Featured Song #4 – Mary Ann Kennedy – Camanachd Ghlaschu

 Mary Ann Kennedy is one of the country’s best loved folk performers.

She’s a personality who has found her way into almost every facet of Scottish music culture, whether it be broadcasting for the BBC or performing with her critically-acclaimed band, Cliar and she has just released a new album of soon-to-be Gaelic classics. 

Trained as a classical musician from the age of six, starting by learning from the Russian-trained Elisabeth Jacobs, before moving on to the concert harp under the tutelage of Sanchia Pielou. After studying as a pianist at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, she undertook further research at the Royal Northern College of Music and graduated as the College’s first harpist to be awarded its highest performance diploma. It should come as no surprise that she still draws on the work that she achieved during this time, as well as what she’s learnt from her mother, noted singer and tradition bearer, Kenna Campbell.

Whilst there are certainly many musicians who have followed a similar path and found themselves abandoning their passion and starting up a cleaning business instead, Mary has endured thanks to her unwavering commitment to the music traditions that she continues to espouse through both her music and her broadcasting work. Today, she splits her time between these two personalities and continues to record and perform the music that she loves.

Her new record, ‘Glaschu’ is an ode to her home-city of Glasgow and encapsulates her passion both for her country and the rich music traditions that she has made her duty to keep alive. Much like her mother, who was awarded an MBE in 2017 for her contributions to Gaelic culture, Mary Ann Kennedy remains both an elusive and accessible artist. This recent album contains everything that fans have come to expect of her: crisp Gaelic songwriting, a winning sense of humour and lovely production values courtesy of her husband-producer. Here’s what she had to say about her new studio album, out everywhere now:

“The ‘Glaschu’ album is a kind of love-song to my home town – these songs are the story of the Gaels in Glasgow before me, but it’s the also the story of every new arrival community in any city the world over – the themes are universal. I grew up in the southside of a city rich in languages and cultures, and as part of Scottish Gaels’ biggest urban diaspora. We realised that, even though Gaelic had been part of Glasgow throughout its 800-year history, we were still very much part of the ebb-and-flow migration that is part of every city’s narrative.”

Camanachd Ghlaschu is the first track from the album and one that we’re happy to  share here:

Mary Ann Kennedy is on tour this year, check her out at the following venues:

7th June Columbafest, Glasgow
14th July Festival of Chichester, Halnaker

Gig Highlights: September

Catch these stellar live acts whilst you can!

September brings even more fantastic Scottish acts to the stage – make sure you book ahead to avoid disappointment…

Siights @ King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow

8th September 2018/£8

Although one half of SIIGHTS are from Ireland, we can forgive them this given their meteoric rise to fame. Mia (from Dublin) and Toni (from Glasgow) layer up an improbable blend of 80s pop and dance that is the perfect fit for a late summer night of dancing. Whilst these two young music makers are still finding their feet, this is a gig that’s guaranteed to be remembered for a long time to come. Grab tickets whilst you can!

The Nickajack Men @ The Mash House, Edinburgh

15th September 2018/£7

Scotland is brimming with young music talent and The Nickajack Men are a perfect example of this. Barely out of their twenties, these young lads have already pressed their first single earlier this year. Changed Ways Different Languages is a great introduction to the bands unique take on country flecked rock. Whilst influences such as Alabama Shakes and The War On Drugs are clearly evident, there are other sound at play here that worth paying attention to.

The LaFontaines @ The Lemon Tree, Aberdeen

5th September 2018/£15.40

The LaFontaines are amongst the fasting rising stars coming out of Scotland with their refreshing blend of electronic-pop, hip-hop style vocals and guitar led choruses. Although the band has supported some of the biggest acts in their genres (Twin Atlantic and All Time Low, to name two) they’re still at a level where they’re comfortable in smaller venues such as the excellent Lemon Tree in Aberdeen.

Jed Grimes @ Glenfarg Village Folk Club, Kinross

3rd September 2018/£9

Not to be confused with Simple Minds and Danny Wilson bass player Ged Grimes, Jed Grimes is one of the oldest hands on the Folk Festival scene and a force to be reckoned with. Having played up and down the country in some of the biggest venues (including the Royal Albert Hall) in the 1970s, Jed has since served as a producer, arranger but it wasn’t until the release of The Hush (with Bob Fox on vocals) that he came back into the spotlight once more. Three solo albums later and Jed is a uniquely talented performer that is much in demand.

Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham @ SEALL, Isle of Skye

19th September 2018/£22

Voted Best Duo at the BBC National Folk Awards, as well as Live Act of the Year by the Scottish Traditional Music Wards, Aly and Phil have been playing together for over 30 years and are often described as ‘the best traditional musicians you are ever likely to hear’. Having recorded multiple albums to critical acclaim, their most recent effort celebrates their long career and has lead to a huge run of shows across Scotland.

Gig Highlights: August

Looking to get stuck into some live music this month?

We’ve pulled together just a few of the gigs in Scotland this month that are on our radar…

Black King Cobra @ King Tuts Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow

3rd August 2018/£7

Glasgow’s own rockers Black King Cobra might be in the infancy of their career but they’ve been tipped for greatness by a number of local critics. They headline at the iconic King Tuts this month in support of their brand new EP Law of Attraction which has been garnering a similar amount of buzz from bloggers and music journos. Catch this band on a small stage whilst you can as it sounds like they’re destined for greatness!

The Fratellis @ Kelvingrove Bandstand, Glasgow

10th August 2018/£30

Another Glaswegian group that has been known to blow the roof off King Tuts, there are still tickets available to see The Fratellis who are performing at the iconic Kelvingrove Bandstand as part of the Summer Nights series of concerts. Their recent record In Your Own Sweet Time was released this March recorded with the help of Tony Hoffer (Costello Music and Eyes Wide, Tongue Tied) given them 5 full-length albums to select their set from.

wojtek the bear @ Drummonds, Aberdeen

18th August 2018/£6

Scottish rockers wojtek the bear have just released their first record A Talent For Being Unreasonable in May, they’re a hard hitting four-piece that have been causing a stir in their hometown of Glasgow but the’ll be taking their show on the road to Aberdeen in August. Support for this show comes from local Aberdeen boys Meraki and PAGES. This will be an exciting night of eclectic music from some truly up and coming acts: not to be missed!

Side by Side @ Crieff Hydro, Crieff

23rd August 2018/FREE

There might be plenty of lovely self-catered lodges in Crieff that you can stay in,  but when it comes to luxury holiday accommodation for families Crieff Hydro is the place to go. The stately home turned holiday resort is packed full of things to do and see including regular live music from local folk duo Side by Side. A simple set up of two vocals, drums and acoustic guitar are all this couple need to get the crowd going with a set of lively covers and originals.

Blazin’ Fiddles @ Beach Ballroom, Aberdeen

30th August 2018/£24.20

They don’t get much more Scottish than Blazin’ Fiddles! Celebrating 20 years of fiddle-based madness, this quintessential Highland folk group will be performing a string of shows across Scotland alongside celebrated singer Karen Matheson. Their show at the iconic Beach Ballroom is guarantees to be a joyful occasion as the band play through a wide selection of traditional tunes as well as a number of original works.

Featured Song #3: Hannah Rarity and Luc McNally – Strong Women Rule Us All

Our third featured song comes from a Scottish singer whose powerful voice has won numerous awards already…

Noted for her sublime ability to inhabit every song that she performs, Hannah Rarity is on the ascension having recently won the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year award for 2018, in addition to receiving a number of nominations from The Scotsman and the 2017 Scots Trad Music Awards the year before.

After releasing her EP Beginnings in 2016 to critical acclaim, Hannah has been busy collaborating with a wide number of internationally renowned groups, including the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and the Irish-American band Cherish the Ladies.

It’s funny what you can find on the internet. You might start out looking for New World cooker parts and before you know it you’ve unearthed a low-key recording by one Scotland’s fastest rising talents. This recent cover of Brian McNeill’s Strong Women Rule Us All demonstrates Hannah’s  great emotional potential, even when performing in a stripped back setting:

After easily surpassing her crowdfunding goal of £5,000 back in May, Hannah has been working with celebrated folk producer Euan Burton to release her first full-length album which will hopefully effectively showcase her tremendous talents. Playing with her core band (featuring Innes White, Sally Simpson and Conal McDonagh) Hannah’s record Neath the Gloaming Star will be comprised of a variety of songs including covers, traditional folk classics and original material.

Before the release of her record in September 2018 Hannah is playing a handful of festival dates including the Tiree Music Festival, Paxton Festival and Aberdour Festival. From August 28th she’ll be launching her record on the back of a number of dates across Scotland including:

30th September Torphichen Summer Nights
28th August The Ceilidh Place, Ullapool
2nd September The Blue Arrow, Glasgow
6th September Songs and Reels at the Rose 2, Linlithgow, West Lothian
8th September BBC Proms in the Park, Glasgow Green, Glasgow
9th September Best of the West, Inverary Castle
20th September Brunton Theatre, Edinburgh
26th September The Ceilidh Place, Ullapool
2nd September Byre Theatre, St Andrews
3rd October Aberdeen Folk Club

Featured Song #2: Skerryvore – Take Me Home

Our second featured song is from a group well known for their mastery of traditional Celtic instruments…

Brothers Daniel and Martin Gillespie began playing music on the island of Tiree back in 2004 with the aid of a couple of friends from neighbouring isles in the Inner Hebrides. Mining their Celtic roots whilst wilfully embracing new influences, Skerryvore’s lineup has grown and changed over the years reflecting their progression as musician and composers. Their recent release ‘Take Me Home’ exhibits the huge progress they’ve made in the last few years alone:

Deftly blending rock, trad. folk and Americana, their new record EVO (short for evolution) signals a real shift in the band’s dynamic and style. Half recorded in East Lothian and Conneticut, there’s a real variety to the band’s new set of songs with foot-stompin’ festival numbers sitting neatly alongside softer melodic numbers. The nature of Skerryvore’s music has adapted in response to their surroundings, as well as their slow but steady rise to popularity and its wonderful to see young Scottish musicians taking the music of their people to distant shores.

Skerryvore will be touring the East Coast of the USA throughout August, followed by appearances at Tonfer Festival, Denmark and then a slot at Shrewsbury Folk Festival later that month. You can check their tour schedule and buy their CDs and LPs through their website here.

Scottish Folk Festivals in September

Get ready to stomp your feet and ceilidh with the best of them.

There’s something so life-affirming about going to a great music festival.

For a few days you can forget all about your worries back home and fully immerse yourself in the joy of music. Whether you’re a fan of traditional folk, jazz or you just love any opportunity to enjoy a good old fashioned hoe-down, Scottish Folk Festivals are fantastic opportunities to meet like-minded people and see some live music.

It’s not too late to book your tickets to one of these fantastic festivals  – take a look at our pick of Scottish festivals for September to see if you can make it to any of them this year:

Linlithgow Folk Festival

5th-9th September/Various Prices

The 20th incarnation of the Linlithgow Folk Festival is promising to the biggest one yet – established in 1998 by the Linlithgow Folk Festival Association, this festival is a true hub for the West Lothian style of Folk music. The lineup this year features a number of stellar names such as Ralph McTell and the Hannah Rarity Band to name a few, but it’s the community led group performance sessions that make this festival worth the trip.

BLAS Festival

7th-15th September/Various Prices

There aren’t many festivals in Scotland that take heritage as importantly as BLAS. Over the course of 9 days hundreds of folk acts descend upon the dozens of venues all across the Highlands. There’s a wide range of performers here from traditional folk acts to fill blown Ceidlidh Bands making this a perfect time time to visit the Highlands. Whilst BLAS is unlike a music festival in the traditional sense, it offers newcomers to the genre a great chance of getting acquainted with the music of the Highlands.

Jura Music Festival

21st-23rd September/£8-£45

It might take an arm and a leg to get to the island of Jura in the Inner Hebrides but the trip is well worth the effort. Less than 200 people live on this tiny island, so it goes without saying that things get a little bit crowded when the festival starts up each year. Two simple events are held in a purpose-built marquee and the cosy village hall which makes for a distinctly homegrown atmosphere.  There aren’t any holiday homes for sale on this island so guests must make use of hotels or wild camp if they wish.

Kirriemuir Festival of Music and Song

7th-9th September/FREE-£8

Now in its 37th year the Kirriemuir Festival of Music and Song is a quintessential Scottish event that encompasses ceilidhs, concerts and street entertainment. Thanks to the festival’s long-running nature some of the most established players throughout Scotland find their way to the stage here – this year you can expect to see legendary bothy ballad singer Joe Aitken, local singers Angus Folk and festival favourite Murray Douglas.

Featured Song #1: Mogwai – Donuts

Our first featured song comes from a truly groundbreaking Scottish group…

Epic post-rockers Mogwai are staunch advocates of Scottish music having led the charge in avant-garde music for well over 20 years now. Donuts is their recently released song from their first ever feature-film soundtrack:

Although they lost founding member John Cummings in 2015, the now four-piece have continued to break the boundaries of the alternative music genre by contributing and composing soundtracks to documentaries and television series.

Their latest record is the soundtrack to the upcoming sci-fi movie Kin. Telling the story of two brothers on the run from gangsters, government agents and a mysterious alien force, Kin will have its US release on August 31st when you can also pick up the record too.

Mogwai will tour the England in November. There are still a handful of tickets left for one of their shows at Edinburgh’s Leith Theatre and they will also appear at True North Festival, Aberdeen in September. 

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