Tag Archives: Little Fire

Culann – The Great Ecumene – a band not afraid to be themselves

Jamie McGeechan, ASF Music Ambassador, updates us from Scotland today with news around Culann, an award-winning band from Ayrshire, Scotland, who have just released their second album, The Great Ecumene.

Culann are PJ Kelly, Sean Kelly, Greg Irish, Ross McCluskie and Calum Davis.

Ya Cheng

As Jamie goes on to explain: “I first met singer and guitarist PJ Kelly on the set of Outlaw King, the recently released Netflix biopic about Scottish king and freedom fighter Robert the Bruce on which Jamie had a supporting role.

Jamie, aka Little Fire, is one of our leading “eyes and ears” in Scotland, reporting that ..”Culann may be the best Scottish rock band that you haven’t heard of yet, and well NOW you have.”

Culann Album Art ,
Ya Cheng

It’s clear, however, that Culann is a band completely at ease with doing their own thing. They have been thriving by developing their sound, from their self-titled debut album released in 2012 to their follow up, The Great Ecumene, released at the end of April 2019.

The opening track “Evonium” is a great scene-setter for the album and gives a good insight into what Culann sound is like: intelligent compositions with powerful performances, great melodies and hooks, and 100% given with every note on each track.

What you get with Culann is a band who is not afraid to play with styles, aesthetics, and colors. They literally throw everything at it in the first track so it completely works. And, in case you’re wondering, the name Evonium is an ancient lost city in Scotland, considered by some to be Irvine, close to where the band lives.

In fact, The Great Ecumene itself is full of literary references – lyrics and sounds evoking nautical themes, ancient and forgotten lands and heroes – and all whilst sounding very modern indeed. Culann is Scottish storytelling, and “Evonium” is a welcoming opener on our journey into the world of Culann and The Great Ecumene.


Second track “Event without experience” is a track that is the key to Culann;  “the band packs so much sonic brilliance into each song that it can initially confound you whilst arresting your attention; for me that’s what great music is all about–you can’t ignore it and it will stop you in your tracks. There is a particularly delightful flute solo from Gavin Millar, which is a real thing of beauty, ” explains Jamie, on a track that has everything else.

Track number four is atmospheric and clever, a song Jamie has not heard in a long time. One of Jamie’s favorites on the album, he tells us that because “Ecumene” is the name the ancient Greeks gave to the known world, the track is quite menacing and arresting at the same time. “It’s well crafted and takes the listener on a journey full of twists and turns, and as I’m listening to it right now, I feel like I’m in a dream world.” Its this juxtaposition of myth and human that makes Culann’s music so powerful.

All Reverie is another stand out track, one of the more obvious with real commercial appeal, although other songs such as Century Box and Aegis are “real growers” that can remain with you for days after listening.


The last track on the album, Queen Street, is a song which will grab you by the heart and serves as a fantastic closer to the album. Starting off as a heartfelt acoustic ballad, it builds into something people will want to sing back at the band, bringing down the roof live.

The band give everything on every track, mastery of song writing and composition, performances nothing short of mesmerising, “even artists Peter Strain, Pamela Scott,  and Culann themselves have brought together the aesthetics of the album visually to tell a story,” Jamie informs us.

As Jamie noted …”Culann may be the best Scottish rock band that you haven’t heard of yet, and well NOW you have.” TAKE A LISTEN


The Great Ecumene is available from iTunes, Amazon, Spotify and in CD / Vinyl from the band directly at

www.culann.bigcartel.com, www.culann.bandcamp.com

Jamie McGeechan, contributing writer, May 2019, littlefiremusic1@hotmail.co.uk

The Music of New York Tartan Week

New York Tartan Week is just around the corner and what a fantastic celebration it will be with people coming from all over the globe to experience a uniquely brilliant event which has something to offer everyone.

New York Tartan Week is a celebration of Scottish-American heritage culture and community and a brilliant experience which will see you wanting to come back each year for more!

Music plays a central role in celebrating that shared community and culture; the music traditions brought over by Scots have survived and thrived in North America to this very day.

It’s fair to say that the shared passion for music and culture has brought about real fusion and development of new style and approach whilst respecting the traditions of the past. Discovering new ways, paths and approaches has always been central to the Scottish-American identity and nowhere is this more evident in the culture and creations borne from our partnership and shared legacy.

Music, as with the Scots-American heritage itself has experienced real innovation and fusion over the past few hundred years and you can hear Scottish influences in everything from Appalachian, folk and even country music.

It’s fantastic that the old traditions are preserved an continued by many talented and passionate musicians across North America, some of which are performing at NYC Tartan Week this year alongside some musical guests from Scotland also! With live music performances all over the city there’s something for everyone and of course with a huge amount of pipe bands marching in the Tartan Week Parade on April 8th you can experience something truly unforgettable.

Musical performances at Tartan Week this year include:

April  3:
Kyle Carey
St Andrews Pub – 8pm (free)

April  4:
Emerald Rae
St Andrews Pub – 8pm (free)

April 5:
Little Fire 

Beer Authority – 6pm (free)

Wight Hot Pipes & Scottish Octopus
Connolly’s Pub and Restaurant – 8pm ($20)

Mike Ogletree
St Andrews Pub – 8pm (free)

April 6:
Little Fire 
Deacon Brodies – 3pm (free)

Tartan Day Observance 
The Highland Divas, St Columba School Pipe Band
Bryant Park 12:30pm

Kodak Ghosts
St Andrews Pub – 8pm (free)

April  7:
Mike Ogletree
Pre-Parade Ceilidh- 6pm

Little Fire 
St Andrews Pub – 8pm (free)

The Highland Divas & Guests
The Cutting Room – 10:30pm
(Tickets $25/30 adv)
  – Purchase tickets here.

April 8:
The Pipes and Drums on the Fountain Terrace Bryant Park  (Free)
11:35am – Lathallan School Pipe Band
11:55am – Oban School Pipe Band
12:15pm – Bonnie Brae Knights Drummers
12:30pm – St Columba School Pipe Band
12:45pm – Shamrock & Thistle

Post Parade Party
B.B. King Blues Club & Grill 4:00pm
Glengarry Bhoys, Gleadhraich, Scottish Octopus, Wight Hot Pipes, The Highland Divas
(Tickets $85 reserved/$65 general admission) Purchase tickets here.

James MacMillan – St. Luke Passion: New York Premiere
St. Bartholomew’s Church – 8pm
(Tickets $40 Balcony/$50 Prime Seating) Purchase tickets here.

— Jamie McGeechan
Music Reporter for the American Scottish Foundation

Celtic Connection logo Jamie McGeechan aka Little Fire has sent through news from
Celtic Connection music festival.

Celtic Connection is Glasgow’s annual music festival, now in it’s 22nd year, and featuring the best of Scottish music talent. It is now the largest winter music festival in the drawing artists, and audiences, from around the globe.

Kris-Kristofferson-460x250The lineup of artists is enormous, from       Kris Kristofferson headlining The Roaming Roots Revue, to The Chieftains, Rickie Lee Jones, Eddi Reader to the great reception for the Scottish debut of Songs of Seperation, the ten women collective featuring New York based Scot, Hannah Read.

With over 2000 artists performing at the festival in over 300 concerts there really is something for everyone and for all tastes.

Old Fruitmarket ExternalPrimarily folk, roots and world music, the festival is a cross-pollination of artists from different countries and musical genres.  There are wonderful concerts for over two weeks at such venues as The Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, the The Old Fruitmarket, Òran Mór to name but a few.

Some of the highlights at Celtic Connections 2016 so far include;

James Yorkston, Jon Thorne and Suhail Yusuf Khan,                                                                  Tron Theatre, 19th January

yorkston  James Yorkston is one of the most respected and innovative members of the Scottish folk scene,. He has played a huge part in development of musicians such as KT Tunstall,               King Creosote and The Pictish Trail. The performance at Celtic Connections showed his continued ability to innovate, engage and evolve.

Youngston was joined by New Delhi based musician Suhail Yusuf Khan and expert double bass player Jon Thorne.

Alan Frew,                                                                   ALan Frew CConnection
The Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, 21st January

As part of a special broadcast for Celtic Music Radio Scottish singer-songwriter Alan Frew performed a captivating set which had the audience spellbound.

Playing tracks from his debut album Go Easy, he combined talented guitar playing with beautiful, haunting vocals. Alan was a joy to listen to performing fan favourites Mary Go and Denise is Gone.

Roaming Roots Revue,
The Glasgow Royal Concert Hall , 23rd January


The Roddy Hart curated musical feast is one of the major highlights of the festival with a different theme each year, with talent drawn from across the globe.  This year the theme was of the Troubadour – the wandering music maker and minstrel – and the supporting cast brought together a cross section of the best presented at Celtic Connections.

International star Kris Kristofferson topped the bill of talent including Justin Currie, Blue Rose Code, Honeyblood and Frazey FordA fantastic evening.


songs of seperation performingSongs of Seperation          MitchellTheatres, 24th January

This brilliant project involves some of the very best female folk artists in the UK coming together for a collaborative initiative and meeting of minds, cultures and hearts.

The artists were brought together to write and record original material drawing on the theme of separation; between communities, countries and loved ones.

This project is truly something unique and their performance at Celtic Connections was their Scottish debut. It’s hard to describe just how wonderful this concert was but I can safely say it’s one of the most special experiences I’ve ever had.

Songs of Separation album is released on January 29th, don’t miss it.

A major triumph of talents, skill from some of the finest musicians Britain has produced – Eliza Carthy, Hannah Read, Hannah James, Hazel Askew, Jenn Butterworth, Jenny Hill, Karine Polwart, Kate Young, Mary Macmaster and Rowan Rheingans.

There are so many fantastic gigs at Celtic Connections featuring so many brilliant talents that it’s quite impossible to even get to a fraction of the concerts I’d like to.

Sometimes the unexpected gigs I find myself at can be some amongst the most memorable of concerts.

The Festiva lClub and Late Night Sessions see brilliant talent popping up in venues across the city with the music going into the wee small hours.

Where else would you rather be?

Hope to see you at Celtic Connections next year!

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.



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.



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


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


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. 


Burns Night is Almost Here!

As Burns Night quickly approaches, and festivities are in full swing, let’s take a look back in time at this centuries-old celebration and its namesake bard!

  • Robert Burns, one of Scotland’s most celebrated national poets, is remembered throughout the world for his poems and compositions. His poem-turned-song, Auld Lang Syne, is a particular favorite to be sung at Hogmanay and New Year’s celebrations across the globe
  • Burns Night celebrations and suppers take place around the time of year of Robert Burns’s birthday and have been held for over 200 years to celebrate his life and work
  • The celebrations were originally instated by friends of Robert Burns to commemorate the five-year anniversary of his death
  • A traditional Burns supper will often involve haggis, whisky, and the recitation of Burns’s poetry (visit this online archive for a complete index of Burns’s works), as well as piping in the guests, an address to the haggis and a ‘toast to the lassies’

Test your knowledge of Burns Night with this quiz, and take a look at this fantastic video by AboutScotland for a short animation on the story of Robert Burns:

If you haven’t yet picked up your tickets for the 20th annual ASF Burns Night Gala Celebration on Friday, January 16 at The University Club of New York, there’s still time! We’re delighted that acclaimed Ayr singer Jamie McGeechan, known as “Little Fire,” will be joining us for the evening and playing music as part of the festivities. The supper will also feature the wonderful music of vocalist Maureen McMullen and Hannah Read and Friends.

Little Fire. Image courtesy of Iain Brown/Ayrshire Post

We can’t wait to see you and honor one of Scotland’s most celebrated poets in style, song, and verse!