Duncan’s Blog – November 2019

Goodness, has it been a year since I last posted here? No excuses – and no more promises to keep it more regularly updated, I’m just paving the streets of Hell. I’m sorry too that it took me weeks (and even months) to discover a few lovely comments that had been left on the site. I replied as soon as I saw them, but no one got back to me afterwards. Quite right to be in the huff with me, I’m very sorry….please don’t let it stop you from contacting me!

Anyway, here goes for my 2019 ramblings….

It’s been quite a quiet year for gigs. I got a bit fed up with contacting promoters, clubs and venues and getting no reply, so I just decided to accept the gigs that came in…..hence the quiet year!! I can never understand why promoters can’t take tow minutes out of their lives to acknowledge the artists who contact them (I speak to many artists who get p*ssed off with the lack of courtesy). I never send out generic emails, preferring the personal approach, so it can be a bit galling to be ignored. If your calendar is full for the next year, that’s fine – just say so! If you don’t want to book us, that’s fine also, as long as you tell us a nice wee white lie :)!

2020 is already looking busier that the whole of this year, so I’m hoping we’ll end up with one of our busiest years for live work. Try to get along to see us if you can.

Recording-wise, Cy and I are currently working on a library project of French and Italian TV/film music, which is being recorded at Chem 19 Studios later this month, and my fantastic record label, Greentrax, are releasing a Christmas single “Resurrection Road’, taken from the latest album ‘Land of Gold’. This is our own song, and its alternative title is ‘The Clydeside Carol’. The song reflects on the lives of the homeless people on our streets at Christmas, and how they often experience a small spike in everyone’s kindness at this time of the year. Maybe a fiver instead of £1 or 50p from passers-by, or maybe lunches or dinners, run by good-hearted folk in Santa hats and so on. The festive season passes, though, and the early months of the new year can be unimaginably cold and miserable. I sang the song at Newcastle Cathedral last December, alongside Lindisfarne’s Billy Mitchell, and a wonderful choir. I’ll never forget the experience. On the Greentrax single, I’m joined by my dear pal Rab Noakes, who sings lead vocal in the second verse, and the instrumental arrangement of ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’ is beautifully played by the wonderful Chris Stout and Finlay Macdonald. Proceeds will be going to homeless charity Shelter. Please have a listen when it becomes available at the start of December, and download it if you like it.

Anyway, stay warm and safe this Winter, and have a great festive season. For many, it’ll be a struggle, just like the rest of the days of the year. Try to think of them when you go to vote on 12th December.

Love and best wishes

Duncan x

Duncan’s Blog – November/December 2018

Hello – back on the blog after the usual ridiculous delay.

We’ve had a few nice gigs, and the new album ‘Land of Gold’ has been selling well. Not easy shifting CDs these days, so pretty happy with the sales so far. It’s recently become available for download and streaming, and I really ought to start promoting it on social media. I find keeping Facebook and other platforms up to date pretty tedious, but I don’t do it, no one else will, I suppose. Watch this space….

The reviews have been really good, and I still think it’s the best album yet – I’m allowed to say that, as I’m only comparing it with my own previous releases!

I played my first solo charity gig in September for the Friendship Circle, in Milngavie Town Hall. I was far more nervous than I would have been at band performances, without Cy or the others there to boost the music and my confidence, but it was huge fun. The audience danced, cheered and sang along, and it was an opportunity for me to sing lots of songs I wouldn’t usually have the chance to. Breakaway Blues, anyone? It was also a chance to try out our new PA system – something we’ve needed for a long time. We’ll be able to play more small venues now that we’re self-sufficient.

Highlight of the last couple of months was my home concert in Gartmore Village Hall. Cy and I were joined by our pals Chris Stout and Fraser Speirs, and Australian-based husband and wife duo Neil Adam and Judy Turner, and it was one of the most enjoyable gigs I can remember. Jim was feeling unwell and couldn’t make it, but Chris, Finlay and Cy stepped up to the plate and played their hearts out, and the atmosphere on stage was wonderful. A real treat for me, and the audience seemed to have a great time, too.

Next project is to update and revise the website. I’ve already had a couple of photo sessions with Dave Arcari at Loch Lomond and with Steve Niblock in Arrochar. Dave’s going to be refurbishing the site for me, and he’s one of the best there is, so hopefully this will be the last blog on the ‘old’ site.

November hasn’t been all good, unfortunately. My dear pal Trevor Jenkins passed away from a heart attack in his early fifties. Trevor was a much-loved part of the music publishing scene, and as Head of Music at both Boosey & Hawkes and Music Sales he commissioned TV and film music from me and Cy. Over the twenty-five years I knew him, he became a real friend, and we spoke and met up as often as we could. Trevor was running his own publishing company, OPM, at the time of his passing, and he was loved and respected by many, many people.

Anyway, take care of yourselves and those you love, and I hope you have a happy and peaceful festive season. Hope to see many of you in 2019.

Cheers

Duncan x

Land of Gold – New Album!!

At long last the new album from Duncan and Cy was released on Greentrax Recordings (CDTRAX398) on 1st July.

Featuring six new songs from Duncan and Cy, one reimagining of their long-established favourite ‘The Surf and the Silver Fishes’ and six carefully-chosen covers, the album has been incredibly well-received, and is without doubt the strongest release so far.

As always, the album features virtuoso playing by some of the very finest traditional musicians to be found anywhere, all friends as always. Duncan, Cy and Jim are joined by :

Stevie Lawrence : guitar, bodran, percussion, sitar, mandocello, bouzouki, cittern.

Chris Stout : fiddle, viola and piano

Catriona McKay : Scottish Harp

Finlay Macdonald : highland and small pipes, whistles.

Ray Laidlaw : percussion.

Kathleen Macinnes : guest vocals and backing vocals.

Rab Noakes : guest vocals and backing vocals

Jim Jack : backing vocals

Fraser Speirs : harmonica, blues harp.

Sandy Brechin : accordion

Paul Savage : drums

Kristan Harvey : fiddle

Land of Gold was co-produced by Cy, Duncan and Paul Savage, and recorded, mixed and mastered by Paul Savage at Chem 19 Studios, Blantyre between March and June 2018.

For a full track listing and to purchase the album, please go to www.greentrax.com. It can also be purchased via the shop section on this website.

Duncan’s Blog – August 2017

It’s been a while since I last wrote on here – nothing unusual about that! I’d like to say it was because I’ve been so busy gigging, but things have been quiet over the summer.

Cy and I played our first-ever house concert at a friend Janice’s house in the lovely village of Dullatur, which was great fun. Janice had invited friends and family from home and abroad, and guest of honour was her childhood friend Janilee, who was returning home to Scotland from Canada for a holiday. Lovely people, and everyone joined in the spirit of the evening. It’s got me thinking about offering this kind of gig more widely. I don’t know if there would be a huge demand, but it might be worth a thought. Contact me through the website here if you know anyone who would be interested.

At the time of writing, I’m really looking forward to our next gig at Glenfarg Village Folk Club in Kinross on Monday 7th August. It’s our first visit to the new venue ‘Backstage at the Green’ in Kinross, and we’ve heard it’s a fantastic set up. After that, Fintry in October, so not exactly deluged with work, but there are a few irons in the fire, so keep an eye out on the gigs section.

There seems to be a real growth in the number of venues offering gigs on the basis of the artists receiving the lion’s share of the door money, which is fine in venues we know we can expect to be well supported, but it’s a bit risky in areas where we’re less well-known. I see it from both sides, though – it’s hard to take a risk if it’s a less well-known artist in your locality, but it’s equally hard for a three-piece band to appear for less than petrol money. It’s a tricky one.

Anyway, I hope this summer has been fun for everyone, despite the disappointing weather. Two weeks’ holiday for us in the West of Scotland in early July and the temperature only hitting 20 degrees twice!

Keep safe and well, and it’s always nice to hear from anyone who wants to drop me a line – other than those promising to ‘drive traffic’ to the site for a fee. They can take a hike!

All the best

Duncan x

Duncan’s Blog – February 2017

One blog a year is a pretty poor effort – I really must do better. I love it when folk get in touch via the website, so I really need to keep things up to date a bit better.

2016 ended with three really enjoyable gigs for us in Strathblane, Balerno and Gartmore, after a quiet-ish year. When you haven’t played for a while, it can have a real effect on confidence, and you begin to get really nervous, however just one live gig brings back all the enthusiasm, and you remember why you never want to give up – it’s a great feeling when it all goes well.

Big news for 2017 is that we’ll be recording a new CD album in the summer, hopefully for release be the year-end. Can’t give away too much detail just now, but I’m really excited about it, and Cy & I are in the process of writing a few new songs and sourcing both trad material and a couple of appropriate covers. I’d love to hear of any suggestions for songs that would fit in well with our catalogue – suggestions through the website, please!

You’ll notice I haven’t been updating the gig diary recently. We’ve been playing a couple of Burns nights, and I’ve been doing guest spots at other artists’ gigs, but we haven’t had a full concert so far in 2017. That said, we have bookings in for two or three folk clubs in the summer, and are planning a couple of self-promoted concerts. I’ll put these up online when full details are available.

Meantime, it’s songwriting, working three days a week (and then some…) at the day job with PRS for Music and having the occasional stab at drumming up gigs. I really don’t enjoy that side of it, but it seems that work rarely coms looking, so – needs must.

I’ll be back soon, hopefully with more to tell you. Meantime, check out the Duncan McCrone Band on Facebook, and give us a like or send us a message.

Keep warm and happy

Duncan x

Duncan’s Blog – October 2016

I’ve quite enjoyed the break from gigging over the Spring and Summer, although there’s been an album of TV and Film music to record, which has kept me from rusting up altogether.

Holidays are over now, though – grand times in Majorca, Kintyre and Lochaber – and raring to go again. Much as I absolutely love singing and playing, all the other stuff gets to me…..pitching for gigs, discussing money, trying to get everyone available on the same day etc etc. Sad fact is that the work doesn’t coming looking for you, and I don’t want to get a permanent agent, as I want to pick and choose to a certain extent.

First gig is the Balerno Festival on Friday 7th October, with Archie Fisher. One of our absolute favourite clubs – the organisers are real enthusiasts, and we always feel really welcome there.

A new venue for us is the Strathblane Village Club, in Blanefield, Stirlingshire. We play there on Saturday 5th November, and it’s a stunning small hall in a beautiful location. I’m hoping the locals miss the bonfire and fireworks to support the concert, which is for club funds, but I’m putting the word out further afield as well!

At the other end of November (Saturday 26th), we’re planning a fun evening in the Gartmore Hall, with a bunch of great pals. Watch the website and Facebook for further details.

I’m hoping to be able to announce plans for a new album, to be recorded in Spring 2017 and released later in the year. Don’t want to say too much at the moment, as plans are in the early stages, but I’ll let you know.

Anyway, until I get myself together enough to write another blog, keep safe and well, and hopefully see you at gig sometime soon!

All the best

Duncan x

Duncan’s Blog – April 2016

Well, it’s been a while – last post was in July 2015, which is very poor behaviour on my part. It’s not because nothing’s been happening (quite the opposite!) but just because I’m a lazy so-and-so.

Since I last wrote, life has changed immeasurably for the better with the birth of my grandson Roddy on the 8th of August 2015. A feisty, noisy bundle of energy with already an insatiable curiosity for the World around him, he’s an absolutely beautiful wee human being, and the centre of our universe, but I won’t go on, as every proud Papa is the same – I’ll find other ways of boring you!

We had a few nice gigs toward the end of the year, and started 2016 with an appearance in the Scotia Nova show at the Strathclyde Suite during Celtic Connections. Just one song, it was ‘The Pioneers’ which Cy and I wrote as a track on an album project for Greentrax Recordings. The album celebrates the ‘new’ Scotland (although it didn’t quite happen in 2014, sadly) with songs about the early days of a new nation. Ours is the story of the Pardesi, the immigrants from the Indian sub-continent who arrived in Scotland in the middle of the 20th century, and who transformed our culture for the better, and whose families are now second- and third-generation Scots. Based loosely on the story of the late Bashir Ahmed, our first Asian MSP, we’re very proud of the song, and feel it typifies all thats good and inclusive about Scottish society. The album ‘Scotia Nova’ is available on Greentrax, and features a number of prominent Scottish songwriters and artists.

After Celtic Connections, things get a bit quieter. We played two or three Burns events, including a fantastic wee night at Glasgow University’s Hunterian Museum and then…..nothing….our next bookings aren’t until the Balerno Festival and a concert in Strathblane, both in October. This is in part due to life being so hectic on the domestic front – gigs rarely land on the doorstep, so it’s necessary to go out and try to get them, which I just haven’t had the time or energy to do. I absolutely love singing and playing live, that hour or so on the stage is such a joy and an adrenaline rush, however I don’t enjoy the other bits so much – the marketing, fee negotiations, organising PA, making sure everyone in the band can do the dates, worrying about soundchecks, arranging leaflets, posters etc, so I’ve been lazily quite enjoying the break. Two months on from the last gig though, and withdrawal symptoms are kicking in, so I’ve started putting out a few feelers, and I’m hopeful of two or three new gigs happening between now and October, I’ll keep you posted.

On the writing front, Cy and I are a bit busier. We’re currently writing an album’s worth of acoustic music for film and TV, on commission from a London publisher, so that’s very enjoyable. It may not be as fulfilling as writing songs for ourselves, but our incidental music pops up regularly on all manner of high-profile TV programmes, such as ‘Coast’, Monty Hall’s Great Irish Adventure’, ‘Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares’ and many other programmes around the globe, so it’s always a buzz to hear something you wrote on the telly. We haven’t written enough songs for my next album yet, but I’m hopeful I can make something happen in 2017 – I’m very happy with a couple of of our recent ones, and Id like to get them out online at the very least.

With regard to my ‘day job’ looking after the PRS for Music/MCPS office in Glasgow, I decided to reduce my working day to three days per week from 1st January 2016. I’m still getting used to it, to be honest, and predictions that I wouldn’t be able to switch off on my ‘non-working’ days have proved quite accurate! The problem is that I really love my job. No two days are ever the same, and I get to spend my working life among songwriters, musicians, artists and composers, as well as record company folk, TV producers, managers and the like. Kindred spirits for the most part, and in Scotland invariably really nice, friendly people. I’m quite addicted to the job, and, while I’m enjoying having some more time to myself, I can’t imagine life without work. It may be that I’m living vicariously through the young writers and bands, enjoying the new music I hear continuously, rather than concentrating on keeping my own music flowing, who knows?

Right, I’ll make myself a (probably hollow) promise to get back on the case with my blogs, if only because it’s good exercise for me. Spring is here, and Summer not far away, so I’ll try to harness as much energy as I can and get out to play more. In the meantime, please let me know any ideas for gigs out there, we’re easy to deal with!

Enjoy the longer days, and I hope the sun shines on you all through 2016.

Cheers

Duncan x

Duncan’s Blog – April-July 2015

Well, despite the best of intentions, the blog fell well and truly behind, overtake by events, as usual….

A few nice gigs over the Spring – supporting Barbara Dickson in Linlithgow, brilliant wee arts centre concert in Hawick and old favourites like Glenfarg and Gartmore. It would be great to be out and about a bit more, but – as I’ve said before – the work doesn’t often come looking for you, you have to go looking, and I’m hopeless at marketing stuff. We set up a Duncan McCrone Band Facebook page, and at the time of writing have almost 500 ‘likes’ – all genuine, I might add…..I don’t like the idea of ‘buying’ likes to boost the page, doesn’t seem quite the thing, to be honest.

Had a couple of nice trips away since I last wrote – took the camper van to Ullapool, Gairloch and Arisaig, and we had a fantastic ten days in Puerto Pollensa, Majorca. As always, over a month later I’m still fighting with the car hire firm, after being ripped off by over 220 Euros. It’s really not worth the hassle, hiring a car abroad. They just assume you’ll give up, and they can keep the money they extort from you, but I’m so mad about it I won’t let it go this time. Be very careful if you reckon you have to use these outfits.

Heading into the studio this month to record a new song for an as-yet un-announced album being released by one of Scotland’s biggest record labels. Wish I could tell you more, but should be able to announce something next month. Very excited about it, though.

August is shaping up to be one of the biggest of my life, as my daughter Julie is expected to give me my first grandchild on the 3rd. I’ve always been a worrier as a dad, so I’ll be glad when the wean is here and I know that all is well.

Anyway, Carradale Village Hall this month – a concert run by my great pals Shelagh, Lachie and Jane through their company Rolling Wave Productions. It’s one of my very favourite places on Earth, so here’s hoping we get a good turnout.

See you later

Duncan x

Duncan’s Blog – March 2015

Well and truly underway, 2015, so here’s the new year resolution to keep the blog up to date kicking off, three months in………

This is a huge year for me and Irene personally. Our beautiful daughter Julie and her husband Ally are expecting their first child in August. That kind of makes me a grandfather, which seems too much of a grown-up job for the likes of me. What will I be called? Gramps? Nah, old man vibe. Grandad? Do me a favour. I fancied Pops, but it’s been vetoed on the grounds it’s ‘too American’……..time will tell!

I started the month by playing solo at the annual Matt McGinn tribute concert in Linlithgow. Just two songs, and it’s a bit lonely going out alone. I think it went well, but I missed Cy and Jim. The Lithgae folk are all really friendly, though, so it was nice to be there. They do so much to keep Matt’s legacy alive.

A less happy event was the news that my pal Chris Harley had succumbed to his long illness. Chris was also known as Chris Rainbow, a successful pop star in the 70s, and later under his own name as singer with Camel and the Alan Parsons Project. A phenomenal talent as a producer, working with many big names such as KT Tunstall and most famously with Runrig, with whom he recorded their huge hit version of ‘Loch Lomond’. For me, he was a friend I had known right back to the early 70s, kind, talented and truly one of the funniest storytellers I have ever known. I’ll never forget evenings at my house and up in his home in Skye, laughing until the tears ran down my cheeks. I hadn’t seen him in three years, as he’d been fighting his illness, but I always thought one day he’d reappear. I hate to think I’ll never see him again – the World is a better place with people like Chris around.

I was delighted when folk and broadcasting legend Jimmie McGregor phoned to invite me to his 85th birthday party in Glasgow on the 10th. Guys like Jimmie are iconic – he looks about 65, and is an inspiration for all of us who worry about getting old. He’s got decades left in him! Among the many famous guests were a trio of lady dancers from the White Heather Club in the 60s, who also looked thirty years younger than they must have been.

Cy and I have started to write a few new library tracks for TV and radio, so it’s good to be productive again. We’re working on some ‘lifestyle’ tunes, to try and move slightly away (for a while) from our usual Celtic and traditional stuff. It’s important to keep the writing going, but not always easy, when there’s gigs and full-time jobs getting in the way.

Another excitement is that our good pal Bruce Davies, the well-known Scottish singer-songwriter from Fife, has recorded and produced his version of our ‘Song of the Skylark’, which we wrote a year or so ago for the Trust formed to restore ‘Skylark 9’, one of the famous ‘little ships’ which saved hundreds of lives during the Dunkirk evacuation. Bruce – as we knew he would – put heart and soul into his big, orchestral arrangement of the song, and I very much hope he can become identified as the musical ‘face’ of the campaign. It should be available for download very soon. I’ll be keeping you informed!

On a non-musical note, a couple of intriguing things happened this month. Firstly, we came home one afternoon to find an envelope stuffed with ancient documents. It had been pushed through the letterbox by a gentleman who had lived in our house back in the 1960s, and was a collection of hand-written missives relating to the sale of our cottage on various occasions since it was built in 1726. Fascinating to see the signatures of the landowners and local Lairds, and to think back then that they actually had the power to hang local peasants and subjects for ‘crimes’ which would hardly justify custodial sentences nowadays. It seems even nowadays that Irene and I, as owners of the house, have the right to drive cattle down the main street, and to cut peat in Flander’s Moss, two miles away! I’ll get round to it one day…..

The other brush with history came when I was looking into some of my family, especially the life and work of my great-grandfather Adrew Scott, the subject of my song ‘Colourblind’. His daughter Margaret was my Godmother, but was also housekeeper and companion to Annie Baird, sister to John Logie Baird, the inventor of television. I vividly remember Miss Baird, as I visited her and Aunt Margaret many, many times over the years until her death, by which time I was 22 years old. I found pictures of them on the heritage website for Helensburgh, where Miss Baird lived in the big family house, and wrote in with a few of my own recollections. I was delighted to get a email three days later from Malcolm Baird, John Logie Baird’s son, who is a retired Professor of Chemistry, now resident in Canada. We shared some warm memories of our eccentric old aunts, and I felt really chuffed with my tenuous and indirect links to the man who invented television. Now, if I could only turn that into a song……..;)

Writing this on the day the clocks go forward – love it!

Happy Easter – hope the sun shines for all of us.

Duncan x

Duncan’s Blog – December 2014-February 2015

Well, took my eye well off the ball for the last three months as far as the blog goes! I did actually write quite a long one for February, and somehow deleted it, then lost the will to start again………

Quiet start to the year, gig-wise, but we played a couple of really enjoyable concerts in February, at Stirling Folk Club and later at the fantastic wee Fort Theatre in Bishopbriggs.

I’ll try to get back on track from March onwards, so here’s hoping 2015 is a good one for everyone!

Cheers

Duncan x