Luc McNally from Dipton, County Durham is a finalist in the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician 2015. We asked Luc the following questions:
How did you get involved in Scottish music?
I got involved in Scottish music when my mam convinced me to audition for Kathryn Tickell’s Folkestra at the Sage Gateshead when I was 14. The repertoire we were taught was an interesting mixture of traditional and contemporary arrangements of Northumbrian, Scottish and Irish music. Prior to that I had no concept of folk or traditional music that I can remember apart from the Pogues and a couple of Planxty/Bothy Band albums I’d heard around the house. Once I got into it, though, I was hooked. I would go to as many festivals, gigs and sessions as possible, which is what eventually made me want to move to Glasgow: the place with the highest concentration of amazing musicians and bands, and sessions every night.
Why did you enter BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician Award?
I entered the competition because I had seen quite a few friends go through the process, and saw how motivating it can be to try and prepare material that shows off your best playing in a short space of time, on a scarily big stage. I mainly see it as a challenge to myself, to try and push me into exploring my solo playing.
What do you hope to gain from the experience?
I mostly work as an accompanist, so it’s not often that I happen to be at the centre of a performance. But with this competition, that’s completely unavoidable; so for the most part, I hope to gain confidence in my solo playing and singing as well as just enjoying the chance to be accompanied by some of my favourite musicians. I’m also getting the rare chance to share a serious concert bill with some of the best players from my age group, rather than just seeing them in the pub!
Do you have any particular musical highlights?
Last Summer, Dosca had the pleasure of sharing the bill with the Treacherous Orchestra at the Montelago Celtic Festival in Italy – it was both an amazing gig and a hilarious party/holiday and a complete honour to be in the company of so many great players.
I also had a lovely gig with Snuffbox at the Scots Fiddle Festival in Edinburgh, playing before Graham MacKenzie’s big band. The gig was in the Queen’s Hall and really well attended, and we even got mentioned in a Times article!
Another overawing experience recently was competing in (and winning!) the Trip to Birmingham TradFest’s Molloy Award with Iona Fyfe and Charlie Grey. As well as it being one of the finest festivals I’ve been to, with endless sessions and such a high volume of young musicians and music fans, we got to see Flook on the first night, and Frankie Gavin & Noel Hill on the second – all of whom are heroes of mine.
What are your plans for the future?
More gigs, teaching and travelling hopefully. Dosca are releasing their album on the 20th of January so hopefully we’ll get some work out of that, on top of quite a few gigs I have booked in with Snuffbox and Iona Fyfe for this year. I have also been keen to do some solo work for a while now, so maybe this will be the year for that!
Why not buy a ticket to hear Luc McNally or any other of the finalists at the Grand Finals on Sunday January 28th at 5pm. The finals are part of Celtic Connections festival. If you can’t make it along the event will be broadcast on BBC Radio Scotland between 5 & 8pm and on the iPlayer afterwards.