Advertisers

The Living Tradition has many regular advertisers who share our commitment to promoting an interest in traditional music. Many of them have been with us throughout the life of the magazine. Almost all, if not all, of the companies working with traditional music are 'passion led'. Throughout the last year we have seen the demise of some household names on the High Streets including Woolworths and more recently Borders. Specialist companies can't generally compete with the big guns and survive but without them many of our choices will be restricted. Please support our advertisers where you can.

Big Whistle Music

Phil Brown (co-director) is a ‘veteran’ of the Tin Whistle’ and has been playing this accessible instrument since the age of 15. Phil is an arts graduate and accomplished multi-instrumentalist. As a performer his work with Loose Chippings and Shake-a-Leg is well respected. More particularly his success as a recording artist has contributed greatly to the development of Big Whistle – Phil has cut three highly successful Whistle CD’s since 1995. He is in great demand nationally as a workshop leader and inevitably this has lead to his market leading specialist product knowledge of the high or low whistle. Additionally, the loyal fan base Phil has gained as a result of his groundbreaking albums underpins the reason why he is affectionately known as ‘the whistle man’.

Jill Brown, Phil’s wife is the Company Director. Jill is also well versed with understanding the folk scene and is a most accomplished folk dancer. Jill’s formal retail and financial training and experience ensure that the business is well managed and administered.

Phil loves playing the whistle and naturally hopes to encourage whistlers worldwide to share in this enthusiasm. It is unimportant if you are a raw beginner or a fully-fledged professional, they have something for you. It is not necessary to make a purchase, their advice is free and if they can support you they will. If they don’t have an answer to your questions they will probably know someone who does!

Their stock is devised to be comprehensive and to represent the comprehensive range of retail whistle material available. Starting with the highest and smallest of whistles to biggest and lowest! We want our whistle range to be unrivalled. Similarly ancillary products which relate to the instrument are in force too….tutor books, CD’s, Videos, Bags of all shapes and sizes.

Website: Link to Big Whistle Music website

Birnam CD

For over 20 years now, Birnam have been commited to delivering quality CD and DVD replication and duplication, packaging and design. Dealing with these things can seem overwhelming, but Birnam can help. They will guide you through the process every step of the way!

Website: Link to Birnam CD website

Design Folk

Design Folk is a graphic design company who work with many clients from the UK trad/folkmusic scene. They provide a range of services which include design of magazines, CDs, posters, logos and brochures to name but a few. They have worked for many years in the traditional music scene and have an impressive client list. For many years, they have been the designers for the Living Tradition. To see examples of their work, have a look at their website.
Link to Design Folk's website

English Folk Dance and Song Society

The English Folk Dance and Song Society has, for over a hundred years, worked to record, develop and promote the folk music, dance, song and traditions of England. With nearly 4,000 members and affiliated clubs and organisations, it is regarded as one of the premiere folk development and advocacy organisations in the UK.

Its aims are to develop its resources, namely the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library and Cecil Sharp House in order to maintain itself as a centre of excellence for the study, practice and dissemination of traditional English folk song, dance and music. It provides national and local outreach services in order to enable and increase access to the tradition.

Link to EFDSS website

Fellside Recordings

Fellside was established in 1976 and has grown to be one of the UK's leading independent, specialist record companies and is run solely by its founders, Paul & Linda Adams.

The company has three labels.

FELLSIDE: the original label specialises in Folk, Traditional and Roots music. There is a wide range of styles and presentation and there is an equally wide range of artists from those well-established to those making their debut albums.

LAKE Records: created in 1984 specialises in Jazz and mainly, but not exclusively, concentrates on British Traditional and Mainstream styles. Many of the albums are classic reissues, but the label also has current working bands.

SMALLFOLK: was created as a home for the music from the children's television programme, 'Bagpuss'.

The Budget series is split between both the main catalogues and is used for 'sampler' CDs and also to reissue material from the TRADITIONAL SOUND RECORDINGS label which Fellside acquired.

It is an award-winning company with albums and artists winning numerous nominations, awards and commendations.

WEBSITE: Link to Fellside website

Fflach Tradd

Fflach is a recording company that produces pop, rock, choral and traditional music, by recording some of Wales' finest artists. In existence for nearly 25 years, there is a large selection of CDs and cassettes available on the label.

Fflach was formed in 1981 by the brothers Richard and Wyn Jones, who were members of Welsh new wave group Ail Symudiad. The label recorded songs by Ail Symudiad and gave an opportunity for other groups to record on the label such as - Y Ficar, Eryr Wen, Malcolm Neon, Angylion Stanley, Y Diawled, Rocyn and Maffia Mr. Huws.

In 1997 Fflach decided to start a new label called fflach:tradd, a label to promote Welsh traditional music in Wales and abroad. 'Ffidil' and 'Datgan' were the fist CD's on this label and some of Wales' best fiddlers appeared on 'Ffidil' and leading traditional music singers from Wales, Ireland, Scotland and Brittany featured on 'Datgan'. Ceri Matthews, a famous Welsh piper was appointed as producer of this music and by now there are many CD's in the Fflach Tradd collection. Fflach Tradd artists have appeared throughout the world from Ireland to Vietnam, and the label has had excellent responses from a variety of countries. The CD's have sold in England, Scotland, Ireland, USA, Canada and France.

Link to Fflach Tradd website

Folkus

Folkus is the Folk Arts Network of the North West of England. It was founded by enthusiasts to celebrate, support, and build upon the continuing vitality of traditional and contemporary folk music, song and dance within the North West region.

Link to Folkus website

Free Reed Records and Music

Specialists in British folk and folk rock, Free Reed have brought together several definitive collections featuring some of the folk genres prime movers and shakers including FAIRPORT CONVENTION and DAVE SWARBRICK.

Website: Link to Free Reed Records & Music website

Fylde Guitars

Roger Bucknall made his first acoustic guitar when he was nine years old, and nearly fifty years later, he has become one of the World’s most highly regarded professional makers. He has built instruments for many of today’s major artists and with a small team of craftsmen produces a steady stream of guitars, mandolins and other instruments for discerning musicians. Working in purpose built premises on the edge of the Lake District National Park in Northern England, Roger and his team work by hand, with unrivalled skills and experience and the very best of timber stocks and facilities, to produce fine acoustic instruments of the highest quality.

Every guitar that is built by Fylde gets Roger's attention and around 99% of his work is by hand, and his team spend around 95% of their time at the bench, using the same traditional skills and techniques. Talking about the team, he says he couldn’t work without their skill and commitment.

He says "It is easy to get the wrong impression about Fylde. This is a small business. Myself and five other people helping. We make a very small number of instruments each year, with as much skill, care and love as we possibly can ~ by hand."

Link to Fylde Guitars website

Greentrax Recordings

Ian Green
The Force behind Greentrax
by Rob Adams

Ian Green is glad he was on his best behaviour when the phone call came through from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama a few weeks ago. As he listened to the reason for the call, he was sorely tempted, as would be his natural response, to tell whoever it was to “go away and get raffled,” hang up and curse whichever of his friends had set up this daft hoax.

Instead, he heard out the caller and learned that he was indeed to receive an Honorary Doctorate of Music from this august seat of learning as a tribute to his work in Scottish traditional music over the past forty years. He’s in good company, because, also being presented with an honorary degree at the ceremony on July 4th was Billy Connolly - one of the many artists to whom Ian has given a leg-up over the years in various organisational roles and especially as the driving force behind Scotland’s leading folk music label, Greentrax Recordings.

“Coming on top of the Hamish Henderson Award for services to Scottish traditional music at the Scots Trad Music Awards last year, this is a tremendous honour. I’m very, very proud. It shows that they recognise that people at the bottom of the pile are doing things as well as artists and musicians,” says Ian, adding that next on the list will be … the roof falling in.

Let’s hope not, although Ian may have gone on to tempt providence by revealing that his first response to the Scottish music he has become so passionately devoted to was far from enthusiastic.

“My father and my uncle Bill were both pipers and they used to march up and down the garden, playing with great gusto, and I hate to say this but my brother and I used to run away in terror when they started up,” he recalls. “But my dad also played the chanter in the house and people would come round, maybe with a moothie or a set of spoons, and there’d be sessions and songs sung round the fire which really gave me my introduction to the music.”

Growing up in Morayshire, where his father worked as a head gardener on various estates, Ian was in the midst of a great song heritage and the songs he heard on these evening get-togethers would later re-enter his life. “We led quite an itinerant existence because my father often found it difficult to get work as the big estates economised and were affected by death duties and that sort of thing, and eventually we moved to Edinburgh. My father stopped playing the pipes and I just became involved with whatever the popular music of the day was, I suppose.”

After leaving school, Ian became, he says modestly, “a man of many talents and master of none.” He followed his father’s example by serving his apprenticeship as a gardener, decided this wasn’t what he wanted to do and then joined the army where he trained as a motor mechanic and served in Korea. With marriage to June, his constant supporter, impending, he then joined the police, which is where his interest in folk music became rekindled and developed into a passion.

“I was watching TV one night in the mid 1960s, back in the old black and white days, and this programme came on called Hootenanny,” he says, remembering The Corries and Gaelic singer Dolina McLennan among the participants with relish. “I immediately related to a couple of the songs because I’d heard them sung back in our house in Morayshire and I went into a record shop the next day and lo and behold there was an LP called Hootenanny Volume 1. So I bought that and started buying whatever folk albums were available, the Corries, the Dubliners, the Clancy Brothers. I couldn’t get enough of them.”

When, towards the end of the 1960s, the police social club in York Place, Edinburgh was being set up, colleagues aware of Ian’s interest in folk music suggested that he organise a folk night to raise funds for the Angling Section. The idea proved so popular that a regular folk club, fortnightly on Sundays, followed. Dubbed “Fuzzfolk” by Hamish Imlach, one of its most popular guests, the club quickly began to thrive - too quickly for the organisers. “There were two of us, Davie Scougall and myself, and we used to go round the folk pubs to see who was worth booking,” says Ian. “There weren’t that many professional artists around in those days. We’d had the McCalmans, who I got hold of through Ian McCalman’s dad because I used to do deliveries for him when he had a gardening shop on the Mound. And we’d had The Bitter Withy but we needed more acts to keep the club going.”

Any singer or musician who has ever joked about not being able to get arrested in the pursuit of work may wish to look away at this point. Because being arrested was exactly what Fuzzfolk’s next targeted guests thought was happening to them.

In his travels around Edinburgh Ian had spotted a poster for a duo called The Cotters. Thinking he might be on to something he bought their album and decided they’d be the kind of entertaining act that would do well at the club. By sheer coincidence, shortly afterwards he was driving along in a patrol car when he noticed a sticker on the car in front’s rear window, saying “We are the Cotters.” There were guitars sticking up in the back seat. What further evidence was required? The cop car chase was about to enter the folk tradition.

“I followed this car, thinking, There’s bound to be a point soon where I can flag it down. But there was always another corner coming up, and another, and we ended up following this perfectly innocent motorist for a mile or more,” says Ian. “Eventually we got on to a quiet, straight stretch of road and I overtook and flagged this car down and got out. The driver got out, ashen faced, and said ‘What have I done?’ I said, ‘Nothing, I want to book you for the Police Folk Club,’ Poor Ally Watson, it was, he nearly had a heart attack. But he got a gig, so he was able to see the funny side of it, I hope.”

Whether the police powers that be would have been amused with this use of police time and property is another matter, adds Ian. But if getting booked for Fuzzfolk could damage a folksinger’s health – at least temporarily – running the club also turned out not to be the best career move Ian made.

“In those days, folk music was seen as very much part of the political left wing and there was quite a lot of resistance to the club within the police hierarchy. I was told later that my promotion had been turned down several times because of my involvement with the music and although I was an inspector when I retired, my boss told me I would have made another rung or two if it hadn’t been for the folk club.”

Billy Connolly was one artist whose appearance at the club caused a minor controversy. Connolly’s then infamous Last Supper sketch had offended one officer who wrote an indignant letter to the Police Welfare Committee, suggesting that Connolly be banned. Ian, who sat on the committee, was able to explain that this was just a bit of fun, not a dig at religion, and Connolly’s return booking went ahead.

“We’d booked Billy very early on in his solo career, right after he left the Humblebums. I remember Davie and me going down to a pub in Dalkeith to see him and we offered him a booking on the spot. So he was a friend of the club and it was just this one idiotic character who was outraged. When Billy came back, he said, ‘I’d better be careful tonight.’ So I told him, ‘No, just go ahead and do your usual performance.’ He was quiet in the first half but he relaxed after that and was just his normal, hilarious self in the second half.

“Incidents like this annoyed me because I wasn’t alone in believing that the folk club had been great PR for the police. There were several Folk on Two recordings made there. The Rankin File, who were a popular Edinburgh group at the time, recorded part of an album there and there was Bill Barclay’s brilliant live album, which included his take on The Twelve Days of Christmas, a top ten single – that was recorded at the Edinburgh Police Folk Club.”

One Saturday lunchtime, as was their habit, Ian and John Barrow, now best known as the proprietor of the Stoneyport Agency, were having a pint in Sandy Bell’s, then as now the hub of Edinburgh’s folk scene. Talk turned to the lack of co-ordination on the folk club scene. Artists were coming up from England to play a one-off club gig, only to return a few weeks later to do another one-off gig. Nobody seemed to know what was going on.

By this time, Ian and John had been involved in starting Edinburgh Folk Club and had put on concerts by Clannad, Planxty and the Bothy Band. The pair would later join forces in running Edinburgh Folk Festival, with Ian stage- managing concerts and getting a real grounding in the whole folk music business.

This particular Saturday, though, was to see the birth of their next moneymaking venture, as John described it. None of their moneymaking ventures had ever actually made any money, as Ian reminded him, and Sandy Bell’s Broadsheet would be no different. But this, they decided, was what the folk scene needed to pull it closer together.

How right – and, occasionally, wrong – they were. Starting off as a single sheet with basic gig news, Sandy Bell’s Broadsheet quickly became required reading for everyone involved in the scene and soon expanded to include articles and record reviews. Ian, John and Ken Thompson, who was the professional journalist of the trio, would get together on press night with three portable typewriters, two bottles of liquid paper (Ken, thanks to his day job, was able to put ideas straight onto paper), and some other liquid sustenance. Thus provisioned, they’d work into the early hours to produce the latest issue.

“The response was amazing,” recalls Ian. “We had this huge mailing list - all on card indexes, none of your computer-stored information in those days – and we wrote all the envelopes by hand. So it was a home-made effort in lots of ways. But we got great feedback. I remember Karl Dallas, who was then writing for Melody Maker, which itself was a prestigious paper at the time, getting in touch to say, ‘What you guys are doing is great.’ He liked the fact that we were quite hard hitting in our opinions, although later, towards the end of the Broadsheet’s ten year run, he came back to say that we were maybe getting a bit soft.”

Some of the hard-hitting opinions weren’t appreciated and Ian remembers a right old to-do breaking out after one well-known Scottish singer-songwriter’s latest work was afforded rather less reverence than he and his followers thought was his due. “There were some incredible exchanges,” says Ian. “We ran letters for two or three issues and then we had to say, Enough! But it was invigorating and the whole enterprise was great fun. When I think back to us putting it together, cut and paste meant literally that. Sometimes we’d cut out one word and replace it before sending the copy off to the printers.”

Somewhere along the way – he can’t remember when or how it began – Ian started taking a box of LPs along to sell at Edinburgh Folk Club and at a few festivals. These were mostly on the Topic and Leader labels, and other labels whose releases weren’t readily available in shops. One box became two. Two became a car load and before anything as sophisticated as a business plan was drawn up, Ian had developed a thriving sideline.

“By the time my retirement from the police was coming up, we were sending stuff by mail order all over the world and I was having difficulty coping with the record business as well as the day job,” Ian says. “You were allowed to prepare for an occupation outside the force but I already had one, so when I finally retired in 1985 it was a simple transition from the station to the stock room I had in the house at the time.”

The move from record retailer to running his own record company wasn’t planned either and came as a result of a casual conversation with fiddler Ian Hardie of Jock Tamson’s Bairns.

“Ian was about to issue a book of tunes and he asked if I might be able to give him any help with promotion. I immediately said that the best way to promote the book would be to issue an LP of the tunes. Of course, the next question was what label should we take this to.

“From my experience selling records, I was aware that the big companies, RCA and CBS particularly, had shown an interest in folk music but it had never lasted. The albums would be deleted after a couple of years and on top of that there was a lot of talent that wasn’t being given any chance to record at all. There were one or two labels in Scotland – Robin Morton had set up Temple by this time – so I decided to invest some of my pension into forming my own label.”

The name Greentrax Recordings wasn’t Ian’s idea. This came from a competition run on BBC Radio Scotland’s Travelling Folk programme which offered a pair of LPs for the best name. Greentrax Recordings won, although Ian was rather taken with a late entry which missed the deadline: Cop Out Records.

“It was never intended to be as intensive as it’s become,” says Ian. “The original plan was to release three or four albums a year, at most, but because I was so widely known, between the mail order business, selling records at festivals and my involvement in folk clubs and the Scottish Traditional Music and Song Association, people kept knocking on the door.”

The McCalmans were early supporters of the new label, offering Ian a leg-up in return for the gigs he’d put their way over the years, and have stayed with Greentrax ever since. The planned three or four albums a year turned into eight or ten and with the mail order business beginning to decline, within two years the tail was beginning to wag the dog.

“It fairly quickly reached the stage where I had to decide to run one part of the business or the other, and the label was by far the bigger challenge, which meant that it won hands down! I gave the mail order list to The Living Tradition, because they were looking at running a similar operation, and concentrated on Greentrax.”

Breaks such as being offered the chance to select an album from the Aly Bain & Friends television series – a break that multiplied in significance when the series was immediately re-transmitted with an unheard of free commercial for the album at the end of each programme – didn’t hinder progress. That album has gone on to pass the 25,000 sales mark, one of Greentrax’s best performances. With the volume of business increasing and the release schedule rising to one or more a month, the Greens decided to find proper business premises, sell their Edinburgh home and move to Cockenzie in East Lothian, where the company is also based.

“For the first seven years I did everything myself, with June’s help, and with the business beginning to take over the house, it was becoming too much. I took on staff which meant that we had to keep the turnover coming in but it also allowed me to get out to events like Midem, the record industry jamboree in the south of France.”

When first confronted with this assembly of music biz big wigs, Ian was overawed. But it was here that the owner of Australian label Larrakin Records approached him, informed him that Eric Bogle had a ‘Best of’ album coming out and asked if Greentrax wanted the UK rights. With a handshake, the deal was done.

“I’d encountered Eric years before when he was in Scotland on holiday. June Tabor had just recorded one of his songs and I thought he was a star. I suggested that he make an album then, but he said he didn’t have enough songs. Six months later, he brought out Now I’m Easy with all these great songs on it, No Man’s Land, Waltzing Matilda, Leaving Nancy. Now I was getting effectively a greatest hits and we’ve continued to release his stuff, which is great because for me he’s one of the best songwriters around.”

Other success stories, including the strange tale of MacUmba – whose album sold a miraculous one thousand copies in one shop in Austin, Texas alone after a local university radio station played it – have been balanced by a few disappointments and the occasional bit of stick.

“I got terrible criticism from other people in the business for issuing Shooglenifty’s Venus in Tweeds album,” says Ian. “They were saying things like, ‘That’s not the way the music should be going.’ Well, I’m sorry but it was the way this band were taking it and I thought it was a really exciting, fresh sound. The upshot was, Folk Roots, as it then was, went nuts over them, put them on the front cover and within a few months the band was booked onto every festival going.”

The Peatbog Faeries were another controversial signing who went on to prove Greentrax’s judgement correct and as he surveys the complete set of the label’s CD covers on the office wall, Ian opines that he’s proud of every one of the 350 or so items in the catalogue.

“One or two may not have sold as many as we hoped they would – we’ve had difficulty shifting traditional singers over the past few years, for example – but that’s just the nature of the business. I look at the catalogue and we’ve covered the tradition, from the School of Scottish Studies Muckle Sangs series we inherited from Tangent and which I was delighted to re-issue, through piping, country dance bands and into the young generation with GiveWay and Bodega.

“There are so many talented young musicians around these days and I keep saying I’m going to slow down and release fewer albums, but then something else new and exciting turns up, and I can’t say no.”

Choosing the tracklist for the 3CD set, Scotland: The Music & The Song which celebrates Greentrax’s first twenty years and is reviewed elsewhere in this issue, may have been a difficult task - because it meant leaving some artists out - but it wasn’t a chore, Ian says. Which might well sum up his involvement in the company itself.

“The work I do here is a job, I know, but I don’t see it as that. Music has been my hobby all my life and I think everyone’s ideal is to get paid for doing their hobby,” he says. “I remember when the first batch of the first LP we issued arrived, I pulled out a copy and examined it, and it gave me immense pleasure just to have been part of the process. And you know, I still go into the stock room when the new releases are delivered and take out a copy of each of them, and I get the same buzz as I did from that first one. Just knowing that I’ve played a wee part in making this music available keeps me going.”

WEBSITE: Link to Greentrax website

Herron Publishing

Herron Publishing was established in 2000 to make available classic texts and new writings on folk song and traditional culture. Since the first publication in 2001 of 'Boxing the Compass', a revised edition of Roy Palmer's 'Oxford Book of Sea Songs', the company has gone on to publish books that are instantly recognizable from their quality and their distinctive covers.

Herron Publishing was founded by Dave Eckersley. As a performer, singer and musician during the Second Revival in the late '60s and early '70s, Dave drew on sources that eventually went out of print. Using his twenty years experience in the retail book trade, he decided to produce these books for an emerging generation of singers.

Since then the production team has expanded to include Erica Hawthorne as editor and proof-reader, Kit Eckersley responsible for media and website design, Ali Crann copyeditor, and Bryan Ledgard who has the responsibility for layout and cover design.

Visit their website at: Herron Publishing

Hobgoblin

Hobgoblin's shops are often described as an Aladdin's Cave of musical instruments. There are eight branches of Hobgoblin Music across the UK, and in each one you will find a huge range of acoustic, folk, celtic and world musical instruments to try out and compare.

BIRMINGHAM | BRISTOL | CRAWLEY | LEEDS | LONDON | MANCHESTER | MILTON KEYNES | WADEBRIDGE

Our staff are friendly and knowledgable, and will be happy to give you pressure-free advice. Alongside the Hobgoblin Catalogue, our shops also have a huge and varied stock of used musical instruments and extra items.

Link to Hobgoblin Website

Mally's Traditional Music Store

Mally's Traditional Music Store is solely dedicated to traditional music, song and dance. This is the place to come for reels, jigs, hornpipes, polkas and such. Celtic music, folk songs, country dancing, all abound within his store. There's repertoire and tuition for all 'traditional' instruments including fiddle, tenor banjo, piano accordion and bodhran. They sell music books, CDs and DVDs to help and inspire traditional musicians. You can buy CD ROM videos, and everything from melodeon straps to tin whistles.

Publishing traditional music, song and dance books, often with accompanying soundtrack, is the cornerstone of mally.com, the very heart of the business. Over the years an extensive catalogue has been built up. In addition, the range is enhanced by books from several other publishers. As well as retail sales mally.com distributes to numerous other outlets around the U.K., Ireland, America, France and Australia.

Link to Mally's Traditional Music Store website

Microvox

Microvox are a small company based in Holmfirth, West Yorkshire. The company was set up in 1987 with the brief to design and manufacture microphone systems for acoustic instruments.

After some considerable research and co-operation with professional musicians they have produced systems which produce true acoustic sound with the maximum user friendliness at a reasonable cost. Microvox microphones are used by many working musicians.

They manufacture and sell studio quality instrument microphones for all acoustic musical instruments including accordion, melodeon, concertina, banjo, brass, flute, whistle, guitar, mandolin, harmonica, saxophone, clarinet, violin, 'cello and percussion. Their microphones are used by many professional musicians around the world.

Link to Microvox website

Musicians Union

The Musicians' Union represents over thirty thousand musicians working in all sectors of the music business. As well as negotiating on behalf of members with all the major employers in the industry, they offer a range of services for professional and student musicians of all ages. They have a section that deals particularly with folk, roots and traditional music.

Website: Link to Musicians Union website

Penguin Eggs

This is a Canadian based magazine featuring folk, roots and world music. Its published four times a year.
Link to Penguin Eggs website

Ray Sloan - pipemaker

Ray Sloan vividly remembers the day he first heard bagpipes other than the ubiquitous Great Highland Bagpipes. It was in 1964 as an 11 year old at school in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne when his Art Teacher emerged from the store room strapped in to an instrument driven by a flapping arm attached to bellows, that instrument was the Northumbrian Smallpipe. He remembers being absolutely smitten by the sound of the pipes at a time when the Beatles and Rolling Stones were the preferred sound of his generation, little did he know that 16 years later history would repeat itself when Ray himself became an Art Teacher and Piper/Pipemaker. That experience as a young boy never left Ray but it was not until as a young man of 24 that he was financially able to achieve his dream and buy a set of pipes.

It was as a fine maker of Northumbrian Smallpipes that Ray first established himself as a Pipemaker of International repute, but what really changed his life further was his introduction to the traditional music of Ireland played by the likes of ‘The Bothy Band’, ‘Planxty’ and ‘The Chieftains’, more specifically the wonderful and compelling sound of the Uilleann Pipes. After 10 years or so experience in making Smallpipes he embarked upon the next stage of his journey as a Pipemaker and started to make the Irish Uilleann Pipes which Ray now makes for clients around the Globe.

Ray gave up Teaching to become a full-time professional Pipemaker in 1988 and to this day continues to develop his style and design in pursuit of perfection. The importance of his experience and training in Art & Design cannot be underestimated when it comes to making Pipes as his visual skills and attention to detail and design shine through in every aspect of his work. While being uniquely his own the design of his Uilleann Pipes is eclectic and broadly based upon the traditions and styles set by the old masters such as Coyne, kenna, Rowsome and Reid. Ray approaches each set of pipes he makes as completely individual and different in some small way to the previous, which means that you as a client will receive a set of Pipes hand-made for you personally.

Ray lives and works in County Donegal, Ireland

Visit his website at: Ray Sloan

Sound Sense

Sound Sense are a PA Hire and Recording company, based in Moffat in the south of Scotland, but travelling worldwide! It is run by John Weatherby and Kris Koren, two music enthusiasts who are very experienced in this field having worked extensively in the folk and trad music area. They mostly do acoustic music on the PA front, but have been known to turn it up with rock gigs!! They cover folk festivals from Shetland to the Borders - and further afield too. On the recording side, they have recorded solo singers to choirs (and some Heavy Metal! Death Star 4 to be precise!)

Great sound gives musicians on stage confidence to play at their best. Sound Sense always give you great sound!

Link to Sound Sense website

Taigh na Teud - Scotland's Music

Scotland’s leading traditional music book publisher based on the Isle of Skye, specialising in tune Books, CDs, MP3s and DVDs for all levels of players and for most traditional instruments.

Link to Taigh na Teud website

Temple Records

The Temple Records website gives you access to the best in Scottish Traditional Music, plus a little bit of Irish Music for good measure.

Here at Temple, we have some of the best Scottish Traditional harp, bagpipe and fiddle music plus gaelic song, singer/songwriters like Pat Kilbride and not forgetting Battlefield Band. From artists like Alison Kinnaird, Ann Heymann, Marie Ni Chathasaigh, Bill Taylor, Dr. Angus MacDonald, John D. Burgess, Shotts & Dkyehead, Christine Primrose, Arthur Cormack, Flora MacNeil, Brian McNeill, John McCusker, Alan Reid, Jim Hunter, Peter Nardini ... to name but a few.

Link to Temple Records website

The Music Room

The Music Room has an online store for the UK’s largest independent Traditional musical instrument shop. Our range of musical instruments is huge, many of which are available for you to view here online or if you prefer in our music shop located in Cleckheaton West Yorkshire.

Check out the many Acoustic guitar brands including Collings, Martin, Crafter, Seagull, Stanford, Tonewood, Heartwood and Cort. Mandolins by Collings, Buchanan, Eastman and Shippey Accordions by Pigini, Borsini, Baffetti, Saltarelle, Hohner and Weltmeister Plus lots of excellent vintage violins and concertinas plus second hand musical instruments of all descriptions.

Link ot The Music Room

The Sage, Gateshead

The Sage Gateshead is an international home for music and musical discovery, bringing about a widespread and long-term enrichment of the musical life of the North East of England. Their inclusive approach enables all their performance, learning and participation programmes to be constantly inspired and supported by each other.

It is both a live music venue and a centre for music education. The local, national and international concert programme runs all year round. It incorporates all kinds of music ranging from acoustic, indie, country, world, folk, jazz, electronic and dance to classical music, including concerts by Northern Sinfonia, orchestra of The Sage Gateshead. They bring national and international performers to the region who have not previously appeared in the North East and offer a new and outstandingly equipped additional venue to performers already established in the region.

The Sage Gateshead is pioneering a fresh approach to musical discovery that enables everyone to become involved in, stimulated and excited by music - no matter what their age or ability.

As well as hosting concerts for some outstanding folk and traditional music acts, the Sage is also the venue for many folkworks summer schools.

Link to The Sage Gateshead website

Tradition Bearers

The Tradition Bearers is a project that aims to bring to the fore the role of the current generation of traditional singers and musicians in our musical heritage.

We are developing a series of recordings but 'The Tradition Bearers' is much more than a series of recordings. It is a statement of belief in the value of traditional song and a key aim is to 'legitimise' or 'justify' the work of the current generation of traditional musicians. Part of this task is to point out to the world, and to some extent to the singers themselves, that they are part of a living tradition and that they are no less a traditional musician than those in the past.

It is now no longer possible to listen to some of the great traditional singers from Scotland's past, people like Jeannie Robertson, Willie Scott or Lizzie Higgins, other than on recordings. Whilst these recordings convey something of their art they can never quite capture the spirit and presence that these great singers had in a live performance.

However by listening to current masters of their art in live performance, it is possible both to gain a deeper impression and understanding of some of the great singers of the past, together with the experience of listening to a present day masters of traditional music. Be prepared for the hairs on the back of your neck to stand on end - that frisson which tells you that you are experiencing something really special. In every case it is not just the singer but also the songs which are special and for these singers, the songs come first, the key perhaps to why they are held in such high regard.

Our complete catalogue now extends to over 20 CDs, grouped into various themes, such as Scots Songs and Ballads, Borders Traditions, 'Magic of Live' series and American Songs & Ballads.

Link to Tradition Bearers website

Wildgoose Recordings

English folk music by WildGoose Records

WildGoose specialises in traditional folk music, particularly that of England. Doug. Bailey, who founded the label and studio in the 1980s, has been involved in English music for over 30 years as a performer, a producer and an engineer.

Most people are familiar with Irish and Scottish music, but far less aware of English music. Sadly, some think that there is no English traditional music. We at WildGoose wish to do what we can to alter this situation.

Our recordings cover a great range of dance, vocal and choral music, both old and new, with a strong bias toward the traditional. Many albums are representative of a particular region of England. There are also albums of early music, Playford, lively village band music and some works recently composed in the traditional style.

During the last few years, the label has taken a few forays into the traditional music of other countries but English music is still the mainstay of WildGoose.

Link to Wildgoose website

William Jackson and Grainne Hambly

Internationally known harper and composer William Jackson has been a major force in Scottish Music for many years. As a founding member of the band Ossian (1976-1989) he was part of the revival of traditional music in Scotland in the 70's and 80's, and became known as an innovative composer, using a mix of traditional and classical musicians in such acclaimed works as The Wellpark Suite (1985), A Scottish Island (1998) and Duan Albanach (2003). Touring extensively in Europe and North America he gained a reputation as a fine performer of traditional music featuring the Scottish harp, and also as a teacher. William is also a trained Music Therapist (Guildhall) and has worked in that area since 1993 in both Scotland and the USA. Apart from his Scottish background William has also been influenced by Irish music in his compositions, as both his paternal grandparents were from Co Donegal, Ireland, and he spent a great deal of his childhood there.

Gráinne Hambly comes from County Mayo in the west of Ireland, and is a music graduate of Queen's University Belfast. She began to play traditional Irish music on tin whistle at an early age, before turning to the concertina and later the harp. Over the past few years, Gráinne has toured extensively throughout Europe and the United States. She is also a qualified teacher of traditional Irish music and is in great demand at summer schools and festivals both in Ireland and abroad. Grainne has featured on a number of recordings and has released three solo harp CDs - Between the Showers (1999), Golden Lights and Green Shadows (2003) and The Thorn Tree (2006).

Gráinne and William first performed together in October 2004. Since then they have toured extensively in the USA giving concerts and workshops, as well as performing at several international harp festivals. They have both released a number of solo CDs, but "Music from Ireland and Scotland" is their first collaborative recording. It features of variety of Irish and Scottish airs and dance tunes, some dating back to the 17th and 18th century harp repertoire as well as recent compositions, performed on harps, concertina, whistle and bouzouki.

Link to William Jackson's website
Link to Grainne Hambly's website