Scottish trio Assynt announce their debut album and launch tour

Assynt

Assynt are one of Scotland’s newest, most exciting folk trios featuring award winning musicians Graham Mackenzie (fiddle), David Shedden (pipes/whistles) and Innes White (guitar/mandolin). Having performed together for many years, 2018 sees the official launch of Assynt and their debut album Road To The North. Predominantly comprising self-penned tunes, the album draws upon influences from traditional Scottish fiddle and pipe music, in particular the Highland and Gaelic traditions.

Over a year in the making and with the addition of BBC Radio Scotland Young Musician of the Year, Charlie Stewart on double bass and drummer, Scott Mackay, Road To The North was recorded and mixed by Scott Wood at Oak Ridge Studios and mastered by Michael Fossenkemper at TurtleTone Studios in New York.

As a band, Assynt are keen to explore their own compositions with nine of the ten tracks written by members of the band. However, deeply rooted in traditional folk music, the final track of the album, an arrangement of three well known Scottish tunes, clearly shows where the band’s roots lie.

Beginning 2018 at Celtic Connections in the New Auditorium with a collaboration with Iranian piper, Mohsen Sharifian and the Lian Band, Assynt have continued to preview music from their debut album in a sell out concert in Inverness as well as gigs in Glencoe and Glasgow. August will be see them perform in Arisaig; The National Piping Centre in Glasgow as part of the Piping Live festival; Braemar, and in September they will perform as part of the Blas festival in Portmahomack and Invergarry.

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

Artists’ website: www.assyntmusic.com

‘Aidan Jack Jigs’ – live:

Tour Dates

17th August Arisaig Hotel, Arisaig

18th August Piping Live! National Piping Centre, Glasgow LAUNCH

19th August Braemar Village Hall

10th September BLAS Carnegie Hall, Portmahomack

11th September BLAS Glengarry Village Hall, Invergarry

JAMES DUNCAN MACKENZIE – Sròmos (own label JMMCD002)

SròmosJames Duncan Mackenzie is, as you know, piper and flautist with Breabach, one of the finest of the young Scottish bands. James is from the Isle of Lewis and there is a big story behind Sròmos, his second solo album: the history of the island over the last two centuries, its landscape, myths and characters. It’s a completely instrumental album, all self-composed with a core band of producer John Lowrie, Alan Nairn, Innes White and James Lindsay and two guest fiddlers; Alasdair White and Jack Smedley. James provides brief but very informative notes that make me want to seek out a book on the history of Lewis.

The opening title track starts with echoey notes on Lowrie’s Rhodes piano and you might think that you’re in for something very modern but James’ flute immediately takes up a very traditional sounding tune. The music builds almost like a ceilidh band before the tune fades back to the Rhodes and leads gently into the linked piece, ‘The Lazy Beds Of Rias’. Sròmos was a settlement cleared in the 19th century to make way for deer. It’s a common story across the Highlands, I know, but it’s made more poignant by the fact that the ruins can still be seen. Lazy beds are are version of ridge and furrow cultivation and their remains can be seen too. And now this is beginning to sound like a history lesson.

James’ pipes are first heard in the middle of ‘The Garron/The Plough On The Cross-Beam’ but he returns to the flute for the absolutely delightful ‘Stornoway Waltz’ with the melody played in double time over a steady but unobtrusive dance beat. ‘Land Raiders’ is another great story opening with flute over White’s acoustic guitar. The intensity builds as the pipes take over for the angry second and third sections.’Walk Home’ concerns the wreck of a troop-ship in 1919 while the up-tempo ‘Langavat’ describes two notable features of the Lewis landscape and there’s more history to take us the close.

Sròmos is an absolutely delightful album; a soundtrack for a visit to the Isle of Lewis should you ever get to cross the Minch.

Dai Jeffries

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

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

James and his band live:

ROBYN STAPLETON – Songs Of Robert Burns (Laverock Records LAVE002CD)

songs of robert burnsI was delighted to receive a copy to review of Songs Of Robert Burns, the latest album by Robyn Stapleton. Quite simply, this is a fabulous recording by the young Scottish female singer. She has carefully selected a top-notch group of musicians to support her. Most of the songs she has chosen will be familiar to the followers of Robert Burns.

For anybody who is not aware of the songs of Robert Burns or who has previously stated that they were not keen on Burns then I suggest you go out and buy this CD now! I would find it hard to find fault in any track. The arrangements are superb and extremely complementary to Robyn’s voice. The clarity of her voice and her excellent diction is a bonus which not all current artistes offer.

‘My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose ‘, ‘Ae Fond Kiss’,’ John Anderson My Jo’ and ‘Ca’ the Ewes’ are only some of the beautiful songs she sings and Robyn’s version of ‘Parcel O’ Rogues’ is exceptional. Her musicians include Patsy Reid, Aaron Jones, Innes White , Alistair Paterson and several more who are becoming well known in their own rights on the scene.

The album cover and quality of the actual recordings can put me off of purchasing a CD. No problem with that on this disc. The cover is excellent and there is a separate booklet with all the words, just in case you missed any when listening. For non-Scots this is most beneficial. The studio work is also very good with a high quality production by Robyn at Castlesound Studios.

Altogether a very, very good album which should find itself into many people’s collections. For those who prefer the older classical singing of Burns songs in preference to the more ‘folkie’ style , this CD crosses those barriers . This is for all lovers of Robert Burns.

Fraser Bruce

Artist’s website: www.robynstapleton.com

Teaser video:

John McCusker – new album

John McCusker

In celebration of his 25th Anniversary as a professional musician, John McCusker will release Hello, Goodbye on April 29th 2016 and tour the UK in April and May. A wonderfully evocative set of compositions, Hello, Goodbye is John’s first solo album in thirteen years, the first on his new record label Under One Sky Records and the first recorded in his state of the art studio, built over the last 2 years in a bothy dating from 1779, which neighbours his Scottish Borders home. Designed by legendary record producer and studio designer Calum Malcolm, the new studio is a winning combination of the traditional and the new, much like John’s music itself!

Hello, Goodbye was composed while John was on a world tour with Mark Knopfler. The core musical group for the album is an all-star cast of handpicked musicians with whom John has been fortunate to work over the past 25 years: James Mackintosh, Drums/Percussion (Shooglenifty, The Blue Nile, James); Ewen Vernal, Bass (Deacon Blue, Capercaille); Ian Carr, Guitar (Eddi Reader, Julie Fowlis, Swap); Michael McGoldrick, Whistle (Mark Knopfler, Capercaille, Sharon Shannon); Andy Cutting, Melodeon  (The Who, June Tabor); Tim O’Brien (Grammy Award Winning US bluegrass star); Phil Cunningham MBE, Accordion (Bonnie Raitt, Nicola Benedetti) and acclaimed Irish singer Heidi Talbot.

Born in Bellshill, near Glasgow, John began playing whistle and fiddle as a child and joined the legendary folk outfit Battlefield Band aged 17. During his 11 years with the band, he also released his first two solo recordings, 1995’s self-titled debut and 2000’s Yella Hoose. His most recent albums include Under One Sky and the reissues of Yella Hoose and Goodnight Ginger re-mastered deluxe.

John has long been renowned for his skill at transcending musical boundaries: striving to keep his music fresh and exciting, never leaving the past behind but always embracing new sonic adventures. As a live and studio guest he has shared stages with Paul Weller, Paolo Nutini, Teenage Fanclub, Graham Coxon and Eddi Reader. Since 2008, he has been a member of Mark Knopfler’s band, playing arenas around the world including a double bill with Bob Dylan at The Hollywood Bowl and 20 nights at the Royal Albert Hall.

An expanding portfolio as a producer features debut albums by Kris Drever and Idlewild’s Roddy Woomble. He’s also manned the controls for top folk chanteuses Eddi Reader, Heidi Talbot, Eliza Carthy and Linda Thompson. Film and TV work includes soundtracks for the movie Heartlands (2002) and 16 Years of Alcohol (2003), Billy Connolly’s World Tour of New Zealand (2004), Jennifer Saunders BBC sitcom Jam and Jerusalem (2008) & Starlings sitcom for Sky TV (2012).

John was awarded the coveted BBC Radio 2 Musician of the Year in 2003 and also The Spirit of Scotland Award for music in 1999 and again in 2009.

The John McCusker Band, featuring some of the finest traditional musicians including Andy Cutting, Adam Holmes, Innes White and Toby Shaer, will embark on an extensive UK tour in April/May:

“One of the UK’s most gifted and versatile musicians in any genre, John McCusker is equally in demand as a multi-instrumentalist, producer and composer.” The Guardian

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

‘Muireann’s Jig/Farewell to Whalley Range/Roddy McDonald’s’ – The John McCusker band live:

 

Artist’s website: www.johnmccusker.co.uk