In 1970, my older brother Neill won a £5 book token playing guitar in a local music competition and I was jealous. So jealous that I pestered my parents for classical guitar lessons.

There were always people playing and singing in the house in which I grew up, as well as musical instruments always on hand. Growing up with writing musicians is a huge head start:- its not so much ‘in the blood’ as monkey see monkey do (or monkey hear monkey sing). You wind up from an early age not being afraid to try and fail until you get the sound in your head out. You’ve witnessed the songwriting process first hand, so you know that it doesn’t just fall out of you all the time when a mythical muse alights on your shoulder. There’s a lot of graft, the 10,000 hours.

My influences growing up were everything;- from the political folk music of my parents to bepop to stoned rock and classic pop, with everything in between. My parents were folk purists, and that taught me not to be…

Along with the guitar, I picked up other instruments that were in the house – Appalacian dulcimer, bowed psaltery, tin whistle, bass, mandolin. I’ve played them (and the guitar, of course) as a studio session and live musician on well over 200 projects over the last 35 years.

Selected credits include – Ronan Keating/Eddi Reader/ Brian Kennedy/Colin Vearnecombe/ Boo Hewerdine/Christie Hennessey/Peggy Seeger/Sarah Jane Morris/The Bible/Nadine Shah/Sinead O’Conner/Roland Gift/Christie Moore/Natalie Imbruglia/Karine Polwart/Rufus Wainwright/Martha Wainwright/Martyn Joseph/Karine Polwart/Jimmy Nail/Latin Quarter/Boyzone/Jarvis Cocker/Paul Brady/Declan O’Rourke/Paul Buchanon/Damien Dempsey, The Unthanks, Fiona Kennedy…… Enough of that.

What is a Musical Director?

The person who everyone looks at when it all goes tits up.

For many years I was the Musical Director of live shows for international pop artists such as Ronan Keating, Boyzone, and Brian Kennedy.

I was the MD on the moving Kate McGarrigle memorial concerts in London, New York and Toronto.

Neill MacColl and I curated & directed ‘Blood and Roses: The Songs of Ewan MacColl’, a series of multi-artist concerts at major UK venues.

 ‘A remarkable centenary concert … a very special evening’ ***** The Times

‘A memorable, poignant concert …. Glorious’ **** Robin Denselow, The Guardian