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Brian McNeill - Either You Got One Or You Don't

Brian McNeill
Brian McNeill finishing up a concert at the Swannanoa Gathering in style.Photo by Sharon Armstrong

The New Orleans Strathspey & Reel Society in cooperation with the First Unitarian Universalist Church is sponsoring a not-to-be-missed one-night-only Brian McNeill concert right here in New Orleans on Wednesday, September 14.

For those of you folkies who don’t know Brian McNeill, he is quite simply one of the best traditional musicians to come out of Scotland. This year McNeill celebrates the 40th anniversary of a career that has established him as one of the most acclaimed forces in Scottish music. He has been described as ‘Scotland’s most meaningful contemporary songwriter’ and has played with arguably some of the most influential bands in traditional Celtic music, bands such as Clan Alba and the seminal Battlefield Band, which he founded in 1969.  Prior to his trip to New Orleans, he will be headlining the Mississippi Celtic Fest in Jackson, along with Teada.

McNeill has built up a lot of presence in his long musical career. He is a well-respected solo artist, and his original songs have been covered by such other folk legends as Dick Gaughan, with whom he has toured extensively in Clan Alba. McNeill was the Head of Scottish Music at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow for six years. He is a composer as well as a performer, and a published author as well as a songwriter.

Once heard McNeill’s songs are never forgotten, songs such as 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 No Gods and Precious Few Heroes, and due to their powerful impact on the hearts of traditional music fans through the world, they have established him not only as one of Scotland's leading songwriters, but  also as an astute commenter Scotland’s past, its present and its possible future as well.

His songs are often angry songs set to beautiful tunes, written with a clear gimlet eye for hypocrisy, and what he feels is the often deliberate and cynical sugar-coating of social injustice and suffering by ‘established history’ – but they are also powerfully articulate, luminously lyrical and a refreshing treat for anyone tired of the tartan and shortbread approach to Scottish history - actually, a word of advice, don’t mention tartan to Brian McNeill… I am just saying - but his concerts are also tremendous fun, delivered with the style, verve and authority that comes with being, well, Brian McNeill.  

“Brian is a master musician, and his music speaks to all of us,” said Jim Gunter, Director of the New Orleans Strathspey & Reel Society.  “He has been an influence on our group for a long time, particularly his work with the Battlefield Band. Naturally we're focused on his fiddle work, but we all love his songs too. It is important for him to do a concert in NOLA because, while our Irish connection here is strong, Scots have also worked quietly and successfully to build this city - the most famous being Alexander Milne who left his vast fortune to the orphans of New Orleans.”

Brian McNeill will be performing at the First Unitarian Universalist Church, 5212 S. Claiborne (at Jefferson) on Wednesday, September 14, at 7.30pm.

Further information is available at 504-915-3325 or at Jpg46@yahoo.com.




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