The talents of four up and coming music makers are on show this weekend as ‘Eabhal’ take to the stage in the Lews Castle College UHI Music department End of Year concert in St Mary’s Hall, Griminish, on Friday, June 9th.
Jamie MacDonald (fiddle), Nicky Kirk (guitar), Hamish Hepburn (pipes/flute) and Megan MacDonald (accordion), met and began playing together as students at the Lews Castle College UHI base in Uist; and over the past two years have been performing throughout Europe and the UK, as well as releasing their self-titled EP. (Photo Hamish Hepburn - ©Eabhal Music - above - with Wilf Stone)
Playing folk music from Scotland, Ireland, Europe and further, alongside self-penned tunes, Eabhal are bringing a unique new sound to the music scene, with nods from those in the know such as Blazin’ Fiddles’ member Angus Lyon: “Full of energy and bold ideas but firmly grounded in the Scottish and Gaelic tradition, Eabhal are one of Scotland’s brightest up and coming bands that continue to evolve our music.”
The Eabhal ‘sound’ is one that demonstrates the band’s collective musical ethos – and has evolved as the musicians themselves have gained skill and confidence through their College studies.
Originally from Lairg in the North Highlands of Scotland, Eabhal accordionist Megan’s active interest in traditional music was sparked by her involvement in Feis Chataibh, and has seen her tour with the Feis Rois Ceilidh Trail Project on many occasions.
A graduate from the National Centre of Excellence in Traditional Music, Megan is now based in Glasgow but continues her learning in Applied Music through UHI.
Also involved in the Feisean movement from a young age is Eabhal piper and flutist Hamish Henderson, from the small village of Carrbridge in Cairngorm’s National Park.
Originally a fiddle player, Hamish picked up the pipes aged nine and learnt his craft under the tuition of Lewis Barclay, and has since participated in the local ceilidh trail, as well as taking up a tutor post at Feis Spe.
Hamish began his studies with Lews Castle College UHI in Benbecula for an HNC in traditional music, under the guidance of Iain MacDonald (Glenuig). As well as receiving lessons on pipes, he also had his first taster of wooden flute during his course, which automatically set off an interest in learning the instrument.
And having lived on Uist during his studies, Hamish has taken a large influence from the Gaidhlig culture and its music, now evident through his playing.
Band member and fiddle player Jamie MacDonald also brings a deep Gaelic richness to Eabhal, having grown up immersed in the Gaidhlig music and culture of his native island of Tiree.
Brought up in a Gaidhlig speaking household, the fluent speaker’s repertoire of puirt-a-beul and old Highland tunes is complemented by his understanding of the Gaelic song tradition, which flavours his distinctive island style of playing.
As well as performing with Eabhal, Jamie also plays with Tiree Ceilidh Band Dun Mor, and is involved in various other solo projects.
Rounding off the talented four-some is Nicky Kirk, originally from rural Northumberland, who found the route to Irish and Scottish traditional music through his home county’s rich musical heritage.
Nicky was engrossed at an early age through projects like Folkworks at the Sage, Gateshead, and has performed and experimented with a wide range of musical outfits and bands. And through his interest in music and travel, he’s developed a keen ear for the folk music of many of the countries he has visited, experimenting with influences from Europe, India and North Africa.
It was after several years of travelling and gigging in England and Europe that Nicky moved to Uist to further develop his interest in traditional music through the UHI base – and met and began performing with Eabhal.
For the End of Year Concert this weekend – which is the final show in the band’s UK Spring Tour – Eabhal will also be joined by singer songwriter Wilf Stone, also hailing from Northumberland.
The Lews Castle College UHI Music department End of Year Concert starts at 7.30pm on Friday, June 9th.
There will be a Raffle on the night, tickets priced £8/£6 can be bought on the door, and a complimentary glass is available for all on arrival.