Dougie MacLean is Scotland’s preeminent singer songwriter. His song Caledonia, written over 30 years ago ago when he was a young musician just getting started, is so popular it is often considered the unofficial national anthem of Scotland. In the run up tp #indyref in 2014 there were many who were ready to vote Yes to independence, and Yes to making Caledonia the country’s official anthem.
His amazing 40-plus year career began as a fiddle player, in a family where both his Mum and Da were musically inclined. While growing up in rural Scotland Dougie MacLean picked up the guitar, as so many did back in the 1960s and 70s and the rest, as they say, is history. Now more than 40 years later he has his own recording label, built a recording studio in the schoolhouse where his father learned to write with chalk on a slate tablet, has penned one of Scotland’s best loved songs, and broadcasts his music live to his legions of fans worldwide via satellite.
While best known as a singer/songwriter/performer there is another side to Dougie MacLean. He is also a composer. His best known piece, "The Gael", was a fiddle tune originally written for a Loch Ness promotional film called "The Search" before it was adapted and retitled for the movie "The Last of the Mohicans." However, Just over a year ago, in July 2015, MacLean released Perthshire Amber – a new CD featuring a 4-part instrumental suite he composed to honor the part of Scotland he calls home. Reviewer Michael Simmons calls it “his most ambitious and successful composition yet – a beautifully evocative piece of music…"
In Part Two of my conversation with Dougie we explore further the influence that growing up and living in Scotland has had on his music. We sample one movement of his composition Perthshire Amber, discuss the annual Dougie MacLean Music Festival, his video streaming service Butterstone TV that allows him to remain connected with his fans worldwide while traveling a bit less (now that he's in his early 60s), and ask what long term legacy his music may have.
And while Scotland has had its influence on Dougie MacLean and his music, he and his music has unquestionably also influenced other singer songwriters. We'll hear a piece written by Pennsylvanian Kj Reimensnyder-Wagner following an opportunity to meet Dougie and perform at the music pub he once owned in Dunkeld. The song is performed by KJ and Texas Brian Kalinec. (On a personal note, Brian and I were bandmates in a group called The Past Tymes in the 1960s in our hometown of Beaumont, Texas) The song is used with permission.