I had thought of penning a tribute to one of the most uncompromising and visionary musicians ever to grace this planet but a very close friend had already done so, referencing me in his eloquent piece. Mark Hollis RIP. http://blastedjournal.co.uk/blog/spirit SK x
Welcome to my first blog post of 2019, and many thanks for reading. 2018 was a phenomenal year and reflecting back on it invokes a myriad of memories from the many and varied locations I have been. The end of 2018 did not as many assume see me too tired to travel, but rather pine for travelling for travel’s sake and saw me visit the unique and stunning countries of Georgia and Azerbaijan. The freedom of travelling without a guitar was incredibly liberating, and the experiences I enjoyed there will only serve to inspire the next burst of music which will, in time, flow from my pen. Needless to say in both countries I managed to forge friendships with musicians which I hope will allow me to return in the future to give concerts in these wonderful places.
The New Year saw me venture north to the Scottish Highlands, where the beauty of the landscape does not diminish year on year, no matter how often I visit. The majesty and magnificence of my homeland and in particular the Cairngorms where I have frequented since I was a child have long afforded me the tranquillity, solitude and inspiration where ideas can be forged and honed. Indeed, it was in these very mountains that my recording career begain, as back in early 2008, when armed with nothing but a four track recorder and a microphone I recorded the demos for this album, eventually released under the pseudonym Man Gone Missing.
Which brings me neatly to my next point, this year I shall be doing everything a little differently as I celebrate the significant milestone of arriving as ten years as a recording artist. It hardly seems plausible that it was as long ago as October 2009, that so many kind friends and followers descended upon The Lot (sadly no longer in existence!) for the album launch of Carefree Prisoner. This just six months after the aforementioned Man Gone Missing album, I’m nothing if not prolific.
So please keep your eyes peeled here, all announcements will be made here first and then later on social media.
See you all on the road somewhere soon, I hope.
I am most pleased that the album I’ve been working on for a long time is now finally available to share with you. ‘Broken Before’, my latest creation, is here, and has led to a complete reworking of the live show, with almost all of the new songs being included, rare for me but a complete affirmation of my belief in the new material – the revolution is here! The album is available to purchase here, from the website and at all upcoming shows.
After an amazing but draining near seven week European tour, including two weeks with the wonderful fiddling talents of Robbie Greig, I am on a short break in Edinburgh before the final few shows of the year. Starting in France, the tour also took in Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Belgium and the Netherlands – the reaction to the new album and the new songs has been nothing short of incredible, and it has been a privilege to share these new songs and stories with such fantastic and enthusiastic audiences.
There has been a lot of activity surrounding the instrumental guitar album ‘Onwards She Travels’ and I am thrilled that excerpts from the album have been used in the soundtrack for the upcoming Canadian short documentary film ‘Wild Tides’, about which you can read more here. It also features an older song of mine, ‘To The Wilderness’, from my 2009 debut album ‘Carefree Prisoner’ – anybody reading remember that song?!
A few autumnal days off in Berlin also provided me with the wonderful opportunity to record a couple of the pieces, namely ‘The Dance of Realisation’ and ‘Onwards She Travels’ on a Michael Batell 2015 Limbo Guitar, which can be viewed here.
The response to ‘Onwards She Travels’ coupled with the interesting opportunities this has generated means there will be more music in this vein to come, and soon.
Speaking of luthiers, the brilliant talent of Rory Dowling, creator of my stunning custom-built Taran Guitar, now has a players’ page, dedicated to my very good self, which you can view here. It describes the creative process which led to the beautiful instrument upon which I perform every night on tour.
For now, Onwards I Travel for the last time in 2018, to the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland for the final four concerts of the year. Next year is already taking shape, and looks like it will be my most exciting touring year yet!
Thanks, as always, for reading, and very best wishes as always.
I am delighted to announce the release of ‘Broken Before’, which I firmly believe is my best work to date.
Recorded and produced in conjunction with Ian McCalman and featuring the talents of Robbie Greig, Bob Miller and William Archibald.
Available at all upcoming shows and from this website here.
Following the Edinburgh Festival and successive tours of Belarus and Western Canada I am now near the beginning of a long European tour, much of which will be undertaken with the aforementioned Robbie Greig.
Hope to see you all on the road somewhere, thanks for reading and enjoy the new songs.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Here in the fair city of Minsk I choose to announce the title of my forthcoming album, which I strongly believe is my finest work to date, ‘Broken Before’.
The exact timings and details of how to order the CD will be released very soon, for now I’m recovering from the Edinburgh Festival excesses by discovering the fascinating city of Minsk, Belarus.
More to follow very soon, thanks for reading.
At long last, the Serbian-Scottish collaboration between talented filmmaker Milos Itic and myself is available to view here. We would both welcome your feedback and comments and please do take the time to read on if you are interested in the genesis of this project.
Approximately one year ago in the Franconian town of Bayreuth I performed a garden concert, which in actual fact due to the inclement weather descended into a one part garden concert/one part house concert if you will. At the conclusion of the concert, following my kind provision of a double encore at the request of my wonderful and enthusiastic audience, as is customary for the independent musician I made my way to my merchandise stall and began to mingle with the audience, fielding questions about the music and the life as a troubadour.
Later on, as the crowds began to dissipate leaving only the performer, organisers and those with a more hardened approach to late night drinking, a young Serbian filmmaker introduced himself to me, and we struck up a conversation. Initially bonding over the sporting topics of association football and an impassioned debate over whether Novak Djokovic or Andy Murray were the better tennis player (sooner Andy returns to full fitness to end that debate the better!) as the night wore on the conversation turned to two topics about which we both had far more passion for than sport, film and music.
We discovered that we both had a shared love of the outlaw country movement and the ingenious songwriting of Townes van Zandt (whose biography I happened to be reading at the time), Guy Clark and Blaze Foley. The conversation moved effortlessly through German cinema, the history of Scottish filmmaking and Serbian music, the latter of course leading me to enquire about the Serbian music scene. Milos also showed a keen interest and willingness to learn about the vagaries of Scotland’s national drink, whisky, a favourite subject of mine, which of course, regular readers of this blog will already know.
When we parted very late that evening we did so with a firm commitment that we should meet up again in the future and that I should come to Serbia, a country I had long wished to visit. Milos had really enjoyed the concert and my songs, and a few days later when I had a rest day in Northern Germany I had the opportunity to view his work the admiration was mutual. I contacted Milos and floated the idea of working together on a music video if/when I could make it to Serbia.
Due to both our hectic schedules, with both of us working all over Europe, although Milos was just as keen to make a video as I was, we both knew that 2017 would not be possible, and that it would need to wait until early 2018. Serendipitous it certainly was, but with my having four days off on an early March tour of Germany and with exceptionally cheap flights from Bavaria to Milos’s home city of Nis on those exact dates we both seized the moment, I by booking the flights and Milos by arranging a couple of small, intimate, acoustic shows in Nis for me.
Suffice to say, I shall not dwell here on how inspiring my Serbian travels were (will save that for another time!), only to mention that it afforded us the chance to shoot the video (all locations for the video were in Milos’s home city of Nis), as well as for Milos to give me a serious chess lesson (will save that embarrassing anecdote for another time too!). A few months later and we are both happy to share with you the final video for the song ‘Vulnerable Man’, born out of a chance encounter after a Bayreuth concert.
The artistic life is a beautiful, unexpected and commoving one.
Slainte agus taing dha Milos
Should be with you very shortly. Directed by Milos Itic
Please keep watching this space, I’m currently on an extremely hectic tour of Europe but will endeavour to write more when back in Edinburgh, including news of the new album release date.
Very best wishes from Leipzig,
Since I last wrote I have had the good fortune to conduct a European tour where I visited five countries in ten days, now that’s a lot of driving! As I mentioned previously, I was in Italy performing for the first time ever, and to briefly come back to the subject of driving (it’s probably what I spend most of my professional life doing!), let’s just say the experience in Italy was starkly different from the years spent on Northern European and North American roads. Still, the fine dining and excellent wine were on hand to take the edge off before the shows.
The tour also included my sixth visit to the microstate of Liechtenstein, a simply incredible and inspiring place, an oasis of tranquillity and beauty nestled in the heart of the Alps, which never fails to prompt a flow of creativity from both the pen and the guitar. As well as visits to Switzerland and Germany, I also had the pleasure of performing in Brussels, a city I had never really had the chance to properly visit before, and the time spent there after the show served to similarly inspire me.
Back to the studio now, my harmony vocals are finished, and Ian McCalman and I had a great time recording the supreme fiddling talent that is Robbie Greig. I’m very much looking forward to touring with him later in the year.
Drumming maestro Billy Archibald and the wonderful double bass playing of Bob Miller are set to be recorded in the next couple of weeks before the arduous task of mixing begins, made all the more difficult by the lengthy touring commitments across the summer months. It is still anticipated to have the album ready for the Edinburgh Festival in August, and tickets are now available for the Festival shows here – if you live in Edinburgh or shall be visiting the Fringe in August, then what are you waiting for?!
Across the Atlantic, several of my Canadian followers have been asking about whether I shall be returning this year, I’m delighted to confirm that I shall be and the dates shall be posted in due course.
More to follow soon, I’m not long back from a whistle stop tour of England, a night in beautiful Lingfield, Surrey, that saw me join the running club the next morning for a seven mile run across the scenic countryside, followed by my final April show in the cute market town of Oswestry in my favourite English county of Shropshire in a stunning art gallery called The Willow Gallery.
Thanks for reading, and I hope to see some readers on my upcoming European tour.
All the best, as always.
My last tour was awash with adventure, and that’s saying something as I draw near to completing eight years of full-time musicianship on the road!
My first visit to Serbia was particularly inspiring, I was based in Nis, the third city of Serbia and the largest settlement in the south of the country. I was hosted by talented filmmaker Milos Itic, of whose work you can see more here, and the fruits of our collaborative music video will be released in due course.
I’m currently enjoying a couple of weeks at home and am hard at work in the studio. My parts for the upcoming album are mostly finished and I’m looking forward to welcoming Robbie Greig into the studio next week. It is intended to have all the music recorded by the end of April such that the album can be ready for the summer. My hectic summer schedule means that it will no doubt arrive when I’m on the continent, but I’ll make allowances to have it delivered to me wherever I am as soon as I can, fear not!
The next tour shall see me perform for the first ever time in Italy, about which I’m very excited – Forza Italia – :-). Wonderful times, as an artist who spends a lot of time on the road it’s so important to visit new territories and build on the bank of experience from which you come to draw on in the writing process.
Finally, thanks again for your support with regards to ‘Onwards She Travels’, it has more than justified my decision to pursue this side of my music. I shall be touring a solely instrumental guitar act based largely upon the album from May 2018 – anyone interested in booking this act, please contact me here. It’s ideal for house concerts!
More to follow next month, I promise, thanks again for reading, as always.
Alas, I have sinned, ladies and gentlemen, and confess that my updates to this blog have not been as frequent as they should – please hold me to my monthly update, pester me, berate me, ensure that I keep all of those interested in my music regularly posted.
As the title alludes, I have laid down the guitar tracks for the next album, and can enthusiastically comment that my new Taran Guitar is sounding excellent in the studio, I’m absolutely delighted with how it is responding to the very different demand of recording. Later this week, and into next week, I shall be laying down the vocal tracks, always a highlight, and following that I shall be reviewing everything before determining which tracks to take forward and what additional instrumentation will be required. I anticipate this release should be ready for the summer, but as ever this could depend slightly on both time and budget constraints.
The response to my guitar instrumental concept album ‘Onwards She Travels‘ has been fantastic, a huge thank you to each and every one of you who purchased a copy. It was released with more than a little trepidation, as the previous two instrumental releases were strictly limited edition only, but the positive response has more than justified the faith shown in me by Nexus 24 more of whose work you can see, by clicking the link. Rest assured, I will write more instrumental music in due course, but for now have to put my singer-songwriter hat back on!
The touring year is shaping up well with visits to Germany, Serbia (first time!), Ireland, Italy (first time!), Switzerland, Belgium, England, Poland, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Canada, France, The Netherlands, and of course Scotland to come! As always, there are often gaps in the schedule and if you or anyone you know may be interested in hosting a house concert upon a free date, please do not hesitate to contact me.
2019 may see me travel even further afield, more to follow as and when I receive confirmation.
Thanks for reading, as always.