Gig review: MG Alba Scots Trad Music Awards 2015

It was bookended by the exuberant big drums and electronic psychedelia of Niteworks and the Peatbog Faeries, but some memorable moments at the Scots Trad Music Awards ceremony and gala concert were less sonically boisterous.
Baiba Skride. Picture: Marco BorggreveBaiba Skride. Picture: Marco Borggreve
Baiba Skride. Picture: Marco Borggreve

MG Alba Scots Trad Music Awards 2015 | Rating: **** | Caird Hall, Dundee

With the folk scene turned out in best bib and tucker, the first set that really got the feet tapping in a lavishly decked Caird Hall was the snappy strathspeys of Tom Orr’s dance band.

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Elsewhere, between the speeches and presentations (full results can be found online at, performances included a sinuous harp and fiddle set from Catriona McKay and Chris Stout, while Murray Henderson and the Big Music Society combined age-old piobaireachd with a very contemporary string arrangement.

Newcomers included Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year Clare Hastings, with an impressive foretaste of her forthcoming debut album. Then there was the warmly received 30-year-old fiddle and accordion partnership of Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham, joined here by the esteemed Shetland pianist Violet Tulloch; while another renowned fiddler, Duncan Chisholm, also recruited a string trio for a fluid sequence, and Malinky, whose Fiona Hunter was Scots Singer of the Year, delved into the tradition for The Bonnie Hoose o’ Airlie.

A moving tribute to the great Flora MacNeil, who passed away in May, involved another fine Gaelic singer, Cathy Ann MacPhee, before Flora’s daughter, Maggie MacInnes, delivered one of her mother’s signature songs, Gràdh Geal Mo Chridh’, in a moment of emotion and affecting dignity.