Foot Stompin’ February 10th newsletter

Calum MacCrimmon - Man's Ruin

Calum MacCrimmon - Man's Ruin

We’ve a great special offer for you this week. We’re offering you Shona Mooney’s Award winning CD, Heartsease (Mojo Magazine’s CD of the Year) for £4.99 – 60% off retail price. A reviewer said of it “Shona’s playing dazzles with vibrancy, and delights with its combination of verve, technical expertise and soul… Her sheer delight in playing and communicating the music beams directly out to the listener.” David Kidman http://bit.ly/bXFEXK

1. New Releases – includes Calum MacCrimmon, Duncan Johnstone, Gaberlunzie
2. Legendary Scottish Singers – Kenneth McKellar
3. Snippets – Petition to Save Scottish Music Course!
4. Foot Stompin’ FREE Scottish Music ringtone- Mairearad and Anna
5. Reviews – includes Mick West, Pur
6. Best Sellers: includes Breabach, Fraser Fifield, Oor Wullie
7. Foot Stompin’ Scotch Whisky – Glenmorange & Oban
8. Discussion forum
9. Testimonials
10. Foot Stompin’ on Facebook and Twitter

1. New Releases (remember if you’ve bought from us before you get our loyalty 10% discount off everything)

WINE, WOMEN & SONG!! Man’s Ruin – Calum MacCrimmon: Calum MacCrimmon, piper and whistle player with popular folk band Breabach, has shown his composing and vocal talents on this brilliant new release. It’s packed with great contemporary songs and tunes and a fab list of guest musicians in the shape of Innes Watson – guitars, dobro, fiddle; Duncan Lyall – bass; Paul Jennings – drum kit, cajon; Rick Taylor – trombone; Nigel Hitchcock – sax; John Somerville – accordion; Darren MacLean – Gaelic song. Calum himself is lead vocalist and plays electric guitar & whistles. The only piping featured on this album is the saucy picture on the cover! We love it! £11.70 (£12.99 for first time customers)
http://bit.ly/cREhJ6

THE MASTER’S ART!! Pipe Tunes – Duncan Johnstone: The tracks on this CD come from two early LPs recorded by an obvious master of the art of piping. Duncan (1925 – 1999) was first and foremost a ‘musician’, and this was clearly evident not only in his playing but also in his composing and teaching. He was one of the finest pipers of his generation and piping enthusiasts will enjoy this opportunity to hear one of the ‘greats’. £11.25 (£12.50 for first time customers)
http://bit.ly/btoKIz

REVIVAL MUSIC!! The Times They Are A-Changin’ (2 CDs) – The Ian Campbell Folk Group : We were delighted to come across this amazing collection of 62 tracks from the band who were a leading light of the 1960s folk revival.The tracks cover the recordings from 10 of the groups albums from 1964 onwards. They made many appearances on radio, television, and at national and international festivals and had a hit single with their recording of Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are A-Changin’. Two of the members – Dave Swarbrick and Dave Pegg – went on to fame with ‘Fairport Convention’. The Ian Campbell Folk Group were a trendsetting group who influenced so many others, This double CD is a real gem, and a snapshot of the vibrant folk scene at the time. Excellent sleeve notes too! £9.89 (£10.99 for first time customers)
http://bit.ly/dmjk0P

TRAVELLIN’ MEN!! The Shire Of Kinross: – Gaberlunzie: By all accounts a ‘gaberlunzie’ was a travelling singer and storyteller. Robin Watson and Gordon Menzies have been together as Gaberlunzie since the early 1970s and have have travelled widely entertaining audiences with their blend of modern and traditional songs. On this CD, the duo have stayed close to home with a selection of songs and tunes from their home area of Kinross. £11.25 (£12.50 for first time customers)
http://bit.ly/9tSjPa

NIGHT-CLUBBIN!! Reeltime – Keeping It Reel: Wild, pipe-led dance-music! The album is a compilation of selected contemporary works featuring bagpipes, large and small, played by Roddy Deans and a variety of Scotland’s session musicians. A CD of mixed musical flavours from around the world given a modern Scottish twist. £11.25 (£12.50 for first time customers)
http://bit.ly/cClq5q

CALUM’S BACK!! Calum Kennedy – Songs in Gaelic: We are delighted to say that after an absence of several months (due to the illness of the sole supplier) we have managed to get some more of this beautiful and popular CD back into stock. Here’s a chance to sit down for an hour and listen again to the beautiful gentle tone and wonderful range of Calum Kennedy’s voice when he sung in his native Gaelic. Sublime! £11.25 (£12.50 for first time customers)
http://bit.ly/9RV6SA

CDs from other artists of bygone days also now available again include:

Robert Wilson The Voice of Scotland: (3 volumes available) http://bit.ly/dalc1w
Father Sydney MacEwan (Silver Threads.. & Bonnie Mary of Argyle) http://bit.ly/bjitmE
Harry Gordon – The Laird o’ Inversnecky: http://bit.ly/aYakgb
The Cornkisters (3 volumes available): http://bit.ly/aTrQuP
Dancing Memories (4 volumes available) http://bit.ly/9RBJAS
Jimmy Blue Scottish Dance Band: http://bit.ly/aVfTeu
Joseph Hislop – Songs From Scotland: http://bit.ly/brSfEt
Jim Cameron’s Scottish Dance Band (3 volumes available): http://bit.ly/a8NZZM

Remember you can also buy from Foot Stompin’ by phone – +44 (0)131 441 3135. We take all credit cards. If you like a friendly voice at the end of your phone we’re here!

2. Legendary Scottish Singers – Kenneth McKellar

Scottish tenor Kenneth McKellar was born in Paisley in 1927. He originally studied Forestry at Aberdeen University, after graduation working for the Scottish Forestry Commission. He later trained at the Royal College of Music as an opera singer. Kenneth’s great talent as a singer first came to public notice in 1947 through a broadcast with the BBC in Glasgow. “It was the ballad opera The Gentle Shepherd, by the early 18th century Scottish poet Allan Rarnsay,” he recalls. “The music for it was arranged by Cedric Thorpe Davie, who was Professor of Music at St.Andrew’s University. I sang the main tenor part in that. It was very beautiful. That was my introduction to broadcasting.”

He did not enjoy his time with the Carl Rosa Opera Company and left them to pursue a career singing traditional Scottish songs and other works. A year after he left opera for good he signed with the Decca Record Company where he remained for over 25 years during which time he recorded some 35 or more LPs which have sold many millions of copies throughout the world. He was a star of both radio and television and even represented the UK in the 1996 Eurovision Song Contest. His Songs of Robert Burns album is regarded in Scotland as the definitive Burns collection. His recordings in Paisley Abbey, Sacred Songs and Hosana are among the best-loved ever to come out of Scotland.

Foot Stompin’ has some beautiful recordings by Kenneth McKellar:
Kenneth McKellar – The Decca Years (1955-1975): http://bit.ly/bsxqQl
The Very Best Of Kenneth McKellar : http://bit.ly/arLjqa
The Early McKellar: http://bit.ly/bR1xRV
To Robert Burns, A Tribute: http://bit.ly/9thPhC
Kenneth McKeller’s Book of Hymns: http://bit.ly/bdYUmL

3. Snippets

Petition to Save top Scottish Music Degree!
One of the most sought-after music courses in Scotland is threatened with closure…there’s a petition to try and stop the axe falling on the BA Applied Music course at Strathclyde University which has seen many young traditional musicians among its graduates. More details here: http://bit.ly/9ieqM4

Awards galore!
Lots of Scottish singers and bands have been nominated in the 2010 Spiral Awards. You can vote for Border’s Tunesmiths and Fiddlers’ Bid (both in Instrumental Album), Lau (Best Original Song), Kris Drever (Best male singer), Alyth McCormack (Best female singer), Lau and Karine Polwart (Best Live Act). Vote here http://bit.ly/cMVVp8

Wee Precious!
Alexander McCall Smith’s new novel d”Precious and the Puggies” (monkeys) due for publiclation next month is to be released only in the Scots language. The author has decided that it appears in print in the Scots language for a year before it is translated into English or any other language. http://bit.ly/a9QR2w

Rallying call!
Annual Inverness Fiddlers Rally takes place Saturday 13th February 2010 at Eden Court Theatre. Be there or be square! http://bit.ly/dcsZmY

Road to Sunset: A Life of Lewis Grassic Gibbon
A lovely radio programme about the life of Lewis Grassic Gibbon  the writer of Scottish classic ‘Sunset Song’. It can still be accessed on BBC Radio Scotland. http://bit.ly/bfAyti

Arizona
Anyone know about a group of travellers who went over to North America from Perthshire about 150 years ago, who still travel across a number of states including Arizona? They apparently speak (Ar Cainnt) Gaelic or Cant in English. http://bit.ly/cRE9Yn

Piping Summer School in Tuscany
Piper Hamish Moore is delighted to announce an exciting new Summer School for Piping, Traditional Music and Dance, to be held in Barga in Tuscany where he spent 2008 as musician in residence. Barga dates back a thousand years and is a walled hill town of astounding beauty… http://bit.ly/9o1ker

The Muckle Sing Again!.
An extra day (21st February) has been added to this popular event which encourages community song groups and choirs.  There’s room for indivisdual singers too.  It will be a repeat of the Saturday’s programme (now fully booked) Howden Park Centre Livingston, West Lothian.. Booking details : http://bit.ly/axo0Le

Trad in the Park
A weekend of traditional music making At Highland Adventure, Glenisla with two of the country’s most respected traditional musicians. Including one half-day’s outdoor activity. For musicians of S3 and above of intermediate or advanced playing / singing ability.
http://bit.ly/aJx7d5

4. Foot Stompin’ FREE Scottish Music ringtone
Here’s our latest Free Scottish music ringtone. It’s a tune from the new Mairearad and Anna CD. It’s very cheery and guaranteed to make you smile. http://bit.ly/6H7zj6

5. Reviews

CD:  Sark o Snaw. 5 stars reviewed in Scotland on Sunday .
This masterful album of traditional songs was created over hundreds of years, by many thousands of individuals, and their spirit remains palpable in West’s deeply moving and authentically Scots voice. Each of these 11 evergreen songs is given a carefully wrought, modernist accompaniment that dramatises the ballads (Chylde Owlett), conjures mystery (Well Below The Valley) or remains simple and demurely touching (Kelvin’s Purling Stream). Go listen to it…Norman Chalmers
http://bit.ly/5Fh2lK

CD: Pur reviewed in The Scots Magazine
If, like me, you span both Scottish cultures, it is maybe too easy to approach this CD with some apprehension, in case attempts to Gaelicise Burns result in McGonagall-esque Gaelic doggerel — but this is definitely not the case, and the resulting synthesis is pleasing in the extreme. In fact, it’s sometimes difficult to realise that two cultures are being welded together . . . seamless is perhaps the word. I can’t help thinking that it’s a shame we don’t spend more time considering what unites us rather than what separates us, and that this time of the Scottish cultural year should be encouraged for simply that.
http://bit.ly/3vofw7

CD: Don’t Sing Love Songs by Maeve Mackinnon. Five Stars. Scotland on Sunday
“From the crunchy opening string chords and cross-rhythmic tension, you know an unusual musical intelligence is at work. The title comes from the Stateside favourite ‘Silver Dagger’, and while the Scots ‘Cruel Brither’ makes an appearance, most of the songs are in Gaelic. Striking arrangements might on occasion overshadow a song, but this is one of the most absorbing albums to be released in Scotland for a long time.”.. Norman Chalmers
http://bit.ly/9z84M9

CD: Songs in Gaelic – Calum Kennedy. Customer Review
This CD is a must for Calum’s many fans.His wonderful romantic voice confirms he was the greatest gaelic singer of his generation. I was privileged to hear him singing in his prime.A great loss to the Scottish musical scene. (Mr Tom Aitchison)
http://bit.ly/9RV6SA

6. Best Sellers

CD: The Desperate Battle Of The Birds By Breabach
Latest CD from top Scottish band. http://bit.ly/aJ7FrR

CD: Sark o’ Snaw by Mick West Band
Mick’s take on traditional and contemporary Scots song. http://bit.ly/5Fh2lK

CD: Stereocanto by Fraser Fifield.
Great use of pipes and electronics. http://bit.ly/aw71KG

CD: A Shirt Of Silk Or Snow by Wendy Weatherby
Scots song and cello – a great combination. http://bit.ly/9PFgK8

Book: Awfy Braw – Oor Wullie Funbook
Fun games with Oor Wullie. http://bit.ly/55Q3Z6

DVD: Eric Bogle – Live At Stonyfell Winery (DVD)
Leading Scots export sings his own songs. http://bit.ly/9RbR8V

7. Foot Stompin’ Scotch Whisky

Foot Stompin’ and Master of Malt have again combined to offer you great deals on Scots Whisky. Here are two classic whiskies from the Highland region.

Oban 14 Year Old: This West Highland malt is still produced in the same unhurried, traditional fashion and this 14 year old is a classic dram from the Oban Whisky Distillery. £32.95 (should have been £39.95) http://bit.ly/daZdlj

Glenmorangie 12 Year Old Golden Rum Cask (70cl, 40%). A rare 12 year old Glenmorangie, finished in a dark rum cask. This was released before the range of LVMH Glenmorangie malts, thus the old-fashioned packaging… £79.95 http://bit.ly/cUKBEC

8. Foot Stompin’ Discussion Forum

Our forum is a busy place! Feel free to join in.

Here we go again – more Gaelic dissent in the North
Councillor slams spending on Gaelic education….
http://bit.ly/9Jf0cD

Copper and Brass
I’ve just dug out the old vinyl copy of this Dick Gaughan album and it’s nice to hear again
http://bit.ly/ceFSff

9. Testimonials

Wow! what speedy service! the CDs arrived with today’s post. Many thanks…..Kirsten

..You guys deserve any customer service awards going – you’re certainly doing it right…Many thanks again. AlyFinlayson

10 . Foot Stompin’ on Facebook and Twitter

Follow Foot Stompin’ on Facebook and Twitter and we’ll send you daily Scottish music updates

Foot Stompin’ has a presence on the social networking site Facebook. Come and pay us a visit! http://bit.ly/5VSQRg

If Twitter is more your scene you can visit us here http://bit.ly/7GkifS
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Just back from the Scottish fleadh

Just back from the Scottish fleadh in Motherwell. What an amazing amount of talent from our young musicians. Hosted by Taylor High School (surely the ugliest high school ever built – closer to a nuclear bunker than a school), there were hundreds of young people playing amazing tunes. I really enjoyed just entering the place. As you walked through the doors the music just hits you and as we walked the corridors to my son Charlie’s whistle competition, the quality of the musicianship in some of youngsters was breathtaking. The Ceoltas in Glasgow must be providing the majority of Scotland’s best young musicians. St Rochs school on a Tuesday night (where we go) is home to the Irish Ministrels branch. There are at least 120 young people from the age 5 to 20 there every Tuesday all playing the music. They all enjoy it but the thing I’ve noticed over the years of knowing these guys is that the kids all listen to traditional music. So many of the young folks I’ve taught over the years don’t listen to the music in their spare time which completely misses the point of playing traditional music. You’ll never be any good if you don’t listen it. You’ll never understand the nuances of what makes a great reel, song etc.

At St Rochs all the tutors are volunteers and they all work very hard for the kids. The main man is Frank McArdle. What a guy! He has given his life to teaching the kids music (and maths) for 30+ years. But more than that he has created and nurtured a generation of great musicians and invested in them a love and understanding of music. On a Tuesday night many of his original students are back with their own children and it all starts again with Frank leading the way. He needs an Award!

On another note Tinto Summer School is nearly full which is fantastic. If you would like more information check out www.tintosummerschool.com.

I heard an amazing piece of music yesterday by Arvo part. It was his setting of the Robert Burns poem My heart’s in the highlands. Check it out http://www.footstompin.com/public/forum?threadid=478930

Trip to Limerick

Myself and Clare are teaching at Meitheal Summer School this week in Ireland (www.tradweek.com). Our journey there was complete madness though. We set off along the A71 on Sunday – the quickest way to Prestwick Airport from our house – and half way along it we found that the road was shut and were being diverted by East Kilbride (opposite direction). We decided to not go this way and drive to Muirkirk, a parallel road as it would be quicker. As soon as we started we both felt that it wasn’t looking so good but we raced our way to the airport anyway and right enough were too late. The flight hadn’t taken off – not even boarded – but Ryan Air wouldn’t let us on anyway. We had parked in car park in our desperate attempt and i couldn’t find the ticket – bought moments before – to get us out. I then thought I had found it and I vaulted my way accross fences to the ticket payment place to find that I was using a Glasgow City Centre ticket which never worked – no way I hear you say. I then vaulted back (I think i looked quite athletic) because we were actually parked at the barrier for driving out of the car park and no-one could get past. I then found the ticket on my seat and paid. The stressssss was kicking in and we had to decided how to get to Ireland. There were no more flights from any of the airports and the next one was 4pm on Monday which was no use. We decided to drive to Troon and check out the boats but it was going to cost £350 return + petrol + 7 hour drive to Limerick. In the end there was no option but to take the boat however we decided only to buy a one way and call a centre to check out return prices later. We were both starving and we managed to get an ‘interesting’ meal on the boat and have a wee sleep. When we got of the boat at Larne we needed petrol but I said to Clare ‘let’s wait because the petrol will be cheaper nearer Belfast’ Well that turned out to be a disasterous decision because no-one was open anywhere near Belfast and the yellow petrol light was flashing. We had to the end drive back to Belfast and into the town and locate a 24hr garage gaining an hour onto our journey time. I suppose it all got a bit smoother after this and we made it to Limerick at 4.30am a whole 9 hours after we were meant to be there.

The 9.30 get up time was fun of course and I was wiped at the end of yesterdays teaching. The kids are great though and they are all fantastic musicians. The speed they pick up the tunes is amazing. In the UK you would never get two classes of young people playing the concertina so that is inspirational in its self. Only a few more days to go when of course I will not be flying home as planned but driving a few more miles…

What is Scottish music?

This question has arisen as I write my fiddle concerto. In doing this I have written a march in F as my opening theme but it has no scotch snaps in it, it's not a strathspey nor does it utililise the bagpipe scale (A mixolydian starting on G). These are the common things that if asked I would describe as the Scottish sound. When I play my tune I think it sounds Scottish and when played by fiddler Gordon Gunn  complete with ornamention it will sound right. It makes me wonder if the above description is a lot baloney and infact the 'Scottish sound' is actually bourne out of ornamentation and phrasing.

When I go abroad and pick up a book of say Breton tunes and play them I don't feel like I've cracked the culture and I sound like their musicians – the tunes instantly become quite Scottish. Same when you look at Brahms' Hungarian Dances or Bulgarian traditional music – they all look very simple on the page but when the local musicians play them they transform into something that is not on the page, not even near. It's the ornamentation and phrasing that makes these tunes sound Breton or Bulgarian not the notes on the page.

So when I (or any other Scottish musician) play a tune the first thing we do is to not think about it. We don't worry about inserting scotch snaps or g naturals, we just phrase it in a way that feels right and use ornaments that seem to work.

I wonder if Scotland has a set of 'phrases' and 'ornaments' and each region of the country dips into these, makes them their own but never deviates far enough away from the originals to become their own national style – subsets of something bigger. Shetland music does sound different to other parts of Scotland but you can still here the Scottish links.

This is something to mull over for a while although I better not take too long as I feel the deadline for the concerto is fast approaching alongside everything else including the Trad Music Awards.

The strange thing that has happened to me in the last week is our first born child Charlie has started school. I was the most worried about it as I couldn't believe 5 years has passed so quickly and my wee boy has grown up! Anyway as my wife said Charlie is loving it and from the first day he hides when I go to pick him up rather than come home with me! I'll take that as a positive!

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Time…

It occurs to me that everybody is struggling for time to do things. In traditional music a small amount of people do many things and I wonder if we've all reached saturation point. Many of us are in the industry because we play/sing the music and often trying to bring admin and performance/creativity together can be difficult and of course admin is what pays the bills in most cases. In classical music there are many administrators – the Scottish Chamber Orchestra has 4 administrators to every musician.

Is it maybe time for to start employing more people who are not directly interested in traditional music? I always worry that an employee doesn't know enough to do the work. Maybe also the wages are not fantastic (due to funding) so you are wanting 'a love of the music' to compensate for some of the wages.

On another note I had a great meeting with the Scottish Exec about their St Andrew's Celebrations. Hopefully The Scots Trad Music Awards will be able to be part of this in 2007.

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I’m back after a bit…

I'm back after a bit of a break. The completion of my bagpipe concerto took longer than I thought… I finally finished it on Tuesday morning at 3am! The writing was finshed at 4pm but when I reconvened at 10.30pm – after starting the new Harry Potter book – to write in the piano chord names it took me about 3 hours and then a further 90 minutes to input them to the computer. I'm very happy with the end product.

 

The rehearsal went very well yesterday (another one today). I spent time on the dynamics, tempo markings etc to make the individual instrument parts readable and playable quickly with not too much complication. Simon McKerrell did very well at his first reading ofthe parts. He is playing a D chanter but I have written in C, Cminor, D, C#minor which is very testing. We'll have to think about the tuning of the chanter to keep it consistent throughout the performance.

 

The perfomance is on the 9th August at 5pm in the National Piping Centre, Glasgow.

 

Anyway here are some facts I compiled about the piece:

 

• World Premiere on 9th August, 2007 (5pm), National Piping Centre, Piping Live Festival, Glasgow

• First ever Scottish Smallpipe concerto (probably even bagpipe but I can't substantiate this)

• Commissioned by Garvie Bagpipes

• Utilises Garvie Bagpipe’s unique fully chromatic chanter

• Written for a traditional music ensemble where the instrument is most at home

• Written to show off the virtuostic capabilities of the instrument and to expand the Scottish Smallpipe repertoire.

 

On another note, we've notified the Hall of Fame inductees and they're all very happy to join the Hall. I'll talk more of this in my next blog. I've now got to get back to work and concentrate on everything else including starting my fiddle concerto…

 

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Technique or feel.

I been thinking about the question of how important is technique in traditional music and is 'feel' mutually exclusive or can this and technique work together? Both are important and work well together although technique on its own doesn't work in trad music. Maybe feel is the most important part of our music?

Technique though, is becoming more prevalent – probably through the music colleges and also with the influx of young people performing. Is this a positive thing or is it stripping the identity from the music? Already many regional styles are disappearing because of breakup of communities, central belt drift etc and I wonder if more concentration should be made on 'feel'.

How do you teach 'feel'? In my opinion it is all about listening to old recordings, older musicians and performing with peers not just contemporaries. You have to be prepared to live and breath the music. Of course this can take quite bit of work sourcing records from at least pre 1990s(!) Many of the young musicians I talk to do not really listen to much trad music outside what is being released now.

There are some great resources out there (including our own www.footstompin.com) but one with lots of info on musicians, bands and recordings that is worth checking out is Nigel Gatherer's website http://www.nigelgatherer.com/. It lists all the old Scottish bands and their unavailable LPs with background information. All of this should also be incorporated in the new trad music grade exams that are being tested throughout Scotland at the moment.

If I'm honest I'm a fan of technique (combined with 'feel'). Technique comes with working hard at your instrument and enables you to do new things or makes complicated old things sound easy. My bug bear is that alot of musicians do not work hard enough at their instrument and end up in middle ground – being good enough to do most things but not of sufficient practice to try anything new. I would like to hear many more trad musicians capable of being soloists. They do not have to go down this road – as playing in a group can be the best fun – but they should be practised enough to step up to the mark if called apon.

Here's an interesting discussion on this subject http://www.footstompin.com/forum?threadid=87179

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We’ve had a great week…

We've had a great week at Tinto Summer School. The weather has been up and down but the young people don't seem to worry about it. We're very lucky to have such great young ones involved in the week – they're all up for learning tunes, playing tunes, dancing, football, rounders, fancy dress, teaching others tunes and sessions. In the organising of this event (done mostly by Paul Murray this year) I feel quite jaded at times and often question carrying on with it but as soon as I arrive it is amazing. There's so much talent in our young folk. We should have no worries for the future. It's great being at the coal face, witnessing what's going on. The concert tonight will be fun and heart warming at the same time. It starts at 7.30 and is scheduled (on my fancy spreadsheet) to finish at 9.53pm! We'll all come back to Wiston Lodge and have a big party.

My bagpipe concerto is finally happening on the 9th August in the Piping Centre. I've have to finish it quickly! I visited the soloist Simon McKerrell on Wednesday to introduce him to some of the music which was a positive experience. I need to do a pile of writing tomorrow – just the third movement to go and then I have to orchestrate for the ensemble.

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Wooden CD

Our Cascade trip went very well last week. We had nice hotels where I managed to get lots of writing done and great gigs both well supported by the public. A few years back on a German Folk Festival tour I introduced the concept of the 'wooden CD', a prize to the band/artist that sold the least product. I wasn't in last place at that point (Tony McManus was) however I did manage to make a late run and pick up the wooden CD for myself. At the Cascade gigs it is something similar although I haven't left last place yet and it isn't looking good! (I've yet to sell one!!)

I don't mind this too much as I believe that in music you should not be catering for anybody else. You should make music you like and if someone else likes it that's great (but secondary). I don't think you can go out to please people – this hinders the creative process. You have to please yourself. You have to believe in yourself. If you're not making music for you then what is the point. This is not going to make you money (unless you hit the jackpot) but real creativity is not about financial gain more fulfillment of your inner being. When I'm writing I feel at my best because I'm creating something. I will always make recordings and perform in a manner that suits me and if an audience chooses to come along then I'll be happy.

We visited the opening of the Scottish parliament on Saturday. It was great to see so many Scottish trad acts on the bill. I say see as we arrived late and it was sadly pouring of rain and we couldn't hang around because it was too wet for the baby. Maybe we are starting to see a sea change and the Goverment are recognising our traditional culture and the benefits it brings to our identity – not the pop trash that could be from anywhere which the many commercial radio stations persist in playing non-stop. By the way good to see the Spice Girls are reforming, just what we need – more trash.

We're at Tinto Summer School this week. I can happily say that we've got 56 young people attending many for the umpteenth time. It's amazing to watch them grow and learn. It will be a fun week even if the rain doesn't stop!

 

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writing, writing, writing

I'm just checking in here before I head down to Dorset with the Cascade project I'm involved in. It will be interesting to see how it goes – our last two gigs seemed to click but it has been a couple of months…

We made a decision on the Scottish Traditional Music: Hall of Fame the other day. I'll post the details when I've spoken to the inductees but it's a good list with a combined amazing amount of experience.

As said before I've finally got back to writing my Garvie Bagpipe Concerto. I heard last Friday that the Scottish Arts Council are going to back Garvie Bagpipes' application and give money to the project. This is great news although it has added a certain stress level to the project as it is due to be performed on the 6th August (doh!).

It's interesting when I listen back to what I've written. It has not gone the same way as my fiddle solos as I've not started with an established traditional tune. I'm hoping that when I add the bagpipe notation it changes the feel a bit. It is sounding more like a Borders tune rather than the west coast melodies I've been using before hand. This is ok though (I think) as it is for the Border pipes. The opening movement is in C major and C minor which should transfer to the chromatic chanter alright but I need to hear it played.

Before I get back to writing – Maeve Mackinnon's album launch was a big success last night. There were loads of people there and the band played 5 numbers to an exhuberent crowd. I really think this is a great record and hopefully promotors etc will pick up on it and book the band.

Finally finally I can heartily recommend Chris Stout's new album 'Devil's Advocate'. It good mixture of traditional and contemporary material with a dose of experimentalism thrown in. You can buy it at footstompin.com

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