Hello All,

Apologies for my tardiness in posting this blog, but much has been happening in the musical world, more of which I can tell you now.

I should first alert you to the release by my good friend and fine fellow troubadour Paul Cherryseed, his new album entitled ‘The Story of Saint Anonymous’ is now available to purchase on iTunes. From a personal perspective, it is a wonderful honour to have both the area of Edinburgh in which I live immortalised in the song ‘Morningside Road’, and to have Paul and his excellent band perform a superb rendition of my song ‘The Bleeding Mile’, from my debut album ‘Carefree Prisoner’. If you have a moment, please investigate Paul’s work, you won’t be disappointed.

Exciting news for the autumn too, in that I shall be working with a very talented Amsterdam-based string quartet named ‘Quintessences’, and their brilliant arranger and conductor Michael Becker on a full live show of my music. It has long been an ambition of mine to perform live with a string quartet and to finally be realising this with Michael & Quintessences is most inspiring, to say the least! At present, we are in the early stages of planning the track listings, but I will bring further news of this collaboration as it develops, including, of course, the live performance dates in Amsterdam.

Closer to home, remember this?! Well, I’m delighted to announce that filming on a new video, once again with Simon P Biggs is set to commence in a couple of weeks, and it is hoped that this will be ready for the summer. This will feature one of the songs from The Last Car.

As those of you who follow me on Facebook will no doubt be aware, the majority of music has now been recorded for my next album, once again I’ve been working with legendary Scottish folk musician Ian McCalman. A few harmonies are still to be laid down, and a guitar part or two to be added, but we’re pretty much ready to enter the mixing stage and are well on schedule for an autumn 2017 release.

First tour of Spain & Catalonia to come in early May, along with a wee hometown appearance at Tradfest before an extended tour of Germany and Switzerland in late May/early June.

For now, I’m signing off to restring that resonator guitar!

Thanks for reading, as always.

SK x

Hello all,

This is just a short note to let you all know that the first concert of 2016 shall be at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on the 20th of January as part of the Scotia Nova project at Celtic Connections, to which I contributed a song entitled ‘So We Must Unite’.

Please see here to read about the project and purchase the accompanying CD and here to buy tickets to the concert itself.

Hoping to see you all somewhere on the road during 2016!

Very best wishes,

SK x

I was thrilled and honoured to have contributed a lead vocal to a beautiful song composed by Ian McCalman on a recent Greentrax album celebrating the life of the great Scottish painter John Bellany.

You can find out more about the project and the album here– and a recent review of the album can be found in this Scotsman article

Thanks, as always, for reading, and I hope to see you somewhere on the road soon.

SK x

Hello All,

Just to let my Scottish friends and followers know that I was recently on STV as part of their festival coverage.

If you would like to see it again, please click here– my piece starts at 33:30 – :-).

You do need an STV account to view, and to be resident in the Auld Country, but it is free to join, enjoy!

SK x

Hello all,

Thanks, as ever, for taking time to read this humble fingerpicking guitarist’s blog, it really is very kind of you.

I write from Riga, where two of the songs from my latest album ‘The Last Car’ were born, the title track ‘The Last Car’ & ‘When Will She Learn’ – it is strange to tread the old steps of creativity, but fascinating nonetheless.

The reaction to the album has been fantastic, and I’m greatly appreciative of all those who have bought or taken the time to listen to it, as well as those who have given the album wider exposure, including (amongst others) Iain Anderson, Frank Hennessy, Roddy Hart, Cherrie McIlwaine, The Durbervilles at the BBC, Jim Gellatly & and to The Glasgow Herald for this excellent review

In other news, Simon P Biggs & I are delighted to announce that the video for ‘A City Beautiful’ has been nominated for the Edinburgh International Film Festival Short Film Challenge & shall be shown on the Big Screen, which will be a huge thrill for us both.  If you haven’t yet seen it, here’s the link!

Have you heard the one about the Scottish fingerpicking guitarist in the German charts?!  You will soon…..courtesy of DJ Cosmin, a leading Bavarian DJ, an unusual collaboration has lead to a release of ours entitled ‘Reality’ chartGerman_Chartsing in Germany.  Don’t believe me…..here’s the evidence! And you can download the track here.

And last, but not least, those residing in Auld Reekie, or visiting our fine Capital City during the Edinburgh Festival, please come along and see my brand new show, featuring many songs from ‘The Last Car’, fresh, for the first time live!  This is the official link for tickets.

Word has it a certain 1987 Fylde Othello guitar may be making an appearance……..

Hope to see you on the road somewhere soon, thanks as always for checking in.

SK x

 

 

The Last Car‘, my new album is finally here.  12 brand new songs, written through the course of 2014 and recorded once more by Ian McCalman in Lasswade.  Featuring Adam Sutherland on violin and Bob Miller on double bass, I’m confident that this is the best album I have ever done & fans of my work so far will not be disappointed.

An interview about the album will follow soon, conducted by good friend Andrew R Hill of Edinburgh journal Blasted – do keep your eyes peeled for this, it will on both websites in due course.

In the meantime, please do browse my brand new website – all feedback very welcome.

Yours,

SK x

In the intervening years, I always carried Mick’s words with me, yet for one reason or another never made the move to contact him, although I came close to doing so on many occasions. In the interim, I took on jobs I did not enjoy, and spent far too much time with the wrong woman, when I should have in fact been focussing on the music, as Mick had advised I should. In short, I did not feel I had fulfilled the prophecy of his words, or worse still, had even attempted to.

Then, only last month, after more than half a decade as a professional musician, a gentleman named Bernhard Eber who organises a programme of beautiful shows in Gundelfingen, Bavaria, forwarded me a photograph of a billboard in Gunzburg advertising the May programme at the venue. I was delighted to see my own name in the listings (who doesn’t like seeing their name on a billboard?!), but to my astonishment the first name on the listings was Mick Pini – could this really be happening? That I was playing the same venue as this wisened and learned individual from all those years ago?

Far more confident and secure in my own identity as a professional musician, I decided to locate Mick on Facebook, and we became ‘friends’ on this most unlikely forum for hardened roots musicians. The next day, I wrote to him, explaining he would most likely not, nor had he any reason to, remember, our encounter, but that it was of great significance to me, more than that, an inspiration, that his words had become a mantra for me, both as an aspiring and, now a working musician. I was very shocked, in the best of ways, when Mick wrote back, saying he was touched by my message, and that he indeed could not remember the conversation, but was proud to have played a part in my journey and that I should continue resolutely on my musical path.

Despite my best intent to reply, the arrival of both a new car and a new album in the same week meant that I never found the words I wanted to – his words had been so important to me for over a decade, I did not just want to scrape back an apologetic response with little meaning or resonance.

And so, by the time I found myself later that very week en route to Gundelfingen, Bavaria, it was with a heavy heart that I cursed myself for not replying to Mick, and I realised, to my great disappointment, that perhaps I had missed an opportunity to meet with him again.

How wrong I was. As I stepped out of my car, having parked outside the venue, I caught sight of this striking, avuncular figure striding towards me – ‘Simon‘ – he cries. ‘Yes‘, I respond, still not entirely sure who this person was (if it was Mick he was taller than I’d remembered – I’d forgotten I was standing behind a shop counter!). ‘It’s Mick Pini – It’s Mick‘ and he opens his arms as I walk towards him. A huge bear hug ensues, tears surface in my eyes, as I struggle to contain my emotions. He thrusts a cluster of cherished and rare Mick Pini recordings into my hands, to my barely containable delight. ‘If I’ve helped you – if my words have helped you, and you’ve made a career out of music, the least I can do is be here to support you‘, he responds to my amazement that he is here.

Not only was Mick present, but his wife and daughter had also come along to see me perform, rarely have I felt so energised on stage – it was such a pleasure to see this person again after all these years – I’d thought he was just a voice in my head, a mythical voice, that haunted me, to actually be performing in front of him was beyond my comprehension.

After the concert, Mick praised me profusely, further reinforcing my belief that to fulfil his mantra was indeed the correct decision – to receive praise from someone who has lived and breathed music for more than four decades, is worth more to me than the views of any critic or reviewer. Later that evening, I went to visit to Mick in his family home, where he showed me his home studio, played me his latest recordings and of course, his treasued guitar collection, including his infamous ’54 Fender Stratocaster. We talked into the small hours of Freddie King, of John Martyn, of Bob Dylan, of politics and history, of guitars and trains. Yes, trains – Mick possesses an amazing model railway!

I left twice the man I’d arrived, what an experience – how blessed can one man be? Mick Pini – I salute you – an inspiration, a musical genius, and now, after over a decade since our first encounter, a true friend in music.

A beautiful ending to a wonderful story – blues gonna be our way.

More than a decade ago, and not for the first time, I was at a point in my life where a sense of direction had eluded me. After moving to London with a small band, in seek of fame and fortune, which had been promised to us but in actuality never materialised, not much time passed before the band in effect ‘disbanded’ leaving the core members in a state of flux. Moreover, my personal life had fallen into a state of turmoil as I broke up with the girl with whom I’d taken this leap of faith to the big city from my beloved Scotland. Caught in a perennial state of indecision, instead of returning home like my former bandmates, I decided to stay in London and form a new band, although in order to attain this I needed to support myself financially, which I did by taking a job in a specialist jazz and blue music shop in Central London.

It was not long before I realised that to financially exist in London was to prove beyond my means, despite my desire to succeed musically and the enjoyment of my new job in the record shop. Forced into a particularly impoverished corner, I decided I had no option but to return to the land of my birth, though what I would do when I arrived there I did not know. Still reeling from the fallout of my relationship breakdown, I had sought solace in the music of Townes van Zandt and John Lee Hooker, to help me cope in such trying times, the first time (though not the last) I had experienced such numbing pain. An obsession with the latter (JLH), had lead to me tracking down a couple of biographies, one of which I happened to be reading on a typically quiet morning on one of the last few days I worked in the record shop I had grown to love.

It was on this very morning, as I stood engrossed in my JLH book, whilst simultaneously listening to the great man’s subtle groove and well-worn baritone voice, that I looked up to be met with a smile from a slightly bedraggled individual, who commended me on my choice of reading. Despite his scruffy appearance, this person oozed charisma and exuded charm, and was instantly likeable – his long grey hair poured over his shoulders, the beret hat he was sporting gave him a distinctive and wisened look that urged me to listen to him. I thanked him for his compliment, and a conversation ensued in which we discussed the various genres, styles and heroes of the blues, including a shared love of not only the aforementioned John Lee Hooker, but also the great Freddie King & Muddy Waters.

The gentleman explained to me that he was a professional blues guitarist, based in Germany, but touring all over Europe, and was interested to see whether we stocked his output. After asking his name – Mick Pini – I conducted a quick search on the computer – we did in fact stock a couple of his releases, which I located on the shop floor, to his delight, as he was relieved that his distributors, had in fact, been doing their job. Folllowing this exchange, and I’m not entirely sure why, perhaps due to how open this person was, and how friendly, yet also how in tune with my own approach to life he seemed to be, despite our different ages, I told him of my own ongoing crisis, how not for the first time I was questioning my commitment to music, whether that was where my future lay, and if not what indeed I should do with my life, and how the upset from my relationship breakup had only heightened my worry and uncertainty.

The answer came back, and I can remember it as clearly as if it were an hour ago – ‘Forget about everything else – commit to the music. I can see it in your eyes, you believe in your music, so commit to it. It will never be easy, you’ll probably never make much money, but it will always be there for you. Don’t worry about the ex-girlfriend – you will recover from that, there will be other girls and other break-ups (how true!), but the music will always be there. Commit to the music.

We then discussed a little more about the blues and various guitar heroes before he repeated this mantra to me on his departure – son – commit to the music.

After he left, I instantly put his CD on and was mesmerised by the driving guitar playing, the expressive licks, in turn driving and agressive then sensitive, the CD moving effortlessly from a Texan shuffle to a blues ballad, but with consistently engaging and interesting arrangements. That day, I bought the CD (taking advantage of the staff discount, of course) and took it home with me – Mick Pini, the day I spoke with a bona fide blues legend.

And so, I write, on what is one of the few occasions I spend a few consecutive weeks in my beloved Scotland, to share with you the news of the past few months, and of exciting ventures for the year ahead.

Hard to believe we are now at the end of March, and I have already begun work on the next album in the studio with Ian McCalman once more. Steady progress is being made for the moment, with the present focus on the completion of the guitar tracks – it is important to do the style which I have developed justice, and ensure the complexities and nuances of the notation are not lost – and so, we are taking good time over this. We are using 3 guitars for 16 tracks – I shall post more about the various guitars (several of you have asked about my guitars – well, now is the time to stay tuned!), including pictures in the weeks to come.

Reaction to ‘A Fine Line’ has been amazing, thanks to everyone who has taken the time to listen and to the many kind reviews and exposure that the music press have given the album. There are still one or two to come in, and once I have these, they will all be up on the site in the reviews section for your perusal.

2014 began with a wonderful tour of Switzerland, and this was followed by a duo tour of Germany and the Netherlands, once again with Iain Gordon MacFarlane on fiddle at the end of February/beginning of March. Both were amongst the most successful tours I have undertaken, and I am excited to be heading out on the road once more in April, taking in the East of Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Leichtenstein – dates as ever are listed on the gigs page.

One problem I am now faced is with the requirement for multiple guitars on tour and how to best satisfy this need when I am travelling alone, and without my car. Any helpful suggestions would be most welcome….

Stay safe, and I hope to see you on the road soon.

SK x

P.S. Rumours have emerged of a renaissance of ‘Man Gone Missing’ – I can neither confirm nor deny such rumours.