BANDS from the Highlands have been tagged as future stars of the folk world after being included in this year’s batch of winners from the Danny Kyle Open Stage at Celtic Connections.
Both Hò Rò from Inverness and Ross-shire’s Mischa Macpherson Trio are among the six winners of this year’s "Dannys" picked from the 55 acts who appeared.
The winning acts also performed in Saturday’s finale concert at Adelaides on Bath Street, before being presented with their awards.
Both Hò Rò and The Mischa Macpherson Trio include former pupils of the National Centre of Excellence in Traditional Music in Plockton.
All three members of The Mischa Macpherson Trio, guitarist Innes White, piper and whistle-player Conal McDonagh and Macpherson herself on vocals and singing, are former Plockton pupils who were brought together in 2011 when they were selected for the Feis Rois International Ceilidh Trail.
Since then they have appeared at the Hebridean Celtic Festival, Cambridge Folk Festival, the Edinburgh Fringe and Celtic Connections, as well as concerts in Ireland, Germany and Romania and Australia’s National Celtic Festival in Melbourne. They were also shortlisted as finalists in the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Awards.
McDonagh from Poolewe and White from Dingwall are also developing their individual careers on the Scottish traditional scene while Macpherson, who is originally from the Isle of Lewis is currently a student at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki.
"The three of us are absolutely delighted to have won the Danny Kyle Award at Celtic Connections," Macpherson said.
"It was a huge surprise when we received a phone call on Friday evening to say that we had won and an honour to perform in Glasgow, live on Celtic Music Radio, on Saturday with the other five winners and be presented with the award.
"It’s a truly brilliant competition, run by Liz Clark, at the heart of our favourite festival, Celtic Connections. It will be really exciting and a great privilege to come back to Glasgow and perform at next year’s festival as part of our prize! It’s turning out to be a really exciting year already and we’re looking forward to going to London in a couple of weeks’ time for the Folk Awards too."
Hò Rò are Calum MacPhail (accordion), who combines his musical activities with duties as player for Glenurquhart shinty team; Lucy Doogan (vocals/fiddle) from Glencoe; Crisdean MacDonald (pipes/bodhran) originally from South Uist and currently studying at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig on Skye; and Sean Cousins (guitar/percussion), who has been a member of a number of bands and played on several albums.
Hò-rò started playing together in March 2013 as a trio, but due to university commitments the band’s original singer/piper had to leave the band, leaving remaining members guitarist Sean Cousins and accordionist Calum MacPhail, who combines his musical activities with duties as player for Glenurquhart shinty team, to seek out new recruits. They found then in fiddler and singer Lucy Doogan from Glencoe and piper and bodhran player Crisdean MacDonald, another former Plockton pupil, who is originally from South Uist and currently studying at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig on Skye.
"We couldn’t be happier with the new line up. The two new additions have enhanced our sound considerably," Cousins said.
Cousins, who describes Hò-rò as a young and energetic folk band who put their own modern stamp on traditional tunes and songs were were shocked and delighted when they were selected for the Danny Kyle Open Stage.
"Every single person performing on that stage was incredibly talented We didn’t think for a second that we would be selected as winners," he said.
The winners’ concert was an amazing experience, he added.
"We got the chance to meet tons of amazing musicians and witness incredible performances," he said.
"We’re now looking forward to next year at Celtic Connections where we will be supporting a headlining act as part of winning a Danny."
The other winners this year are Orkney finger-style guitarist Griogair Morrison, Paisley bluegrass band The Chaplins, and songwriters Arthur Nicholson from Shetland and Austen George from Edinburgh.
They follow such established stars of the folk scenes as Inverness fiddler Adam Sutherland, Karine Polwart and Orkney band The Chair who helped launch their careers with appearances on the Danny Kyle Open Stage.
Hò Rò can be seen at Hootananny’s Ceilidh Bar, Church Street, Inverness, on Friday 14th February.