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MP3 Donald Stewart & Chris Boland - Long Time Getting Here

A great collection of new Scottish fiddle tunes with a couple of old favourites thrown in.

13 MP3 Songs in this album (51:40) !
Related styles: World: Celtic, Folk: Scottish Traditional, Instrumental

People who are interested in Alasdair Fraser Aly Bain Blazing Fiddles should consider this download.

I have written the tunes on this CD over a period of many years. In some cases they represent significant people or events in my life and in others just the sheer joy of the journey of life. I started learning to play the fiddle when I was eight. Since then the music has been a constant element in a life that has taken me far beyond anywhere I could conceive of in my earlier days. I first started writing tunes when I was 16 or 17. Yet it has taken the encouragement of many people, this recording and the work which has gone into it to finally persuade me, some 30 years later, that any of them are any good. I now find myself writing tunes at all sorts of odd places and times. So if you ever see someone sitting in an airport lounge, on a train or round a swimming pool scribbling away in a manuscript book, come on over and say hello – it’s probably me!

1 A Night in Orphir, Farewell to Irn-Bru, The Ardgour Seamstress, Sunday Morning

A Night in Orphir is a pipe march written in 2008 for the 50th Birthday party of my old friend and Amazing Spootiskerry Ceilidh Band bandmate, Alasdair Marwick who has lived in Orkney for many years. This was my first trip to Orkney – but not my last.

I was diagnosed as suffering from type 2 diabetes in July 2009. Judging from the symptoms I have probably been suffering from diabetes for several years. Farewell to Irn-Bru is a strathspey dedicated to diabetes sufferers everywhere!

The Ardgour Seamstress is Nick Turner – the brilliant sound engineer at Watercolour Music who guided us through the recording process seamlessly.

Sunday Morning is a tune in my head when I woke up on, surprisingly enough, a Sunday morning about a week before we went to the studio to record.

2 Christine’s Waltz

Christine’s Waltz is one my earlier tunes. It was written over twenty years ago, not long after I started going out with Christine and while we were both still living in Edinburgh. At the time I was very impressed by two tunes, Margaret’s Waltz as played by Aly Bain and Jay Ungar’s Ashokan Farewell, and this tune was my response. After all these years I am happy to say that Christine is still my best friend.

3 Over the Hill for Lesley; Walloper’s Waddle; Fiona’s Jig

Over the Hill for Lesley was written for Doctor Lesley Dawson’s 40th birthday celebrations. Lesley is a doctor who specialises in treating cancer patients – a tough calling.

Walloper’s Waddle and Fiona’s Jig both date back to about 1986 and the wedding of Blair and Fiona Grubb. Blair, also know as “the Great Big Walloper”, was the guitarist and tallest member of the Amazing Spootiskerry Ceilidh Band, which we formed at Edinburgh University in 1982, and was my best man when I married Christine.

4 Fitterin’ n’ Futterin’; Hannah’s Reel; Plummin’ the Depths; The Buggle Beastie

These four reels were written sitting round the pool watching the kids playing while on holiday in the south of France during the hot summer of 2005. Hannah is my older daughter who was 12 at the time while The Buggle Beastie is Melanie, my younger daughter, who was 2½.

5 Farewell to Whisky

This is a great old tune written by Niel Gow towards the end of the 18th Century. Chris and I have been playing this one since we first met over 20 years ago.

6 The North Shore; Hills of Lutsen

These two tunes came out of a trip which I made with the family to Lutsen, an old Norwegian settlement on the North Shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota. As places go Minnesota is pretty flat, being the start of the great prairies of the American mid-west. However the Hills of Lutsen are the highest in the state and even boast a ski resort.

7 The Three Shes; The Banks of Bishopsgate; The Linton Bypass

The Three Shes was written in the lounge in Schipol Airport while waiting to change planes and contemplating the most important women in my life. I tried to write an Irish sounding reel in the style of the late Sean Maguire – whose playing was a great inspiration. I consider myself extremely lucky to have met Sean on my 18th birthday and to have spent several hours picking his brains and getting tips from him during a long ferry crossing from Lerwick to Aberdeen in the early 1980s.

The Banks of Bishopsgate is a reel in Bb. The flat keys were well used in the repertoire of the classic 18th and 19th century Scots fiddle composers such as Neil Gow, William Marshall and James Scott Skinner. I learned “the Banks” hornpipe in the late 70s. The title of that tune refers to the banks of the River Spey. I thought that a tune for the 21st century needed a name updated to reflect our times and recent economic chaos.

The Linton Bypass is dedicated to all those who come to the Monday evening Scottish Fiddle session in Kentish Town, North London and who put up with my facial expressions every time they break into “the High Road to Linton”. This tune started out life as a D minor reel to go along with Gavin Marwick’s D minor strathspey, “Weights and Measures”.

8 Alma’s Garden

This tune came to me while I was wandering down Carter Lane in London on my way into work one morning. I quite often start sketching out tunes while I am walking as the rhythm gets into my head. To help raise funds I raffled the opportunity to name this tune at the London Feis in September 2009. The winner was Codie Edwards from Nottingham who gave it the name Alma’s Garden. Alma is Codie’s 90 year old grandmother whose garden is constantly in bloom.

9 Trip to Toronto; Eastnor

Trip to Toronto is a jig in Bb written for a trip I made to Toronto in 2008.

Eastnor is the oldest of my tunes on this CD, though certainly not the first tune I ever wrote. It is about Eastnor, a house in Cramond, Edinburgh, where the Marwick family used to live. Ken, Calum, Alasdair, Hugh and Gavin all played traditional music and joined Blair Grubb and myself to form the Amazing Spootiskerry Ceilidh Band in 1982. I spent a lot of time at Eastnor during the first half of the 1980s – it was our own very dedicated Scottish music academy!

10 Ballachulish Bayou; Boland’s Bolognaise; The Grambois Granny

Like the reels featured on track4, these three Waltzes were also written in the south of France during the summer of 2005 and have turned out with an appropriate hint of French in them. When we recorded them I felt that the name of the first tune had to reflect its distinctly Scottish/Cajun feel. The second tune is dedicated to Chris’ culinary expertise which kept us going through the sessions.

The Grambois Granny is dedicated to Mireille Othnin-Giarard, a delightful lady who lives close to the village of Grambois in the Luberon and who has been a great friend to the family during our visits to the area.

11 Archie’s Welcome; Etienne’s Big Day

Archie’s Welcome was written to celebrate the birth of Archie, the first son of Neil Bowdler. Neil, a radio journalist, supported our Scots fiddle group in London in the early days and helped out as the Gaelic voice of Feis London when we were getting it off the ground in 2007.

Etienne’s Big Day was for Etienne Duval’s 50th birthday. Etienne, another journalist and fiddler, is the backbone of the Scottish fiddle scene in London and, together with Christine Yorston and I, was a founder of Feis London.

12 Memories of Elma

I wrote this slow air for my mother who, for many years, was my biggest fan. She died in 1997.

The playing of the late “Young” Willie Hunter of Shetland was another huge influence on me during the late 1970s and early 1980s. His slow tunes used the entire range of the traditional fiddle and I wanted to write a tune that could have been written by him. This is the result.

13 Captain Carswell; Father John MacMillan of Barra; The Old Woman’s Dance; James MacLellan’s Favourite

Two pipe marches followed by a couple of pipe jigs, these are all tunes I have been playing for longer than I can remember. Captain Carswell was written by Pipe Major Willie Lawrie while Father John MacMillan of Barra is by Norman MacDonald. The Old Woman’s Dance is by Donald MacLeod while James MacLellan’s Favourite is by Duncan Johnstone.


Donald Stewart: Fiddle, Stroh Violin (tracks 1, 7 and 13), Acoustic Bass Guitar (tracks 1, 2, 4, 7 and 9), Piano (track 4)
Chris Boland: Guitars
Frank Reid: Accordion (tracks 3, 6 and 10)
Sheena Reid: Piano (tracks 4 and 12)

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