Scottish Music: Introduction

See all the posts in this series here.

I was recently talking with my friend Anna who’s been sharing some pretty great contemporary Scottish traditional music that she’s been getting into the past few years. I don’t know a ton about recent Scottish music but I was pretty into it 15-20 years ago and I got excited about the idea of a music exchange for people familiar with different eras of this fairly niche genre. 

Me in 2007 at Stirling Castle. I loved this picture; thought it was so brooding and cool. #early20s

During college from 2004-2008 I had a radio show called “Celtic Fusion” at Connecticut College’s WCNI in New London, CT. I found my way to that genre through teenage obsession with Enya, Stan Rogers, and Simon and Garfunkel, then to exposure in high school to a diversity of music from the Thistle & Shamrock radio show hosted by Fiona Ritchie. Another way I broadened my exposure was through compilation albums: Best of Thistle & Shamrock (1999), Putomayo Celtic Odyssey (1993), Green Linnet Records 25 Years of Celtic Music (2001), Greentrax 10th Anniversary (1996), and my favorite, The Future Sounds of Gaeldom (2002). The music I loved most was more than just fiddle & Gaelic vocals: I liked the traditional dance music and the artists bringing in influences from newer/other styles of dance music.

I found over time that a lot of the music I liked was specifically Scottish, so much so that when I studied abroad in 2007 I went to Edinburgh. I don’t think I actually broadened my listening much while I was there, but I did make sure to go see many of my favorite bands and attend the Folk Music Society regularly.

Here are a few songs from Future Sounds of Gaeldom that I love but whose artists I haven’t dived deeper into:

Big Sky: Biro Guiro

It’s a little unclear if Big Sky was a band or just a concept album! That link lists its members as Charlie McKerron & John Saich of Capercaillie plus Charlie’s cousin Laura McKerron, but on the Capercaillie website Charlie’s bio says “Charlie also co-produced the album ‘Big Sky’ which involved some of Scotland’s top contemporary Celtic musicians.” It’s also bizarre that Future Sounds of Gaeldom seems to have gotten the wrong track name for the one they included from the Big Sky album! it seems like it’s actually the track called “Biro Guiro”, not the one called “Las Temporadas”, which the compilation calls this track.

NUSA, S’fhada Bhuainn Anna

NUSA is Rory Campbell & Malcolm Stitt from Deaf Shepherd. Here are the lyrics.

Alyth McCormack, Hi Horó

Tartan Amoebas, New Day Dawning

I got their eponymous first album because of this track, but felt this was the best one on it. Every time I listen to this track I relax a little; each day is something of a blank emotional slate and you never know what new hope or joy awaits you.

Keltik Elektrik, New Mullindhu/Mullindhu

Seems like Keltik Elektrik is mostly Jack Evans from The Easy Club. The album this track is from seems cool too though I never listened to it, but it does have my favorite version of Wild Mountain Thyme, sung by Jim Malcolm who I know from the Old Blind Dogs.

Salsa Celtica, You Mi Voy/Maggie’s Pancakes

I’m going to write some more of these blog posts about specific bands (not these ones) that I got pretty into. Hope you enjoy!