In the last few years we have produced music for songwriters including Judy Fairbairns, Sheila K Cameron, Angela Patterson and Jayne Murdoch whilst continuing to work on our own album projects. Among our many other adventures we have worked with NHS Highland in collaboration with Live Music Now Scotland on networking events, with live music by Ainsley Hamill and Sarah MacNeil, and hosted a wonderful house concert with Gaelic singer Mary Ann Kennedy. Right now we are putting the final touches to Edge of the Wild, the debut album by Judy Fairbairns, together with a solo project by John and a collection of new Wild Biscuit material, Ribbons of Tradition.
Here are a few highlights from the early days.
2012 Olympic Torch Relay
We composed and produced The Flame, an original piece for Creative Scotland’s Summer of Song, the nationwide project celebrating the Olympic Torch Relay in Scotland. Wild Biscuit was asked by Argyll & Bute Council to put together an event programme for the arrival of the Torch at Tarbet on the shores of Loch Lomond, and for The Flame we worked with youth choirs from Lochgilphead High School and Tarbert Academy and their conductor Stephen Povey. Several other young Mid Argyll musicians and excerpts from Move completed the show on a glorious June morning, and the performance was featured in the film Keep Her Lit by Roderick Buchanan that premiered at the Glasgow Film Theatre later in the year.
2011 Fred Morrison workshop and concert
One of the greatest highlights of the year was a workshop and concert by internationally acclaimed piper Fred Morrison. It had been an ambition to bring Fred to Mid Argyll for some time and a perfect opportunity arose for us to invite him to work with our pipers from Move in the run up to Celtic Connections 2012. After a fantastic workshop in Kilmartin with twelve local pipers Fred gave an unforgettable solo performance at the Cairnbaan Hotel by the Crinan Canal on October 29th. Support for the night came from Move pipers David Provan and Chris Coates, and a vocal set from Gaelic singer Kim Carnie with John Biscuit on guitar.
2010 Tom Conti. Random Aspekts.
As a fore-runner to what was to become MOVE, our first workshop with Mid Argyll pipers and drummers and dance crew Random Aspekts took place in the wonderful surroundings of Craignish Hall at Ardfern in the spring of 2010. Having worked with the local musicians on a break beat version of a traditional tune, we invited Tony Mills and Random Aspekts, through Dance Base in Edinburgh, to create some original choreography in put it all together on a workshop and performance day at Craignish. We invited award winning film maker Dave Dunbar to record the day and his resulting short film became a landmark in the development of MOVE. The film was screened at a number of events around Scotland in 2010 and 2011, and was runner up in the Palme Dewar Short Film Competition at the Aberfeldy Film Festival 2010.
2010 also saw the release of Two Inches Tall, our production of Tom Conti reading the poem Yesterday I Felt Two Inches Tall by Sheila Cameron. Two Inches Tall was nominated in the spoken word category of the Annual Independent Music Awards 2013. This was one of several arrangements of Sheila’s unique material we’ve collaborated on since 2007, others including her release Where the Last Tide Runs.
Earlier that year we ran a hugely successful launch night for The Mid Argyll Collection, a locally complied collection of piping tunes. The evening was celebrated with Mid Argyll pipers, guest singer song-writer Duncan McCrone and Scottish dance band Ceilidh Minogue.
The major music project of this period was Blackwood & Hickory, a project celebrating Mid Argyll Pipe Band’s 80th anniversary. At the invitation of the Band, Wild Biscuit devised a live show to mark the anniversary year, inviting colleagues form the Scottish music industry James Mackintosh (drums) and Brian McAlpine (piano) to join John on guitar for a legendary and sold-out concert in Ardrishaig Hall in September 2007. Through several months of rehearsal the Band worked with us on innovative arrangements and stage performance, and delivered a spectacular show. In the following year, we produced a CD of music from the show with the Band, with recording sessions taking place at Kilmory in Lochgilphead and CAVA Studios in Glasgow. Tracks from the CD were featured on BBC Radio Scotland. Later in 2008 Mid Argyll Pipe Band were winners in the Scottish Pipe Band of the Year Category at the Scots Trad Music Awards in Fort William.
Early Biscuit Years 2000 – 2006
As well as recording and promoting our early CD releases, we worked with a number of local artists including indie four piece 32 Miles to Breakfast (producing their EP Acid Rain) and programming an acoustic showcase event for the Kintyre Music Festival in Campbeltown . Wild Biscuit commercial concert promotions included French bluegrass ensemble ZipCode2025 and Wonder Stuff front man Miles Hunt. We programmed festival events with performances by acclaimed Scottish artists including Andi Neate and Charlie McKerron, and produced the community project Dooker Soup in Tarbert, Loch Fyne. The centre piece of Dooker Soup was a CD featuring many local singers, choirs and bands, recorded on location and designed in collaboration with members of the community during workshops in 2006.