THE POOZIES – Punch (Schmooz SCHMOOZCD003)

PunchI was amused by the quote from Eilidh Shaw (fiddle, vocals) who says that the Poozies are probably fortunate that the charge of witchcraft has gone out of fashion; otherwise they’d be in trouble. In Punch there’s certainly a mischievous mix of musical mayhem, spellbinding showcase instrumentals and probably some frogs legs to boot. True to form, The Poozies are unencumbered by conventional folk idioms, slipping and sliding between cool jazz cadences and the more structured strathspeys. Fortunately, boundaries are never pushed too far and the whole thing hangs together beautifully, albeit with a shimmer of post-modern irony. I just loved it when on ‘Plecthumb’ the tune is suddenly punctured by an almighty scream from one of the women!

Looking back, The Poozies were initially the established harp duet of Mary MacMaster and Patsy Seddon (of Sileas) joined by Sally Barker and Karen Tweed. Always an all-female ensemble, they rode the wave of new Scottish music in the 1990s. One shouldn’t forget they also introduced us to Kate Rusby at that time. There have been many personnel changes since, and only MacMaster remains from the original line-up. Fiddles have replaced harps as the predominant sound and there are no fewer than three fiddle players in the current band: Eilidh Shaw, Sarah McFadyen and Tia Files.

The four women keep you on your toes, and there’s never a dull moment. The stomp box and bass drum allow for gear shifts just when they’re needed and the keen rhythmic edginess serves them well in ‘Knees of Fire’ and ‘Bloodknot’. There’s an even spread of songs and tunes, from the frivolous ‘Soaking’ to a traditional Scots Gaelic ‘Ailein, Ailein’, one of my favourites. Their harmonized vocal talents are particularly noticeable on the final alluring track, ‘Easily Led’ which brings the set to a relatively quiet, though indubitably classy, finish.

So much good music is coming out of Scotland these days, a credit to serious recognition and investments made in traditional arts. We shouldn’t take it for granted. Enjoy the renaissance and marvel at just how good these musicians are and how much memorable fun they can pack into nine tracks.

Jon Bennett

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‘Knees Of Fire/The Chase’ – live:

Fraser Shaw – posthumous tune book and CD

Fraser Shaw
The Islay Sessioners

Fraser Shaw was a wonderful piper, whistle player and composer from Glasgow who resided on the Isle of Islay. After his passing in May 2015, a group of friends and family started a Trust in his honour. The foremost aim of the Fraser Shaw Trust is to raise money for the relief of multiple sclerosis, particularly in Argyll, Scotland, through a series of projects and events celebrating Fraser and his music.

A few years before Fraser’s passing, he had it in mind to release a book of his own compositions, the proceeds of which would go towards the MS Care Centre in Lochilphead, Scotland. Unfortunately, due to his illness, this never came to fruition.

Over the last year and a half, the Trust have been working hard to bring this idea to life and release this much anticipated book, along with an album comprised of Fraser’s tunes. In November 2015 a group of musicians gathered on Islay, to play a special memorial concert at Fraser’s festival, The Islay Sessions, thus laying the groundwork for this album. In January 2016 at Celtic Connections this same group of musicians, “The Islay Sessioners”, as they called themselves, performed this music as part of Islay Night, a concert that both celebrated the music and culture of Islay, and the music of Fraser Shaw.

In September 2016, recording began for the album in Castlesound and Carrier Waves Studios. Many of the arrangements heard at Islay Night have been recorded, along with a few additional tracks. Playing on the album are; Adam Sutherland, Eilidh Shaw, Gráinne Brady, Lori Watson, Innes Watson, Angus MacKenzie, Calum MacCrimmon, Kevin O’Neill, John Somerville, Laura-Beth Salter, Jenn Butterworth, Ross Martin, Tina Jordan Rees, Duncan Lyall, with very special guests; Kathleen Graham, Mhairi Hall and Ross Couper.

The Fraser Shaw Trust is delighted to announce the release of the book and CD on Tuesday June 27th 2017, with a big launch on the Isle of Islay to mark the occasion. The event will take plce in Bruichladdich Hall, with a concert featuring the musicians on the album. A second launch in Glasgow is set for Monday August 7th in St Luke’s Church as part of Piping Live!

Hard copies of Fraser’s CD will be available exclusively at the pre-launch party which will take place in The Sparkle Horse, Glasgow on Tuesday May 16th. Tickets for launch concerts and pre-orders will be for sale online from May 16th through the website –

Proceeds of the tunebook will go directly towards the MS Care Centre in Lochilphead. Proceeds of the album and further donations will be used for the advancement of education, arts and culture and for the relief of those living with multiple sclerosis in Scotland, particularly on the Isle of Islay.



RELEASE DATE: Monday, 9th June, 2014


Having released an EP in January, the much anticipated self-titled album, Damian Helliwell’s “Metta”, will be released on the 9th June.

Acclaimed for his musicianship and compositional flair with the renowned Gaelic band Dàimh, “METTA” steps out of the genre to showcase Damian’s most accomplished and progressive work to date.

Damian Helliwell’s Metta is a groundbreaking compositional debut that uses the traditional genre as a platform to expand and develop from. It is also a project featuring some of Scotland’s most highly respected traditional musicians, with Eilidh Shaw on fiddle, Jen Hill on double bass, Andy Thorburn on piano and Donald Hay on percussion alongside Helliwell on mandolin and tenor Banjo. The result breaks norms in instrumental hierarchy and stretches the boundaries of rhythm and melody. This innovative debut marks Helliwell’s Metta out as one of the most exciting new acts on the Scottish music scene.

Helliwell’s uniquely individual approach is apparent on all levels of this project, not only in his compositional style. Six years ago the self-taught instrumentalist vanished from an active life in Edinburgh’s traditional music scene, returning to the remote Hebridean island of his upbringing. Here he quietly set about single handedly building a straw bale house and recording studio, creating the perfect environment to foster and nourish creativity. At the same time, he was writing prolifically, relishing the creativity that the space and solitude inspired.

This album is the fruitful culmination of Helliwell’s efforts and ambition, finally brought into form with a star studded group of the most expressive and sensitive musicians in the country, and recorded in the ancient Pythagorean tuning of A=432hz (said to access the resonance of the full harmonic overtone series). A vibrant, atmospheric sound that defies easy categorisation, Metta is richly emotive, passionate and original.

The album was recorded and produced on the Hebridean Island of Eigg. Damian is a proud resident of Eigg and releases the album to coincide with and celebrate the 17th anniversary of “Eigg Independence Day” on the 12th June, which marks the date of the historic community “buy out” of the island, 17 years ago.

Damian is extremely passionate about this album and indeed the Isle of Eigg. His emotions are best described by the man himself:

This project and album is the culmination of several years of writing and a lifetime of playing, a reflection of the beauty of the environment I live in and an expression of my passion and love for that beauty.

To realize this new music I was privileged to have four incredible musicians working with me. Their naturally expressive musicality fitted the material perfectly and I am sincerely grateful for their creative input, professionalism, experience and love that they brought to this project. They enabled it to reach the place I dreamt of.

We recorded this album over two weeks, in the inspirational tranquility of my studio in Eigg. To capture the raw energy of the music, it was recorded, live and in the resonant pythagorian tuning of A=432hz”

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