Is it really mid February already?! I’m a bit late with this but better late than never?! 2017 was another brilliant year for me, which started out with the live launch of my debut album Out of My Own Light, at Celtic Connections
Festival in Glasgow in January. It was a fantastic evening, with a fantastic bunch of musicians and friends and I’m delighted with the response I had to the album and the reviews it received.
“The Margaret S Tait Project builds a musical bridge between memory and motherland and it’s a powerful document.”★★★★ (New Internationalist Magazine)
“This is a truly beautiful piece of art.” ★★★★ (Songlines Magazine)
I was incredibly excited to kick off 2018 launching a new project with some of my favorite fiddlers, Laura Wilkie from the
Highlands of Scotland and Jenna Moynihan and Katie MacNally at Celtic Connections festival in Glasgow in January, sharing the stage with the fantastic Le Vent Du Nord. We share a passion for both Scottish and American fiddle music and after chatting about the importance of fiddle camp in fostering that, decided we should play some music together and Celtic Connections was the perfect festival for our debut show! I can’t wait to play with these women again, hopefully it can happen in the near future, watch this space!
This year I have, again had the chance to photograph so many wonderful, talented friends, here is a selection of photos.
I also had a lot of fun shooting video of musician friends, including this one of a bunch of housemates and friends:
This summer one of my fiddle pupils, Katrina, turned 16, and for her birthday she got dolled up 50s style, along with her friends (another of which I used to have a lot of fun teaching too) and I got to come along and take photos, all round Edinburgh! It was a fantastic day, and so lovely to see the girls looking so beautiful and grown-up!
This summer I had a lot of fun playing music all over Scotland with my great friend Conor Hearn playing guitar with me. We started the tour in Orkney, where we were joined by New England fiddler Katie McNally for some island hopping and a couple of mainland shows. We visited the Ring of Brodgar and shot a wee foggy video..
I was extremely honored to have been asked to represent Orkney in a fantastic project, spearheaded by Alex MacDonald from Lewis, which celebrates the links between three Scottish island groups, Orkney, Shetland and the Hebrides. It was a lot of fun to work with Maggie Adamson from Shetland and Jane Hepburn from Lewis, along with our brilliant accompanists.
NuDay Syria Fundraiser
I was delighted to be asked to play a few tunes in a fundraiser concert, organised by Katie McNally, to help raise money for the charity NuDay Syria this autumn. I enjoyed playing some tunes with guitarist Eamon Sefton and fiddler Emilie Rose.
I set up a youtube account, as well as an instagram for Fiddlecam this summer and took a lot of videos while traveling around. I was very grateful to have been gifted a GoPro camera in order to upgrade fiddlecam a little and have been having a lot of fun with that since!
North Coast 500
I had a fantastic couple of days driving up the North West coast of Scotland, when my Canadian cousin Judy came to visit. We took the long road home, on the way up to Orkney and saw some really beautiful spots along the way.
My lovely friends Steven and Mikeala had the most picturesque wedding on the island of Mull this summer and I had a fantastic time taking photos at it. I mean, just look at that golden sand and blue sea, do this not look like a Visit Scotland ad to you?! <3
My beautiful, talented friends Eden and Lukas got married outside of Boston in October and I had so much fun taking photos at the beautiful autumnal wedding! Eden and Lukas make the most gorgeous banjos, check them out here: www.ozarkbanjo.com
It has been another fantastic year at Berklee College of Music, I’ve learned from so many inspiring and brilliant teachers and had some incredible opportunities. Earlier this year I was extremely lucky to have had the chance to perform with world renowned pianist Tigran Hamasyan, along with Berklee World Strings. His music was an inspiration to me while I wrote my album, so this was an exciting thing to be involved in. We also recorded strings on an album of jazz ballads by Kenny Werner and Peter Eldridge and traveled to Connecticut to teach high school kids and play a show there too. I really love playing with this fantastic group!
I had the chance to play at Freshgrass festival with two of my housemates, Ethan Hawkins and Ethan Setiawan, in our (recently named, thanks to our friend Dr Fogel) trio, Corner House, as part of the Berklee American Roots Showcase. Mum and dad had their first trip to Boston and came along to the festival with us for the weekend, dad took this little clip of us playing in one of the galleries at Mass MoCA.
I’m over the moon to say that my album ‘Out of My Own Light’ is released tomorrow, 2nd December 2016!
I am so so thankful to so many people who have helped along the way with this project, in so many ways and I’m over the moon with the outcome and can’t wait to share this music.
I am extremely thankful to the incredible team in the studio; Jennifer Austin, Mike Vass, Su-a Lee, Duncan Lyall, Signy Jakobsdottir, Angus Lyon and Mike Guest; it was such an honour and a privileged to have the chance to work with you all and I enjoyed every minute of it. Thank you to Nick Turner and Mary-Ann Kennedy of Watercolour studio, a beautiful and inspiring setting to record an album and to Iain Hutchison of GloWorm Recordings, Alison Smith at Maxwell Music and all at Golding Products.
A heartfelt thank you to all my family and friends at home and across North America; to Alasdair Fraser and all at Valley of the Moon fiddle camp, Joella Foulds and Celtic Colours Festival, to everyone who hosted me, looked after me, inspired and encouraged me. Thank you to my cousin and fantastic travel buddy Alice Tait. A special thank you to Betty-Lou, Del, Dovie, Lorne and Meb for their memories of Margaret, of the war and of Orkney and to all of their families for such a warm welcome.
Thank you to Lachlan Young for his hard work on this project, to Colin Gray, Iseult Timmermans, Sarah Fishlock and Street Level Photoworks for help and advice. Thank you to Duncan McLean for the literary advice, to Sinclair Roberston, Leah Seatter and the Orcadian, Radio Orkney, Sue Wilson, John Crosby, the Orkney Trad Music Project, Jenny, Hazel and the Reel. A huge thank you to Douglas Montgomery, without whom I would not be where I am today. Thank you for inspiring me right from the beginning and for your continued support over the years!
I am eternally grateful to my family for their support and for trusting me with my Grandmother’s treasured diaries, letters and photographs and allowing me to tell her story.
Thank you to everyone who pre-ordered the album and helped me to raise funds to study at Berklee College of Music - I am so so grateful for your help in making this amazing opportunity possible for me and I can’t wait to share what I am learning and to make more music!
This project would not have been possible without generous funding from Creative Scotland, S & J D Robertson Group Ltd and Enterprise Music Scotland. I am extremely grateful for this.
I am delighted to be home after a fantastic year at Berklee College of
Music, back just in time for another fantastic Orkney Folk Festival and
some beautiful Orkney sunshine! (The best kind..)
I was really chuffed to have achieved a full set of A’s for this
semester and I feel I’ve learned so much in the past 8 or 9 months there
and met so many fantastic people. I am really excited to say that I
have just been awarded repeat funding from the Robertson Scholarship
Trust and I’m awaiting decisions from a couple other trust funds as to
whether they might help me for another year also. I am excited to return
and am working hard to make it possible. Being able to work as a
photographer for Berklee’s marketing department has been a huge help, so
I hope to be able to continue doing so in September. I have signed up
for some great classes and will continue to learn from Bruce Molsky, as
well as Darol Anger and technique expert Sandy Kott. Exciting times!
It has been so lovely to be back home in Orkney, as well as catching up
with people in Glasgow. I had a lovely photo shoot with fiddler Eilidh
Firth the other week and have a couple more lined up in the coming
months, which I am looking forward to. I had the chance to photograph a
beautiful Orkney wedding at the St Magnus Cathedral a week or so ago and
I’m looking forward to one in Hoy at the end of July. We were
incredibly lucky the have the beautiful Poppies display up at the
Cathedral, which made a beautiful backdrop for the group photos.
This week I am just outside of Paris, catching up with my English ‘twin’, the lovely Elly Lucas,
getting ready to photograph a French-Russian wedding in
Saint-Germaine-En-Laye. We are both a bit giddy with excitement, having
taken a peek at the venue and the couple’s plans for the day! We then
have a couple of days to explore Paris, before we head back to Sheffield
and work with the equally lovely Rosie Hood, on photography for her upcoming album.
Last time Elly and I got together for a photographic adventure, we hiked
to the Whangie, in the Kilpatrick Hills, near Loch Lomond, and we also
spent a lovely day in the Glasgow Botanic Gardens.
I’m really excited to say that I’m going to be playing some concerts all
round Scotland this July, with some great friends! Galen Fraser and I
met at his father’s fiddle camp Valley of the Moon
in California, in 2013 and have been great friends since. During the
past year in Boston, we often got together and played music, at home and
in various Irish pubs, along with lots of great musicians and friends.
Galen has just finished making his debut album ‘Mischief Managed’ (we
had a great time taking photos in Boston for the artwork!) and if we are
lucky, he may have a few copies with him! Take a look at his website
We are excited to play music from both of our album projects, as well as
lots of our favourite tunes from Scotland, Ireland, America (I have
really enjoyed lessons in Old Time fiddling with Bruce Molsky at
Berklee!), Scandinavia and beyond, as well as tunes learned at Valley of
the Moon. We will be joined by lots of friends along the way and are
really looking forward to getting out and about and playing our music.
We are delighted that NorthLink Ferries are helping us out with some discounted travel, thank you to them for their sponsorship.
Out of My Own Light
I am chomping at the bit to release my album, though shall have to
remain patient, as the plan is for an official release on the 2nd of
December! I am currently looking to book a release tour in January, so
will have more updates on that in a couple months time.
I am still working my way through the list of donators to make sure that
have sent out all the rewards for my Indiegogo campaign, please do get
in touch if you haven’t yet received your CD etc. I have had some really
lovely feedback so far, so I am really delighted about that - I have
been excited and nervous to hear what folk think, so it’s lovely to hear
such positive things about it! Thank you once again to all who helped
me to make it to Berklee, by helping me with my Indiegogo fund-raiser,
it is so much appreciate.
I’m extremely excited to say that I have been offered a place and a generous scholarship, to study music at Berklee College of Music in Boston in September! I auditioned in London in Feb and have been offered an almost full-fee scholarship, so I am now looking to raise the remainder of the fees living costs, in order to take up the place. I have launched a crowd funding campaign, with lots of things in return for donations. I would very much appreciate if you would take the time to have a look and share the campaign if you can:
Bichan’s vividly expressive and evocative chamber-folk score underpinned a wonderfully engaging, absorbing illumination of past lives and family ties. Sue Wilson, The Scotsman, 25th May 2015
I have just about recovered after a crazy weekend at the Orkney Folk Festival, which saw me perform my first show for ‘Out of My Own Light’ and play several gigs with the Fara lasses, as well as the Fiddle Gathering and joining Hadhirgaan, Douglas Montgomery’s school fiddle group, for a tune (a fair few years since I played with Hadhirgaan!) I’m absolutely delighted with how my concert went and totally over the moon to have received such a fantastic review from Sue Wilson, in her round up of the festival in the Scotsman on Monday. It was really wonderful to have so many family and friends of my Grandmother there and again at the special viewing of the exhibition in the Pier Arts Centre, I was delighted to hear so many nice and encouraging words from folk. Thank you again to the festival for having me and for such a great weekend, I can’t wait for Orkney Folk Festival 2016! Take a look on my blog about the project to see photos of the exhibition, concert and the photographic book:
I put together a behind the scenes video from our time at Watercolour Studio in Ardgour (near Fort William) and at Gloworm studio in Glasgow recording piano parts, featuring a rough of one of the tracks we recorded. Take a look:
Not long now until the Orkney Folk Festival! I’ll be performing the music from Out of My Own Light next Thursday in the Orphir Hall; tickets available from the festival website: www.orkneyfolkfestival.com
My photography will be on display at the Pier Arts Centre and I will have the first copies of the photographic book ready to add to the exhibition in time for the festival also.
Sadly the album wont be ready in time for the festival, but shouldn’t be far behind! I’m delighted with how it is sounding so far and there are still a few bits to record before mixing happens. I can’t wait to share it! If you are interested, you can pre-order the album here and help me greatly by doing so. Thank you.
Extremely sad leaving this behind this afternoon.. What a lovely week at Watercolour Music, really a special place to record an album, with such a fantastic group of people, who I can’t thank enough; Su-a, Mike, Mike, Duncan, Angus, Jennifer and Signy. It is extremely rewarding and really exciting to hear the music I have been working on for so long, finally come to life and I couldn’t have asked for a better team, what a fun week! Thank you so much to Nick and Mary Ann of Watercolour, it is such a beautiful, inspiring place to create music and a fantastic backdrop for photos and video; really brilliant having Mike Guest Photography around to take loads of beautiful footage and create masterpieces in the kitchen too, what a guy! Thank you all so much.
I’m really excited about this album, I can’t wait to finish it off and to be able to share it, but first up, the concert at Orkney Folk Festival next week… Tickets on sale online for ‘Out of My Own Light’ at the Orphir Hall on Thursday 21st: www.orkneyfolkfestival.com Can’t wait!