Dougie Maclean: new album

Dougie Maclean

Leading singer-songwriter Dougie MacLean is looking forward to his first big solo concert in the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall during the award-winning Celtic Connections festival in over a decade … on 24 January 2018. Tickets are certainly moving fast and it’s anticipated that the concert will sell out in advance.  The concert will bring together some of MacLean’s best loved work (both songs and stories!) and some wonderful new songs from his latest album New Tomorrow.

Maclean has had many fortunate years of involvement in the long running festival performing with his band or with a string section or in collaboration with other special guests or with an full orchestra … sometimes performing his own specially commissioned music like the Perthshire Amber Suite or The Muir of Gormack or his song-cycle Rural Image. This year MacLean is delighted to be returning for his first solo concert at the festival since a sell-out solo show in the same main auditorium back in 2004!

Dougie MacLean said:

“I am really looking forward to performing at Celtic Connections next week, the Concert Hall in Glasgow is a magnificent venue; the acoustics are fantastic.  I always get a lovely warm welcome in Glasgow and the international Celtic Connections audiences are wonderful.  I’m planning a night filled with old favourites mixed with a few new songs that I hope the audience will really appreciate….hope they’re all getting ready to raise the roof with a couple of those choruses!”

Described as “Scotland’s pre-eminent singer-songwriter and a national musical treasure” (SingOut USA) MacLean is internationally renowned for his song ‘Caledonia’, music for Last Of The Mohicans and inspired performances in concerts and festivals all over the world including New York’s Carnegie Hall, Sydney’s Opera House and London’s Festival Theatre.

New Tomorrow MacLean’s recently released and much-anticipated album has been attracting attention from across the world with air play and orders flooding in.  It’s his first release since his acclaimed live Caledonia Cantata album.  The new studio album, which he has written, recorded and produced with his son Jamie MacLean combines a few well-loved songs which have already proved popular at his recent concerts with a selection of brand new songs.

The album is a beautifully curated selection of songs including the title track ‘New Tomorrow’ a timelessly poignant song written for his grandsons. It also features ‘Shadow Of The Mountain’, one of MacLean’s most popular concert songs and stories.  He wrote the song in Alaska on tour and it tells the tale of the volcano looming over the town in which he was performing.

‘Wild And Windy Night’ is a modern take on a “night-visiting song”, the choruses feature audiences from MacLean’s own Perthshire Amber Festival and the popular Woodford Festival in Australia.  This truly international track is a classic example of the charm of MacLean’s songs with inspiring verses and a lyrical chorus combined with innovative recording and production techniques.

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Artist’s website: https://www.dougiemaclean.com/

The classic ‘Caledonia’:

Calum Stewart & Heikki Bourgault – Hunter’s Moon

HuntersMoonFollowing swiftly on from the success of their debut album, Calum Stewart & Heikki Bourgault continue to forge their powerful instrumental duo sound with their new release “Hunter’s Moon”. Featuring Calum Stewart (Uilleann Pipes & Wooden Flute) from Scotland, and Heikki Bourgault (Guitar) from Brittany, “Hunter’s Moon” captures two of today’s leading instrumentalists in full flight.

Whilst rooted in tradition, “Hunter’s Moon” explores an interceltic link; marrying old melodies together with new in an inspiring dynamic interplay.

Reinforcing the release of “Hunter’s Moon” is an album launch tour, in Scotland, Brittany, England, Wales, Ireland and Denmark beginning at Celtic Connections on January 24th.

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“This is captivating music from two young masters.”
Alex Monaghan, “IRISH MUSIC MAGAZINE”.

“Calum’s mastery of the Wooden Flute & Uilleann Pipes, and Heikki’s mastery of the Guitar, refreshingly infuses new life into an instrumental genre, embodied in this beautifully detailed and balanced sequence of melodies and dance music.”
Yann Bertrand, “MUSIQUE BRETONNE”

“A showcase of assertive technique and imaginative instrumental interplay.”
Norman Chalmers, “THE SCOTSMAN”.

New release from The John Langan Band…

The John Langan Band BONES OF CONTENTIONThe John Langan Band formed in Glasgow in 2008 after John had spent years travelling the globe gathering and writing songs, honing his performance on the streets and searching for the perfect band. Ironically it wasn’t till he came home to Glasgow that he found what he was looking for in Dave Tunstall (double bass/backing vocals) and Alastair Caplin (fiddle/backing vocals). In their first year they won the prestigious Danny Kyle Award at Celtic Connections and have since been unfailingly making crowds dance like maniacs at gigs and festivals all over the UK and Europe. Dave Tunstall is also well known for being a member of Orchestra Elastique and Alastair Caplin also plays alongside Alasdair Roberts and is currently working on a film score with Lou Rhodes.

High energy, unhinged, and musically extravagant, they are a dynamic three piece offering a unique sound with influences from Scottish, Irish, Balkan and gypsy jazz music all delivered with punk abandonment and virtuosic flare. Wrapping pan European traditional acoustic music with infectious grooves, epic, pounding, sing along, punch the air anthems to intricately arranged instrumentals.

Challenging the limitations of what people might expect acoustic instruments to sound like, the use of bowed harmonics between fiddle and bass can be as menacing and eerie as it can be psychedelic and mesmerising. Percussion provided by the front man Langan, whilst singing and driving the rhythm guitar, he somehow co-ordinates the operation of a Cajon and a tambourine with his feet bringing the driving, swinging groove of the rhythm guitar together with his foot percussion resulting in an impressively tight band sound with a tempo that is free to go anywhere. Add scorching hot fiddle lines and a guy thumping the groove out of a double bass. If you’re not dancing like a demented ostrich by the end of their set you get a refund.

Their Debut Album BONES OF CONTENTION is being released on the April 5th and the official launch party will be at the New Empowering Church, Hackney, London also on April 5th, with support from Cocos Lovers and another act TBC..

The opening track Aquaplane is a balkanesque dance song formed from a fiddle tune Alastair wrote about a hairy drive from Glasgow to Cambridge in torrential rain and not quite enough fuel. Winter Song is the ballad of the album, Johns traditional Scottish roots really shine through on this one. It was written for his wife who moved from warmer climes up to Glasgow to live with him in an unheated house with a broken fireplace during the coldest winter in years.

Midgets on Acid is the most adventurous track on the album, a nine minute instrumental inspired by John Fitzpatrick’s Morris Dancing tune Jump at the Sun. Jumping keys and time signatures and moments of discordant psychedelica. To calm the senses the following track is a gentle classical piece called Piano Miniature. Alastair wrote this on piano many years ago for a project when he was studying opera at the RSAMD in Glasgow. The D-mented set consists of Charlies Rant, an up-tempo foray into the world of bluegrass with a sprinkling of trad Scottish fiddle. Tunstall’s Rant is the brainchild of Dave Tunstall who specialises in scary noises bowed on the double bass, a harrowing tune designed to make you feel like the wolves are at the door.

This then subsides into delicately plucked mandolin, played by Tunstall, into Riley’s Rant, written by Alastair Caplin who wrote this tune for their good friend Gordon Riley. Topped off by The Langan Band’s fan’s favourite, Auld Jimmy, a song about grabbing life by the balls and taking every opportunity that comes your way, this really is an album for all musical tastes.

“I have been listening to John Langan band’s new CD entitled Bones of contention; it’s full of fire that makes you want to dance. Crafted by fine musicianship it evokes visions of the Highlands. My favourite tracks are the heart warming and melodically evocative “Winter song” and the rhythmic and lyrically alluring “Pumpin Pie” … a must for anyone’s record collection.” Vic Coppersmith Heaven, Producer- The Jam, Black Sabbath

“The John Langan Band brought intoxicating rhythm and a kaleidoscopic swirling cocktail of carnival, colour and interaction to the Main Stage at Eden Festival” Adam Curtis, Eden Festival Organiser

For more information and the latest tour news, please visit https://www.facebook.com/thejohnlanganband/

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Larkin Poe and Thom Hell – THE SOUND OF THE OCEAN SOUND

Larkin Poe & Thom Hell (300dpi)Having toured internationally as The Lovell Sisters between 2005 and 2010, including performances at the Grand Ole Opry, Telluride and numerous other top venues and festivals, Rebecca and Megan relaunched themselves as Larkin Poe in January 2010, following the departure of eldest sister Jessica.

Still only in their early twenties, in just a little over two years as Larkin Poe, Rebecca and Megan have released five EPs and a live DVD and have performed with such luminaries as Elvis Costello, Fairport Convention and The Indigo Girls. During 2012 alone they have played headline shows at festivals across Europe including Beautiful Days, Celtic Connections, the Hebridean Celtic Festival and Fairport’s Cropredy Convention where they broke the festival record for CD sales.

During a particularly productive and rewarding year in 2012, they have also made guest appearances on new albums by Blair Dunlop and Gilmore & Roberts, rising stars of the UK folk scene, who were both recently nominated for prestigious BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, which take place on the 30th of January 2013.

Now Rebecca & Megan present a first full-length album, The Sound Of The Ocean Sound, a collaboration with multiple Norwegian ‘Spellemann’ (Grammy) winner Thom Hell, and special guest Sola Akingbola (Jamiroquai). Luck brought them together when Thom attended one of the band’s concerts, and two visits to the studio later the 10 songs of The Sound Of The Ocean Sound were complete. The album was recorded in two periods over the last two years at Ocean Sound Recordings studio in Giske, Norway, where Travis recently completed their forthcoming album.

Sola Akingbola, long-standing percussionist with Jamiroquai heard a rough mix of the record after playing at the Nobel Peace Prize concert in Norway, and was so eager to play on the album he spent his only 2 days off during a 2 month long Jamiroquai tour, to lay down some exemplary percussion work.

The distinctive voices and harmonies of Larkin Poe and Thom Hell, combined with Rebecca and Megan’s signature mandolin and dobro sound, result in ten masterpieces of roots-inflected pop.

Larkin Poe & Thom Hell - 'The Sound Of The Ocean Sound' - cover (300dpi)The album also features Daniel Kimbro on bass, Chad Melton on drums and Mike Seal on guitar, all musicians who’ve played with Larkin Poe until recently. Norwegian producer Audun Borrmann recorded and produced the album in close collaboration with Larkin Poe and Thom Hell.

It will be available on CD, Vinyl and Digital download at the folking store below (RELEASE DATE MARCH 4 2013). The Sound Of The Ocean Sound features 10 tracks, six written by Rebecca & Megan Lovell, three by Thom Hell, and one co-written by Rebecca Lovell and Thom Hell in the studio.

“Though never quite abandoning the duo’s bluegrass roots the mandolin/dobro combination has clearly been harnessed to newly ambitious songwriting that’s taken a joyful, ultra-confident left-field swerve.” Acoustic

“Every exposure to Larkin Poe brings increasing evidence of emerging greatness.” The Herald

“. . . the 20-year-old sisters’ dynamic story-songs open up new realms of cream-fresh Americana” The Independent

“. . . rootsy, melodic, and reflective, not to mention highly irresistible.” Maverick

“With the Dixie Chicks on sabbatical, this could be Larkin Poe’s season in the sun.” The Observer

“What makes it all special is the pair’s ability to push the envelope, especially in the use of vocal arrangements . . . just when you think you know where you are, you’re taken someplace further. That’s a genuine gift.” R2

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RÉALTA – Open The Door For Three (Réalta Music ADC 001)

It’s rare to find an album of traditional Irish music opening with a disturbingly modern sounding guitar figure before sliding into the first tune but quite a few things about Réalta are unusual.

Conor Lamb and Aaron O’Hagan both play uilleann pipes and whistles while Deirdre Galway handles the rhythm duties on guitar and bouzouki as well as being the band’s vocalist. That’s a reversal of the usual order of things but it means the band can be as delicate as you please as is the case with the opening title track while the combination of two sets of pipes is pretty powerful. They use it to great effect on the closing ‘La Volta/Drops Of Brandy’ and particularly on ‘Sliabh Geal gCua’. This is the air of an expatriate song; a song of longing for home. It could be taken gently and wistfully but the twin pipes wring every drop of pain out of the melody; not so much a sea breeze as an ocean gale.

Two of the songs sound rather jolly. They’re sung in Irish but Réalta helpfully provide synopses of the stories. The third, ‘Gathering Mushrooms’, is in English and seems to be about sex as so many traditional songs are, or am I finding a double entendre where none is intended?

This is a distinguished debut album from a band who, although young, already have a great deal of experience between them. Sadly, there don’t appear to be any plans for them to play in England in the near future although they will be at Celtic Connections in January.

Dai Jeffries

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Artist’s website: http://www.realtamusic.com/

FAR, FAR FROM YPRES – ONE OF THE EMOTIONAL HIGHLIGHTS OF CELTIC CONNECTIONS 2012

A stage show featuring songs, music, poetry and images of WW1, and inspired by a double CD published by Greentrax Recordings, ‘Far, Far From Ypres’, played to a packed audience at The Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on Saturday, 21st January, as part of Celtic Connections 2012.

This premier performance took place in a week when the film War Horse went on general release.  People who had seen both War Horse and Far, Far from Ypres commented on how the human voice in combination with the projected still images in the Ypres show had an even greater emotional impact on them than the film.

Narrated by Iain Anderson of BBC Radio Scotland, the show grew from an initial plan for 12 musicians to a cast of 23 people.  The show was both entertaining and emotional resulting in a standing ovation in the packed hall.  Iain Anderson said that for him this was the most emotional event he has ever participated in.

FAR, FAR FROM YPRES – CELTIC CONNECTIONS STAGE SHOW STARTS WITH CAST OF 12 AND ENDS UP WITH 23.

‘ …The enthusiasm and commitment from all the participants is immense and was a remarkable and unique stage presentation.’

‘Far, Far From Ypres’ presented the Songs, Poems & Music of World War 1, much of it viewed from a Scottish perspective.  The performance was as enjoyable as it was thought provoking and inspirational.  A shorter version of the show was a highlight of a recent concert in The Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh, celebrating the 25th Anniversary of Scotland’s major folk music label, Greentrax Recordings.

The live performance followed on from a critically acclaimed album ‘Far, Far From Ypres – Songs, Poems & Music of World War 1’ which Greentrax Recordings released in 2008.  As well as being successful as a music release, the album is featured in Army Museums in the UK and has become an inspirational resource for many visitors to the Visitor Centres and Museums in Belgium and France.

When Ian McCalman of the Scottish folk group, The McCalmans, was asked to produce the show, he envisaged the size of the cast being limited to 12.  He was then inundated by calls from musicians who had some sort of distant connection to the Great War.  Ian McCalman said; “Budget was not a priority to those musicians, who were more interested in being involved in a project with which they could all identify.  We couldn’t possibly have attracted ‘names’ like Barbara Dickson, Dick Gaughan, Sangsters, Stephen Quigg and the other equally talented musicians if they had not been interested in the show’s content.  It is a labour of love for them all and I applaud them for it.”  “The enthusiasm and commitment from all the participants is immense and has resulted in a remarkable and unique stage presentation.”

Ian McCalman committed himself totally to the stage show assembling a cast of experienced performers including Barbara Dickson, Dick Gaughan, Ian Bruce. Stevie Palmer, Stephen Quigg, Donald Hay, Tom Ward and folk groups Sangsters, Soopna and Ragged Glory.  Iain Anderson of BBC Radio Scotland was the narrator for the stage show.

Back projection of graphics and photographs from WW1 was by Pete Heywood, Editor of The Living Tradition magazine.  The Living Tradition featured Far, Far from Ypres after it was released on CD and encouraged the idea of extending the project to include a staged version.

The show was sold out two weeks in advance of the performance.

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