Tuning out until September!

15 Apr

I am intending on continuing this blog, however now that I’ll be moving back home (about four hours away from Glasgow) for summer, there’s no way I can write about the Glasgow music scene from all the way up there!  So it’ll be pretty quiet here until I return in September, but I’ll definitely be carrying it on then. Until then, I’ll be over here on my personal blog…join me over there, and see you in September 🙂


Interview with ‘Mano’

3 Apr

For my final post before I hand my blog in for marking on Friday I decided to write a piece on Irish/Scottish band ‘Mano’ (based in Glasgow). They describe themselves as a contemporary folk band and have only been together for six months, however are already well established in the music world of Glasgow. The band consists of four guys: Ciaran Clifford on whistle, Danny Hunter on fiddle, Mark Bruce on guitar and Eamonn Nugent on Bodhran. I managed to ask a few questions to Eamonn and Mark about the band…


So tell me a little bit about the name of the band?

The name started as ‘Out of Hand’ – a name we feel we earned after four nights of carnage in Amsterdam! We then changed it to ‘Mano’ as we felt it was more appealing.

When did your interest in music start and when did you know that you wanted to take your interest into a forming a band?

Mark: I think it’s always been instilled in me that I wanted to do music as my career. I started out on the pipes when I was eight and then moved onto the fiddle. I started playing the guitar in my mid-teens and decided that’s what I wanted to put my focus on. I gained a place on a couple of local traditional music tours for 16-20 year olds and that’s when I decided I wanted to make it a career.

Eamonn: I also started playing traditional music at a young age. I used to dabble on many different instruments but would never stay on any longer to be good at them! I started on the bodhran when I was around thirteen, attending some lessons and have never looked back! I used to play in a few other projects before, and more recently toured around Ireland for nine weeks playing in a band for an Irish dancing show. It was after our trip to Amsterdam with the other band members that encouraged us to take things further.

How long have you been in ‘Mano’ and how did you guys meet each other?

Mark: ‘Mano’ have only been a band for six months – we were cobbled together by our infamous ring leader Mr Ciaran Clifford (whistle). He needed a guitarist and was given my name by a mutual friend, ‘Take Me Out’s’ very own Jack Rutter! It was a surreal feeling knowing I was flying to Holland having not met the other three lads I was about to do a gig with! Luckily we hit it  off and here we are, five months on, having played at Celtic Connections and are about to do some recording pretty soon too.

What kind of music do you guys play? Who are you influenced by?

We are a traditional Irish/Scottish band with a contemporary twist when arranging the tunes. Overall I’d say artists such as: KAN, Lunasa, Flook, Session A9, Beoga, Liz Carroll and Lau would all hold heavy influences on the band.

So you played at Celtic Connections! How was it?

It was a blast yeah – we played on the Danny Kyle Open Stage on the Sunday and then got a phone call that night asking to play at the festival club. That was quite an honour as it’s almost unheard of for a band to play at the Danny Kyle and then get asked to do the festival club, so we were all really pleased with that!

What kind of other places have you played at? Do you have any upcoming gigs?

We are set for a busy summer with festivals in Scotland and England and an appearance at a distillery. We are also hoping to go back over to Holland.

What kind of things do you do outside the band with your music? Do you perform alone?

Mark: Doing a music course means I play in several bands – mostly traditional ones. I rarely perform solo as I play predominantly as an accompaniment for tunes. I know Mr Hunter (Danny, fiddle) has a cracking singing voice and plans to go solo though…

Eamonn: I’m currently doing something totally unrelated and studying Ophthalmic Dispensing at Glasgow Caledonian University. But at the weekends when I’m off, music is a big thing for me and I do gigs whenever I can!

Is playing in a band a purely recreational thing or do you plan to take it further in the future?

Mark: I hopefully will make it my career after University.

Eamonn: I would say the band is a bit of both for me: I enjoy it for the fun of it, but wouldn’t mind if it went further in the future.

It was great being able to get a bit of inside knowledge on the band and the members and I wish you all the best in the future guys! J Congratulations with your successes so far.

And to all my readers, thank you so much for reading my blog so far, as my last posted stated, I’ll be carrying on with occasional posts as and when I find things of interest to share, but if you’re interested please check out my new blog here – let’s hope all this hard work has paid off!

Mano will be playing at the 'Edale Folk Festival' in the Peak District from the 18th-20th of May!

Click to like the band on Facebook and follow them on Twitter:

1 more entry…

29 Mar

blogging for university is nearly over – I hand all this in next week! I originally thought I’d continue blogging, however with moving back home in summer I won’t be able to experience the Glasgow music scene first hand and therefore it’ll probably be forgotten about…it’s a shame really, I’ve really enjoyed being able to write about something I love for a reason rather than just for myself…

although I won’t continue to write as frequently as I have being, I will update the blog if there is anything of interest that I want to share with you all…however this blog has inspired me to start my own personal blog which seems to have already been a hit – I was quite surprised about that! so if you’re interested in taking a look you can click here – although it’s still in the early stages!

I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the feedback that I’ve got from this blog, the number of people that have viewed it and the contacts that I have made through some of the posts. It was a pleasant change to do coursework that was actually enjoyable for once too!

So I’ve got one more post to go, which should be up by Monday and then that’ll be it for a while probably…thanks to everyone that’s sat and read this and put up with my incessant pleading for views and feedback, followed me on twitter or gave me the opportunity for interviews etc…I’ve really appreciated it all!

M.K.Ultra respond to blog post!

22 Mar

It’s always nice to have some feedback on your  blogs, especially from bands you’ve written about! My latest post on M.K.Ultra has been a HUGE hit, getting me nearly 100 views on my blog in just 12 hours!

Facebook response from M.K.Ultra

M.K.Ultra – definitely one to watch out for!

21 Mar

Glasgow based band M.K.Ultra describe themselves as an alternative-rock band who formed back in 2010 and have been lucky enough to play at venues such as the famous King Tuts Wah Wah Hut. The band includes Conor Markey on rhythm guitar and vocals, Ciaran Gilbert on lead guitar, Pete Smith on bass and Matthew Turner on drums.

the boys

I have to say, when a friend linked me to their profile I wasn’t sure what to expect but I certainly wasn’t expecting THIS. After about twenty minutes of technical difficulties I managed to get their soundcloud working and was presented with tracks such as ‘Maggie’, ‘Like You’, ‘Love in the Sky’ and ‘Oh No’. If my friend hadn’t told me that they were a local unsigned band I’d have honestly thought they were a professional well-known band and would have rushed to iTunes to buy their album. I’m really impressed!

All the songs sound fairly similar to bands such as Oasis and the Arctic Monkey’s, especially with the (very impressive) guitar solos, especially in ‘Maggie’ and ‘Oh No’ (my personal favourites).  This comes as no surprise as artists such as the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, The Doors and Primal Scream are all listed in the ‘artists we also like’ on their facebook page – all of whom seem to have provided some kind of influence to their music.

And there’s never a quiet moment for the band! Their Facebook page is full of upcoming gig dates and the band seem to be pretty busy with various events including playing at Club 520 on Sauchiehall Street last year, played as guests at the Annie Stevenson gig last October and played at Captains Rest last week.

I am completely and utterly bowled over by their music and I can’t believe they’ve not already been snapped up by a recording company! Definitely one to watch out for – go and listen NOW! They’ll be playing at Stairway on the 10th of April so get yourself down there for a great night! I know I’ll be there.

playing one of their many gigs

Kate McGill FREE Downloads

20 Mar

Youtube born singer-songwriter Kate McGill has been giving away free downloads of her music in return for shares of her posts on facebook.

Tonight she gave away her original song ‘No Ground’ – a chilled out, haunting track which is well worth a listen! You can download it here!

McGill has also released dates and tickets for her UK tour throughout May and June which include venues such as York, Leeds, Glasgow (Friday 25th May) and Aberdeen and ticket prices start at just £4! Click here to get your hands on them before they’re all gone.

The amazing Kate McGill!

GO! DOWNLOAD! BUY TICKETS! LISTEN! you won’t regret it.

Interview with Danny Boyle – St Patrick’s Day Festival Organiser

16 Mar

A few days ago I posted about the St Patrick’s Day Festival in Glasgow (you can read it here) which will be coming to an end this weekend after a full week of gigs and events throughout the city. Many of the events have been held inside the Merchant Square and so far I’ve heard nothing but good things about them. I was lucky enough to be able to meet with one of the organisers, Danny Boyle last night in Merchant Square who was happy to answer a few of my questions on the festival:

Am I right in thinking this is the first St Patrick’s Day Festival Glasgow has had?

It’s the first time we’ve moved it into the city centre and it’s the first time we’ve had a whole week of programmed events in the city centre. In previous years we’ve had one off gigs in the city halls and most of the events are dotted around the city. This year we still have some events around the city but we’ve also consolidated the Merchant Square and the city centre for the full week.

What kind of events are provided at the festival?

St Patrick’s Day is a showcase of Irish culture in Scotland so all the different facets of culture that fall underneath that like music or language or dancing or sport are included in the festival. In the city centre venue we have a full week of gigs trying to cover a broader spectrum to cater for everybody’s needs – something that’s going to appeal to different musical tastes. We had Michael McGoldrick playing on Saturday who is a traditional Irish musician who is also broadening himself out into more contemporary music as well – he was away playing with Mark Knopfler and Bob Dylan – so that ticked a lot of boxes for us in terms of what we’re trying to do. Last night we had Jill Jackson who’s more of a country-pop singer and tonight we’ve got Paul McKenna playing with the Comhaltas ensemble who played at Celtic Connections then the Wakes who are Glasgow’s version of the Pogues. So we just try to cater for all different tastes – there’s tons going on though, there are ceilidh’s at the weekend in different areas of the city, then in here [Merchant Square] on Saturday the 17th we’ve got a family day which is running from 12-5 and a two masses – a cultural facet of the Irish community, one in Irish and one in English.

What’s your favourite event of the festival so far this week?

I really enjoyed ‘Gaels Le Chéile’ night on Sunday which is Maeve Mackinnon, a Scottish singer and Gráinne Holland who’s an Irish-Gaelic singer and they did a concert down the stairs [Teach Padraig] which had a really nice atmosphere and it worked really well – I really enjoyed that.

Have you organised any other events like this in the past or is this the first?

I helped organise the St Patrick’s Day festival last year. We also used this venue before in May and put on something in conjunction with Tourism Ireland which was called ‘Donegal Live’. Last year was the first year of this event and it was in here [Merchant Square] in the main square. We got about 8000 people attending during the day so that’s what we’re hoping to achieve again on Saturday for St Patricks Day.

How successful do you personally feel the festival has been so far?

It’s hard to gauge until the end of it and you’re always your own worst critic! We’ll evaluate that once everything’s done.

How are you getting local talent involved?

I grew up in Glasgow and I was a musician –

What did you play?

The flute – a wooden Irish flute. I grew up in Glasgow as a musician playing gigs at different places and made a lot of great friends and contacts and it’s through these people that we have the people playing at the festival this week – you can just ask them if they’ll support what you’re trying to achieve and develop which they recognise and agree to take part in the festival – I owe a lot of favours to people!

Was there any opportunity for anyone to sign up to play?

Yeah, tomorrow [tonight, March 16th] is Battle of the Bands so people can enter that no bother at all across any musical genre. The winners get a gig the next day [Saturday 17th] as well as a gig at the festival next year and some studio time with Celtic Music Radio.

That sounds great! Did you get any schools involved?

Yeah, we had an education concert on Tuesday in the city halls and had around 800 kids from across Glasgow attending and performing. We ran some music programmes at local primary schools so we had about forty-five children performing at the event as well – education is a big part of the festival.

Can we expect a return of the festival next year? I’m sure the answer’s yes!

I hope so yeah, definitely! Just looking forward to getting this one finished and relaxing for a few weeks but then you need to start planning next year’s festival pretty much immediately after this one. There will always be a St Patricks Day Festival in Glasgow, it just depends on what scope or frame-work it takes. We’ve certainly put in a lot of work this year to do it and we look to consolidate that and build on it in the future.

Is there anything you’d change about the way the festival turned out this year when planning next year’s event? Would you change the venue maybe?

I think because this is the first year we’ve used this venue and it’s the first year this venue has ever been used for gigs, so I think it would be fair to come back to it again next year to let people know about it and experience it. There’s always  things you would change – hindsight is a great thing, but everyone’s put in 100% effort this year and I couldn’t fault that – so I wouldn’t change anything I don’t think.

Well I think it’s great so far – it looks like a complete success! Thank you so much for letting me talk to you.

I hope so, I’m glad you like it! Thanks very much. 

It was great to be able to chat to Danny and get a bit more information on the event which seems to have been a complete success. Get yourself down there tonight for the Battle of the Bands and for the events tomorrow – you won’t be disappointed!

St Patricks Day Festival 2012

12 Mar

Merchant Square, where most of the events are being held

An array of artists, bands and most importantly music will be invading Merchant Square this week as part of the St Patricks Day Festival. This is the first year that Glasgow has taken part in the Irish event to this extent and a great line up is in place already aiming to “promote and celebrate the rich Irish cultural heritage of Glasgow and Scotland”. The event is open to the public and although some events are ticketed, there is free entry to the majority of the festival.

The festival kicked off last Friday with a Dinner Dance at the Crowne Plaza Hotel where traditional music was provided from bands such as ‘Inishowen Céili Band’. This event was ticketed at £40 a head, or £400 for a table of ten and all the money raised is going towards the ‘Glasgow Irish Centre Project’.

This was followed on Saturday evening with band ‘Yuptae’ and the Michael McGoldrick Quartet (who will also be playing on the 17th of March as the St Patricks Day Festival comes to an end). All eight band members resulted from being involved in the St Roch’s Ceili Band and are famous for their original and creative spins on traditional music. The band won the ‘Danny Kyle’ award at last years Celtic Connections festival and have since played at festivals around the country.

Today (Monday 12th) there was an opportunity for people to go along to Merchants Square to try the Irish language for free followed by an Irish cultural showcase tomorrow at City Halls, Candleriggs at 7pm.

“Folk and Roll” band ‘The Wakes’, originally from Glasgow produce music influenced by political and social struggles throughout Scotland and Ireland over the years. They mix traditional music with a contemporary sound and are described as “energetic and euphoric, and often unforgettable”. Take a listen here to their song ‘St Patricks Battalion’.

Events will continue until Saturday (the 17th) when the festival will come to a close with a Mass at St Andrews Cathedral Clydeside with music from St James the Great CCE, who aim to promote the traditional music of Ireland.

I’m hoping to get myself down there sometime this week and will hopefully have some reviews up by Sunday.

Happy St Paddy’s Day!

International Bagpipe Day

10 Mar

Btw, today is the first ever international bagpipe day! Aiming to celebrate the diversity of bagpipes around the world. So I thought I’d leave you with a little video that I filmed today, from the Scottish band ‘Clanadonia’ (often seen playing on Buchanan Street) – who, by the way, were part of the stunt crew for films such as Braveheart and Gladiator!

Laura Marling Tonight At The 02 Academy

10 Mar

English folk musician, Laura Marling will be playing tonight at the 02 Academy, Glasgow. Unfortunately I’ve only just realised, and tickets are sold out, otherwise I would be getting myself down there to do a review on her. But she’s just so wonderful that I decided to write a wee bit about her anyway!

Laura Marling

She has three albums, ‘Alas, I Cannot Swim’ and ‘I Speak Because I Can’ and her most recent, ‘A Creature I Don’t Know’. She also won ‘Best Female Solo Artist’ at the 2011 Brit Awards and ‘Best Solo Artists’ at the 2011 NME Awards. Her musical career started in her mid teens, when she moved to London and became involved in many different traditional music bands, as well as being part of the original ‘Noah and the Whale’ group.

Laura with band Noah and the Whale before she left in 2008

Her sound (that reminds me very much of Mumford and Sons) could perhaps be linked to her relationship with Marcus Mumford a couple of years ago, and would explain why many of her songs are composed in a very similar folk style accompanied by both piano and guitar. Marling is also featured in Mystery Jet’s feel-good song ‘Young Love‘. She has a beautiful voice that conveys a feeling of sophistication throughout her work and produces music that actually means something, which is a rarity in a lot of the music being produced by artists recently.

Laura with Mumford and Sons

‘The Wisdom of Spring’ tour has support from ”Timbre Timbre‘, a Canadian folk group and Pete Roe, an acoustic artist from London. Most venues are now sold out, but if you want to see her in Nottingham, tickets are still available from here.

Laura Marling – Rambling Man, a beautiful example of her work with a clear influence from Mumford and Sons: