Greetings from a very cold and blustery Glasgow! I've just moved back here after a good few years away and am enjoying settling in. With the move and everything else, it's been a fairly eventful couple of months.
At the beginning of June, I joined Blue Rose Code for a performance at Pacific Quay for the BBC Scotland Quay Sessions. Here's 'Edina'
June also saw the launch of Emily Portman's new album Coracle. We had a great launch tour, trying out lots of new effects pedals and finding ways to emulate what we'd recorded in a live setting. The album's been getting lots of praise in the press, with the Observer describing it as a 'Marvellous, original work' and fRoots and Songlines both giving the album 5 stars. Here we are trying to figure out how to work all our new pedals!
After the tour, I went on to teach at Tinto Summer School at Wiston Lodge near Biggar. I was teaching harp and mixed instrument and was so inspired by the creativity of the participants. The environment created by those running the week really encourages this creativity and it was such a pleasure to be part of it. I'd recommend it to anyone and there's an adult summer school now too. Find out more here
I'm very excited to have booked in to record another solo album at the end of the year. Still in the very early stages of planning at the moment, but it feels good to have a target to write some new music of my own for. This week we got the masters back for the new Boreas album and the new Furrow Collective E.P. More news on both of these soon.
It's been such a busy couple of months that I didn't get a chance to write about any of it until now! I had a great time on tour at the start of April with The Furrow Collective. We tried out some of our new material and it seemed to go down well. Here is a (very grainy!) video of us rehearsing a new song to sing on our tour.
A couple of days after the Furrow tour came The Shee tour of Germany. It was our third trip out there with Keith Melville organising our gigs and driving us around and we had a brilliant time. The audiences were so warm and enthusiastic and as often happens in Germany, we were presented with flowers after most gigs. The beer was also a highlight as was having two days off to explore Berlin. In the above photo I'm tuning up before a gig in a beautiful old chapel and below is a gig we did in an old cinema right up near the Danish border.
After Germany, I headed down to Cardiff to join The Furrow Collective at The BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, where we were nominated for Best Traditional Track and Best Group. We didn't win either award, but we did have a fantastic time, including a rowdy late night sing along with Best Group winners, the brilliant Young'uns! After the awards, I went up north to Ullapool for a friend's wedding followed by gigging and teaching at Feis Rois. It was a brilliant, hectic weekend packed with sessions, workshops and gigs and I had a great time.
Returning south again, there was just time for a couple of lovely Shee gigs in Edinburgh and Moniaive before I made my way to Norway for my first ever tour with Boreas. What a stunning country Norway is! I was unprepared for how beautiful it is and spent a great time of time peering out the van window with a tear in my eye. Here are a couple of pictures from the trip, including a gig we did in a lighthouse.
After our last gig in Norway, it was the overnight bus to Oslo to catch a flight to Copenhagen then Edinburgh and straight in the car to join the Furrow Collective in Wales (again). This time it was at Giant Wafer Studios to record our new songs. We'll be sharing these with you later in the year and I can't wait. It's such a joy to work with this lot. Here's producer/engineer Andy Bell and Furrow member Lucy trying out some drums in the studio.
Looking forward to June, where I'll mostly be writing some new music of my own and preparing for Emily Portman's launch tour of her new album Coracle. It's to be released on the 19th and you can pre-order from the pledge music page still if you'd like a copy.
Spring is finally here! Having a very enjoyable March making the most of a bit of time at home before setting off for lots of musical adventures over the next couple of months.
Feis Rois VOYAGE OF THE HECTOR Recording
Last weekend I was up in Dingwall recording harp alongside lots of fellow former Feis Rois participants for John Somerville's piece Voyage of the Hector. The piece was commissioned to mark the voyage of the ship Hector from Ullapool to Nova Scotia in the 1700s. It was lovely to catch up with old friends and play some of John's great tunes from the piece. The record will be launched in Ullapool at the Adult Feis Rois in May. I'll be there teaching harp and step dancing. It's set to be a great weekend. For more info, click here.
The Furrow Collective - New Songs and Tour Dates
One last plug for The Furrow Collective Spring Tour. We're starting off later this week (28th March) in Birmingham. We had a great time in the Lake District arranging new songs. Just like the last album, we've ended up with more than enough material, which we'll be trying out at our upcoming gigs. For a look at the dates, check out the website www.thefurrowcollective.co.uk
Here's Lucy and I outside the lovely cottage we were staying in...
Celtic Connections/Germany Gigs
It was another great year for the brilliant Celtic Connections festival. I had two lovely gigs this year. First off was The Elizabethan Session. It was great to be reunited with this fine bunch of musicians/singers to play one last show. I've loved being part of this project. I then had the gig with my trio opening for Mike Vass' In the Wake of Neil Gunn. Both concerts took place in the Mitchell Theatre, where I performed my New Voices piece last year. Great memories! The day after my gig, I had to catch a 6am flight to join The Furrow Collective for our Germany mini-tour. After seeking advice from fellow Celtic Connections attendees, I decided the best thing was to just stay up all night and head to the brilliant Folkytown where Mystery Juice played a storming set. I managed a kip on the plane and set off to Sigmaringen for the first of a string of really great gigs with The Furrow Collective. We had such a good time and I got to drive us around (after a full night's sleep of course!), my first experience of driving on the other side of the road...it was much less weird than I'd anticipated. We managed to fit in a bit of sight-seeing and snowball fighting...I think I lost..
BBC Radio 2 Folk Award Nominations
Delighted that The Furrow Collective have been nominated for two Folk Awards this year. Best Group and Best Traditional Track (for Handsome Molly). We are looking forward to heading down to Cardiff for the awards in April. You can find out more about all the nominations here. I'm heading down to the Lake District at the end of February with The Furrow Collective to arrange some new songs for our second album, which we are planning on recording in May and releasing later in the year. Look out for updates on our progress.
Feis Dhun Eideann
I'm looking forward to tutoring at Feis Dhun Eideann next week. Music and song workshops for young people held at the Gaelic School in Edinburgh. There is a group work all day workshop on Saturday 14th Feb for Secondary School ages, a ceilidh on Saturday evening and then more workshops on Mon 16th/Tues 17th for primary aged children. For more info, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Winter Words Festival
I'll be at the Winter Words Festival in Pitlochry this Sunday (15th) evening with Andrew Greig. Andrew will be reading from his book Fair Helen and also his poems Found at Sea and I'll be providing the music. Join us!
Last week was spent in Glasgow finishing off the Boreas album with Lori, Britt and Irene. Duncan Lyall was engineering and producing. Excited to be heading out to Norway for some gigs in May with Boreas and plotting for our album release later in the year.
The Furrow Collective Tour
Check out out spring tour dates and join us if you can. More info at www.thefurrowcollective.co.uk
Hello and welcome to my new website for 2015. I hope you like the new design.
Emily Portman Recording
Getting stuck in to the new year with lots of music making. I'm just back from a fantastic week in Wales recording with Emily Portman and co. for her new album to be released this June. Andy Bell is producing and I'm really excited to hear the end result. The songs Emily has written are just beautiful. Here we are in the studio control room....Andy's dog Hudson was a calming influence during the week!
I've got a couple of gigs coming up at Celtic Connections in Glasgow this month. First I'll be meeting up with my Elizabethan Session pals and performing all the songs from the project with them at the Mitchell Theatre on Sunday the 18th January. You can purchase tickets here. The following Wednesday (the 21st), I'm very excited to be sharing a double bill with the fantastic Mike Vass. I love Mike's music, so I'm really looking forward to this one. I'll be on at 7.30pm with my trio and Mike will be performing his In the Wake of Neil Gunn piece in the second half. Tickets available here.
The Furrow Collective
The day after my trio gig at Celtic Connections I shall be heading off to Germany for some gigs with The Furrow Collective. You can find out more information on these gigs at our website.
Found at Sea on Radio 4
Found at Sea is a collection of poems by Andrew Greig. I was lucky enough to be involved in the play adapted by David Greig (no relation!) of Found at Sea at the Traverse theatre in Edinburgh a couple of years ago. I played all the music alongside two fantastic actors Tam Dean Burn and Lewis Howden. I met up with them again last year to record this special radio version, which was aired over the festive season. You can listen again here.
I have made some new videos with my lovely trio. Our cover of Jolene by Dolly Parton is already online and there will be another two launched this month. You can subscribe to my youtube channel here. Sandy Harris did a great job filming and editing and we recorded them at Mattie's fantastic studio MWAH. Here's Mattie and Lauren setting up to record.
Hope you all have a great January! x