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Inverness musician and composer performs from his album at Croy Live and Under Canvas

By Margaret Chrystall

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There are a few chances to hear Inverness fiddle-player and composer Graham Mackenzie perform near home this summer. First, Graham returns to play Under Canvas, before playing twice at Croy Live which is the brainchild of his mother Alison Mackenzie. He talks about his busy summer – and what promises to be an exciting year.

Graham Mackenzie will play two nights at Croy Live with musicians who appear on his album The Dawning. : Picture: Somhairle Macdonald
Graham Mackenzie will play two nights at Croy Live with musicians who appear on his album The Dawning. : Picture: Somhairle Macdonald

Q Your second album The Dawning came out at the beginning of the year and we talked about it then. It seemed to be about so much – places, what and who inspires you, music you’ve played your whole life as well as your own new music. Any special moments from playing it live so far?

A So far we have just performed the album once at Celtic Connections at the beginning of the year. It was such a special concert playing in one of my favourite venues in Glasgow, The New Auditorium, and to have the opportunity to perform with everyone involved in the album process. The tour will be slightly more intimate with a line-up featuring Mike McGoldrick, Innes Watson and Rory Matheson which I’m equally looking forward to.

Q You had an incredible line-up of musicians on the album – I think some will be with you when you play Croy Live next week on Monday and Tuesday, July 10 and 11?

A The three musicians, Mike, Innes and Rory are some of folk music’s finest and it’ll be great to have a run of several gigs with them. I’ve played with each of them individually and know them very well but this will be the first time we come together as a group. I’m sure it’s going to be a fantastic tour!

Q Croy Live is a special set of gigs that has been like a who’s who of traditional and contemporary musicians since it began – what are the attractions of those gigs for you?

A Croy Live has now established itself as another gig venue in the Inverness-shire area. It is so important for the people in the Highlands to have the opportunity to experience live music and to draw talent further north to perform. My Mum, Alison puts in a tremendous amount of work to make the concerts a success. Over the years, there have been many highlights for me from the Christmas concerts to my debut album launch in 2017.

Q You will also be playing at the newly restarted Under Canvas on Friday, July 7 – I think you have played there before?

A Yes, I’ve performed a good few times with my trio, Assynt but not as a solo artist. It’s a great series that locals and tourists get to enjoy throughout the summer months at Eden Court. It’ll be the opening night of our tour and I look forward to returning later on July 26 with Assynt [Graham with David Shedden and Innes White].

Q What do you look forward to about playing with Assynt?

A I really enjoy the music we play so I always look forward to playing with David and Innes. Assynt have a mini Highland tour in July. Monday, July 24 we will be playing in Stoer Village Hall followed by The Ceilidh Place in Ullapool on Tuesday, July 25 and finishing at Under Canvas on Wednesday, July 26. Having toured our new album, Where From Here in Germany twice this year, it’ll be nice to perform a little closer to home this summer.

Q Exciting plans for later this year?

A In August, Assynt will be heading to the Czech Republic and China with an Australian tour scheduled for November and December so I’m looking forward to experiencing some new places this year with the band. I’ll also perform with the Grit Orchestra at the Edinburgh Festival in August – great to revisit Martyn Bennett’s music again.

Under Canvas: eden-court.co.uk Croy Live: tickets phone 01463 794823 or 07751 588395.

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