Traditional Music And Image

Red Hot Chilli Pipers Blast Live CD

Red Hot Chilli Pipers Blast Live CD

I’ve just been watching BBC ALBA and the programme Rapal. It looks at the current contemporary Scottish music scene. THe first band on it Theatre Fall were great, full of attitude and personality. It made think of the difference between traditional musicians and ‘pop’. Would we get our ideas over to the public (and sell more CDs) if our bands were to take more chances image wise and run about the stage more (!)? Whenever you see the top pop bands they look original, feel confident on the stage, not afraid to move all over it. (I say this as someone who sits rigid on the stage with a concertina on my knee and have no plan on changing this.)

The Red Hot Chilli Pipers do all this very well but have divided the scene in two – some like them some hate them! Can trad musicians do this without affecting the quality of their music? Do we need to sit down or stand still to create quality trad music? The Peatbog Faeries move around a bit and now defunct Croft No. 5 were great at it still making great music.

It would be good to see more bands trying out these ideas however would they alienate the trad music community by doing this? I suppose they should take the chance!

Foot Stompin’ Free Scottish Music Podcast No. 25 Scottish Fiddle feature

Foot Stompin Scottish Music - Filska

Foot Stompin' Scottish Music - Filska

Listen to the Foot Stompin’ Free Scottish Music Podcast

The first 2 weeks of October have just rushed by! It’s been a busy time with the semi-finals of the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician. We had a great time a an excellent concert. Our curry party afterwards was good as well. The six finalists are:

Adam Holmes – guitar, song (Edinburgh)
Lorne MacDougall – pipes, whistle (Carradale, Argyll)
Ruairidh Macmillan – fiddle (Nairn)
Kenneth Nicolson – Gaelic song (Lochs, Isle of Lewis)
Jack Smedley – fiddle (Buckie, Banffshire)
Daniel Thorpe – fiddle (Inverurie)

These guys (and yes they are all male!) will go through to the finals on the 1st February at the prestigeous Celtic Connections festival. They will play a very different music stage to the one they played in Coulter. It is much larger and will sound completely different to play. Also the fact of it being a final will make them have to think about it differently.

I was also in Cardiff last week in an exciting development for our Distil project. Dave Francis and I have been funded to develop our Distil project for Welsh traditional musicians. Our first residential event happens in Snowdonia in February. I’ll keep the blog addressed with developments.

I’ve also managed to update our Foot Stompin’ YouTube page with three new videos. I bought a Flip video camera after a great discussion on the Foot Stompin’ forum. I’m using to film as many Scottish musicians as I can get to. I started off with a new film of myself playing The Bee’s Wing Hornpipe. I felt like going a bit mad at the end and tried to emulate this in the video editing. Some like it – some screw there face up! I’ve also filmed some brilliant fiddling from Glasgow’s Katie Boyle and great pianoing from Shetland’s Harris Playfair.

Back to the podcast. I wanted to do a fiddle feature for this edition as I just love the instrument. I started off with Jenna Reid’s band Filska. Their A Thousand Miles Away CD came out a few years back on Foot Stompin’ This track show off the amazing Shetland technique.

I followed this with a track of Shona Mooney’s brilliant album Heartsease. This is easily for me the most original fiddle album to come out in years. Her material selection is great and features many reels and slower pieces from the Scottish Borders. The thing that made this album stand out is the thought that goes into the arrangements and Shona’s skill to try out new ideas.

No fiddle podcast would be complete without the music of Perthshire’s Neil Gow. Neil Gow is one of the classic tune writers of all time. He lived in the 18th century and published many tune books. The track is played by Pete Clark, a beautiful fiddler whose has concentrated on this particular style of playing.

We next interview Jenny Wrigley. I’ve known Jennifer (and her sister Hazel) for years as we used to play together in Edinburgh. Jennifer is an amazing player with great tone and technique. She is also an excellent tune writer and has added many new tunes to her Orkney tradition. In the interview she explains the Orkney style. I follow this with a track from her last album Skyran.

I finish the podcast with a track from Allan Henderson. Estb. 1976 CD came out a few years back and I’ve always loved it. I really like Allan’s highland style solo and with Blazin’ Fiddles. I remember travelling to Canada with Allan and his younger sister Ingrid Henderson. Ingrid had just won the Radio 2 Young Trad Award in 1990 and part of her prize was to go to Vancouver Folk Festival. They were great players even then but most of all I remember the whole family (including Mum and Dad) all dressed in blue shell suits for the trip. Oh memories…

MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards open for nominations

MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards

MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards

Hands up for Trad and their panel of industry judges are once again on the lookout for the very best in  traditional music for this year’s MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards.  Since 2003, Hands up for Trad have been celebrating the best in Scottish traditional music from across the country and are proud to announce that in a new partnership for 2008, this year’s awards ceremony will be broadcast by BBC ALBA the new Gaelic television channel, a partnership between MG ALBA and BBC.

Between the first and 17 of October anyone can nominate via the website;  The 16 categories include Best Gaelic Singer, Best Live Act, and Best Up and Coming Artist [see appendix for details of all categories].  Nominations will then be shortlisted by the panel made up of our partners from record labels to venue owners and other industry representatives.  From November 3rd, the vote goes back to the public who have the final say on who will sweep up at this year’s award which is held on December 6th at The Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow.

The 2007 event was held in Fort William and saw Julie Fowlis take 2 awards including Best album.  Previous winners have included Karine Polwart and the Peatbog Faeries who won Best Live Act in 2005.

To celebrate the awards, Hands up for Trad will also be hosting the annual ‘Scots Trad Music Awards Spectacular Ceilidh’ which takes place on December 5th also at The Old Fruitmarket.  In the perfect start to the Christmas calendar, The Occasionals will provide the soundtrack as you Strip the Willow in the beautiful venue at the heart of Glasgow’s Merchant City. 

Simon Thoumire, Director of Hands up For Trad said ‘ We’re looking forward to celebrating the Scottish traditional music scene again this year at what has become a real highlight of the music calendar and are very excited that for the first time the awards will be televised by our new partner MG ALBA. We’re proud to be able to give the public the opportunity to have their say in who deserves recognition for their work in the past year and look forward to celebrating Trad at the Ceilidh and the Awards on December 5th and 6th.’

Donald Campbell, Chief Executive of MG ALBA said “The Scottish traditional music scene is bursting with new and emerging talent and that is something that fits perfectly with our vision for Gaelic television. We know our audiences will greatly appreciate the opportunity to participate in and view the awards on BBC ALBA”

Make your nominations at where you can find details on all the categories and criteria for each award

For further information on Hands up for Trad please contact;
Jenny Mungall | Material |  0141 204 7970  |  07813 886 448   |

For information on MG ALBA please contact
Murdo Morrison | MG ALBA |  01851 705550  |  07525 893367  |
5 December | Scots Trad Music Awards Spectacular Ceilidh | Old Fruitmarket | £8 (£6 conc)

Tickets are available for the ceilidh from Old Fruitmarket box office  +44 [0] 141 353 8000 

6   December | MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards | Old Fruitmarket
Ticket arrangements for the MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards Ceremony and Gala Concert on Saturday 6th December are still being finalised. There will also be a late-night concert at the Festival Club with the band Session A9.  Register for updates at

20 December | MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards | Broadcast on BBC ALBA

MG ALBA is the operating name of Seirbheis nam Meadhanan Gàidhlig (Gaelic Media Service). Find out more at

BBC ALBA is a partnership between MG ALBA and the BBC. Further information is available from or

Foot Stompin’ Free Scottish Music Podcast No 24

Listen to Foot Stompin’ Free Scottish Music Podcast No 24

The Curer - Deoch n DorusI’ve enjoyed putting together the Foot Stompin’ October podcast. I’ve started the show with Wolfstone, a folk rock band who have been around for a few years now. I first met them properly when my band Keep it up toured Canadian festivals at the same time as them. I used to think we were mental until I met them. They rocked the festival circuit and had everybody up dancing. This new album Terra Firma is great.

The next band Malinky is full of young musicians but they are definitely one of the older bands on the scene. Since their Danny Award winning performance and excellent debut album Last Leaves they have gone through a few lineups but consistently deliver very stong albums and performances. The new album Flowers & Iron sounds like it’s going to do well.

Our next record is from Deoch ‘n’ Dorus. I don’t know too much about this band although the accordion player Stuart Cameron was in the very first BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician Award in 2000. They’re all great players and I love the sound they make.

I’ve known our next artist Ishbel McCaskill for years but I had never heard this track before tonight. An Teid Thu Leam A Mhairi (Will You Go With Me Mary?) is a really beautiful song. The performance and vocal harmonies make it for me.

As i say in the broadcast I chose the next piece of music because of the tune – The Dawning of the Day. Of course St Laurence O’Tool are an amazing band with lots of championships to their name but in this case they happen to be playing a tune that my little boy Charlie is learning on the whistle. We’re having a great time with him and my wife and I are enjoying our evenings listening to him practice and playing along with him.

I finish up this broadcast with a track from my youth. Anthem for Common Man came out in the eighties and received a bit of a slagging for its use of a drum machine but I loved it at the time and still do. The band are still going strong touring the world but I still hark back to this album and also Home is Where the Van Is. I love the intro to ‘The Four Minute Warning’, I’ve played all the tunes in the set at some point.

I hope you enjoy it. Subscribe to our newsletter for more information.