‘Disco DJ’ scoops top folk musician award

Paddy Callaghan, centre back, is Young Traditional Musician of the Year. Picture: Donald MacLeod
Paddy Callaghan, centre back, is Young Traditional Musician of the Year. Picture: Donald MacLeod
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AN accordion player who also doubles as a “Trad Disco” DJ has picked up one of the top honours in the Scottish music scene.

Paddy Callaghan, from Glasgow, fought off competition from five rivals to win the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year Award.

Callaghan is also a radio presenter, development worker for an Irish music group won the event and plays in a rockabilly-cajun band in Glasgow.

The event, broadcast live on Radio Scotland, is now the traditional finale to the Celtic Connections music festival, at the Royal Conservatoire of Glasgow.

The 26-year-old had been a finalist in the prestigious competition, which were being held for the 13th time, three years ago, but said he wanted to “prove to myself I could win it.”

He currently works at a full-time development worker in Scotland for Comhaltas Ceoltoírí Éireann, who promote Irish traditional culture worldwide.

However previous winners have go on gone on to make a huge name for themselves, including Emily Smith, Anna Massie and Stuart Cassells, founder of the Red Hot Chili Pipers.

Callaghan told The Scotsman: “I’m totally shocked to win.

“It is such a prestigious award, much more so than even three years ago when I last entered, as highlights are now shown on TV.

“The standard of the other finalists was frightening so I can hardly believe I won, although I thought I played well enough.

“I got a lot out of entering the competition and getting to the final three years ago but wanted to prove to myself that I could do it.”

The other finalists were Andrew Dunlop (Connel) piano, Graham Mackenzie (Inverness) fiddle, Grant MacFarlane (Paisley) accordion, Hannah Fisher (Dunkeld) fiddle, and Scott Wood (Erskine) pipes.

> Callaghan, who learned his trade under the legendary Frank McArdle and The St. Roch’s Ceili Band, makes regular appearances around the city as a “Trad Disco” or “Trisco” DJ.

Simon Thoumire, creative director of Hands Up For Trad, the founder of the awards, said: “The ‘Young Trad’ Award exists to encourage young musicians to keep their tradition alive and to maximise their musical potential by the pursuit of a career in traditional music.

“Each year the winner is provided with high profile performance opportunities and the necessary tools and advice they require to launch a career in traditional music.

Jeff Zycinski, head of radio for BBC Scotland, said: “Many congratulations to Paddy. Once again the audience was treated to a series of compelling performances from outstanding young musicians.

“This annual showcase of emerging talent has again delivered some fantastic highlights.”

Highlights of the awards concert, presented by Mary Ann Kennedy and attended by culture secretary Fiona Hyslop, will be shown on BBC Alba Monday February 4 from 9pm.