaps inevitably, led to some of us being asked to feature on-screen and a couple of days filming in full Regency garb. Great craic - I don’t need much of an excuse to dress-up at the best of times - and a fascinating insight into the intense world of big TV dramas. As you might expect, there are some smashing photos to accompany this but they may have to wait until the series airs later this year.

I spent most of the last month touring Australia with Mànran but, prior to my departure ‘Down Under’, I had the pleasure of teaching at the fantastic Fochabers Fiddle Week. This is an excellent fiddle school for young players of all abilities and I thoroughly enjoyed my week. Really well run by Jack Smedley & Mhairi Marwick, all involved seemed to have a great time and, for sure, there are some really promising young players up in that neck of the woods!

Celtic Connections


January is here and that can mean only one thing: Celtic Connections is upon us once more! Ever a hectic time for Scottish musicians, Europe’s largest Winter music festival is also a great chance to open your ears to new sounds, take part in collaborations that may not happen elsewhere and enjoy a good catch-up with fellow artists. This year’s a fairly busy one for me as I appear in a variety of different performances over the course of the three weeks. I’ll be appearing as part of:

Seinn air a’ Phìob 18th January

Gary Innes Band 19th January

League of Highland Gentlemen 27th January

BBC Take the Floor (Robert Nairn Highland Dance Band) 30th January

The Bard’s Tale 31st January

For more info on any of these gigs, just click on links above. See you in the Festival Club!

Happy New Year Bliadhna Mhath Ùr!

A very happy New Year to each and every one of you! I spent the New Year band touring round the highways and byways of Scotland with Mànran, enjoying some great gigs and the odd customary dram na Bliadhn’ Ùire.

We were also on TV screens again as BBC Alba broadcast Mànran’s recent live show from Glasgow’s Barrowland Ballroom. A great night and still available on BBC iPlayer for the next couple of weeks.


New Releases

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.