A “FANTASTIC” year for the traditional music scene is to be celebrated at a glittering ceremony in Paisley as part of its bid for the City of Culture title.

Growing interest in the Scottish scene across the world is evidenced in the voting for the prestigious MG Alba Scots Trad Music Awards which take place on December 2.

Now in its 15th year, public votes come from as far away as Uruguay, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the United States as well as from Scotland and the rest of the UK.

“At home and abroad, this has been a fantastic year for Scotland’s traditional music scene,” pointed out Alan Morrison, head of music at Creative Scotland.

“Our finest artists have had festival tents jumping and radio airwaves buzzing, winning awards and embracing new audiences everywhere they go. Stars of the future have taken big leaps forward while the veterans who paved the way have enriched our culture even further.”

Paisley 2021 director Jean Cameron said she was “thrilled” to be welcoming the awards to Paisley for the first time.

“December’s awards night couldn’t come at a better time for us with the announcement over whether we will be named UK City of Culture 2021 expected later in the month,” she said.


THE Album of the Year is one of the most sought-after awards and competition is stiff this year, with 10 nominees all vying for the top spot including Elephant Sessions, Mànran, and Ímar, alongside Ryan Young who last year won the Up and Coming Artist of the Year award.

“It’s been a great year for album releases and the whole scene is very heartening,” said Simon Thoumire of awards organiser Hands Up For Trad. “You don’t see the same names all the time on the nominees’ list as there are lots of new people doing amazing work.

“It is really important to reflect on the whole scene and recognise those who have been around for a while as well as the youngsters coming up and making their own music. And gender-wise the trad awards are really open as there are so many women playing trad music. There are no barriers to playing or singing.”

He added: “The awards are definitely growing and there are a lot more people voting right across the world. It’s great as the awards are all about letting the general public know the amazing things that are going on in Scotland. A lot of bands are touring internationally too.”

“I think generally Scots have always been very creative and that is reflected in the music.”


OBAN Live and the Killin Music Festival are among the nominees for the Event of the Year category while Elephant Sessions, Ímar, Tide Lines and Skippinish make up the shortlist for Live Act of the Year. Gnoss, Hò-rò, Heron Valley, Inyal and Brighde Chaimbeul all compete for the Up and Coming Artist of the Year.

One of the most interesting categories is the Community Project of the Year and nominees include the ambitious Tiree Songbook.

This has connected the Gaelic island and its global diaspora community with its precious song heritage.

The project was funded by the Tiree Association and the island’s community windfall fund and the brief was to celebrate in the first instance “Na Bàird Thirisdeach”, the definitive 20th century collection of songs from the island — the “blue book bible” for Tiree singers.

The Songbook also sought to include some of today’s great songwriters such as Neil Brownlie and Flora and Angus MacPhail as well as recognise the great piping tradition of the tiny island. It did this by bringing together the Tiree piping families to play legendary classic tunes and new compositions written by and about islanders.


FIRST staged in May 2016 at the Tiree Homecoming, the Songbook was heard again at this year’s Celtic Connections and an album has just been released by the Tiree Association at the Annual Gathering in Glasgow.

The Songbook will make a return to Tiree for the island’s Music Festival in 2018, and plans are under way to visit Canada where there are significant communities of Tiree descendants still in contact with their island roots and where in Nova Scotia one of the island’s greatest 19th century poets, John MacLean (Bàrd Thighearna Cholla), is remembered and revered as The Bard MacLean, a central part of the emigrant community to that part of the New World.

Angus MacPhail of Skipinnish said the songbook was very special.

“The double-edged sword of being born into an ethnic group whose future existence hangs in the balance gives emotional pendulum swings peculiar to that position,” he said. “Along with the dark moments of anger, frustration, guilt, sadness, bitterness and helplessness, are equally affecting flashes of pride, connection, hope, harmony and a powerful sense of privilege in belonging to something rich and unique.”

He said the Tiree Songbook had provided “a foundation for a pronounced swing of the pendulum to the positive end of that vast scale”.

The winners will be revealed at at Paisley’s Lagoon Centre on December 2. Some tickets may still be available.