The Best of Scotland
“NORTH SEA GAS” Dave Gilfillan (left), Grant Simpson (center) and Ronnie (Mac) MacDonald (right)
North Sea Gas are Dave Gilfillan, Grant Simpson and Ronnie MacDonald.
Over thirty-nine years and stronger than ever! “North Sea Gas” is one of Scotland’s most popular folk bands with great vocals and tremendous three part harmonies. Guitars, Mandolin, Fiddle, Bouzouki, Harmonica, Whistles, Bodhrans, Banjo and good humour are all part of the entertainment. They have received Gold and Silver Disc awards from the Scottish Music Industry Association and regularly have sold out shows at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and around the world!
They have released 22 albums with “Hearth & Homeland” being the most recent and are constantly adding new material to their shows. One of their previous albums, “The Fire and the Passion of Scotland, was “Album of the Year” at Celtic Radio in the U.S., winning first place in the “Jigs and Reels” category as well for the set of tunes on the album. All of their previous albums continue to be very popular with fans all over the world evidenced by the Scottish Music Industry Association gold and silver awards for: “Dark Island,” “Lochanside,” “Glencoe Massacre,” “Edinburgh Toon,” “Rosslyn,” “Tak A Dram Afore Ye Go,” and “The Fire and the Passion of Scotland.”
Their show, and their albums, consist of traditional, contemporary and self-penned material put together, in a style all their own, along with their humor and story-telling. This proves popular during their regular tours of Scotland, America, Canada, Germany, Austria, Estonia, Turkey, and many other destinations both in and outside of their home in Scotland. Every year there are appearances on TV and Radio on both sides of the Atlantic including “Late Night Saturday,” “Woodsongs Old Time Radio Hour,” and “Song of the Mountains” shown on select PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) TV stations in the U.S.
In the past, the band recorded for Chinese television with an estimated audience of 800 million, played in Istanbul, Turkey for the British Consulate, and recently had the honor of performing at the famous Rosslyn Chapel.
In addition to regular tours at home and abroad, they have taken their show to theatres, arts centres, colleges, schools, libraries, and community halls around the world. Touring, and seeing their native Scotland and other parts of the world, is something the band really enjoys.
We could say more but put simply “North Sea Gas” are a highly entertaining Scottish folk band who have an ever-growing fan base ranging through all age groups thus giving the “Gas” shows a wonderful atmosphere and universal appeal.
HERE’S WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING ABOUT “NORTH SEA GAS”…..
“The band displays an attachment and a reverence for their roots from the very start. The music feels genuine, unpretentious and spontaneous, with a fondness for storytelling and beautiful harmonies.” (Celtic Radio – Boston) http://www.celticradio.net
“No airs and graces just fantastic music”…
“…..they inherit the mantle vacated by The Corries and The McCalmans with tight vocal harmonies and well-chosen material…..provide a solid well-honed sound vocally strong and musically complimentary…..most commendable about North Sea Gas is their ability to balance up tempo material with quieter more thoughtful moments and treat each with commitment and professionalism. “Fire in the Glen” is an excellent showcase for their talents and shows them taking the Scottish ballad group mantle with fire and grace.”
John O’Regan Freelance Music Journalist, Broadcaster, Lecturer
Limrick, Ireland firstname.lastname@example.org
North Sea Gas : A Brief Band History
1980 Autumn/ Winter White Hart Inn Grassmarket Edinburgh.
Colin McKenzie came into the White Hart Inn with his mandolin and played along with myself ( Dave Gilfillan) and Peter Farrell who were playing a regular weekly gig. This had become a regular occurrence over a past few months during which the idea of forming a band to play good entertaining folk music with rousing choruses for the public to enjoy was discussed over a few pints of beer .
Pete was happy playing just for the fun of it and once a week was fine by him. He was not that keen on playing and travelling and with the music emphasis being traditional material, so he made it known he would stand aside if another member could be found.
During this period the name of the band was discussed with “North Sea Gas” being one of a few ideas, “Brewers Droop” being another if my memory serves me well !!
1981 February Wally Allan joins Colin and myself on St Valentines Day to form what was tobe called “North Sea Gas”
Wally, Dave and Colin (White Cockade) Dave, Wally, Colin and some fans !!
While playing in the White Hart Inn Grassmarket Edinburgh we are approached by Jim Arbuthnott who asked why we did not have an album for sale. Explaining the high costs involved (this was back in 1980 remember ) Jim kindly offered to pay for the recording. So after further discussions a business agreement was made and we went of to the “Pan audio” recording studios Forth Street Edinburgh and recorded our first album “Those So Dearly Held” which was released in 1981.
The album was a great success proving very popular with the public and in business terms it sold well. So we quickly returned to the studios to record “Spirit Of The Banished” which was released in 1982 and proved to be equally as popular. “We were up and running”.
It was great to catch up with jim on Lismore island February 2010
During these early years we were very fortunate to take part in many Scottish Television programmes recording 6 Hear Here shows in the old Gateway studios which used to stand in Leith walk, took part in the “Thingimajig” shows, appeared many times in numerous afternoon magazine programmes and even made a guest appearance on “Glen Michael’s Cartoon Cavalcade.” The children’s show of it’s day. We
dressed as pirates !! (If Anyone has a copy of this on video please let me know)
1981: We had moved our regular nights from the White Hart Inn to The Caledonian Hotel at the West End of
Edinburgh were we played what was then called“ The Lothian Lounge” the hotels main entertainment area.
1982: Saw the Caledonian hotel open a new entertainment bar called “Platform 1”.
We were the first band to play the new venue, and we played there for 13 years. For most of that time we appeared twice a week Wednesday and Friday nights.
1982 :Around this time we also started doing a series of Late night concerts in the “Caley Cinema” in Lothian Road, Guest artists included Hamish Imlach, Tich Frier, Madeline Smith, Clem Allan and Johnny Cunningham.
We also supported Gene Pitney in the Edinburgh Playhouse Theatre, during which Wally told the audience that we had been digging around in our song bag and came up with a little number appropriately called “Twenty four hours from Pumpherston”
We have supporting many well known artists and famous bands and performers during the bands career,
The Swinging Blue Jeans, Alvin Stardust, Showwaddywaddy , Frank Ifield.
1982 : During the summer of this year we were instrumental in starting the Scottish show in the Caledonian Hotel
“Hail Caledonia” which later moved to other premises but continued to run for many years.
1983 : We were brought to the attention of the promoter Drew Taylor and asked to headline The White Heather Show” which was to tour England, Colin and myself were very keen to do this but Wally was not so keen (having a good job with British Telecom at the time). He decided it would be better if he stood aside. Wally’s last gig with the band was Saturday the 20th February 1982. Fortunately for us Wally is a man for his diary and was able to tell me that during his stay with the band of 2yrs and 6 days we played 526 shows if you think of the fact we also recorded two albums and with all the TV appearances it’s unbelievable.
1983 February 20th Wally Allan leaves the band and Ronnie McDonald joins “North Sea Gas” for the first time on Wednesday 24th of February and we headlined the “White Heather Show” tour.
During the tour we played the Brighton Dome Theatre and were introduced to Dame Flora Robson who came to our dressing room to meet us, but Mac’s visit to the band was to be only a brief spell of (four months).
1983 : June Mac was replaced by Colin Ramage. It was a very busy introduction to the band for Colin as within the first 6 months we played the 40’s Field celebration were we recorded a video with Barbara Dixon, Noel Edmonds, Peter Sarstedt and Noel Murphy. We also recorded 4 cassettes called the “Legends of Scotland” telling the stories of Robert Burns, Robert the Bruce, Mary Queen of Scots and Bonnie Prince Charlie. We provided the music and they were narrated by Bill McCue, then to top of a very busy spell we recorded our third album “From Fields Afar” released in the same year1984. Now that’s busy!!
The compilation album “The Collection “ was released in 1988.
We also took part in the Brian Matthews Round Midnight shows being recorded live during the Edinburgh Festival, appearing with Tom Roberson (of War Baby fame) and on another and on another occasion Peter Ustinov was the special guest. st.
BP released a floppy Disc with “Embo’s Golden Shore “
“Black Black Gold” and “North Sea Gas” A song Colin McKenzie wrote .
We also began our Hogmanay shows which we held in various venues Platform 1, L’attache, Carlton Studios and The Merlin (for many years).
We were also invited to the London Barbican theatre and performed with “Dame Edna Everage” (Barry Humphries ). A very memorable occasion evening.
1988/9 Colin McKenzie for personal reasons (getting married and settling down) decided it was time for him to call it day. We had agreed to make a live album in “Platform One” which was now the entertainment lounge of the Caledonian Hotel and the live venue of Edinburgh at that time.
We played there twice a week every week for over 13 years.
The album was “Caledonian Connection” released 1989.
This was recorded live and was a huge success but as agreed shortly after it’s released Colin McKenzie bowed out !!
“Caledonian Connection”received a Gold disc in recognition of album sales
Knowing the situation and needing continuity I had invited Colin Ramage to return to the band, he agreed and joined the band for the recording of the Caledonian Connection album.
1989 : Colin McKenzie leaves band and Colin Ramage rejoins band.
We continued playing Platform 1 until 1994 when we decided to move to The Balmoral Hotel Princes
Balmoral Edinburgh Army show Germany
Edinburgh. Colin Ramage and myself worked as a duo and also with Bobby Miller.
Ronnie Browne presents Colin and myself with Keltic Heritage Silver disc.
We also headlined the Hunter Mount Celtic Festival New York State August 1992
On Stage: Hunter Mount Celtic Festival August 1992 Colin leading the audience in something !!
During the period 1989 until November 1998, Colin Ramage and Dave Gilfillan record the Following albums