The Young Trad competition is something I had always wanted to enter ever since first going to Celtic Connections back in 2010. I remember watching musicians – some of whom I now very good friends with – competing against each other to win the title, and I, myself had always aspired to be in their position and do the same. It’s crazy now looking back to the start of 2015 when I entered that I would have even got into the finals, let alone win it!
The competition for me from start to finish has been absolutely brilliant. I never thought that it would be such a fun thing to do and from the offset thought that it would be a completely nerve-racking experience, where everyone would have only one goal on their minds and that was to win, with no regard to enjoy or get anything else out of the experience at all. It was in fact the complete opposite. When I turned up to the Semi – Finals I knew a good majority of the people there, all of whom are incredible musicians and some of the nicest people you will ever meet. The weekend consisted of everyone having a half an hour rehearsal with Mike Byran and Mhairi Hall, followed by Tai Chi classes to help us calm ourselves then followed by talks from Craig Corse of TwentyTwo Promotions and Duncan McCrone of PRS, which basically, in a nutshell, opened our eyes and showed us what we should be expecting from a career in music and what was the best was to go about optimizing it. At the end of the weekend was the concert, where we were all to play a 10-minute set, which would be judged by a panel of 6 and we would be narrowed down from 12 semi-finalists to 6 finalists. It was incredible to be back stage with everyone, where instead of us all crumbling and not talking to each other, we were all back giving each other confidence and calming each other’s nerves. It was great, you would see everyone at the side cheering you on as you played on stage, apart from obviously the person going on next who would be back stage breathing into a brown paper bag trying to calm themselves down before going on…
After the Semi – Finals I got the all feared YES or NO call off Simon and I was literally up on a roof, tiling, in the pouring rain, struggling to answer my phone because I couldn’t swipe the silly call button! But after 3 seconds of ridiculously intense stress, I managed to open it up to the wonderful news that I had made it through into the Finals! “F****** YAS!!!!!!!!!!” direct quote… Flippin YAS!!!!!! is of course what is starred out…
So I started working on new material for the Finals and slowly managed to put all the sets together making half a set in November, and then totally put it off until the last possible minute. By January though, I had all my material ready and the rehearsals were the only thing left to do. So after finishing my chord charts at ridiculous O’clock in the morning, I met up with Mike, Mhairi and Mark Maguire for the first of 2, hour long rehearsals for the gig on the 31st of January, which went perfectly. They were able to pick up everything exactly as I had wrote it and we got through everything in great time and by the end of the second one we were set to go on stage!
When Sunday came it went like an absolute blur and by the time I knew it I had finished playing. Backstage was very much like it was at the Semi – finals though of course everyone was a bit more nervous this time round. After everyone had finished playing I went out to see my family and friends who were all very supportive and wishing me the best of luck. To my surprise I returned to be announced the winner. I literally couldn’t think and still can’t think of words to describe how I was feeling! It was incredible I could not believe it. Shortly after, I was swooped off to play at the Festivals Club and being the celebrations!! This was followed by playing a set later with Ímar and later closing the festivals club with Kevin McLeod’s regular End-Of-Celtic-Connections-Ensemble-Of –Everyone-With-An-Instrument which was great. I even ended up crowd surfing all round the club without getting dropped half way!
The whole experience has been incredible from start to finish and has given me a massive boost in reference to the work I’m doing with all my projects. February and March – which I will go into in more detail in my next blog – have been crazy busy. I’ve almost finished recording the Talisk Album that will be ready for release on the 21st of April at our launch in Stereo, Glasgow. I also brought Fourth Moon over to Glasgow to record half of our album with Barry Reid at Carrier Waves studio that was followed with some filming of the band by Gus Stirrat, due for release in the next few months. Teamed along with all of this I’ve been busy in the studio with Adam Rhodes and Tom Callister working on my solo project which too will be released in the next month of so.
So it’s all full steam ahead from now on with plenty coming your way!!!