Twitter

Welcome,

I hope you’ll find something here to enjoy reading and if you want to get in touch for any reason, click on "Contact" in the menu column on the left. Please don’t contact me for advice on buying skis or hostage negotiation, though, as you need different, vastly more qualified Rob Adamses for those services. And for goodness sake hire the correct Rob Adams regarding wedding photography because I’ve beheaded more people than Henry Vlll with a camera in my hand.

 

 

 

Latest story:                 

 

Traditional music legend steps out with the girls

 

 

Cathal McConnell remembers the pivotal moment that set him on the path towards being a professional musician. With flute players and singers on his father’s side of the family going back at least three generations, it was probably inevitable that Cathal and his brothers would be encouraged to follow suit.

 

To delve into what form this encouragement took and how the seeds his father sowed came to fruition takes the founder of one of our best loved and longest-running folk groups, Boys of the Lough, into recollections of men who traded music lessons for bottles of Guinness and an impressive catalogue of exact dates and precise places of origin of the characters involved.

 

The music that flows through McConnell like a life force may all have come down the paternal line and his mother (“a lovely woman just the same”) may not have contributed to it in a familial sense. Mrs McConnell’s intervention, however, brought her son’s talent to wider attention.

 

It was at a music competition in Donegal that McConnell’s mother realised that her son had significant musical abilities.

 

“I’d gone there and played my best tin whistle set and when the judges announced their adjudication they named the first, second and third place winners and said, We were very sorry we had to eliminate the boy from the north,” McConnell recalls. “Well, it must have been a bad decision because people were coming up to us afterwards and saying how I’d been badly done by and I should have won.”

 

Mrs McConnell, a teacher, wasn’t about to put this down experience. She wrote to the BBC in Belfast, telling them about her very musical son and mentioning the Donegal debacle. The next thing young Cathal knew, he was being summoned from Fermanagh to the BBC’s Northern Irish HQ for an audition.

 

So well was the youngster’s playing received that the tape was sent down to Dublin for broadcast there also and so began a series of radio and, later, television appearances that set McConnell off on a career whose early experiences included rubbing shoulders with Van Morrison at the Ulster Folk Music Society in Belfast.

 

The society was run by Robin Morton, a song collector, musician, broadcaster and academic, who showed the mettle that would make him a successful record producer and band manager with Boys of the Lough, and subsequently Battlefield Band, by limiting Morrison’s contributions to club nights to a couple of songs.

 

When Morton, McConnell and fiddler Tommy Gunn played together at the club in 1967, they so impressed the bill toppers, Peggy Seeger & Ewan MacColl, that they were invited to tour England with them the following year. There, while preparing for a television broadcast, the presenter declined to name them individually and told them they needed a band name. Gunn suggested Boys of the Lough and it stuck.

 

McConnell’s memories of the early days of Boys of the Lough involve changes of location – he followed Morton to Edinburgh – and changes of line-up as he and Morton initially joined forces with the then thriving duo of Aly Bain & Mike Whellans. There are also recollections of fees – moving up from £40 to £60 was the cause of some celebration – and an Usher Hall debut that saw the nerves caused by this momentous occasion being assuaged by liberal pre-concert indulgence in the backstage catering.

 

“You wouldn’t get away with that sort of thing nowadays,” says McConnell. “But when we went on to the stage and I announced that we’d had a good drink to calm ourselves the audience loved it.”

 

Under Morton and later Dave Richardson’s player-managership, the Boys of the Lough grew from an exciting young act into an international touring phenomenon with a steady catalogue of recordings. McConnell estimates that the group has completed seventy or eighty American tours and as the group goes through a period of uncertainty, with the four musicians who recorded its latest album, 2014’s The New Line, living in three different countries, he is working with a line-up that unofficially goes under the name of the Boy and Girls of the Lough.

 

“We haven’t made a decision on the Boys of the Lough’s future,” says McConnell, who won a Herald Angel award for his Cathal McConnell & Friends concerts at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2015. “I certainly don’t want to stop playing music and I’m really enjoying working with Kathryn (Nicoll, fiddle) and Karen (Marshalsay, harp). They’re great players and I enjoy sharing songs and tunes with them.”

 

With some two hundred songs and innumerable tunes to call on he feels a need to rotate his repertoire.

 

“I don’t like to play it safe,” he says. “That’s why I introduced variations like playing two whistles at once. It’s a little bit of theatre and audiences like that. They also like a story, whether it’s true or not.”

 

And with that, McConnell, the master storyteller goes off to rehearse with his girls.

 

The Cathal McConnell Trio plays Eyemouth Hippodrome on Saturday, March 25; Kilbarchan Performing Arts Centre, Friday, March 31; and Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Monday, April 3.

 

             

        Cathal MacConnell with Kathryn Nicoll (fiddle) and Karen Marshalsay (harp)

 

From The Herald, March 22, 2017

 

                                      

                       (Click on the logo above to find local jazz gig information)

Click for Map
Advertisements
Jazzwise Magazine
London Jazz News
Melodic jazz with soulNew Focus


Featuring Euan Stevenson (piano) and Konrad Wiszniewski (saxophones)

Playing music from their acclaimed New Focus and New Focus on Song albums


Friday March 31: Birnam Arts Centre, Dunkeld (duo)

Friday May 26: Tolbooth, Stirling (quartet)

Friday June 2: Glasgow University Concert Hall (duo)



music that's going places
Music News Scotland
Pure drop traditional musicBoys of the Lough founder presents tunes, songs, mirth and stories

Cathal McConnell Trio

With Kathryn Nicoll (fiddle) &
Karen Marshalsay (harp)


Sat Mar 25: Eyemouth Hippodrome

Fri Mar 31: Kilbarchan Performing Arts Centre

Mon Apr 3: Edinburgh Traverse Theatre


music that's going places
Songlines Magazine
World class jazz voice and piano
Touring Scotland in May

Tina May & Brian Kellock celebrate Ella & Oscar

The superb singer and her endlessly resourceful pianist recall the 1975 meeting between Ella Fitzgerald and Oscar Peterson

May 10 - Greenock, Beacon Arts Centre

May 11 - Glasgow, Websters Theatre

May 12 West Kilbride Village Hall

May 13 - Arbroath, Hospitalield House

May 14 - Inverness, Eden Court




music that's going places
Acoustic guitar magicNigel Clark

The guitarist with Tim Kliphuis Trio, Koshka, and Hue & Cry plays music from his acclaimed solo acoustic guitar album, Under the Stars, and more


Sun Apr 23: Tron Theatre, Glasgow


music that's going places
high class piano and saxophoneEuan Stevenson & Konrad Wiszniewski

The New Focus co-leaders

present jazz classics, rejuvenated standards and melodic originals


Sat April 8: Nairn Community & Arts Centre

Thu June 15: Beacon Arts Centre, Greenock


music that's going places