Monthly Archives: August 2015

The Music of Scotland: Up-and-Coming Artists

Scotland is a nation with music deeply embedded in the very fabric of its culture. It is no surprise then, that Scotland’s contemporary music scene is thriving.

The American-Scottish Foundation has a long history of working with many emerging artists from Scotland.  In recent years ASF developed the “Big Apple Award” with Creative Scotland and Nordoff Robbins, which brought “Song of Return” to New York.  Music is part of our Bursary Program, and a huge part of our cultural program at Bryant Park during Scotland Week.

The ASF is always looking for new Scottish artists and bands to support and enjoy. New acts are constantly surfacing, often paying tribute to their homeland’s musical history by fusing traditional celtic sounds or lyrics into their music. Jamie McGeechan, known as Little Fire, is one such artist. A great friend to the ASF, Little Fire is a singer-songwriter from Ayrshire, Scotland. In a tribute to the forefather of Scottish lyric, Robert Burns, Little Fire recorded an EP of Burns songs entitled ‘Roots.’ He was the first artist to ever record Burns songs live inside the Burns Cottage in Alloway. The ASF invited him to perform at the 20th Annual Burns Night Gala this past January. He has now agreed to help us in keeping our friends and readers informed on the new, the exciting, and the up-and-coming music of Scotland.

Reporting from Scotland we have…

Little Fire, who is quite an established artist himself, having already been invited to support  musicians such as Joan Armatrading, Damien Rice, The Lone Bellow and more. He released his debut album High Hopes in December 2014.

And ASF intern Theresa Schilling, a New Yorker who attends St Andrews University in Scotland.

Little Fire and Theresa came together to discuss other up-and-coming artists in Scotland. They have put together a list of personal recommendations to share with music fans living stateside.


Little Fire: I feel like the Scottish music scene is an incredibly exciting and thriving beast. There are a huge range of brilliant artists, bands and musicians here. Right now there’s some really exciting things going on and it feels like a great place to be.

jamie mcgeechan

Photo via folkandtumble.com

I’ve a fairly eclectic music taste and feel most grateful to my parents for having such a varied record collection when I was younger. Scotland has such a rich musical heritage and it’s undeniably a hugely inspirational place itself. It’s a very creative place with a lot of different styles and genres thriving in what is a relatively small space and Scots are renowned as being amongst the most enthusiastic supporters of live music. To generalise somewhat we’re typically not shy about showing what we enjoy!  

Obviously a lot of the great music in modern history has come from America and the cultural crossover continues although I do think there’s a very particular Scottish identity that flavours the music; perhaps indeed it’s something in the water.

Little Fire Recommends:

Young Fathers

young-fathers (1)

Photo via NPR.org

Right now there’s a lot of buzz surrounding hip hop inspired music in Scotland although to use the term hip hop probably pigeonholes the creativity somewhat. Edinburgh based Young Fathers who won the Mercury Music Prize in 2014 for their debut album, Dead,  have been finding new fans all over for their striking and energetic performances and are quite simply unmissable live.

 

Hector Bizerk

hector bizerk

Photo via facebook.com/hectorbizerk

Glasgow based Hector Bizerk have been steadily climbing the steps to deserved stardom for their continued brilliance regularly featuring on the festival circuit around the country. Frontman Louie is a poetic genius and drummer Audrey Tait is a sensational and award winning drummer. New album The Waltz of Modern Psychiatry is critically acclaimed and earning the plaudits throughout the country. One of the most dynamic and socially conscious groups in Scotland as well as one of the hardest hitting.

Robin Adams

robin adams

Photo via facebook.com/robinadamsband

Robin Adams is a huge personal favourite of mine, the Glasgow based singer-songwriter is a true artist who is in my mind one of Scotland’s best kept secrets. His music is incredibly visual to me and he is a real craftsman at weaving these spellbinding, often dark but always soulful songs.  He was recently the recipient of the Emerging Excellence Award and his newest album The Garden is to me nothing short of a masterpiece.

Paul McGranaghan

paul mcg

Photo via lastyearsgirl.pixlet.net

Paul McGranaghan is one of the best songwriters I’ve ever heard or had the pleasure of seeing perform live. His debut album Carry the Torch is absolutely in my top albums of all time along with records from John Martyn, Bob Marley and Otis Redding. He’s made that kind of impression on me and the songs have such a brilliance and longevity about them. The album is based around a Hunter S Thompson concept with all the songs relating to characters and scenes from the great man’s books and stories. A stunningly good singer and gifted with a real verve for writing a killer hook such as Tricky Dicky or Sonny and Co., Paul has this ability to also write the most heart wrenchingly beautiful songs such as Goodbye Take Two or Carry the Torch. I’m eagerly awaiting his next album.

Vukovi

vukovi

Photo via bbc.co.uk

Vukovi from Ayrshire are an awesome live act and are due to blow up all over I reckon. Their new single Boy George has been receiving some regular play on BBC Radio 1 and I think they are going to go all the way. They are a brilliant band and in Janine  Shilstone they have one of the feistiest and most charismatic singers I’ve seen. Their hook laden, rocking sound would get a party started anywhere and I think they’re going to go very far.

Roddy Hart and the Lonesome Fire

roddy hart

Photo via billetto.co.uk

Roddy Hart and the Lonesome Fire hail from Glasgow and create music which is uplifting, rich in harmony and features brilliant song-writing from frontman Roddy Hart. Roddy has released three albums as a solo performer and with the band he truly has produced something quite magical on newest album Roddy Hart and the Lonesome Fire. A collaborator of Kris Kristofferson, curator of the hugely popular Roaming Roots Revue at Celtic Connections as well as presenter on BBC Radio Scotland, Roddy Hart is very much a huge Scottish talent.

Dosca

dosca

Photo via list.co.uk

Dosca are a brilliant trad /folk ensemble from Glasgow who I had the pleasure of seeing perform just recently. They are a superb live act and their performance at Celtic Connections at the start of the year was gripping from start to finish. A highly talented group of musicians who met whilst studying at the Royal Conservatoire they both pay homage to Scottish traditional folk whilst revitalising and refreshing the genre with their passionate performances and intelligent compositions.


 

Theresa Schilling:   I have been a music lover since birth, and was raised on folk and Americana back in the States. Going to school in Scotland has really given me the chance to expand my knowledge and taste in music.

I attend school not far from Glasgow and Edinburgh, which are both cities constantly brimming with live music. It’s an amazing opportunity to see bands that haven’t yet toured in America. 

Though the Scottish music I listen to varies in genre, I think that there is definitely a distinct Scottish sound. This sound, to me, is one that is filled with, and capable of inspiring, intense nostalgia, surely influenced by the country’s history of music, and the beautiful land itself. 

Theresa Recommends:

Wire & Wool

wire & wool

Photo via facebook.com/WireAndWool

I was lucky enough to see Wire & Wool perform at my university’s student union this past
January. They are
 a bluegrass/folk band who play original songs, incredible Americana covers, and Scottish tunes. Wire & Wool is a six-piece band that got their start by jamming together at Dundee University. The band is composed of guitars, mandolin, fiddles and bass, and accompanied by soulful vocals from each of the bandmembers. Their music is classic Americana bluegrass fused with traditional Celtic influence. An explosion of sound and talent.

The Twilight Sad

the twilight sad

Photo via giloscope.co.uk

The Twilight Sad is a neo-post-punk indie band that uses a balance of synths and guitars in order to create a sweeping orchestral and immensely gloomy sound. The band’s frontman, James Graham, has a lovely and distinct voice, and not just because of his pronounced Scottish accent. Although The Twilight Sad has been around since 2003, their latest album “Nobody Wants to Be Here And Nobody Wants to Leave” is what has really put them on the map this past year. If you enjoy melancholy indie anthems, I would definitely recommend this band.

Blue Rose Code

blue rose code

Photo via folkradio.co.uk

Blue Rose Code is an acoustic singer-songwriter from Edinburgh. His folky guitar-picking sounds effortless paired with his soulful voice and lyrics. His is the warm, layered kind of folk music that washes over you with a cathartic power. His celtic roots shine through with a magical quality which pairs wonderfully with his Edinburgh accent. Blue Rose Code’s latest album, The Ballads Of Peckham Rye, was nominated for the Scottish Album Of The Year Awards in 2014. He is about to embark on a UK-wide tour.

Owl John

Owl-John1

Photo via hathersagesocialclub.com

Owl John is the solo music project of Frightened Rabbit’s vocalist and guitarist, Scott Hutchison. (Frightened Rabbit is a fairly popular indie folk- rock band that formed in Selkirk.) Hutchison is well-known for embracing his heavy Scottish brogue while he croons his honest, often heart-wrenching, lyrics. I fell in love with Hutchison’s somber music during my first semester in Scotland, and his solo project does not disappoint. His folky guitar is quietly juxtaposed with his warm voice, occasionally spilling into a plucky riff and experimenting with some electronic influences. The entire Owl John album is wonderful, but “Los Angeles, Be Kind” is an especially poignant song in which he explores the emotions he experiences as a Scot who moved to America.

Three Blind Wolves

three blind wolves

Photo via uplateatnightagain.com

Three Blind Wolves is a four piece, folk-tinged indie rock band with psychedelic and country influences. This may seem like a lot of different styles for just one band, but they truly are an amalgamation of genres. This powerful fusion of sound hails from Glasgow. Their bluesy mandolin-picking, as well as their wailing electric guitar, differentiates the group from a sea of indie-pop bands. They are easily one of the best new bands I have heard over the past few years, and I truly think they could be big.

The Jellyman’s Daughter

jellymans

Photo via thejellymansdaughter.com

The Jellyman’s Daughter is a bluesy folk duo from Edinburgh. The duet features Emily Kelly on guitar and Graham Coe on Cello. Both artists sing, creating honey-smooth harmonies sure to send shivers down your spine. Their mournful sound is often likened to the American duo, The Civil Wars. However, the Jellyman’s Daughter has a fresh new take on folk music, and I cannot get enough of their self-titled debut album. One of the highlights of this album has to be their jazzy rendition of The Beatles’ “Can’t Buy Me Love.” These two musicians are positively bursting with talent and I have no doubt they will make it far in the contemporary folk music scene. 

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Defending the Caveman at Penn’s Landing Playhouse​: Exclusive Opportunity for ASF Members

ASF Members and Friends can enjoy special ticket pricing for Defending the Caveman, a hilarious and insightful play about the ways men and women relate.

Now playing at Penn’s Landing Playhouse in Philadelphia, Defending the Caveman is sure to make you laugh about yourself, and about all the ways that men and woman fight, laugh and love. It’s the perfect date night, including a free babysitting service during showtime!defending the caveman

Defending the Caveman was the longest running play in Broadway history, playing for over two years. Today it is a worldwide hit with productions in 45 countries!

“CAVEMAN is back and it’s still a hit! It’s hilarious! A blockbuster!” – The Washington Post

“An outrageously funny and surprisingly sweet exploration of the gender gap…” – Chicago Sun Times

 
The play is running for a limited time- only until August 30! Get your ASF discount tickets now!
 

To receive this exclusive discount on tickets use ASF’s special code LSP.

Order your tickets at www.plplayhouse.com. Just select a performance date & enter code.

Or call 855-HIT-SHOW (855-448-7469) & mention code.

For group sales (12+tickets) call 888-264-1788

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The Highland Games: Scottish Culture At Home

Experience the sports, music, pageantry, and tradition of Scotland at your local Highland Games, linking the past to our future.

Photo via travel.nationalgeographic.com

Photo via travel.nationalgeographic.com

Through-out North America Highland Games are held, bringing our love of Scotland past and future together. The Highland Games transport you to Scotland from wherever you are and are a true way to celebrate Scottish and Celtic culture.

Centuries ago, when the Highland games began in Scotland, the events focused on athletic and sports competitions, from dance to tugs of war. The same is true today.

caber shoot

Photo via twitter.com/camillaghellman

This past weekend Fergus, Canada challenged the Guiness Book of Records for Cabers turned, a famous element of Highland Games. To the roar of the crowds, Fergus took the record from Inverness. Now, for Scotland, the challenge is on. Besides the Caber Toss, other unique Highland Games sports include the Stone Put and the Scottish Hammer Throw.

At a Highland Games today you will find a great array of Scotish and Celtic merchandise, gifts and food together with Ancestry and Clan tents. This is a great time to discover your roots or to plan a trip back to Scotland. Visit Scotland is present at several of the Highland Games.

red hot chilli pipers

Photo via thecourier.co.uk

The pipes are an essential piece of the Games. Groups of pipers perform throughout the events, while they compete for different titles. Great contemporary bands like The Red Hot Chilli Pipers, Albannach and MacTalla Mor bring modern sounds into the mix.

The first Highland Games in the USA took place in 1836. Since then the Games have only grown; today there are over 200 annual Highland Games and gatherings across just the US, Canada and the UK. In the coming weeks many of the largest Highland Games will take place in North America.

children at highland games

Photo via gmhg.org

Look for the American-Scottish Foundation at the Long Island Scottish Festival and Highland Games on Saturday, August 22nd.

The Games always ensure a great day out. Scottish culture and family fun combine at the Highland Games; a great way to introduce the next generation to their scottish roots and support the local community. Head to your nearest Highland Games and experience Scotland in the USA this summer!

Watch this video from the recent Fergus Scottish Festival in Canada for a taste of what the games have in store…

Look for the American-Scottish Foundation at the Long Island Scottish Festival and Highland Games on Saturday, August 22nd.

For a list of upcoming Games visit

 

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The ASF Guide to The Edinburgh Festival Fringe

For sixty-eight years, the city of Edinburgh has played host to a festival celebrating the arts.  When it began in 1947 who could have envisioned how large it would grow…

Today the festival, known as the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, is the biggest arts festival in the world.

Edinburgh Festival 1

Photo via flickr.com

Edinburgh Festival 2

Photo via now-here-this.timeout.com

Visitors from all over the world flock to Edinburgh every August to view dramatic performances, listen to music, attend exhibits, and wander the lively, crowded streets.

This year’s three-week festival will see around 4,000 different performances.

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is a great time to plan your trip to Scotland.

The Fringe has just begun, and continues through to August 31st. For any travelers deciding on a last minute excursion to The Fringe, the ASF has provided a guide below, helping you find the best restaurants, pubs, and hotels the city has to offer.

 


Your Guide to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe!

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe has countless plays, acts, performances, and exhibits to see. Order your tickets now so you don’t miss out. Visit the Edinburgh Festival Fringe box office page here

Tickets ordered? Now that your schedule is full of festival fun, we can help with the rest!

First thing’s first: you need a place to stay!

Edinburgh is known for its huge variety of hotels. There are luxurious boutique hotels, sophisticated, posh hotels, and comfortable bed and breakfasts galore. There are so many different places to stay- even during Festival time!

E from Carlton Hill (1)

Photo via thefielder.net

Airbnb is a great last minute accommodation option that connects people with space to spare to those who are looking for a place to stay. Airbnb is a wonderful resource for any world-traveler.

This year, Airbnb is the official accommodation partner of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, which means there are a lot of online booking options, from entire houses with castle-views to comfortable rooms in student flats. 

Book with Airbnb here.

the witchery

Photo via theguardian.com

The Witchery by the Castle is a decadent and bewitching boutique hotel. If you’re looking to splurge on a hotel, The Witchery is a fantastic place to do so. The setting is absolutely idyllic, right on the Royal Mile with the Castle in full view.

The Witchery is lavish, with dark gothic decor and has a number of suites, each decorated in the same lush gothic style – huge four-poster beds, clawfoot tubs, chandeliers glistening on the ceiling and oil paintings adorning the walls you will truly feel as if you have been transported to another, magical, world. 

Book with The Witchery here.

balmoral hotel

Photo via northernstarmusic.com

The Balmoral is one of Edinburgh landmarks sitting in the heart of the City on Prince Street.  Offering five-star, luxury, the Balmoral offers timeless elegance with comfortable suites ranging in price and size, all with marble bathrooms and lush decor.

The hotels brasserie and bar are always busy and a popular business meeting place.

There is also a luxurious spa with a pool, a gym, and a sauna, as well as steam rooms and beauty treatment rooms.  

Book with The Balmoral here.

In between shows? Time to grab a cuppa and a quick bite!

Edinburgh has countless coffee shops and tea rooms, so you wont need to wander far to get your caffeine fix. 

elephant house

Photo via itinerandi.net

The Elephant House is a gourmet tea and coffee shop located in the heart of Edinburgh. It is one of the very best tea and coffee shops in Edinburgh.

The cafe is famous for its literary connections; JK Rowling, author of the beloved Harry Potter series, began penning her famous children’s novels there. Besides its wizardly links, The Elephant House is notable for its beautiful castle view and wide array of delicious coffees and nibbles. It makes a perfect spot for a tasty cuppa, or a quick lunch.

Learn more about The Elephant House here

lovecrumbss

Photo via facebook.com/lovecrumbs


Lovecrumbs 
is a quirky café made for your sweet-tooth. Delicious cakes, tarts, brownies and scones are complemented by artisan roast coffees and fine teas.

The cozy cafe is decorated with vintage furniture and colorful cushions. A great spot for a time-out from all of your city exploring and show-going.

Refuel with a delicately flavored violet and bramble cake, or else an orange fig and hazelnut scone paired with homemade Raspberry Jam. The possibilities are endlessly exciting. 

Learn more about Lovecrumbs here.

After a long, exciting day of performances it’s time to head to a pub for happy hour.

Edinburgh is a drink destination for beer and whiskey lovers. There are countless fun cocktail and wine bars as well. So just pick your poison!

jolly botanist

Photo via southbanklondon.com

The Jolly Botanist Gin Bar and Dining Room is a new addition to the West End that opened this past February.

The restaurant itself has a rustic vibe, with thatched walls, deliberately peeling paint, and crystal chandeliers.

There is a large bar with lots of beers, ciders, and drinks to choose from. Their gin menu is especially extensive, and they work closely with Edinburgh gins. They boast 70 different gins to choose from, but their house gin is Tanqueray. Each gin in served with a different, unusual garnish, such as grapefruit or orange and cinnamon.

Learn more about The Jolly Botanist here.

bennets bar

Photo via wow247.co.uk

Bennets Bar is a must if you are looking for that quintessential Edinburgh whiskey-tasting experience. The Victorian building has hosted whiskey-tastings since 1839.

The pub is beautiful, yet cozy, with glossy wood paneling and fire-side seating.There are over 150 malt whiskies and a variety of blends and international whiskies to choose from. There is also a menu of delicious Scottish pub fare.

This historic pub is well worth the visit, even just to peek at the beautiful architecture and overwhelmingly large drink menu.

Learn more about Bennets Bar here.

Exploring Edinburgh really works up your appetite. Ready for dinner?

Edinburgh is a foodie-haven, boasting some of the very best restaurants in the UK. Whether you’re in the mood for a gourmet five-course meal or some tasty pub grub, you’ll be spoiled for choice.

21212 compress

Photo via 21212restaurant.co.uk

21212, Paul Kitching’s well-loved restaurant, opened in 2009 and received a Michelin star less than 8 months later. The restaurant has a quirky, fun feel and the food is exciting and innovative.

Chef Kitching has a contemporary French cooking style which he approaches with an innovative twist. The menu never has more than three choices for any of its five courses, but it changes weekly.  There is a beautiful wine list and a professional sommelier available to help you select the perfect wine for your meal.  

Learn more about 21212 here.

v deep

Photo via foodanddrink.scotsman.com

V Deep
is a new and promising addition to Edinburgh’s restaurant scene. It is Scotland’s first communal craft beer and curry bar.

The head-chef and co-owner, Hardeep Singh Kohli, was a finalist on the television show “Celebrity Masterchef.” He has created an extensive Indian curry menu of 21 unique dishes.

The menu takes a fresh, Scottish-inspired twist on traditional Indian meals. It includes dishes such as haggis and apple pakora, punjabi BBQ wings, and pork cheek vindaloo. The extensive bar offers a variety of bottled and draught beers, which are constantly rotating. Uniqueness, fun, and flavor abound.

Learn more about V Deep here.

Now it’s time to head back to your hotel and rest up for your next day of festival fun in the beautiful city of Edinburgh!


 

Visit the Fringe homepage to learn more.

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