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Alasdair Roberts – Fretted And Indebted

The Scottish musician here supplies another document of his fascinating interpretations of wild and rare traditional songs he's sourced from various parts of Scotland. 

Limited to 300 copies

Alasdair Roberts on his new release on Infinite Greyscale:

'The Tunes

I am indebted to my piping friend Donald Lindsay for The Blythsome Bridal, The Braes of Tulliemet and The Smith’s a Gallant Fireman, while Chief O’Neill’s Favourite and The Flowers of Edinburgh were learnt from my fiddling friend Neil McDermott. The Blythsome Bridal is used as the melody to a comic lyric called ‘Fy Let Us A’ To The Bridal’ first published in 1706. The Braes of Tulliemet lie near the Perthshire town of Pitlochry. The Smith’s a Gallant Fireman is also known as ‘Carrick’s Rant’. Chief O’Neill was Francis O’Neill (1848-1936), who was born in County Cork, emigrated to the USA as a young man and eventually became chief of the Chicago Police from 1901 to 1905. The Flowers of Edinburgh was first published in James Oswald’s Caledonian Pocket Companion around 1760. The guitars are fretted in the following positions as the tunes appear on the record: II, II, V, VII and V.

The Songs

My family stayed in a haunted house in the village of Balquhidder for a very short while in the early 1980s after moving from Germany to Scotland. However, I only took to singing The Braes of Balquhidder very recently after hearing a recording of it sung by the late Tim Lyons. The Seasons was learnt from the singing of the late Aberdeen singer Lizzie Higgins, daughter of Jeannie Robertson. Edinburgh-based Ulsterman Cathal McConnell knows many fine songs, most of which are collected in his book/CD set I Have Travelled This Country. I learnt this version of The Curragh of Kildare from that source. The late Sheila Stewart of Rattray, near Blairgowrie, is the source of my version of False, False. I would be unable to attribute my singing of Roberts Burns’ The Silver Tassie to a single source, owing to its general popularity in Scotland. I am forever indebted to all the fine singers and musicians mentioned above, and to many others unmentioned, for passing on songs and tunes to me over the years.'

Alasdair Roberts
London, June 2020 

Alasdair Roberts

Alasdair Roberts is a musician (primarily a guitarist and singer) who is based in Glasgow. He has worked with Drag City Records since 1997, firstly releasing three albums of self-written material under the name Appendix Out and then several albums under his own name, the most recent being Alasdair Roberts (2015). A new album Pangs, recorded with Alex Neilson (drums) and Stevie Jones (bass) among other musicians, will be released in February 2017. Alasdair has also released music on labels such as Secretly Canadian, Galaxia and Stone Tape Recordings.

His work mainly consists of two parallel strands: self-written song material (which can be heard on albums such as Farewell SorrowThe Amber GatherersSpoilsAlasdair Roberts and the forthcoming Pangs) and interpretations of traditional songs and ballads from Scotland and beyond (which can be heard on albums such as The Crook of My ArmNo Earthly Man and Too Long In This Condition).

Alasdair has collaborated widely with many different musicians throughout his musical career, including the Scottish Gaelic singer Mairi Morrison, with whom he made the 2012 album Urstan and Sheffield-based musician James Green, with whom he made the 2016 album Plaint of Lapwing (Clay Pipe Music). He has also worked with artists from other disciplines such as film makers, poets, painters and puppeteers