The Shee announce late spring tour

The Shee
Photograph by Sean Purser

There’s always something new with a tour from The Shee.

Fans of the innovative, instrument-swapping sextet will be delighted to learn that this May marks another new chapter: the first tour with Scottish-Icelandic percussionist, Signy Jakobsdottir, as a permanent member.

Nominated for musician of the year at the 2019 Scots Trad Music Awards, Jakobsdottir joined The Shee last year for a number of handpicked shows designed to augment and experiment with the band’s sound, taking old favourites to new aural places and to make possible a whole new avenue of arrangement and songwriting.

The experiment worked, with Signy signing on the dotted line and taking up a permanent slot in the line-up for 2020 onwards.

And Signy’s arrival isn’t the only change to personnel. Original flautist, Lillias Kinsman-Blake, will be sharing duties with Glasgow-based flautist, Sarah Hayes, as her maternity leave comes to an end, while Amy Thatcher will be joined backstage by her newborn twins, who arrived rather unexpectedly – on tour with The Shee in Germany in October 2019!

Harpist and singer, Rachel Newton, says: ‘We are currently enjoying exploring much of our past material with the new line-up, including numbers we haven’t played for years or hadn’t attempted live before. Having the percussion has opened up new opportunities for us musically, and it’s really exciting to hear how Signy’s input enhances our work and brings out aspects of the arrangements we might not have noticed before.

‘We are planning for this tour to work up some new material as well, so there will be  a chance to hear some brand new music.’

The name given to the tour, The Shadows, is derived from a track from the band’s tenth anniversary album, Continuum. The song is about being pushed into the shadows, being ignored, with voices unheard or silenced. It refers to reserves of hidden strength and, the band feel, has a greater political relevance today more than ever.

Artists’ website:

Tour Dates

Wednesday 6 May Traverse Theatre 1, Edinburgh Tradfest

Thursday 14 May Arlington Arts, Newbury

Friday 15 May  Salisbury Arts Centre, Salisbury

Saturday 16 May Otley Courthouse, Otley, West Yorkshire 

Sunday 17 May The Stables, Milton Keynes

Tuesday 19 May The Hawth, Crawley

Wednesday 20 May Theatre Severn, Shrewsbury

Thursday 21. May Cranshaws Village Hall, Cranshaws, Scottish Borders Tickets: 01361 890 384 /

Friday 22 May The Hug and Pint, Glasgow

Saturday 23 May The Lemon Tree, Aberdeen

Sunday 24 May Northern Rock Foundation Hall, Sage, Gateshead

Jenny Sturgeon and Inge Thompson announce release of their new project

Northern Flyway

Humans have always looked to the birds.  In mythology, they are carriers of souls, messengers to the gods, our familiars.  In ecology, they are our measure, our meter, they mark the seasons…

In 2017 Jenny Sturgeon (Salt House, Jenny Sturgeon Trio) and Inge Thomson (Karine Polwart Trio, Da Fishing Hands) wrote and created Northern Flyway – an audio-visual production exploring the ecology, folklore, symbolism and mythology of birds and birdsong. Northern Flyway premiered to a sold-out audience at The Barn (Banchory) in January 2018 and a CD of the songs was recorded at Mareel, Shetland, over four days in early February 2018.

The music draws on the extensive field recordings of birdsong expert Magnus Robb, Sturgeon’s background as a bird biologist and Thomson’s home turf of Fair Isle, Shetland. The songs combine vocal and instrumental composition, interviews, sonic experimentation and lush and varied bird song from the northern hemisphere. Themes of human and avian migration, the seasons’ cycle and humanity’s relationship with nature resonate through this multi-dimensional work. Alongside Jenny and Inge, Northern Flyway also features singer/multi-instrumentalist Sarah Hayes (Admiral Fallow, Rachel Newton Band) and vocal sculptor/beatboxer Jason Singh (Follow the Fleet, Tweet Music).

Jenny Sturgeon – vocals, harmonium, dulcimer
Inge Thomson – vocals, accordion, flute, thumb piano, kaoss pad, wave drum
Jason Singh – beatbox and sound design
Sarah Hayes – vocals, piano, keys, flutes, Hammond
Magnus Robb and The Sound Approach – bird samples
Featuring – Whooper swan, Rosefinch, Swift, Siskin, Gannet, Curlew, Snipe, Lapwing, Linnet, Crested Tit, Osprey, Gold Crest, Black Grouse, Dotterel, Golden Plover, Red Grouse, Snow Bunting, Ptarmigan, Golden Eagle, White Fronted Goose, Waxwing, Redwing, Ural Owl, Tawny Owl, Goldeneye, Raven.

This project was made possible through support from Creative Scotland, PRS Foundation, The Scottish Ornithologists Club, The Barn, Northlink Ferries and LoganAir.

Artists’ website:

ALISTAIR ANDERSON & NORTHLANDS – Alistair Anderson & Northlands (White Meadow WMR0031)

NorthlandsNot that he’s been away or anything but Alistair seems to be enjoying something of a renaissance, reinvigorating himself by looking to the next generation. First there was his stunning duo with Dan Walsh and now his new band, Alistair Anderson & Northlands, making their debut with this fine album. With him are Sophy Ball and Ian Stephenson, respectively fiddle player and guitarist with Andy May and flautist and singer Sarah Hayes of Admiral Fallow.

The record in firmly rooted in the north-east but for once there isn’t a single one of Alistair’s compositions but the credits include some of the greats of Northumbrian music: Billy Pigg, Will Atkinson and Willy Taylor amongst them. This is also, as far as I know, the only one of his albums to open with a song, a lovely light and spirited version of Jez Lowe’s ‘Taking On Men’. From there we move to the first instrumental set, a trio of ‘Paddy Whack/Coffee Bridge/Spirit Of Whiskey’, followed by the light and airy ‘Fiesta Waltz’ and my favourite set ‘Iain MacPhail’s Compliments To Chrissie Leatham/Copper Of Stannerton Heugh/One-Horned Sheep’. MaPhail’s tune is a corker, managing to sound old-fashioned in the manner of Scottish dance music while still being modern.

The second song is ‘The Snow It Melts The Soonest’. Sarah does a fine job aided by Iain’s arrangement and just about convinces me that I haven’t heard it far too many times before. The Will Atkinson set, ‘Redeside Hornpipe/Kyloe Burn’, is splendid with Alistair’s concertina honking away underneath the former while the latter gurgles like flowing water. Mike Tickell wrote the words of the semi-autobiographical ‘Last Shift’ with Iain composing the tune. Occasionally the band look further afield to find a tune like ‘Reel De Mattawa’ but mostly they stay close to home for such tunes as ‘Cutty’s Hornpipe’. ‘Geld Him, Lasses, Geld Him’ and ‘Apprentice Lads Of Alnwick’.

The final track is ‘I Drew My Ship Into A Harbour’, originally from the Northumbrian Minstrelsy, closing an album full of delightful moments. I must also mention Iain’s work on the technical side, recording and mastering the record. The balance and stereo separation are faultless rendering each instrument with crystal clarity.

Dai Jeffries

Artists’ website:

The ‘Paddy Whack’ set – live: