Dougie MacLean

Scottish singer/songwriter Dougie MacLean (born 1954) has been sharing his distinctively personal songs with audiences since the mid-1970s. Originally a member of the Tannahill Weavers – named after Scottish poet Robert Tannahill, known as the “Weaver Poet” – he was also briefly a part of Silly Wizard, contributing to their fourth album, Wild & Beautiful. In addition to guitar, he plays fiddle, mandola, bouzouki, bass, harmonica and banjo.

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Dougie began his career as a solo artist in 1981, although his classic song Caledonia (considered by many the unofficial Scottish national anthem) was recorded in 1978 and credited to Alan Roberts and Dougie MacLean. Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond said: “Caledonia is a song that resonates with Scots the world over. For those far away it is a reminder of strong bonds, full of the promise of return.” Caledonia is being used by the Scottish Tourist Board to promote “Homecoming Scotland 2014”.

From the Dougie MacLean website: “From his home base in Butterstone near Dunkeld in the beautiful Tay Valley in Perthshire Scotland, MacLean tours the world with his unique blend of lyrical, ‘roots based’ songwriting and instrumental composition.”

Phil Thomas, writing in Living Tradition Magazine said, “Dougie MacLean must be near the top of the pretty short list of folk performers who can boast a truly ‘global’ reputation.” And its the songs that have built that reputation – songs which, though told from a quintessentially Scottish point of view, are universal in their appeal. From a song inspired by his “Uncle Fergus, a crofter fisherman” (Ready For the Storm) to a story/song about his father teaching him to use a farm implement (Scythe Song) to songs of love and longing (This Love Will Carry and Caledonia), Dougie MacLean touches the hearts of his listeners.

Dougie indeed performs worldwide – from the UK to America and Australia – making new fans and thrilling old ones. You know you’ve had an impact as a songwriter when just about every member of the audience tends to sing along with every song in your set list – a commonplace occurrence at Dougie MacLean shows as documented on his album Live: From the Ends of the Earth and on the two live videos included here.

His recordings – over 20 albums to date – include not just the songs, which can be “wistful and melancholic, and at other times are blissfully uplifting and rejuvenating”, but also instrumental and orchestral pieces such as Perthshire Amber. This last album has lent it’s name to an autumn music festival, now in it’s tenth year, at various venues in and around the MacLean hometown of Dunkeld. He is such an institution in Scotland that he even has his own Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky called Dougie MacLean’s “Caledonia”!

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Dougie MacLean was awarded the 2009 Tartan Clef Award for his song Caledonia. In 2011, he was invested as an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Queen Elizabeth, and this year he was awarded the BBC Radio 2 Folk Award for Lifetime Achievement for Contribution to Songwriting.

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Silly Wizard

Silly Wizard was a Scottish folk band formed in 1970 in Edinburgh. The founding members were Gordon Jones, Johnny Cunningham and Bob Thomas.Thomas credited the name “Silly Wizard” to a roommate who was writing a book of children’s stories, and the group first performed under that name in the summer of 1972.

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With the additions of Andy M. Stewart as lead vocalist (and composer of classic songs like Queen of Argyll and Ramblin’ Rover), Johnny’s brother Phil Cunningham on accordion and Alastair Donaldson on bass, the group recorded their first album – Silly Wizard.

Silly Wizard played a variety of Scottish folk music – jigs, reels, and airs along with original tunes and songs. “Contemporary music that is firmly based in tradition,” was how one reviewer put it.

Stewart told Dirty Linen Magazine in 1991, “I think that it’s the general love of traditional music, interest in songs, and interest in things, not just Scottish music; certainly a big interest in Irish music and songs, which accounts for my interest, I think, across the board…”

Dougie MacLean, who had once been in a band with Andy Stewart, was a member of Silly Wizard for about six months, contributing to their fourth album, Wild & Beautiful.

They continued touring and recording until the late 1980s, weathering numerous personnel changes, when the band decided to dissolve after performing for seventeen years and releasing nine albums.

In December 2012, Silly Wizard was inducted into the Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame, and a remastered album of a 1983 concert in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Live Again, has just been released.

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