Foot Stompin’ Free Scottish Music Podcast No 22



Play Foot Stompin’ Free Scottish Music Podcast 22
I can’t believe it – September is here! How many days to Christmas???????????? Anyway on with the podcast.

The first track I play is Nusa by Nusa on an album called – you’ve guessed it Nusa! I think this is one of the most orginial tracks of the last few years. Nusa are made up of Rory Campbell (pipes) and Malcolm Stitt (bouzouki, guitar) and on this album they featured DJ Extra. On this track DJ Extra takes one of Rory’s favourite Tannahill Weavers LPs and uses it in a scratch kind of way (I don’t know what this is called). It is an amazing sound though and makes for a very original recording. I don’t think the band fulfilled their potential in the end but in many ways this music is still not to be beaten.

The next track is by Fiona MacKenzie from her Elevate CD. This is a lovely album full of great songs with lots of singable hooks. I think they were aiming more at the pop world with this CD and I hope they succeed. Fiona sang in the premier of my Music for a New Scottish Parliament way back in 1999. She made a lovely job of “And Freedom Be Our Guide” which was written by me and Aonghas MacNeacail. She couldn’t make the next performance unfortunately which was recorded.

After this we play a new compilation CD by Aly Bain entitled The Best of Aly Bain. This is a lovely compilation although I would rather hear a new Aly Bain CD. I’ve alway’s loved Aly’s playing – his tone is my favourite fiddle tone especially on slow airs. I spent a bit of time with Aly over the years firstly on the TMSA Young Champions Tour way back in 1990. It was fun times and also included musicians Martyn Bennett, Scott Gardener, Bruce Lindsay and others. The accompanist was the legendary Violet Tulloch. He has also been very good to me over the years and in the ninties he let his manager Liz Wright try to get me gigs while he paid for the running of the office. It was also his influence that would have got me onto the Shetland Sessions and Transatlantic Sessions TV programmes.

Another compendium now from fiddler John McCusker. He has put together his last two CDs Yella Hoose and Goodnight Ginger onto one disk. Again like Aly’s CD I would rather see something new but it is still great to listen to John’s music. I play on both of these CDs and I smile when I remember the recording process. I’m very much a go for it kind of musician and never play the same thing twice but John kept giving me a row when I deviated or made a little mistake! John’s been very busy this year touring with Mark Knofler all over the world. He’s great fun and always makes me laugh!

Alyth McCormack’s CD An Iomall was like Nusa a bit of landmark for me. She and Jim Sutherland (the producer) really modernised Gaelic music on this CD. I believe there was a second CD made for her recent support tour with The Chieftains in the USA but it as not been released over here yet. Alyth was the singer who took over from Fiona MacKenzie in my Parliament piece and did a fine job which you can hear on the CD.

We finish up with a track from a new album called Experience Scotland – a CD which is all about that. The company that made it licensed tracks from lots of different record labels including Foot Stompin and have come out with a very varied and interesting CD. I chose the track from Scottish Women singing Hey Donal. I’ve alway’s loved this song and it brings back memories of Karine Polwart teaching it to kids at Tinto Summer School. The harmonies in this recording are brilliant.

Keep up the practising!

56 key Wheatstone Aeola Tenor Treble ConcertinaWhilst in Ireland last week I was reflecting on as a Scottish musician getting older (38 this year) how do you keep up the momentum of doing the gigs when there are lots of younger musicians coming up through the ranks. Family and financial pressures tend to strip you of the major time you once had to practice and concentrate. In my case I don’t know where the time goes and the week is over! I have lately found myself promising to practice after the last gig and the next gig has arrived and I still haven’t managed to get my concertina out of the box.

Should older musicians stand back and let the younger ones through whilst we get on with running festivals, events – the farm? The older musician has lots of experience gained from years of gigs and stage performance and surely has more to offer an audience apart from not being ‘new and trendy’.

This maybe looks like self-pity but I suppose I’m using this as a call to action (for myself at least). Scotland’s music will be much stronger with a large depth of musicians of all ages. Scottish musicians like Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham, Dick Gaughan, Battlefield Band are all at the top of their game playing all the time, recording and making DVDs (check out the new Battlefield Band DVD). Are they just more single minded than other musicians?

I need to find regular practising time again (rather than sporadic gasps) learning lots of new tunes, creating new ideas and improvisations, calling promotors and putting myself out there. I’ve always said to myself that I will still be playing at 80 and in order to do this I better step up my work rate.

While I’m at it check out the latest Foot Stompin’ newsletter featuring new releases from our great Scottish musicians young and old!