Brian McNeill - The Baltic Tae Byzantium

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(August 2009) 11 tracks: The Baltic Tae Byzantium * Scotus * A Far North Land * Bothwell * The Holland Trade * Auld Man By The Fire * The Gothenburg Reel / John's Awa Tae France / Danzig Willie's Reel * How The Foreign Winds Do Blaw / Madam Dae Ye Ken The Dance? * Back Tae Berwick Johnnie * Bring The Lassie Hame * True To The Forest.

Brian McNeill released his groundbreaking album The Back O' The North Wind in 1991, on the theme of emigration from Scotland to North America. This time the theme is emigration from Scotland to Europe.

Brian McNeill (fiddle, octave fiddle, guitar, mandocello, bouzouki, viola, mandolin, cittern, concertina, bass, hurdy gurdy) with Sylvia Barnes (vocals), Dominique Dodge (harp), Dick Gaughan (guitar, vocals), Lorne MacDougall (pipes), Patsy Seddon (vocals), Fraser Speirs (harmonica) and Mike Travis (drums).

Brian McNeill's professional career spans more than three decades and he is now acknowledged as one of Scotland's great musical forces - as a songwriter, composer, producer and musical director, as well as performer. He was born in 1950 in Falkirk and began his musical training in his early teens with violin lessons, but forsook that for electric guitar. There followed a comprehensive musical education and mildly misspent youth (he says!) until his student years brought him to Celtic music. As a direct consequence, in 1969 he formed Battlefield Band, which became one of Scotland's best known ensembles.

The importance of his songwriting, mostly about Scotland's past and future, has long been recognised. Songs including The Yew Tree, The Lads O' The Fair, The Snows Of France And Holland, Strong Women Rule Us All With Their Tears, Any Mick'll Do and Precious Few Heroes have established him as one of Scotland's leading songwriters. Brian has also published two novels - The Busker and To Answer The Peacock.

In 1990, Brian McNeill left the Battlefield Band to concentrate more on writing and solo projects. Since then he has toured with Dick Gaughan, Clan Alba, Kavana/McNeill/Lynch & Lupari, Martin Hayes, Natalie MacMaster and his old friend, the late Iain MacKintosh. In 2001 Brian took up the post of Head of Scottish Music at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow, which he has since relinquished.

His audio visual shows, The Back O' The North Wind and the sequel, The Baltic Tae Byzantium, which explores the influence of the Scots in Europe, have won wide critical acclaim.

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