Skerryvore (band)

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Skerryvore-feb13 215.jpeg
Background information
OriginTiree, Argyll and Bute, Scotland
GenresCeltic rock
Years active2004 (2004)–present

Skerryvore is a Scottish Celtic Rock group formed on Tiree, Argyll and Bute in 2004. The band started off with Tiree brothers Daniel Gillespie and Martin Gillespie, alongside regular Tiree visitor Fraser West and his friend Alec Dalglish, both from Livingston, West Lothian. The group took their name from the Skerryvore lighthouse that lies 12 miles (19 kilometres) off the coast of Tiree. The group’s present line-up includes Craig Espie, Alan Scobie, Jodie Bremaneson and, since April 2017, Scott Wood. Skerryvore have released five studio albums, with an additional ‘deluxe’ version of one including some live tracks.

Their earlier work was ‘West Coast Ceilidh’ inspired, with Celtic influences which have remained present in all their work. As the band have developed, rock, pop, jazz, Cajun and country influences have all emerged, but the traditional Celtic roots and instrumentation have remained.

Now based in and around Glasgow, Scotland, Skerryvore tour throughout Scotland, in Europe, and in the USA, the Middle East, and in China.[1]


A photograph of the band Skerryvore shot before their Celtic Connections gig at Glasgow's Old Fruitmarket Venue 2016 by Rachel Keenan

The four founding members of Skerryvore all had some experience of public performance. Tiree has produced very competent musicians, playing traditional Scottish instruments such as bagpipes, whistle and accordion.[2] Youngsters learning accordion and bagpipes on the island benefitted from the expertise and tuition provided by Gordon Connell[3] and Robert Beck where both Daniel Gillespie and Martin Gillespie were pupils of Gordon and Robert. In addition, Martin added pipes and whistle to his instrumentation and Daniel pursued the accordion. The brothers played regularly on the island for family and friends, at local ceilidhs and parties, and, from time to time, in the ‘Lean To’, part of the Scarinish Hotel.

Fraser and Alec were products of the Music Department of Deans Community High School in Livingston, West Lothian and of the supportive policy towards music education and performance of West Lothian Council.[4] Both played in their school’s wind band and in West Lothian School’s wind band and big band, and in other local bands. For much of this time, Fraser’s main instrument was trumpet and Alec’s was euphonium.

Fraser got to know Daniel through meeting whilst on holiday on Tiree and occasionally sat in on snare drum when Daniel and other musicians played in the Lean To. In 2000, after Daniel moved to the mainland to study, the two played ceilidh music together at functions. In summer 2003, with Martin and Alec, they toured small venues in the Scottish Highlands and Islands. Up to this point, they were known variously as ‘The Gillepsie Brothers’, ‘The Gillespie Brothers and Fraser,’ and ‘Brois,’ allegedly a Tiree Gaelic word loosely translated as ‘a complete cock up’.

In 2004 the band adopted the name ‘Skerryvore’ and started work on their first album, ‘West Coast Life’. This was recorded at Watercolour Music, Ardgour and produced by Allan Henderson. It was released in summer 2005. The album featured as ‘Album of the Month’ on Mary Ann Kennedy’s BBC Radio Scotland programme ‘Celtic Connections’, and consisted predominantly of arrangements of traditional tunes, including a vocal rendition of ‘Home to Donegal’, and a vocal arrangement of Lennon and McCartney’s ‘Blackbird’.

Following the release of ‘West Coast Life,’ Skerryvore’s volume of gigging increased, both in number and in scale. The band experimented with guest musicians and, in 2006, started work on their second album. Fiddler Craig Espie and bassist Barry Caulfield were added to the lineup. This increased the range and scope of the musical styles they could bring to their sound.

When the second album, ‘On the Road’ was released in 2007, a brass section (The Horn Supremacy) was included. Tracks on ‘On the Road’ are also predominantly rearrangements of traditional tunes but with a rockier, funkier feel to them. Following a gig in their adopted home town of Glasgow, reviewer Stuart Morrison, in 'The Herald' stated that 'we could well have found a Runrig for the 21st century'.[5]

The band continued to build their following by touring throughout Scotland and by adding a growing number of foreign gigs. They featured increasingly at larger events such as T in the Park and similar festivals. They became ‘ambassadors for Scotland’ when they accompanied a Scottish Government delegation to the 2008 Ryder Cup in Louisville, Kentucky, USA. Their company, Skerryvore, won the PSYBT Young Entrepreneurs of the Year in 2009.[6][7]

Skerryvore’s third album, ‘Skerryvore,’ released in 2010, is almost entirely made up of the band’s own compositions of songs and tunes with the addition of only a couple of rearrangements of traditional tunes. They retained their instrumentation of accordion, pipes, whistle, fiddle, guitar, bass and drums, dispensed with the brass section and added keyboards to both their album arrangements and to many of their live performances. The album received a considerable amount of critical acclaim, including from the 'Daily Record's' John Dingwall who described Skerryvore as 'the hottest new Celtic rockers on the block'.[8]

In 2011, ‘Skerryvore’ brought the band awards including Scottish New Music Awards Album of the Year and, for Alec Dalglish, ‘Frankie Miller Songwriter of the Year’.[9] In December 2011, Skerryvore also won the award as 'Best Live Act' in the 2011 MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards.[10] The band continued their work with the charity ‘Live Music Now’, working with youngsters and other groups in settings including HMP Cornton Vale.[11]

Their fourth album, ‘World of Chances,’ released in 2012 is a departure from the style of their previous ones. Although retaining their traditional instrumentation, the album is almost entirely made up of songs penned, for the most part, by Alec Dalglish, with one tune composed by Martin Gillespie. Alongside their traditional roots, many more ‘world’ influences are apparent in this album, from country to cajun to jazz and rock. The album entered the top 10 in iTunes singer/songwriter chart in June 2012. A limited edition deluxe version of ‘World of Chances’, incorporating live and acoustic versions of some tracks, alongside a live version of Runrig’s ‘Rocket to the Moon’ was released in late 2012.

Skerryvore feature on BBC Scotland and BBC Alba's output, playing tracks from albums on radio programmes, excerpts from concert and festival performances, interviews and also featuring the band in the first 'A Gharaids' programme from BBC Alba in February 2011.[12] Late in 2012, Barry Caulfield left the band and was replaced by Colin Cunningham, formerly with Wolfstone, on bass. Prior to recording their fifth album, Colin left and was replaced by Jodie Bremaneson. Producer of their albums since 2010, and keyboard player, Alan Scobie joined the band on stage in all gigs and, following a diagnosis of focal dystonia for Martin, Scott Wood was added on pipes and whistles. When on tour, the band are seldom without 9th member, Paul Hoolahan.

'Chasing the Sun', released in September 2014, was described as the band's most mature sounding album, reflecting the various styles that have influenced their development, as well as re-emphasising their traditional roots. 'Chasing the Sun' was also the band's first international collaboration with platinum ward winning producer Chris Kress, Dave Matthews Band on two of the tracks ('Blown Away' and 'By Your Side').

Skerryvore celebrated their 10th birthday in 2015. In May 2015, they held a ‘Decade’ event in Oban. The open air concert, held at Mossfield Stadium, attracted an audience of 6000 who enjoyed various artists including The Red Hot Chilli Pipers, Trail West, Dougie MacLean, Sharon Shannon, Skipinnish, Scott Wood Band and, of course, Skerryvore.

To coincide with the occasion, Skerryvore’s ‘Decade’ album was also released. Described as a celebration of their 10 years, the CD is a collection of many live versions of Skerryvore classics, some recorded at Festivals, including Tonder Festival in Denmark, with others recorded as ‘live’ studio sessions. It also included previously unreleased tracks, including the single ‘Happy to be Home,’ featuring Sharon Shannon.

In collaboration with Bruichladdich distillery, they released a limited edition, 10 year old, single cask, single malt, ‘Decade’ whisky. With only 290 bottles produced this has become a collector’s item.

Following the success of their ‘Decade’ event, Skerryvore launched ‘Oban Live,’ a two-day festival which was held at Mossfield Park, Oban in May 2016 and June 2017. These established 'Oban Live' as a major music event and this will return on 8 and 9 June 2018.

Skerryvore once again won the 'Best Live Act' for 2016 at the MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards.


  • 2005: West Coast Life
  • 2007: On the Road
  • 2010: Skerryvore
  • 2012: World of Chances
  • 2012: World of Chances - deluxe edition
  • 2014: Chasing the Sun
  • 2015: Decade
  • 2018: EVO

Track listing[edit]

West Coast Life

1. Jigs (Arr. Skerryvore)- Donella Beaton - George Johnston, Scarce O' Tatties - Norman MacLean, The Kesh - Trad.
2. Highland Scottische (Arr. Skerryvore) - A Chaluim Bhig, O theid mi fhin, Fear a' phig, all Trad
3. Sands of Kuwait (Arr. Skerryvore)
4. Happy Highlander (Arr. Skerryvore) - Walter Douglas MBE PM D MacLeod, Atholl Highlanders Trad, Heights of Cassino PM D MacRae, Braemar Gathering PM George MacLennan.
5. Maggie's Reel T Anderson (Arr. Skerryvore)
6. Blackbird Lennon/McCartney (Arr. Alec Dalglish)
7. Pipe 2/4 Marches (Arr. Skerryvore) - Captain Carswell PM Willie Lawrie, PM Willie Gray PM J MacDonald.
8. Waltzes and Reels (Arr. Skerryvore) - Oran Eirisgeidh, Eilean Fhionghain, Braighe Loch Iall, Fagail Liosmor (all Trad., John Keith Lang Addie Harper, Drunken Piper Trad.
9. The VRB set (Arr. Skerryvore) - Simon Thoumire's Jig John McCusker, Wee Todd Fergie MacDonald, Danny's Jig Daniel Gillespie, Rory MacLeod Donald MacLeod.
10. Home to Donegal (Arr. Skerryvore and Allan Henderson)
11. Caribbean Barn Dance (Arr. Skerryvore and Allan Henderson) - PM Jim Christie of Wick Addie Harper, The Woodworker Blair Douglas, Ramnee Ceilidh Gordon Duncan, The Foxhunters Trad
12. One more tune (Arr. Skerryvore) - Cearcall A Chuain Calum and Rory MacDonald, Corkhill Trad., Dr Flora MacAuley of Carradale Allan MacDonald.

Musicians on West Coast Life Daniel Gillespie: accordion, midi bass; Martin Gillespie: Scottish small pipes, Highland bagpipes, accordion (Tracks 9, 10 and 11); Alec Dalglish: acoustic guitar, vocals (Tracks 6, 10 and 11), electric guitar (Track 5); Fraser West: percussion.

Guest musicians: Donnie Black - mouth organ, Track 5; Allan Henderson - piano, Track 10, backing vocals, Track 6 and 11, Low whistle, Track 6; Angus MacPhail - backing vocals (Track 10)

On the Road

1. The 'Ginger Grouse' Jigs (Arr. Skerryvore/Henderson) - Out on the Ocean Trad., Nighean Na Cailliche Crotaiche Crubaich Trad., The Old Wife of the Mill Dust Trad., Calliope House Dave Richardson.
2. The A892 (Arr. Skerryvore/Henderson) - The Balmoral Highlanders A. MacKay, Cus Teahan's Trad., The Gugahunter Blair Douglas, Wing Commander Donald MacKenzie's Reel Phil Cunningham.
3. On the Road Alec Dalglish (Arr. Skerryvore/Henderson)
4. The Gentleman Daniel Gillespie (Arr. Skerryvore/Henderson)
5. Clachan Ghlinn-da-ruadhail Trad (Arr. Skerryvore/Henderson)
6. Fergie (Arr. Skerryvore/Henderson) - Donald MacGillivary's Welcome to the 21st Century Fergie Macdonald, The Dungannon Jig Trad., Ness Bothan Fergie MacDonald, Donald MacAulay of Dalilea Fergie MacDonald, The Reunion Reel Fergie MacDonald
7. Hector the Hero J.S. Skinner (Arr. Skerryvore/Henderson)
8. Dirty Old Town Euan MaColl (Arr. A. Dalglish/C. Espie)
9. D.A. Gillespie of Tiree Martin Gillespie (Arr. Skerryvore/Henderson)
10. "MaxFactor" (Arr. Skerryvore/Henderson)- On the Wings of Skorie Michael Ferrie, Jardefeld Iain Burns, Ally's Soond Tom Anderson, The Bonnie Isle of Whalsay Trad.
11. Speedy's Jig (Arr. Skerryvore/Henderson) - Thunderhead G. Larson, Price of a Pig Trad., Speedy's Jig Daniel Gillespie.
12. The Water is Wide Trad (Arr. A. Dalglish/C. Espie)
13. The Rox Revival (Arr. Skerryvore/Henderson) - The Rox Revival Reel Martin Gillespie, Kalabakan PM Angus MacDonald.

Musicians on On the Road Daniel Gillespie: Brandoni accordions; Martin Gillespie: Highland bagpipes and Fisitalia accordion; Alec Dalglish: acoustic guitar, electric guitar and vocals; Fraser West: percussion; Barry Caulfield: bass guitar and backing vocals; Craig Espie: fiddle.

Guest musicians: Allan Henderson: piano, keyboard, whistles, fiddle (Track 9) and backing vocals (Track 3); Duncan Nicholson: Highland bagpipes (Tracks 1 and 13); James Graham: vocals (track 5); Douglas West: trumpet and flugel horn; Chris Pugh: trombone; Konrad Wiszniewski; saxophone; Fergie MacDonald: vocals (Track 6)


1. Path to Home Daniel Gillespie and Alec Dalglish (Arr. Skerryvore)
2. Simple Life Alec Dalglish (Arr. Skerryvore)
3. Gairm A'Chuain (Call of the Sea) Martin Gillespie (Arr. Allan Scobie and Skerryvore)
4. Wits End (Arr. Skerryvore) - Wits End Craig Espie, Session Depression Craig Espie.
5. Smile in the Stars (For Margaret) Daniel Gillespie and Alec Dalglish (Arr. Skerryvore)
6. Angry Fiddler (Arr. Skerryvore and Alan Scobie) - Mutt's Favourite Jerry Holland
7. Where Birds don't fly Alec Dalglish (Arr. Skerryvore)
8. Clueless Wife (Arr. Skerryvore) - The Snuff Wife Trad., Clueless Gordon Duncan.
9. Hold Me Tonight Daniel Gillespie (Arr. Daniel Gillespie and Alec Dalglish)
10. Jailhouse Jigs (Arr. Skerryvore) - Hen's March PM Donald MacLeod, Andy Clark of Crieff Dougie Hunter, Kirsteen's Jug Lorne MacDougal.
11. Good to go Craig Espie and Alec Dalglish (Arr. Skerryvore and Alan Scobie)
12. Home to Donegal (Live) Patsy Cavanagh (Arr. Skerryvore)

Musicians on Skerryvore Daniel Gillespie: accordion; Martin Gillespie: bagpipes and accordion; Alec Dalglish: lead vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar and mandolin; Fraser West: drums and percussion; Barry Caulfield: bass guitar; Craig Espie: fiddle.

Guest musicians: Alan Scobie: keys; Duncan J Nicholson: bagpipes.

World of Chances
1. Put Your Hands Up Alec Dalglish
2. It Feels Like Rain Alec Dalglish
3. Magic Numbers Alec Dalglish
4. The Ones That You Love Alec Dalglish
5. Summer High Alec Dalglish
6. The Last Time Alec Dalglish
7. At The End Of The Day Craig Espie and Alec Dalglish
8. Hey Hey Hey Alec Dalglish
9. What's New Today? Alec Dalglish
10. The Showman Martin Gillespie
11. The Lucky Ones Alec Dalglish

Musicians on World of Chances

Daniel Gillespie: accordion; Martin Gillespie: pipes; Alec Dalglish: vocals, guitars and mandolin; Fraser West: drums; Barry Caulfield: bass guitar; Craig Espie: fiddle.

Guest Musician: Alan Scobie, Keys, percussion and half an accordion

World of Chances - deluxe edition

As World of Chances, with bonus tracks:

12. Rocket to the Moon (Live) Runrig
13. The Showman (Live)
14. Hey Hey Hey (Acoustic Version)
15. Where Birds don't fly (Acoustic Version)
16. The Last Time (Acoustic Version)
17. Caledonia Dougie MacLean

Chasing The Sun

1. Can You Hear Us? Alec Dalglish
2. The Rut Martin Gillespie
3. We Can Run Alec Dalglish
4. You Don't Know Alec Dalglish
5. Blown Away Alec Dalglish
6. You Were My Friend Alec Dalglish
7. Oblique Blend The Oblique - N. Vallely
8. Here I Am Alec Dalglish
9. By Your Side Alec Dalglish
10. Moonraker Alec Dalglish
11. Walk With Me Alec Dalglish
12. Watchtower Alec Dalglish
13. Blown Away (Acoustic) Alec Dalglish

Musicians on Chasing the Sun Alec Dalglish: Vocals, Guitars, Mandolin, Hand Claps; Daniel Gillespie: Accordion; Martin Gillespie: Bagpipes, whistles; Craig Espie: Fiddle; Fraser West: drums, percussion, hand claps; Jodie Bremaneson: Bass, hand claps; Alan Scobie: Keys, percussion, hand claps

Guest musicians: Seonaidh MacIntyre: Bagpipes; The Cottage Studio Peacock: Backing vocals.


1. Rox Revival, Live at Celtic Connections 2015, The Rox Revival Reel Martin Gillespie, Kalabakan PM Angus MacDonald.
2. Walk with Me, Live at Celtic Connections 2015, Alec Dalglish
3. By Your Side, Live at Celtic Connections 2015, Alec Dalglish
4. Simple Life, Live at Celtic Connections 2015, Alec Dalglish
5. Where Birds don't fly, Live studio session recorded at Castlesound Studios, Alec Dalglish
6. On the Road, Live studio session recorded at Castlesound Studios, Alec Dalglish
7. Can't find the Cure, Alec Dalglish
8. Happy to be Home, Featuring Sharon Shannon, Alec Dalglish
9. Crooked, An Drochaid Chliuteach, R. Macdonald, Crooked Fingers, M. Gillespie.
10. Rocket to the Moon, Live at Tonder Festival 2012, C&R Macdonald
11. The Showman, Live at Tonder Festival 2012, M. Gillespie.
12. Home to Donegal, Live at The Classic Grand 2007, P. Cavanagh.

Guest Musicians
Sharon Shannon - Accordion; Barry Caulfield - Bass; Seonaidh MacIntyre - Bagpipes


1. The Exorcists Martin Gillespie
2. At the End of the Line Alec Dalglish
3. Live Forever Alec Dalglish
4. Mile High Craig Espie
5. Hold On Alec Dalglish
6. Trip to Modera G Duncan
7. Take My Hand Alec Dalglish
8. Borderline A Wayt
9. Waiting on the Sun Alec Dalglish
10. Soraidh Slán Martin Gillespie
11. The Rise Martin Gillespie


  1. ^ "Scots Rock Beijing". Beijing Daily. 13 September 2009.
  2. ^ Pratt + Jeffcutt (2009). Creativity, Innovation and the Cultural Economy. Taylor and Francis US.
  3. ^ "Gordon Connell, music tutor". Folk Radio UK.
  4. ^ "Arts in Education".
  5. ^ "Glasgow review". The (Glasgow) Herald. 26 January 2009.
  6. ^ "Case Study".
  7. ^ "PSYBT award winners 2009". For Argyll.
  8. ^ Dingwall, John (2 July 2010). "Album reviews". Daily Record.
  9. ^ "Winners of 2011 Scottish New Music Awards".
  10. ^ "2011 MG Alba Scottish Traditional Music Award winners".
  11. ^ "Live Music Now (charity) Annual Report 2008-2009, pg10" (PDF).
  12. ^ "BBC appearances 2011 - 2013".

External links[edit]