19 May 2019Top fiddle and guitar duo set for Kirkcaldy concert

Stewart Hardy & Frank McLaughlin play Kirkcaldy Acoustic Music Club on Thursday, May 23

Hardy and McLaughlin have become recognised as one the UK folk scene’s leading duos, specialising in fiddle and guitar but also featuring Frank’s Scottish smallpipes mastery.

Their three albums, the latest of which, The Gift, was released last year, have highlighted their superb individual playing as well as the empathy that allows their live performances to glow with spontaneity.

Stewart comes from Northumberland – Frank is Edinburgh-based – and is an enthusiastic exponent of the music of James Hill, the Dundee-born fiddler who made his home on Tyneside and his living on Gateshead’s Bottle Bank, as a publican and musician, during the first half of the nineteenth century.

When not duetting with Frank, Stewart plays in Tyneside fiddle quartet, the Bottle Bank Band, which features beautifully realised arrangements of Hill’s tunes. Don’t be too surprised then if, alongside original and traditional tunes, Stewart and Frank feature a few of Hill’s beloved hornpipes.


Stewart Hardy & Frank McLaughlin

06 May 2019Mike Vass takes up School of Scottish Studies post

Multi-instrumentalist and record producer Mike Vass has taken up a post at the University of Edinburgh as traditional artist in residence.The post is due to last three years and Vass’s remit is to promote the archive at the university’s School of Scottish Studies and to encourage musicians, storytellers, dancers and other artists to make use of the archive to inspire their own creative work. 

As well as his solo and production career, Vass, who recently released his first album of songs, Save His Calm, following a series of acclaimed instrumental releases, is a member of the Scottish folk band Malinky, which specialises in featuring Scots songs.

“Malinky, both as a band and as individual musicians, have benefited greatly from being able to access the riches in the School of Scottish Studies’ collection,” says Vass. “I’m hoping people will make contact with me there with their own ideas for projects using archive material.”


Mike Vass

17 April 2019Drumming legend Steve Gadd plays 'collector's item' concert in Bearsden

Milngavie-based promoter Jason Smith has landed a coup by bringing legendary American drummer Steve Gadd to play a rare jazz concert in Bearsden in November.

Gadd, who has made famous contributions to recordings by Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell and Steely Dan among many others, has appeared in Scotland as a touring musician over the years, notably with Paul Simon and James Taylor. But the last time he played a jazz gig here was some thirty years ago, when he brought a band including trumpeter Randy Brecker to the Queen’s Hall in Edinburgh.

As well as leading his own band, since 2014 Gadd has been working with Danish musicians, saxophonist Michael Blicher and Hammond organist Dan Hemmer in a trio that celebrates the three players’ shared love of the soul-jazz style pioneered by Jimmy Smith, Shirley Scott, Brother Jack McDuff and Jimmy McGriff.  

The trio – Blicher Hemmer & Gadd – have now released two albums and will play at Baljaffray Parish Church in Bearsden on Thursday November 7. 

08 April 2019Scottish actor takes play celebrating piping genius Gordon Duncan to the Fringe

Scottish actor David Colvin, who created a play about the late piping genius Gordon Duncan, is to take the play, Thunderstruck, to the Edinburgh Fringe for a full run in August.

As well as composing many tunes that have passed into the folk tradition, Gordon Duncan arranged the AC/DC song Thunderstruck for the Highland bagpipes, going as far as to incorporate sounds including a remarkably true impression of guitar feedback. His first performance of this daring “cover version”- staged at an Edinburgh International Festival series of piping concerts - helped to win him a Herald Angel award, which was presented to his family following his tragic death in 2005.

Colvin premiered the play at Piping Live! in Glasgow last August and reprised it for Celtic Connections in January. After being turned down for funding from Made in Scotland, he is personally financing the Fringe run, which takes place at Assembly’s Checkpoint venue, in order to tell the story of Duncan, who worked as a bin man in Pitlochry despite being revered the world over, to as wide an audience as possible. Donations in support of his venture can be made at



04 April 2019Saxophonist Tommy Smith plays four concerts in Queen's Hall @ 40 celebrations

Saxophonist Tommy Smith plays the first of four concerts he is due to give during the Queen’s Hall in Edinburgh’s fortieth anniversary celebrations this year when he recreates his 1996 recording Beasts of Scotland on Thursday April 18.

Smith, who was appointed OBE for services to jazz and education in this year’s New Year Honours List, has had a long association with the Queen’s Hall, having celebrated his twenty-first birthday there in 1988 with a concert that featured him alongside top American duo Chick Corea & Gary Burton.

Following the Beasts of Scotland concert, Smith will feature in his duo with pianist Brian Kellock, with special guest, leading Gaelic singer Kathleen MacInnes on June 13. His widely acclaimed ‘Coltrane’ quartet, Embodying the Light, appears on October 17 and he gives a solo saxophone concert on December 19.

"The Queen's Hall has been a regular venue for me throughout my career," says Smith. "I can remember aspiring to play there as a young musician and it's been a great pleasure to work there with the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra as well as my own bands."



                                                         Tommy Smith (photo by Derek Clark)

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