I live in Edinburgh and I'm a singer songwriter. My style of writing cuts across Americana, folk, country and blues and I try to write melodic, accessible songs that make the best use of my guitar skills to provide sensitive uncluttered arrangements. I have collaborated with other performers in groups such as The Travelling Waverlies, who performed a mixture of poetry and song, Tom Fairnie &The Snakes who were an occasional ensemble that also featured the song writing talents of Karen Dietz and Kathy Stewart Kennedy. I also performed as part of Tomfoolery, with Jane Fairnie, Madelaine Cave and Graham Whyte. When Madelaine went off to live in Colorado for a while we filled the gap with Pauline Vallance and Alan Brand and continued the mischief. We played original Americana songs but also performed songs in the folk, blues and gospel traditions as well as songs that leaned more toward contemporary influences.
The Waverlies compromised four poets…Bob Shields, Billy Cornwall, Mike Dillon and myself and we toured in Scotland and the Netherlands and performed at various festivals including the Edinburgh Fringe. I continue to collaborate with Bob and we have built up a substantial catalogue of songs. Our joint efforts feature on the CDs I have been involved in as a solo performer...birthmarked, The Journeyman, As Eden Lay In Darkness and Banishment and now on the new CD Lightning In The Dark.
I was one of the founder organisers of the Edinburgh institution that was Foakies, which was a monthly event featuring singer songwriters and poets performing original work. Foakies featured in the Edinburgh Fringe for several years to ever growing audiences and acclaim.
All of my recent attention has been on recording the new CD, Lightning In The Dark, with Merel Bregante in Austin and I plan to promote it as much as possible after it is officially released on the first of May.
About the CDs:
birthmarked: It was always an ambition to record my songs. Through a stroke of luck I was put in touch with the very talented knob twiddler, Arthur Wilson, by a colleague and friend, Jim Bathgate, and that meeting led to this CD. I performed the songs straight off so there's no big productions but it has a certain charm. In reality, when I started recording with Arthur, many of the songs were lyrically unfinished so I got together with yet another colleague, Bob Shields, who happens to be one of the best poets in Scotland, and he helped me complete a lot of them. I have a great deal to thank Jim, Arthur and Bob for and I am really grateful for all of their help and guidance. I can look back on recording birthmarked as a significant point in my life for many reasons but I am particularly glad that it has since given me the opportunity to meet so many musicians and to make so many new friends.
Speaking In Tongues: is the CD I made as part of a group of poets and singer songwriters called The Travelling Waverlies. This was our first CD and we are foolish enough to contemplate a second CD at some point in the distant future. The mixture of poetry and song is what we are all about and we try hard to work on integrated pieces.
The Harbour At Symi: is a mini CD featuring the title track as a song/poem combination with Bob Shields and Martin Boland. I co-wrote Symi with my wife, Jane. We both love the little Greek island and regard it as a very special place for us. I would love to perform at the Symi Music Festival one day and perhaps get the chance to play the song there.
War On War: was a Dutch compilation CD produced as a gesture against the war in Iraq. Mike Dillon, one of The Travelling Waverlies, features on the CD singing a song I co-wrote with Mike and Bob called Rockets Over Babylon.
Companions: was a brilliant experience. It features three songs each by six songwriters; myself, Arthur Wilson, Mark Barnett, Martin Boland, Mike Dillon and Kenny Vass and we have all now produced solo CDs.
The Journeyman: was my second solo CD and on this one I was able to get the help of a lot of great musicians and singers to help make it what I consider to be a very special recording. I think it contains some of my best songs.
As Eden Lay In Darkness: is one of the latest CDs. The title is taken from a line in one of the songs and combines the themes of philosophy, religion and sex. It is a mixture of Americana, country, folk and contemporary writing. A lot of the songs were co-written with Bob Shields and I think it has layers of meaning whilst being accessible at one and the same time.
Banishment: is the other new CD and is connected to Eden by themes. I have tried very hard to provide a consistent level of quality in terms of the writing. There are so many brilliant performances from the guest performers on both CDs that I could spend all day pointing them out. A few of my favourite moments would be the exchange between the trumpet and violin on Prada Heels on the Eden CD, the first time the slide guitar comes in on Without Tears on the Banishment CD, the choir on We All Want To Go Home Now, the vocals from Karen and Inge on Hawthorn, the violin on Boston, the accordion on The Woman, the electric guitar on I Want To Be Kissed, the keyboard / steel drum break on The Last Sailor Man, the harmonies on Sonoma & Sistine, the line "'til death or temptation do us part" on The Blue Part Of My Heart, the harmonica on Little Lucifer and the harmonies on Will You Fly Away? I could go on.
In The Early Morning: is the first album produced by my band Tomfoolery released in December 2014. It features songs written by myself and Bob Shields. The CD was recorded and produced in a very short period of time and the copies are burnt CDs rather than glass mastered and the sound is "as live". I think it captures a lot of what Tomfoolery are about.
Hard To Find: (EP) is a five track promotional sampler of previously issued country / Americana songs in order to focus on that particular side of my writing. Bob and I decided to put it out under both our names in order to emphasise that nearly every song is a collaboration.
Hard To Find: (full CD) is a twelve track CD of Americana / country songs. The original plan was to produce this as a promotional CD but the EP made more sense from that point of view whilst the full CD , I believe, gives a better all round view of our writing.
Lightning In The Dark: was produced and engineered by Merel Bregante in Austin, Texas. Merel also arranged many of the tracks. The musicians who appear on the CD have played with the likes of Bob Dylan, Doc Watson, Jackson Browne and Willie Nelson etc. The performances and the arrangements are more than I could have hoped for and I am immensely proud of it.