'My love for traditional music is immense, to the extent that I am nearly always involved in it; whether it be performing, practicing, teaching, listening or watching.’ Ruairidh tells more about how Fèis Rois has influenced his musical experience to date…
I was first introduced to traditional music by the great Bob Massie and the Fèis Chataibh education movement, where tutors, including Bob, visited primary schools in the Sutherland area and taught traditional music. However, I first started becoming properly immersed in traditional music when I embarked on lessons with Debbie Ross and Monica MacLean, teaching fiddle and accordion respectively. This led onto playing with the local school traditional music group Gizzen Briggs, the Sutherland Accordion and Fiddle Club and the Rogart Ceilidh Band, where over the past six years I have had many great opportunities with these bands, including, recording albums, performing at Runrig’s Party on the Moor, playing at the Blas festival and of course playing at some great footstompin’ Highland cèilidhs! Debbie (and everyone at Gizzen Briggs), Monica and Bob have been great inspirations to me over the past number of years and without their guidance, tuition and help I would definitely not be where I am today.
Fèis Rois has been a big part of my musical life ever since I first attended one of their annual residential weeks in 2010. This paved the way for me to take part in many other Fèis Rois projects. One highlight was the Boy and the Bunnet project in 2013, where myself and eight other young people were chosen to take part in this musical activity led by James Ross. We spent one week rehearsing the score and playing along to the animated video, and then the second week we toured primary schools around the Highlands. The project was a lot of fun and gave me my first experience of touring. A few years later, in 2014, I took work placement at the Fèis Rois office. Working in the office gave me the chance to learn more about film editing, music in education, tutoring and advertising.
In early 2015, I was accepted to take part in Duncan Chisholm’s multimedia project, Kin and the Community which was a collaboration between Fèis Rois and the Highland Youth Arts Hub (HYAH). On the project we researched a particular person at the School of Scottish Studies in Edinburgh, then filmed in and around Ullapool with a crew from Eden Court, composed music, edited audio and film and finally presented the final piece at the Macphail Centre in Ullapool. We were also given the opportunity to perform our piece in the Ironworks, Inverness as part of the Blas Festival. In the summer of 2015, I had the privilege of being asked by Fèis Rois to perform at the Sidmouth Folkweek, with a group of four other musicians from the Ross-shire area. In Sidmouth, we performed and watched a number of gigs throughout the week and held a few workshops during the day. This was a wonderful experience and one that will not be forgotten anytime soon. Here is a video of us playing at the festival:
For all these great opportunities, I would like to thank all those who work at Fèis Rois and HYAH, extending my gratitude to Fiona Dalgetty.
As well as Fèis Rois, I have also been involved in other bands and projects over the years. The Horsecross Arts traditional music ensemble held in Perth, Gordon Duncan Experience, was another highlight for me. I participated and performed with the group for a year giving me the opportunity to meet and play music with musicians from all over Scotland. Another band I have played with is ‘snas, the Highland Schools Cèilidh Band. In the two years I was with the group, we arranged and performed sets at various events across the Highlands. Musicplus is one other project I have been involved with. My two mentors were Robbie Dunsmure, and Angus Lyon who has encouraged me a lot over the past year. The project broadened my knowledge of sound engineering and led onto volunteering at Blazin’ in Beauly 2015. Being an inspiration of mine from an early age, working with Blazin’ Fiddles was one of the best musical experiences I have had. Getting to know the band and working alongside Craig Corse of TwentyTwo Promotions, gave me a great insight into working as a music promoter and being a professional musician.
In August 2015, I started school at the NCETM in Plockton. Whilst I have been here, I have improved my musical abilities, from playing my instruments, to performing at concerts, sound engineering and many aspects of music theory. I have also had the honour of supporting two great bands, RURA and The Scott Wood Band, and have had music lessons from experts in the industry including, Iain Macfarlane, Andy Thorburn, Sandy Brechin, Angus Lyon, Gordon Gunn, Mhairi Hall and Mhairi Mackinnon.
I have many musical inspirations and each and every one of them has helped me in some way or another over the years. As well as those mentioned above, some others include Laura Wilkie, Fiona Black, Rua Macmillan, Mike Vass, Patsy Reid, Matheu Watson, Anna Massie, Ross Ainslie, Mairearad Green to name a few! For all the advice, tunes, and motivation I have had from them, I am ever so grateful. I am also indebted to thank all of my family, especially my mum, who have supported and encouraged me ever since I started playing music.
Below are links to all the great organisations, projects and groups I have been involved in – check them out!!:
– Fèis Chataibh: www.feischataibh.co.uk
– Gizzen Briggs: www.facebook.com
– Sutherland Accordion & Fiddle Club: www.boxandfiddle.com
– Fèis Rois: www.feisrois.org.uk
– Highland Youth Arts Hub: www.hyah.co.uk
– Gordon Duncan Experience: www.horsecross.co.uk
– ‘snas: www.highland-young-musicians.com
– Musicplus: www.musicplus.org.uk
– Blazin’ in Beauly: www.blazininbeauly.com
– Sgoil Chiùil na Gàidhealtachd: www.musicplockton.org