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f52 Northern Lights

We have a bonus download album of Scottish music with this issue, courtesy of Birnam CD. Load the tracks onto your phone or computer or burn ’em to CD. Go get it!

tions stretching back centuries. In recent years these traditions have been preserved, nurtured, experimented with, added to, cross-fertilised with other musical cultures and genres and, above all, celebrated.


Scotland’s music has never been more diverse, never more inclusive, than it is today. The tradition, in all its forms, has been stretched a long way in many direc- tions and yet it continues unabated. Indeed, it seems to grow all the stronger for it. In many ways, it is stronger now than it has ever been.

The ten artists featured in the Northern

Lights download cover a diverse range of sounds and influences, as well as a few dis- tinct cultures. Some are very new to the scene, others have been around the block a few times. The sounds they present here give a good indication of the breadth of tal- ent the country continues to offer.

The fiddle has long been a key instru- ment in Scottish music and the fiddle players included here effortlessly demonstrate just what a versatile and enduring asset it is. Many of the fiddle tunes in this collection are fairly new (some brand new), yet these compositions sit easily in the company of much older offerings, like the heart- wrenching lament written by the 18th Cen- tury fiddler and composer Niel Gow – regarded by many as the most important figure in the history of Scots fiddle music.

There’s a sprightly dance set led by mouth organ rather than the more usual (some would say ubiquitous) accordeon and, as an indication of Scotland’s multicultural credentials, a taste of klezmer and jazz - Edinburgh-style.

The songs here could scarcely be more

different – a bang up-to-date, ambient ver- sion of a Gaelic lament, the origins of which stretch back at least two centuries and probably more, full on folk-rock (also described as ‘Viking Metal’) from Shetland and Auld Lang Syne, undoubtedly Robert Burns’ most famous song, sung to its origi- nal tune.

The Northern Lights compilation has been put together by the team at Birnam, who have worked with all of these artists on various album projects in recent years.

hey say that to understand your future, you first need to under- stand your past. For a small nation, Scotland has a vast and proud history of musical tradi-


As one of the most respected expo- nents of the Scots fiddle tradition, Paul Anderson is in high demand to perform at concerts, festivals and clubs. He also regular- ly appears on TV and radio. He has com- posed around 450 tunes in the traditional Scottish style, many of which appear in his Lochnagar Collection. He has written for TV, film and stage, and his music has been per- formed at the BBC Scottish Proms. Paul is an experienced fiddle tutor and a popular workshop leader and lecturer having led workshops at St Andrew’s University, Aberdeen University, the traditional music course at Benbecula college, all five North Atlantic Fiddle Conventions and in Canada.

MOISHE’S BAGEL – TIMGAD (from the CD Uncle Roland’s Flying Machine)

Thrillingly original cutting-edge klezmer and folk music from some of Scotland’s finest musicians. An intoxicating, life-affirming mix of Eastern European dance music, Middle Eastern rhythms and virtuoso performances. Formed in Edinburgh in 2003, Moishe’s Bagel combines the energy and passion of world folk music with the excitement and soul of improvisation. Boasting some of the best instrumentalists that Scotland has to offer (Salsa Celtica, Camille O’Sullivan, BBC Scot- tish Symphony Orchestra, Eliza Carthy, Scot- tish National Jazz Orchestra), they are equal- ly at home jamming in a late-night jazz den, grooving at a forest festival, or enthralling an upmarket concert hall.

GRAHAM MACKENZIE – THE ‘EEE’ REEL (from the CD Crossing Borders)

Graham Mackenzie is a traditional fid-

dler, composer and fiddle teacher from Inverness. He is acknowledged as an innova- tive, creative performer drawing inspiration from the music of the Highlands, Ireland and Cape Breton. Graham has frequently appeared at Celtic Connections and at other major festivals throughout Scotland and abroad. He has been a finalist in BBC Radio Scotland’s Young Traditional Musician of the Year and was nominated for the Com- poser of the Year award at the MG Alba Scots Trad Music Awards in December 2016. His debut album, Crossing Borders, a New Voices commission for Celtic Connections, was successfully launched at the Blas festival the same year.

WHYTE – LEIS A’ BHÀTA (from the CD Fairich)

WHYTE comprises Gaelic singer-song- writer Alasdair C Whyte and electronic com- poser and musician Ross Whyte. They per- form new arrangements of rarely-heard tra- ditional Gaelic songs, original instrumental pieces and original Gaelic songs. Their new Gaelic song, Cionran, received the 2017 Hands Up for Trad /Creative Scotland Nòs Ùr Songwriting Award. Their stage show, Fairich: Live, is a musical, historical and visu- al tour of Scotland based around the duo’s debut album. An immersive, cinematic experience, the show is a live performance of the album with projected visuals (by video artist Dan Shay) of key motifs, land- scapes and seascapes relating to the Gaelic lyrics. Fairich: Live premièred at Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August 2017.


Born in Ayrshire in 1973, Alastair Savage has performed traditional and classical music throughout his life. He won the Land O’ Burns Scots Fiddle Competition in 1986, tak- ing first prize in both the Ayrshire and National sections. He has been a member of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra since 1997. As a traditional fiddle player he has released four solo albums, three predomi- nantly of his own music followed by an album of melodies focusing on Niel Gow, Rabbie Burns and James Scott Skinner. Alastair has broadcast on BBC Radio and his music has been used in documentaries by BBC Alba.

SOPHIE RAMSAY – AULD LANG SYNE (from the CD The Seas Between Us)

Sophie Ramsay is a singer-songwriter from Perthshire who combines original and traditional songs. Her latest album, The Seas Between Us, includes songs in Scots and Gaelic, and was produced by Matheu Wat- son. Her previous release The Glassy Moun- tain, an album of original songs, was pro- duced by iconic Jim Sutherland and included some of the UK’s finest folk and jazz musi- cians. Tracks from her first album of Scots songs, Ca’ The Yowes, featured on Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs and in the film A Lonely Place To Die. Sophie performs regularly, often accompanied by jazz French horn maestro Jim Rattigan. In 2017, she toured with cellist/singer/songwriter Sarah Smout.

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