A highly entertaining variety of Scottish Folk, Trad/Contemorary Music.
I first met Brandon McPhee when I was asked to compere tribute shows for the great Jimmy Shand on his centenary; initially in Perth Concert Hall and then in the Queen’s Hall in Hexham, Northumberland. The show went on to travel extensively, attracting capacity audiences and rapturous receptions both north and south of the border, in fitting tribute, not only to Jimmy Shand himself, but to the sheer quality of the show, fronted by the talented Brandon.
Although I have more or less devoted myself to folk music, I am very familiar with accordion music and the Scottish country Dance world, having worked with some of the best, but when I heard the young Brandon McPhee for the first time It was very clear that things have moved on quite dramatically since Jimmy’s time. A couple of keen and extremely talented generations of young players have emerged to take the music forward. Eminent among them is Brandon McPhee.
What can I say about Brandon? Firstly, he is immediately likeable and that comes across from the stage, where he is completely at home; add to that his natural musicality and total command of his instrument, with a technique which is utterly dazzling, and you have the complete entertainer. Like any smart performer, Brandon surrounds himself with the best. Music that is exciting sometimes tends to run away with itself, but not here, thanks to Brandon’s back up musicians. Robert Cameron is on drums, and Phil Anderson, according to Brandon, does everything else - vocal harmonies and a wide variety of instruments. The list is too long, but he seems to be able to play anything from a tea-tray to a trombone. Manson Grant looks after bass keyboards and piano. I was lucky to be seated very close to him on stage and enjoyed his clever left-hand chords and bass runs. They are a very tight group and complement Brandon’s music perfectly.
The 14 items here present a nice balance between Brandon’s playing and his singing, with ‘Dumbarton’s Drums’ and ‘The Rambling Rover’ well known among the folk singers. Some guy called Paul McCartney gets a mention with ‘Mull of Kintyre’ and Brandon even uses some of the great man’s phrasing. There are two of Brandon’s own compositions here with ‘Donald’s’ Jig’ and the lovely ‘Loch Shin’ in waltz tempo. ‘Sands of Kuwait” is suitably solemn, and I was delighted by ‘Nelson Mandela’s Welcome to the City of Glasgow.’ He really loved Glasgow and we loved him. I hope you will agree with me that the closing track just had to be ‘Donald Where’s Your Troosers?’ I can vouch for the fact that Brandon is no mean kilt swirler himself.
If I were an aspiring accordion competitor and Brandon McPhee walked on, I‘d probably be wishing I’d taken up the banjo. We’re all very grateful that Brandon chose the accordion. Jimmy Shand would be proud.
Jimmie Macgregor MBE
- Flower of Inverness
- Thunderhead Jig/Jig Runrig/ Swallowtail Jig/Donald’s Jig
- Captain Carswell/Crossing the Minch
- Rambling Rover
- Dumbartons Drums
- Moving Cloud/Archie Menzies/Cape Bretons Fiddlers Welcome to Shetland
- Mull of Kintyre
- Nelson Mandela’s Welcome to the City of Glasgow/Rory Macleod
- Loch Maree Islands
- Loch Shin
- The High Drive/The Clumsy Lover
- Rose of Aberdeen
- Sands of Kuwait
- Donald Where’s your Trousers