Showing posts with label Donald Shaw. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Donald Shaw. Show all posts

Saturday 26 April 2014

Capercaillie, Thirty Years On

Their song A Prince Among Islands was the first Gaelic song to chart. Capercaillie developed the Gaelic song tradition through the creative use of modern production techniques. The band, originally called The Etives, was begun by  Donald Shaw and Karen Matheson in 1982. They are from Taynuilt south of Oban, near Loch Etive, where there was a strong tradition of folk music  - both Donald's parents are musicians and his father is also a accordionist.

Their first two albums were recorded traditionally – Crosswinds (1987) and Sidewaulks (1989). 
In the 80s Capercaillie were greatly influenced by Irish folk music of the 80s, with bands like Clannad and Planxty. Irish music was more advanced then and the Irish band Clannad proved the wider appeal that was possible with their chart success for the theme Hurry’s Song.
So for their albums Delirium (1991) and Secret People (1993) Capercaillie added basslines, drum machines and synthesisers and this fusion sound let to chart success in the 1990s. Shaw said that some may feel they sold out from the folk traditions but he feels they would have sold out by making the same record over and over. The  band preferred to move on and try new things. Their sound became contemporary traditional music. The band toured worldwide and continue to tour today.

Now in the 2000s, Capercaillie have returned to a slightly more traditional arrangements and instruments with a more subtle fusion of modern instruments.

Capercaillie are considered folk royalty. Donald Shaw has been the musical director for Glasgow’s highly successful Celtic Connections since 2007. I cover the festival each year and I am well aware of the diversity, quality and musicianship that Donald pulls together to make this highly successful event for the city of Glasgow.

One aspect that makes the band stand out is the clear beauty of Karen Matheson’s subtle expressive voice. She often sings in Gaelic. There are some wonderful clips of her on YouTube singing with the unmatchable quality of the Transatlantic band  - nothing much beats a perfect vocal, beautiful  melody and the TS band!  In a BBC documentary Karen said as a teenager she was dragged around venues to sing by her dad. It was only when she met Donald and realised his drive and creative enthusiasm for the folk music that she was able to see the purpose of it all.  Donald and Karen married ( ) - I notice at Celtic there are several married couples in folk music! 

On this documentary about the bands thirty years together Shaw said that there was no music industry compared to 30 years ago and that it is all about making music for the live experience now.  Donald Shaw is very much the musical driving force of the band. He is also a successful composer and arranger and recently he composed music for the BBCs 'Hebrides; Islands on the Edge.'

The present day line up of the band consists of - Karen Matheson (vocals), Charlie McKerron (fiddle), Michael McGoldrick (flute, whistle, pipes), Manus Lunny (bouzouki, guitar), Donald Shaw (keyboards, accordion), Ewen Vernal (bass), David Robertson (percussion), Che Beresford (drums), James Mackintosh (drums).

Capercaillie are a Scottish folk band, founded in the 1980s by Donald Shaw and fronted by Karen Matheson. They have seen four of their albums placed in the UK Albums Chart, and continue to perform and record to the present day.

Tuesday 15 October 2013

Celtic Connections 2014 Launch

Celtic Connections 2014 comes of age with it's 21st year.  Celtic offers its audience the unexpected and often unique musical collaborations.  

According to Artistic Director Donald Shaw, the world's largest Celtic festival offers breadth, internationalism and camaraderie.  The festival will host Indie, Americana, International artists with connections to their own folk music, as well as traditional Scottish folk music. 

Two big concerts will be held at Glasgow's new SSE Hydro arena - eighties band Del Amitri and an International Burns Night Concert.   

This year will focus on a Commonwealth theme with several commonwealth and international artists appearing in keeping with Glasgow hosting the Commonwealth Games in 2014. 
Headliners for Glasgow's biggest musical festival in 2014 will include BOBBY Womack, Suzanne Vega, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Lloyd Cole, Nicola Benedetti, Seth Lakeman and Imelda May. Plus some of the biggest names in world, folk and Americana music.
Highlights include Indian and Australian music and a celebration of the 1960s “Laurel Canyon” music scene that inspired The Doors, Frank Zappa, Joni Mitchell, The Byrds, and Crosby, Stills and Nash.
The line-up confirmed today features several Commonwealth celebrations to coincide with Glasgow’s hosting of the sporting games next summer.  Also a concert marking 100 years since the start of the First World War.
Festival favourites performing in 2014 festival are - Capercaillie, who are celebrating their own 30th anniversary, Salsa Celtic, Peatbog Faeries, Treacherous Orchestra, and Gaelic songstresses Julie Fowlis and Kathleen MacInnes.  

The festival will host 300 events, at 20 venues with over 2,100 artists and run from 16th Jan to 2nd Feb 2014.  

Friday 22 June 2012

Transatlantic Band

Every January my son and I take a front row seat at the 'Transatlantic Sessions' Celtic Connections Glasgow. This is a very unique concert - and is about the band firstly and live bands don't come much better than this one! The musical directors are Shetland fiddler Aly Bain and dobro player Jerry Douglas.
Transatlantic Band. Ruth Moody, Declan O’Rourke, Tim O’Brien, Aly Bain, Jerry Douglas, Russ Barenberg, Danny Thompson, Michael McGoldrick, John McCusker, Donald Shaw, Darrell Scott, Bruce Molsky

There is an earthy real sound here. Folk tunes, as Dylan found, touch a deep place and yes you can play the tunes over and over.  What I love is the way the singers are centre stage I mean vocally surrounded by these rich deep warm tones of the folk music. Singers include some of the most beautiful Celtic voices -   Eddi Reader, Karen Matheson, Cara Dillon, Darrell Scott, Tim O'Brien, Paul Brady, Julie Fowlis.
Folk music has stood the test of time and much like good wine it simply gets better with age. 

Here is the perfect voice of Cara Dillon singing Garden Valley. Words and Music by Scottish singer songwriter Dougie McLean