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Dougie MacLean Performing at Perthshire Amber

Year after year Scotland brims with traditional folk music festivals from Edinburgh to Orkney, Glasgow to Skye, and many small towns in between. The musical heritage is so rich that no matter the time of year you’re bound to find a music festival near wherever the road takes you.

That’s what happened to me last fall.

An opportunity to visit Perthshire at the peak of autumn colors arose on short notice, and I quickly threw myself into researching how to best fill my week-long visit. I chanced upon a serendipitous discovery — Perthshire Amber… Read more...

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All Them Witches

In the 1968 horror film Rosemary’s Baby, Mia Farrow is destined to give birth to the Antichrist. A coterie of creepy players prepare her to carry the spawn of Satan, though the knowledge is kept from her, and only through the help of her friend Hutch does she begin to suspect her kindly old neighbors might be sinister witches. The key that unleashes Rosemary’s tide of isolated paranoia and fear? A book on witchcraft titled All of Them Witches.

The name conjures shadowy rituals, gothic mysticism, and the suggestion of deeper, forgotten powers. It’s a fantastic name for a book but it might be an even better band name. Read more...

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Trackpacking: Breabach

by Keith Savage · 6 comments

Breabach Live

Last April’s spotlight on Rising Gael has been the most recent Trackpacking post for a whopping nine months, and at the time I promised that I would share more of my favorite traditional Scottish and Celtic musicians in this series. Music has been on mind, lately, as I gear up for another spin around Scotland this April, and today, I’m making good on the promise.

Breabach is no stranger to Traveling Savage. Long-time readers will remember how they kicked in Glenfiddich’s warehouse during the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival and how they lit up the Shetland Folk Festival going on three years ago now. It’s only appropriate to present them in a Trackpacking article as they are always on my iPod when I’m traveling around Scotland. Read more...

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Trad Music at Sandy Bell's Pub in Edinburgh

My Best of Scotland series continues to roll with today’s post, in which I focus on a handful of places to reliably find excellent traditional Scottish folk music. My early trips to Scotland invariably centered on finding those places where local musicians united in darkened pubs, as if drawn together by Hendrix’s All Along the Watch Tower*, to play traditional Scottish tunes. I had my share of successes, and those nights at Sandy Bell’s or the Port Charlotte Hotel quaffing pints to the wildly talented strains of local folk music are some of my favorite memories.

Trad music isn’t hard to find in Scotland. Musicians gather in pubs and community centers all across the country to weave their melodies and rhythms. The trick, for visitors, is to be in the right place at the right time. Read more...

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Rising Gael

So this is insane.

In over three years of writing the Trackpacking series highlighting musicians that inspire me to travel, I haven’t once written about a Celtic music band. Not once. And this being a blog dedicated to exploring Scotland! I’m not sure what that says about me – I DO listen to a lot of Celtic music – but I can’t help feeling a little embarrassed.

That all changes today, and for the rest of this year I promise Trackpacking articles will focus on some of my favorite Celtic musicians. It seems so right to start with a band from my own backyard with whom I’ve recently become quite good friends: Rising Gael.

Rising Gael is a foursome hailing from Madison, Wisconsin whose signature sound is a creative blend of contemporary arrangements and classic Celtic instrumentation. Read more...

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