News Views November 2014
Welcome. Enough has happened in the life of this freelance musician, I feel, to warrant sharing an update, muse upon an existence which is pretty varied if not opulent, recount some highs and lows of the past year and so draw a line in the sand.
Then step over it and into the future. 2015 looks interesting, but first a non-chronological look at some of what was has been so far, 2014.
(Why? Because I like my work to remain current and vaguely in people's consciousness at times, it's healthy given my job, plus there's good music involved which I'm genuinely happy to advertise).
I'm happy to have contributed to a variety of nice recordings. Still unreleased, but soon to be, are 2 lovely records by Inge Thomson 'Da Fishing Hands' and Sophie Ramsay's 2nd solo album, respectively. Already filtering through to discerning ears are records by Patsy Reid 'The Brightest Path' and Jim Sutherland aka Struileag aka Children of Smoke and one by me and Graeme Stephen lest I forget – Esotero, released this time last year, and still flying off the shelves. And there's an unmixed record by David Milligan, Graeme Stephen and I, resting on a hard disk for some months now, quite happy, look forward to share that in due course.
A pleasure to play alongside and learn from (and travel, rehearse, eat, drink etc) Angus Lyon/Duncan Lyall Band, Gavin Marwick's Band, Corrina Hewat's Band, Graeme Stephen, Dave Milligan, Mr McFalls Chamber, Red Note Ensemble, Allan MacDonald's 'Bruce 700', Big Big Sing, Jerry Donahue and crew, and all others..Thank you all, very much.
And the Eurovision song, for Montenegro, glorious, I didn't see that one coming. Thanks Slobodan. A lovely song too... No, no I didn't appear in the final, just the singer and a rollerskater did. I didn't even leave my own flat...been doing a few bits of remote recording this year - just last week on a cover of You Shook Me All Night Long by AC/DC for a musician in USA. And also last week, in another studio right enough, a kind of sultry Marilyn Monroe version of the Proclaimers' 500 Miles kind of gobsmacked me momentarily, but I regained composure and pitched in with everything I could blow or squeeze no problemo. They won't mind me mentioning, it's not meant for folks like you.
My week in Gavoi, Sardinia, in June, courtesy of the British Council, collaborating and making friends with fellow European musicians, was a small sunny highlight and felt perhaps like something of a holiday whilst being allowed to pursue an interest in making experimental music, without guilt. I'm not an experienced holiday-maker, some would argue a professional one, but they don't know.
Sad news came regarding the untimely passing of Georgi Petrov this year. He's missed. A virtuoso player of the Gadulka, he kindly played along with Nedyalko on my 2008 record Traces of Thrace. His warmth of character, stories, good company and the music which resulted was loved by all who knew him.
The musical year started with a chance to play on a couple of songs with Capercaillie on their 30th anniversary gig in the Glasgow Concert Hall. Having gone through teenage years listening to them a part of me felt a tiny bit fraudulent being on stage.. For the 15 mins on the night and only a day or two of anticipation beforehand in typical, loveable, Shaw style, this was really exciting. Later in the year if I hadn't missed his call I could have got to play my whistle with Kylie Minogue.
The musical year actually started bang on the 1st with Graeme and I playing our part in Lau-Land Edinburgh, which was perfect, my guitarist colleague almost managed to sleep in, but didn't.
What else...became increasingly politically charged re the Scottish referendum for a while, insulted quite a few people with contrasting views probably, got crushed, returned to normal.
The Martyn Bennett Prize for composition happened for the 2nd year in Edinburgh. This time I had the job of trying to play the finalist's pieces along with 4 other musicians – fun and challenging. The standard was great but I would urge more composers to have a go – it's restricted to Scottish based composers (I think) but that's pretty much the only restriction. It's got a 1st and 2nd prize of 2 and 1k respectively. It's a kind of high-brow X factor, not to be taken overly seriously as competitions shouldn't, but an event that can help motivate new ways to integrate elements of our traditional music in composed music. Fingers crossed it'll run next year.
Now, looking over that line and beyond the approaching festival of consumerism, is Celtic Connections Festival 2015 and my pal Greg Lawson's work to arrange Martyn Bennett's great last album, Grit, for a large bespoke acoustic ensemble. As you do. To be performed in the festival's opening concert, January 15th. All being well it will (must surely) be quite epic I imagine.
Inge Thomson's Da Fishing Hands – Celtic Connections 23rd January, Glasgow. Inge and I are also beginning to play as a duo which I'm chuffed about. More info about this soon. But the Celtic Connections gig is a 5 piece and will surely be lovely. The 1st gig of this collection of music/song, on the tiny island of Fair Isle, May 2014, was one of my favourites. Inge and I also play Dec 12th in Kilbarchan, nr Glasgow.
A great opportunity has come along for me to join the tabla maestro Zakir Hussein's 'Pulses of the World' project which will tour in Dubai and India at the beginning of February and in the USA in March. With Rakesh Chaurasia and Jean-Michel Viellon on flutes... shelves of my CD collection just came to life. Not that often I can reel off a tour list like this, so I'll take this opportunity to:
13th March - Pabst Theater, Milwaulkee
14th March - Purdue University, Fort Wayne IN
15th March - Cullen Theater, Houston TX
17th March - Lisner Auditorium, Washington DC
20th March - Moore Theatre, Seattle
21st March - Chan Centre, Vancouver BC
22nd March - Boulder Centre, Boulder CO
27th March - Painted Bride Arts Centre, Philadelphia
28th March - Carnegie Hall, New York
29th March - Somerville Theater, Boston MA
31st March - Rio Theater, Santa Cruz CA
2nd April - Jazz Centre, San Francisco, CA
3rd April - Jazz Centre, San Francisco, CA
Audiences in the Scottish Highlands (mostly) will get a chance to hear my collaboration with Red Note Ensemble and Kuljit Bhamra (tabla) at the beginning of March. It was nice to meet and try some material out at the recent Sound Festival in Aberdeenshire. The Highland dates will be posted in due course.
I'll leave it there, just before I begin to tell of a big bit of news, good news, which I had to read a few times when it arrived the other day. But that perhaps would turn this simple newsletter into something else, a short story at the least so, back soon on that.
Nice to write to you. Nothing to sell you directly but perhaps some CDs for Christmas presents, always an option, always a tenner.
Any correspondence always welcome.
All the best,