Following a recent line-up change, founding member Mary Macmaster and long-term member Eilidh Shaw are now joined by the fantastic Sarah McFadyen on fiddle, banjo and vocals, and Tia Files on guitar, fiddle and percussion.
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Having had an auspicious start – at beautiful Woodford Festival in Australia – this has been a busy year with a couple of exciting ‘firsts’ for me. I went to Fèis Rois (adult version) for the first time, to teach and sing with my lovely trio Shine. I had an amazing time and loved being in Ullapool for a few days of early May.
My other notable first was playing in the Royal Albert Hall with Hidden Orchestra on my birthday! That was sublime.
In between there’s been a few concerts with Shine; a wee trip to Germany with Allan MacDonald’s Bruce 700 – an orchestra, a mass pipe band and three drummers; some magic gigs with the amazing Songs of Separation project, culminating in our appearance at Na Trads (the Scottish Traditional Music Awards); a whole month’s run of my favourite play for kids, Molly Whuppie, at the Edinburgh Festival and two wee tours with my duo Macmaster/Hay, first to the Loire Valley (what a river!) and then, via Mont St Michelle to Achill Island in Mayo (oh the beaches!).
In amongst all this I am very excited about the new line-up of the Poozies. Sarah McFadyen has long been one of my favourite musicians and getting to know the incredible Tia Files has been a joy.
We can’t shut out what’s going on in the world and the awful times some people are having but if we can contribute a wee bit of happiness through our music then that’s what we’ll do.
Here’s to 2017.
Finished off the previous year with a tour of Austria playing for Michelle Burke in ‘Welcome to my Parlour.’ Here I learned some questionable old school tips on various aspects of life, definitely worth checking out if you get the chance.
Then it was off to Shetland Folk Festival to play for ‘The Outside Track’ with Baltimore Fiddle Festival and some other dates round about it. I love the ferry, which is where the festival really starts. It’s an intense 12 hour opportunity to catch up with people I haven’t seen for years and ultimately have tunes with these folk as well as people just met for the first time. It really is a great journey to the festival and a brilliant way to start a tour so thanks everyone!
Over the last couple of years, I have been fortunate to cover guitar for a few bands and was excited to learn Gillian Frame’s new album ‘Pendulum.’ I loved the album but then playing it at such a well supported CD launch was great to be part of. We finished off with Arran Folk Festival which had various highlights, but for me it was learning that the average number of steps in a group is 13. I enjoy a good fact and interesting people. Brilliant time all round.
The overall highlight of my year has been joining the Poozies. It has felt like such a natural fit and ideas from all four of us are flooding out which is exciting! To me that’s what a band is, people who trigger and bounce ideas with each other respectfully and with ease. Also being comfortable to just say if something doesn’t sound quite right is hugely important to me. This combination of people is working, from my eyes anyway, and I’m over the moon to be part of it. Thanks Poozies!
At the start of this blog, I mentioned being in Austria.. here is a wee video of tunes after a gig in a Garden Centre.
Firstly I’d like to say how excited I am to be a Poozie. I’ve been going to Poozie gigs since the beginning and I’ve always felt a deep respect for them. There’s something about becoming a Poozie that has made me look at myself and say.. Holy, I must actually be a woman now! I feel like a true grown-up wifey!
I met Eilidh while I was still at school. I had come down to Edinburgh from Orkney to visit the Wrigley sisters and experience the music scene. At that time Eilidh was sharing a flat with the Wrigleys and Angus Grant, and so I was thrown in to that wild world straight away and was instantly hypnotised by Eilidh and her ability to find a party. I would safely say I’ve had more near death experiences with Eilidh than anyone else…. but also I’d say I’ve had more life affirming experiences with Eilidh than anyone else also! So here’s to more of that on our new adventures into Poozie land.
Last year saw me realise some dreams. The main one being that I finished making fiddle number 2! Hurrah! To fill you’s in, in 2009 I went over to Cape Breton and did a 3 month apprenticeship with my good friend; the amazing luthier Otis Tomas. It resulted in me making a fiddle. It is the fiddle that I love and play all the time. I imagined I’d come home and straight away start making another one. However it’s not that easy! Having to gather tools and equipment for a start; and then I had a baby; then I moved house; then I broke my wrist.. 6 years later I finished it! Here’s some photos for you to see.
The other significant thing that’s been going on is helping utilise a community festival on the island of Hoy where I come from and love dearly. It’s been going for two years now. The first year I was involved in programming mostly, and also in performance. This last year saw me take a step back from that, and work on developing the kid’s entertainment. We created a whole kid’s show with music and art workshops combined.
This year the festival is having a year off. However my husband and I, along with the physical theatre company Oceanallover are bringing a physical visual art, costume and music performance to Hoy and the Orkney Mainland. This performance will be an exploration into the mythology of horses and the traditions of ploughing and harness making. I’m super excited about this as we are going to have actual horses in our performance!
Here is one of the horses, and us doing a wee performance outside St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall on our recent field trip.
So it seems May is the big month for me at the moment… that is when I go north to Orkney for our Horse performances. I also go back at the end of the month to Orkney for the folk festival, where we are going to be doing some gigs with my Dad; and also debuting a new kid’s show!
However the middle bit of May will surely be of most interest to you all… that is when we do our first Poozie gigs!!!! Bring it on!
After a fantastic week of teaching and a great gig supporting Dervish at Les Celti’Cimes festival in the French Alps the husband and I decided to stop the idle chat about making an album and actually do it. We’re going to record it on the beautiful island of Skye, which is very close to where we live. It will be out towards the end of this year, with a few dates in Scotland to launch it.
Aside from that I also did some recording on a lovely album of tunes written by a good friend called Fraser Shaw from Islay, who wrote an amazing amount of great tunes in his short life. That will be released this Spring/Summer and features some of the best young musicians around in Glasgow just now.
I’ve been doing a some work with the Danish world/roots outfit Himmerland, and this year we toured Scotland and Denmark, and finished up with my first trip to South America with 10 days in Chile. It was very beautiful and we were looked after by some fantastic people, including a great band called Golosa La Orquesta, who we ended up playing and recording some of their fantastic gypsy jazz music with. Hopefully there’ll be a video of that sometime soon. There was also delicious wine and my favourite food – ceviche. So I was very happy.
I went straight from there to Brittany to do some exciting but extremely scary gigs with the new Arnuad Ciopalino project, which features some proper heavyweights! Here’s a wee video from our first ever gig together:
I finished off the year in style on the wild and wonderful Isle of Eigg and cant wait to play lots of music with the new Poozies this year! Judging by what has emerged, musically, from the little amount of time we’ve had together so far it’s going to be exciting times ahead.
Mary has hit the charts with her star-studded project ‘Songs of Separation’, a beautiful collection of traditional and self-penned songs recorded in the fairy-tale setting of the Isle of Eigg (in the Scottish Inner Hebrides). The process of developing the music was documented and shared with audiences each day through a range of videos which you can view here http://www.songsofseparation.co.uk.