I was an All-Scotland Accordion Champion at the age of 14. I have been immersed in the Tradition since before I was born, both my mother and my mother’s mother played the piano with considerable skill. My mum grew up in a tiny wee schoolhouse in Glenshee where Saturday nights were spent in front of the White Heather Club and Jimmy Shand’s Band! My dad has more eclectic tastes, introducing me to The Beatles and classical music.
I was born in Ayrshire but grew up, with two musical sisters, Meggan (violin and guitar) and Hazel (piano, bass and whistles), in the Vale of Alford in Aberdeenshire.
My first experience of a live concert was The McCalmans in Comrie Village Hall at the age of eight! I also remember the Old Blind Dogs coming to Glenbuchat and seeing The McCluskey Brothers at Barra Live – the first time I saw a drumkit really being played (Ross McFarlane) and realised that music was something I might want to do.
We also went to the Barra Feis that year and dabbled in the clarsach!
Meg and I toured with the Banchory Strathspey and Reel Society while still at school, seeing the Niagara Falls on a tour of Quebec and Ontario. We also played a couple of spots on Rabbie’s Take the Floor.
Coming from the North East corner I grew up with the Doric and can recite poetry in both Doric and Scots. I fell in love with Burns as a schoolgirl and spent time studying his complete works later in life.
On achieving an Honours Degree in Modern Languages from Glasgow University, I realised that perhaps my future career lay not in linguistics, but in music. I formed a band with two Fifers, Cat Chisholm and Karen Hannah and my sister Meg, we called ourselves ‘The Midden’ and went on to conquer the Celtic Nations one at a time [Wales, Cornwall, Brittany, Ireland and Scotland – we didn’t make it to the Isle of Man which I’m still sorry about], only playing the once in England at Ulverston Folk Club. We then began touring the big Folk Festivals in Europe, having most success in Germany. Being able to talk to the audience in their mother tongue was fantastic and really helped to create a bond we still have today. My favourite gig to date was playing Glasgow’s Hogmanay for 25,000 Glaswegians. We supported Snow Patrol that night. I’ll never forget it!
In 2017 I published my first book ‘Balnakeil’ and hope to write many more.
I have run Open Mic Nights in various bars and venues across Glasgow for the last 20 years [The Halt Bar, The Aragon, The Lansdowne, The Victoria Bar] meeting a huge variety of talented musicians, many of whom I am now delighted to be able to play out on my radio show.
Mix Tape goes out every Sunday evening from 8-10pm. Pour yourself a wee dram, put your feet up and tune in, I’ll be happy to have your company.