On the 1st of May – May Day, International Worker’s Day – I had the pleasure to play with a giant of Scottish music and a man whose music I have spent many hours enjoying, Dick Gaughan. The gig was organised by the Edinburgh May Day Committee, the Edinburgh Folk Club and Tradfest and took place in Edinburgh’s historic Pleasance Theatre. A definite highlight to my year, a top achievement to share a bill with the likes of Dick Gaughan and also a moment for the mental trinketbox.
On June 20th, I was invited to play at a huge anti-austerity demonstration in Glasgow organised by the Scottish Trade Union Congress (not a former MSP). The demonstration was staged to coincide with similar protests and marches taking place across the UK and so signify that working people are not going to stand the government’s assault on living conditions. The demonstration in Glasgow had some 4000 people in attendance – by the time I took to the stage. It was a little daunting at first, but I soon settled in. It was undoubtedly one of the best gigs I will ever play and it also filled me with great joy to see so many banners and flags in defiance of what was/is being done in the name of “fiscal responsibility”.
After what had already been a full-on 2015 which had seen me play in Aberdeen, Stirling, Edinburgh, Glasgow, the Isle of Bute – to name but a few places – and appearing on the Listening Room’s Best of (Volume One) album, I released my own debut album, No Right Turn, independently on 1st August. The album was recorded over a couple of Fridays with fellow musician and friend, Robbie Lesiuk, who recorded and mixed the record as well as playing on it too. The album received fantastic reviews (see Write Ups and Reviews) and has sold well too. I will forever be grateful and in debt to Robbie Lesiuk for his efforts in helping get the record out there. The same goes for Lucy Kendrew, the photographer who designed the artwork and for Charlie Mann, who helped me decide on the font and layout for the artwork.
The album launch was the perfect to the month of August, which saw me play a mammoth 47 gigs in 4 weeks – most of them Edinburgh Fringe Festival shows, but I also took to the road and played in St Andrews, Stirling, Falkirk, Larbert and Linlithgow. The Fringe Festival of 2015 was my third festival in a row and the best of them so far. I had the pleasure of being joined on stage with sensational Edinburgh guitarist and songwriter, Jack Hinks, as he played with me in a handful of my Fringe Festival sets. Though I did a lot of work getting the slots and performing them, a big slice of credit has to go to the venue organisers and sound engineers who made me sound 10/10 everywhere I went and who also did the bucket run for me, ensuring the venue-goers were kind to the performer.
From the Fringe into September, and I played two stand-out gigs in that month, only 9 days apart. First of them was a stint at a Glasgow Hope Not Hate commemoration for the International Brigades who fought in the Spanish Civil War. I had the added fortune that day of sharing a bill with Arthur Johnstone (right) and The Wakes (lead singer, Paul Sheridan, left). Forward 9 days and I played with the, frankly, genius David Rovics, a political, folk singer from Portland, USA. The gig was organised by Edinburgh World Justice Festival and I’m extremely grateful to them and to David Rovics for having me on the bill.
In December, I took to the railways to play a benefit gig for the Marx Memorial Library in The Harrison, Kings Cross, London. I shared a stage with fellow Scot, Ewan McLennan, who blew me away with his singing, his songs and his graceful guitar playing. Ewan’s performance was difficult to follow and match, nonetheless, I was well received by a fantastic audience and the gig raised a whopping sum of money for the library. I’m extremely thankful to Alex Gordon who, not only booked me into play the gig, but looked after me that weekend as well. So far, this is the best gig I’ve played given the attentive way the music was enjoyed, the atmosphere of the whole evening and the many internet faces – and new faces – I got to meet.
Just two days after playing down in London, I made my first ever live TV appearance when I played my song “The Ever Willing Soldier” live on STV Edinburgh’s The Fountainbridge Show. A line of appreciation to one of the shows producers – Angus Simpson – who booked me in for the show and went out of his way to supply me with a recording of my performance.
To round off a busy, exciting and event-filled year, I won the award of Best/Solo Acoustic Act at the 2015 Alternative Music in Falkirk awards. A huge amount of thanks goes out to everyone who voted for me and I want to express my respect to all the other musicians who were in the category with me as they each deserved to win.
2015 has been a busy year, but good one to me all the same and it will be a shame to close the diary on her. Still, who knows what 2016 has up the sleeve for me and it gets off to the perfect start when I play abroad for the first time with a gig in Tausend, Berlin on the 6th of January.
I really appreciate the help and support of everyone – family and friends especially – who have helped and supported me in a variety of different ways throughout the year. We wouldn’t be who we are without the people around us, and that goes doubly for artists of all forms. I ask you, the reader, to continue supporting me in every way you can. That means, sharing social media posts, downloading music where possible, sharing website posts and getting to as many gigs as possible. The only reason I’ve been able to play as much as I have and achieve as much as I have is because of the encouragement of people like you. Thank you, truly.