It’s been a while since my list update when my Crowdfunder campaign went live. I’ve been a busy wee bee since then, so here’s a wee update on what’s been going in my world. Here’s my June news!
An award winning song
Singing the winning song. Photo from http://efcphotos.co.uk/
Just a few weeks ago, I wrote a new song called “Busy Little Worker”. This song literally buzzed into existence while I was getting a new kitchen. It’s probably the quickest I’ve ever written a song.
It’s all about bees. Bees and wasps used to terrify me when I was wee. It’s only in recent years I’ve been more aware of just how important they are to our existence. This awareness only intensified since taking an interest in gardening. Now I try to encourage more bees to visit my garden.
“Busy Little Worker” is an upbeat song with a bit of a buzz about it. So much so that last week it won the audience vote at Edinburgh Folk Club songwriting competition! I am thrilled one of my songs won a prize. You can see some photos from the event here.
You can listen to “Busy Little Worker” on YouTube.
“Down The Railway Line” update
My Crowdfunder campaign ended on a few weeks ago and the target was exceed! Thank you everyone who made a pledge. Without you, “Down The Railway Line” would not be mastered and CDs would not be produced.
All 11 songs have been recorded and mixed and are now in the hands of Hillfoots Mastering. I’ve had a few listens across various devices and I must say “Down The Railway Line” is sounding braw! There’s a good dollop of emotion and feeling in there, and some lively songs and catchy lines sure to have you singing along.
“Down The Railway Line” will be released on CD and most major digital providers on 1st August 2018.
“Here & Now” with Katee Kross
A little over a week ago I made a trip to Glasgow to have a bit of a blether and play some of my new songs on Katee Kross’ show “Here & Now” on Broadcasting Scotland. It was a lot of fun. It was also great to chat about music and songwriting my new album.
The show should be available to watch online within the next few weeks. It’s worth watching especially for my panic during the quick fire questions as well as for listening to 3 new songs!
My album “Down The Railway Line” is now available to pre-order through my campaign on Crowdfunder.
I am looking to raise £400 to cover the costs of mastering my new album “Down The Railway Line” and having CDs produced. You can help by making a pledge on Crowdfunder. You can choose from 5 different reward packages:
Pledge £10 or more – limited edition CD
Pledge £15 or more – limited edition CD and A5 lyrics and stories booklet
Pledge £25 or more – the above, plus your name in the booklet
Pledge £40 or more – the above, plus your photo in the booklet
Pledge £100 or more – the above, plus I will write a song for you
You can find out much more about “Down The Railway Line” and also make a pledge by clicking the button below.
After releasing my first Christmas song “Staff Christmas Party” back in 2013, I’ve been wanting to write another Christmas song. The problem is, by the time I’d thought about it, it was already Christmas! Luckily, this year I am on the ball!
I am proud to release my new song “When Snow Falls“. I came up with the idea when thinking about what Christmas was like when I was a wee boy…
…I can still feel the excitement of walking down the stairs on Christmas morning. I would be so excited that I would literally be shaking. My dad was just as bad as me, and I can remember a couple of years where he had to wake myself and my sister up at stupid o’clock because he was too excited! I started thinking of how those days are in the past and how it’s not the same when you are an adult and started to feel a bit sad. However, I started to think about my two year old nephew and how he still has all this excitement to come and it made me feel really happy and excited for his future. I’ve tried to capture all of this in “When Snow Falls”.
“When Snow Falls” is available to buy via my store on Bandcamp. You can visit by clicking here. It’s also included together with “Staff Christmas Party” in “Christmas Double Bill“. I must make you aware that VAT will be added at checkout, making it 79p for “When Snow Falls” or £1.50 for the “Christmas Double Bill”.
All songs are now also available in iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, Spotify, Apple music and many more online stores for those who don’t have access to a PC/Mac or can’t download songs from Bandcamp.
While attending Celtic Connections in Glasgow, January 2017, I mentioned to some friends that I had an idea for a music video for my song “In The Reek Of The Smouldering Peat”. They thought it was a great idea and a master plan was hatched to take footage while in Berneray Youth Hostel later in the year.
Fast forward to July, I meet my friends who are also traveling through the Outer Hebrides and the subject of a music video came up again. “You’re really serious about this?” I said to my friends, and I brushed off the idea as something that wouldn’t happen. But they kept on at me throughout the holiday, and by the time we got to Berneray, the project became an obsession for us all. Before we knew it, we were dancing in the sea, marking the beginning of filming.
Throughout the few days we were in Berneray, the project took shape, a story line was decided for the video and we had the crazy idea of getting the rest of the people staying at the hostel involved in the video. Some more of my friends, before “Travels” was released, had created a dance to the chorus, so we set about teaching this dance to the hostelers, while the camera rolled.
All of the video was recorded on my iPhone, but the problem I had was that the videos didn’t quite go with the existing recording of “In The Reek Of The Smouldering Peat”, so I recorded this brand new version of the song purely for the video. Considering the video was pieced together on a phone, I’m impressed by how well it has turned out. I hope you enjoy the video!
To accompany the video, I am offering the new version of the song as a free download. You can download it by clicking here. I hope you enjoy the track (as well as the video!) and please share this with your friends so they can download it too.
This also marks the end of one chapter of my musical journey. I’ve started writing new songs. Who knows what the near future will hold…
On the anniversary of my last update to this site (shocking, I know) I am pleased to bring good news!
Back in January I was chatting with some friends about an idea for a music video. They became obsessed with making this idea a reality and a plan was hatched to film some video “on location at Berneray Youth Hostel.
The months rolled past and I didn’t think much more of it until I met the very same friends in the Outer Hebrides a few weeks ago. Once we got to Berneray, the idea then started rolling. There were ideas galore, a variety of footage and a variety of locations and, of course, hilarious out-takes. The storyline for the video is set, all the footage is recorded and I am now in the process of re-recording an old favourite to go with the video.
Ladies and gentlemen, “In The Reek of the Smouldering Peat: The Movie” will be hitting the small screens in about a months time!
On 29th January 2016, Scotland’s premier folk rock band Runrig released their 14th and final studio album “The Story“. It’s a very reflective album, and the songs featured on it look back over their incredible 40+ year career with a sweet nostalgia that will be shared with by any Runrig fan.
What does “The Story” have to do with me? Well as a Runrig fan, the album certainly has got me thinking about my own story, which Runrig has played an important part in over the past 12 years.
My story begins in the summer of 2002. I had just left school and started at Falkirk College studying Hospitality Management (I know, right?) and on days off I enjoyed going to Europa Music, a popular record store in Stirling, and browsing through the folk CDs. I had heard Runrig’s version of “Loch Lomond” at the end of parties as far back as I can remember, and was looking for an album with it on it. I found their live album “Once In A Lifetime” in amongst the hundreds of CDs at Europa and decided to buy it, the album of course featuring the live version of Loch Lomond.” I took it home, listened to it, and ultimately wasn’t too keen on it. The album went to the bottom of my collection to gather dust.
Fast forward to Christmas of that year. I’m opening my presents and open one from my parents – it’s Runrig’s album “In Search Of Angels”. I remembered the first Runrig album I had bought and was a bit sceptical, but I stuck it in my CD player and gave it a listen. Wow! This wasn’t the same band I had listened to a few months earlier, this was fantastic!
I spent more time writing down Runrig lyrics than I did studying!
Over the months that followed, this album was listened to constantly, to the point that I knew most of the lyrics, and found myself at college, dreaming of the Hebrides and covering my notepad in lyrics from the album when I should have been paying attention to my lecturers. I had always enjoyed writing stories and poetry, and found fresh inspiration in my new-found favourite band.
I had listened again to “Once In A Lifetime” and now loved it. I also then learned that Runrig themselves had went through a major transformation, following the departure of former frontman Donnie Munro 1997, they had a new lead singer, Cape Breton’s own Bruce Guthro, and Runrig’s music suddenly sounded fresh and revived.
The summer of 2003 came along and Runrig were due to play Stirling Castle in celebration of their 30th anniversary and also the release of their new album “Proterra”. I had a choice of 3 things to do on that night: get a ticket and go the 30th anniversary concert, go to my friend’s 21st, or go to a ceilidh in Aberdeenshire. For some bizarre reason, I went to the ceilidh!
December 2003 came along and Runrig were on tour, so I decided to go to see them for the very first time in Perth. I remember getting to Perth and had to get a taxi out to my accommodation, which was a very basic “hotel” out by the airport (which I never even knew existed). My single room was absolutely tiny, I don’t think it even had an en-suite. I didn’t care, I was only going to be sleeping in it later that night then up early the next morning and, ultimately, it was cheap.
I got another taxi back into Perth and made my way to the concert hall. I remember getting there and being fairly close to the front and got chatting to some fellow fans. The lights went down and the support act came on. Scott MacDonald, I believe it was, although I may be wrong. After his set, there was short break before the light’s went down again and an old recording of Gaelic song came hauntingly from the speakers. Then the midi bagpipes started up, with the keyboards and cymbals quickly following. They opened with “From The North” and from that moment I was hooked. I can’t remember much else from that night, but I can remember feeling like a different person when I left.
The next morning, I gathered my things and headed home. At this time, there was no train station in Alloa, so I had to get a bus from Stirling to get home, but when I get to Stirling I found myself walking up the town. I got to the Old Arcade and entered the Andy Simpson Music Centre and bought my very first guitar: a Stagg acoustic guitar. It cost me about £80 and came with a gig bag and pitch-pipe. I went home and tried to play this thing, but couldn’t so I went online and ordered Runrig’s “Flower Of The West” songbook. Whilst I patiently waited on it arriving, I consulted the internet for the basic guitar chords and started to tinker around.
My original, if tatty, copy of “Flower Of The West”.
The Runrig songbook arrived, and I started to learn their songs. I was amazed with this book. It was beautifully put together with sheet music, guitar chords, stories about the songs and fantastic pictures from the Outer Hebrides. I wanted to go there. I began to get more familiar with the guitar and the basic chords and found I could sing along to some of the songs. One day I got brave and went busking at the bottom of King Street in Stirling, I think I made Enough for a burger and my bus home…
Throughout 2004, My Runrig album collection began to expand, as did my repertoire, confidence and ability on the guitar. In amongst all that, I started to feel a longing to visit the Outer Hebrides. Next thing I knew, I had booked tickets for the Hebridean Celtic Festival in the summer. Runrig were also playing a large outdoor concert at Crathes Castle a few weeks after HebCelt, so I booked tickets for that too. What a summer! I made some great friends between HebCelt and the Runrig gig at Crathes Castle.
Over the years that followed, I grew in confidence and began to play at open mic nights. These were essential experiences which eventually led to gigs all over Scotland, England…even two gigs in Denmark! My repertoire began to expand, not just with Runrig’s songs, but with traditional songs, folk covers and, eventually, my own songs. Every year since then I have returned to the Outer Hebrides, exploring more and more amazing places, including Barra, the Uists, Eigg, Mull and Islay. I also returned to the Hebridean Celtic Festival year after year.
In 2012, I gathered all the songs I had written and began to put together my album “Travels“, using the skills, knowledge and passion for music I had developed. Three and a bit years later, whilst I am very self-critical of “Travels” as I am with all of my music, every time I hear my album I feel a sense of pride, and remember all of the fantastic people, places and music that drove me to create it. Of course, I also remember where my story started: with Runrig and a cheap guitar.
Runrig’s music has indeed been the catalyst for my own music, as well as my adventures around Scotland. Whilst I will never achieve anywhere near the success that Runrig have had, the inspiration they have given me, as well as many others, will last a lifetime.
Runrig’s story may be drawing to a close, but I believe their legacy will turn to legend…and we all know that legends never die.