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Sessions and Sail begins!  

After a busy winter preparing, I'm arriving in Orkney for this year's first Sessions and Sail trip! 

The weather is perfect - blue skies and a sailing breeze - and, apart from some stress watching the ship's much-delayed progress making her way up from England, everything is looking good for the week ahead. 

On Sunday the group will gather, and the tunes will comence! 

November gigs in France,  

These tracks lead home... from the delapidated station in Quievrain, Belgium, to Edinburgh via the Eurostar, Brussels and London.

I travelled down to south-west France on November 23rd to play a few gigs with Tildon Krautz. A mediatheque concert near Bordeaux, followed by a house concert by Bourg de Visa, then two days of recording with the band.

They had kindly set me up with two solo gigs in the region as well. These concerts took a very pleasant fomat - dinner was served; we ate with the guests after soundchecking; then as dessert is cleared commenced the music.

December 1st was a drive to the North of France, where on Sunday we played the Salle du Fetes in the small town of Esnes. This area has known better days - the mines have closed, industry has moved on and the area has a slightly neglected feel. However, the 100-strong crowd were enthusiastic and friendly. Later that evening our hosts, Josie and David-Jo, took us out for frites with their family. They are good people - he runs the local library, and she arranges concerts, shows and events in the town.

Across the Belgian border the following morning, it was time to make my way home.

Sessions and Sail 2018 

The Sessions and Sail project took place last week! The concept of a week sailing a tall-ship with a crew of musicians was a big experiment, but felt like a very successful one.

From the moment we sailed off the quay at Mallaig the group gelled very well; around the saloon table that evening, anchored at Loch Scavaig on Skye and led by fiddle player Lauren MacColl, tunes such as Calum's Road, Da Slockit Light, The Lounge Bar, and songs such as The Blackest Crow and my own Comfortless Cove were soon being played by the whole crew. The following morning, a walk, or a swim round Loch Coruisk at the foot of the stunning Cullin range.

We sailed on to the isle of Canna, where the community gathered in the Shearing Shed hall where we shared tunes and dancing; the following day with the group working together on deck we tacked the ship upwind and sailed onto the anchor in the bay at Rum, where some tunes round a fire on the beach with some of the locals was the entertainment.

Fiddler Eilidh Shaw and guitarist Ross Martin joined us at Eigg where they ran an afternoon workshop before leading the charge to the tearoom where the evening party was in full swing. Then a perfect sailing wind took us under full sail across the Sound of Sleat and into Loch Nevis where we were welcomed ashore to the Knoydart Commnity Hall and local musicians joined us for more tunes.

The final night ceilidh was held in the Astley Hall in Arisaig - a concert put on by the Sessions and Sail participants and headlined by Eilidh Shaw and Tia Files, before the Riska Ceilidh Band took the stage and played for a spirited dance.

Thanks are due to skipper/owner of the Lady of Avenel Stefan Fritz; to mate Carol Anderson, and cook Alison Sykora; to filmmaker Austen McCowan, who sailed and filed with us all week; to Ash-Lynn, who is becoming more and more indispensible to the Sessions and Sail project; to the communities in Canna, Eigg, Rum, Knoydart and Arisaig for their support; to our excellent tutors Lauren MacColl, Eilidh Shaw and Ross Martin; and to all the participants of this first-ever Sessions and Sail voyage for being such a positive and passionate group. And of course huge thanks to all of our crowdfund participants, who helped to make it possible for us to film the project! You will all be hearing from us as soon as I get back to HQ...Lauren MacColl leads the group in an onboard masterclass at Skye


Lady of Avenel under sail between Eigg and Knoydart during Sessions and Sail 2018





Dundee City Square gig; free access to 'Hunger's Daughter' song.  

Dundee City Square in the sun - a big sound set up and a good crowd. It was nice to get the full band together - Robbie on keys, Gav on guitar, Ade on drums, Fiona on backing vocals and Stephen on bass. It's a privelege to play with such accomplished musicians. 

Some Dundee hecklers in the crowd stood out - the guy in the orange shirt who was calling us wankers at the start was filming us and shouting encouragement by the fourth song, so we at least won him over. 

The homeless demographic added a poignancy - whilst singing 'Hunger's Daughter', I spotted the guy with the sleeping bag and the crutches; suddenly the line about queuing for food in the streets seemed even more significant. I'm making this song freely available this week on behalf of him, his mates and anyone else in this world who is struggling to find enough food. 

Andy Wells came down to film the show; many thanks to him, and some videos should be available for viewing soon. 

Much love 


Trump in the UK  

So Trump has arrived in the UK; he continues to spread his offensive views on immigrants and minorities, women and Muslims wherever he goes, reinforcing his opinions with all the power that his office gives him.

Meanwhile, hundreds of people lose their lives daily in the Mediterranean and elsewhere, many of them running from horrors we can barely imagine.

I have made my song 'Train to Anywhere' available for free listening; it imagines a family fleeing from war and asking us for help, and considers a time when we in Scotland were refugees ourselves. If we can't solve the problem, maybe the least we can do is share some compassion.


Gig announcement coming soon - watch this space! 

I've been in communication about an exciting gig we'll be playing next month - I will reveal details here as soon as I can.

In the meantime, I left the Lady of Avenel on Saturday, in Oban, and have since been enjoying a few blissful days with the wonderful Ash.

I have been getting back into practice musically, working on my set for Saturday's solo gig in the Crosstown Bar, Edinburgh. Hopefully we'll get a few music lovers out!

Laying plans for next month's 'Sessions and Sail' voyage has been taking up a lot of my time. This combined sailing/trad music trip is looking very good - it's now fully booked, and an exciting week sailing between Mallaig, Skye, Canna, Eigg and Arisaig are coming together.

But right now, it's time for me to get back to the guitar!


New website; Tobermory harbour 

So my website is live! Thank you Bandzoogle... I'm impressed.

I've also spent the last 12 hours in howling wind and rain with the sailing ship 'Lady of Avenel' anchored in the bay at Tobermory. It's keeping me very busy, so it's nice to see the website coming along and feel that things are moving forward in my music world.

I hope you enjoy the website and the music!