Such a wonderful array of North-East Scottish musician’s are rarely seen on the same stage but Old Roots, New Shoots is just that, performing both re-imagined traditional songs and original material, with Old Blind Dogs as house band. Other featured acts range from Rick Redbeard, solo alter ego of Phantom Band frontman Rick Anthony, to teenage bothy balladeer Iona Fyfe; folkloric singer-songwriter Jenny Sturgeon to indie-folk starlet Best Girl Athlete and hip-hop artist Jackill. Having seen the show as part of Celtic Connections last week at The Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow, I can vouch for it being an incredibly unique and special performance and one I would highly recommend you see on 12th February at Aberdeen Lemon Tree. Tickets are available here, you will not be disappointed.
Really pleased to share the latest work from Jenny Sturgeon. ‘The Wren And The Salt Air’ – a beautiful collection of songs and tunes for St Kilda, will be released on 17th February and celebrates 30 years of St Kilda’s World Heritage Site status for nature. The music was written by Jenny during a visit to St Kilda during a visit to St Kilda in September 2016 and features field recordings of island birds including the distinctive St Kilda Wren singing on a chimney stack on one of the abandoned houses as well as Leach’s Petrel and Black-Legged Kittiwake. You can check out a couple of the tracks and pre-order the EP here.
This is brilliant, just brilliant. I don’t know what else to say. Such an emotive, personal and accomplished piece from Callum Peterkin (Chemical Callum) where he really lays bare his musical soul. I know how hard Callum has been working on his music and art and things are surely beginning to bear fruit. Straight off the back of the international award winning Metropolis EP and with several solo albums recorded and waiting in the wings, this is a slight departure from Metropolis with a more ambient and piano-based affair that weaves a dream-laden landscape of fond memories and new friendships. As Callum is often heard to say, ‘there are no strangers here, only friends we haven’t met yet’. Do yourself a favour and become a friend. The Emotive Underground EP is available here on all digital platforms along with CDs which contain an insert with some of Callum’s original Doric poetry.
TRYPTAMINES – So…he only went and won a much deserved Independent Music Award award for his brilliant Metropolis EP! Placed in the Best Eclectic category, Callum Peterkin was invited over to New York last month to receive the award. This makes it all seem worthwhile for a musician who has worked incredibly hard to spread the Tryptamines word and gain the recognition it deserves. Affa prood o the loon!
Some may know Pete Coutts from Ballad of Crows, Smokin’ Catfish or from the many other projects he has been involved with but ‘Northern Sky’ is the beautiful debut solo album from the North-East Scotland musician as he looks to his roots for inspiration.
Pete, please tell us a little bit about yourself and your background:
I’m a professional musician from Aberdeen / shire, I now live in Bonn Germany. I started playing guitar at 15 and joined my first band a week later (on bass). I played many styles from grunge/rock, funk/jazz, electronic, psychedelic, bluegrass to traditional folk music ( I’m getting auld ken)
The album has its roots planted firmly in the North-East dialect Doric. How do you feel that this ties in with your own identity?
As a musician/singer sometimes it’s really difficult to find your own voice, it’s the balance between what sounds good and what sounds “like me”, so coming from NE Scotland serves up a unique problem, the almost glottal sounding vowels and rolling “R’s” don’t always sound at home in contemporary music.
I always struggled playing in a bluegrass band and singing in a fake American accent, it seemed so disingenuous so I guess it was inevitable that as I got more into the traditional music of Scotland I became more confident in singing in my natural dialect.
There are a number of collaborators on the album. What was the process for writing Northern Sky?
My dad had always told me lots of great stories from growing up in NE Scotland wee fairm toon life and I found it fascinating, I always thought “that would make a great song” So it wasn’t until I had written some traditional tunes on the mandolin a few ideas came to me for song themes that I began thinking I had a viable project happening. After I committed myself to making a solo album consisting of traditional songs and tunes I realised that I would need a few other musicians involved to achieve the sound I had in mind. I was very lucky to get the help of some amazing musicians and songwriters on the album.
Nick Drake’s Northern Sky is the only non-original track, why was this song in particular chosen? Who/What would you class as your other influences?
I’m a big Nick Drake fan and Northern Sky was always one of my favourites, I had performed it solo for years and I thought it would really work with a more celtic sound, which Ali Hutton’s whistle does very nicely. My influences are very different and very many, everything from Pink Floyd, The Doors to Miles Davis, Bjork and Radiohead. But my traditional music influences are easy to name, Old Blind Dogs, Flook, Malinky and Dick Gaughan.
What do you hope to achieve with the album?
I’m really keen on promoting NE Scotland’s culture, particularly the Doric dialect, also preserving something that is unique to us. When Scotland’s culture or Scottish music is spoken about, the Glasgow music scene or Gaelic is always given the most attention but NE Scotland is the home of the Bothy Ballad, when you drive up the A96 every wee toon you see has been mentioned in one of the great old songs, I only hope that maybe I have added to that in a very small way.
Music is an incredibly personal thing. Which track gives you most satisfaction or sense of achievement?
The song ‘Belhelvie’ is about the death of my great, great, great grandfather. That was the story from my Dad that really inspired me to make the album. It’s a very sad but wonderful story that now has been immortalised in song, I’m very proud of that because it’s the reason I began the project.
Pete’s album ‘Northern Sky’ is out now and is available to stream and buy from https://petecoutts.bandcamp.com
Described as “a worthy addition to the cultural library of NE Scotland“, it’s rare you find a contemporary Doric release so genuine and uplifting and which makes you proud to be from our wee corner of the world, but Northern Sky from Pete Coutts does just that. Fitlike Records is delighted that Northern Sky has found a home on the label and will be released on 4th October. Pre orders are available over at Pete’s Bandcamp page now and you can check out a full album review here.
Really pleased to be putting together a wee Scottish tour for the Marian McLaughlin Trio in November. We met Marian, who hails from Washington in the U.S. at a basement show in Baltimore last year and are totally excited to bring her experimental chamber folk sound to our shores. Check out the beautiful album Spirit House here. Dates to follow very soon…