Foot Stompin’ Free Scottish Music Podcast No 30

Listen to the Foot Stompin\' Free Scottish Music Podcast No 30

Salsa Celtica - El Camino

Salsa Celtica - El Camino

In preparing this podcast I had two things in my mind – Celtic Connections and Robert Burns 250th birthday. I started of by choosing Salsa Celtica who play the Old Fruitmarket on the 24th January. I’ve always loved the bands fusion of latin and celtic. Their stage show really works and their energy filters through to the audience. They’re accompanied on the night by the Long Notes, a band featuring Glasgow’s Jamie Smith who was a finalist in the 2002 final of the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician Award. The 2009 event is in the City Halls at 5pm on Sunday 1st February. If you can’t make it along it is also going out live on BBC Radio Scotland.

Next up is Rod Paterson. I’ve loved Rod’s singing since hearing him first in the Easy Club. As an aside I first heard the Easy Club on Radio Scotland’s Travelling Folk in the eighties. I remember sitting listening to the radio ‘taping’ the tracks I liked and the Easy Club came on with the title track of their first album. I was bowled over by their swing, arrangements and tunes and from that minute I was set apon the musical path I still foraging today. Amazing. Anyway I love Rod’s singing – he has such a rich smooth voice and his treatment of Burns is tops.

The next track is neither Robert Burns or Celtic Connections but a track I was set on programming in our last podcast. It features Shetland fiddler Debbie Scott and legend Peerie Willie Johnston and The Selkie’s Song is a re-release from 1985. It is amazing to hear Willie playing with his much vaunted style. It’s a swinging track and it’s great to hear both musicians in tandem with each other.

Our next Burns track is from Sheena Wellington. This is Sheena’s version of Ae Fond Kiss from her Hamely Fare album. This was the CD that was released with Sheena’s version of A Man’s A Man (For A’ That) that she sang at the opening ofthe Scottish Parliament in 1999.

The next track is from Luke Plumb and James Mackintosh’s new CD A Splendid Notion. I was listening to some of the new releases the other day and this one jumped out at me. I really like ‘raw’ albums where musicians do what they do without much else and this is one of them. The whole album is simply mandolin and percussion. I think this is a risk worth taking for musicians as it really bares the soul with no room to hide. Well done to Luke and James.

Our final track is from the Battlefield Band’s Home is Where the Van Is. This is one of the most exciting concerts for me at Celtic Connections. It is part of the festivals ‘Classic Album’ series and they bring together the original band lineup to perform. This was the first piece of music I ever bought myself. I got the cassette from the old Rae Macintosh music shop in Edinburgh. We had Silly Wizard and Jimmy Shand in the house but this was the first endeavour with my pocket money. I didn’t really like it a first. It was very different to the Silly Wizard LPs in the house. I grew to love it though and still listen to it frequently.

Foot Stompin’ Free Scottish Music Podcast No 23 – Scottish harp music feature

Play Foot Stompin’ Free Scottish Music Podcast No 23 – Scottish Harp Music feature

I’ve put together a podcast featuring Scottish harp music. This really is a fertile ground for us in Scotland with lots of musicians creating exciting new music. The selection of harpists for this podcast demonstrates experience, youth and virtuosity.

The first CD I play is Catriona McKay’s Starfish. Catriona is an amazing musician who also performs with Fiddlers’ Bid and Chris Stout. She also plays lots of collaborations with musicians from other fields. My favourite collaboration was as part of our Distil project where she worked with electronic musician Alasdair MacDonald. Catriona was not scared to try new ideas and in this piece she played the harp with an electric fan! Brilliant!

Next up we have Ailie Robertson. Ailie just released her debut CD First Things First in June of this year. I first met Ailie a couple of years ago in the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician Award. She was in the finals of this years Award and I was startled by her musicial progression from the semi-finals to the finals. She was good at the semis but she was fantastic in the finals. Her musicianship and arrangements were standout and they’ve made it onto this CD.

Alison Kinnaird is one of the pioneers of the clarsach. Her The Harper’s Land CD is noted as a major release and a force in bringing the Scottish harp to where it is today. In this track she plays the gut string harp – a very different sound from the wire strung harps on the rest of the podcast. Alison is also very famous for her Glass art and exhibits across the world.

Our next item is an interview with Corrina Hewat to talk about her new CD Harp I Do. The interview is very interesting and Corrina talks about her early years and the special contribution that Christine Martin made to the start of her career. Corrina and I both played in Seannachie over the years. When I left in 1991 Corrina took over from me and when we reformed the band in the late 1990’s for a tour of Germany (don’t mention the pigs) and Holland – Corrina and I rejoined. There were lots of hilarious moments in the German tour (apart from the pigs – only funny now!) including a night off in Laufin, a village on the Wine Strasse. We both had far far too much red wine to drink (Dave Milligan and Elspeth Cowie didn’t join in) and the morning after was dreadful. I remember having to stop the car because Corrina was so hung over she couldn’t stop crying! (You can tell I’m a man).

To finish up this podcast I play a track from Savourna Stevenson. Savourna (like Alison Kinnaird) is a trail blazer and her work in the 90s left some very special records. I really enjoy this Tweed Journey CD not only for her harp playing but the all round musicianship. When you hear this track you will not miss the brilliant playing throughout.

Foot Stompin’ Free Scottish Music Podcast 21 – song feature

Play Foot Stompin’ Free Scottish Music Podcast 21
We’ve made the decision to make our Scottish music podcast a fortnightly affair however the question was should it be different from the usual podcast at the start of every month. Well the answer we came up with was yes and what we’re going to do is feature a different kind of Scottish music in our mid-month broadcast. I’m sure you will have guessed from the title that this month we will feature on Scottish song – that is Scots, Gaelic and English, all very popular in today’s Scotland.

The show starts off with Only One Way from Karine Polwart’s Faultlines CD. This CD was massive when it came out and won Karine many fans and awards especially at the Radio 2 Folk Awards. It has many great songs on it including ‘The Sun’s Comin’ Over The Hill’ which won an award by its self at the aforementioned awards. This album got Karine onto the Radio 2 playlists which gave her career a massive boost and gained lots of exposure.

The next CD is by Daimh from their latest release Crossing Point. This is their third release and the first with Calum Alex MacMillan as the lead vocalist. He adds and extra facet to this great instrumental band and being a well known singer in his own right probably a few more fans. The song I chose is Mo Nighean Chruinn Donn. All the musicians in the band are great and the fiddle Gabe McVarish is particularly excellent. I loved his playing on their previous CD The Pirates of Puirt and his self penned tune ‘Supernose’ (great title).

The next CD is from Julie Fowlis, currently the Gaelic singer of the moment. She really has a great voice and her latest CD Cuilidh has done really well. I was amazed and very pleased when Julie won the Radio 2 Folk Singer of the Year 2008 as I reckoned a Gaelic singer wouldn’t have a chance in hell of being voted top in a UK poll full of English speakers. It shows how well she is doing and the progress of her career. The song I’ve chosen is Mo Ghruagach Dhonn.

We’ve added a new feature to the mid month podcast and that is an interview with a leading Scottish musician. For this broadcast we chose Mairi Campbell, half of singing duo The Cast whose version of Auld Lang Syne was featured in this years Sex and the City movie. I say featured but it was practically a cast member coming it with 3 minutes of solo playing time. Brilliant! You can hear Mairi talk about it in the podcast and their new album Greengold. I’ve chosen their self-penned song ‘Smile Or Cry’.

I’ve finished up the podcast with a track from Kris Drever’s debut CD Black Water. I love this album and its songs and its performances and its production. It’s a real class effort. It has won lots of awards as well. I’ve known Kris for a while and always enjoyed his humour and musicianship. I remember him telling me that when he arrived in Edinburgh from Orkney he managed to catch Ronni Size (one of the forefathers of drum ‘n’ bass, a particular favourite of mine) playing a gig in Le Belle Angell. This was right at the start of drum ‘n’ bass and an amazing find of a gig. His music is very open minded which I’m sure influenced his band Lau (with Aidan O’Rourke and Martin Green).

Anyway that’s it for just now. Keep up with all the Foot Stompin’ news and CDs with our fortnightly newsletter.

Foot Stompin’ Free Scottish Music Podcast 20

Foot Stompin’ Free Scottish Music Podcast 20 (click to play)

Here’s our latest Scottish music podcast. I’ve enjoyed putting it together as I have to go through all the different CDs new and old and decide what to play. I chose Queen Anne’s Revenge because I’ve admired Findlay Napier’s work for a long time especially in his old band Back of the Moon. The start of the track from his Just One Umbrella CD makes me laugh – I suppose I’ve always wanted to rock out myself and Findlay has just pulled it off!

I’m glad to see Sarah-Jane Summers making a CD at last (Nesta). I remember meeting Sarah Jane for the first time in the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician Award a few years back and we had a workshop with Sue Wilson about how to write a biography. Sue talked about the need for a great first line and Sarah-Jane came up with the ‘Strathspey Queen’ which I always thought fitted her well.

The next duo Jeana Leslie and Siobhan Miller I’ve also known for some time. Jeana entered the BBC Young Trad a couple of times and made it to the final. She also helped out at the Scots Trad Music Awards and I remembered she had a sneeky look at all the results in the gold envelopes before they were announced! Siobhan I worked with in the Feis in Edinburgh and I and everyone else was bowled over by her amazing singing voice. She recorded a couple of tracks for the Edinburgh Youth Gaitherin Reel Jig Polka Pizza CD. it was great to see them both form a duo and win the BBC Radio 2 Folk Award in 2007. Their CD In a Bleeze is a blast.

The next track is Field Marshall Montgomery Pipe Band winning the World Pipe Band Championships in 2007. This is an amazing event and worth attending on Glasgow Green, August 16th.

The penultimate track is from Calum Kennedy and his Songs in Gaelic album. I’ve always been an admirer of his singing but not really heard him sing in Gaelic. This track is beautiful and the production is just right. It’s really interesting hearing the production that Scottish traditional music was given 20-30 years ago – completely different to what would happen today. This version reminds me more of Brian Eno.

We finish the podcast with Live in Scotland by the Unusual Suspects. I’ve played this before on the podcast but I love it. The memories of seeing them perform at Edinburgh’s Queen’s Hall are still with me. My wife Clare McLaughlin was performing with them on that tour and loved it. The track is so well arranged and everyone is playing brilliantly. It put me in mind also when (on that same tour) I went down to London to see them perform at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. They started the show and blew all subsequent acts of the stage. I felt so proud to be Scottish that night. Also that night Robin Cook gave a passionate anti-war speech which received a standing ovation.

We’re now producing the Foot Stompin’ podcast twice a month with the mid month programme featuring an interview with leading Scottish musicians.