Kevin Macleod

Scottish mandolin, resonator tenor guitar, bouzouki & tenor banjo

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Reviews for Rhu Beag (available now! July 2015)

Rhu Beag Private Label BEAGCD004

Rewind 200 years, and the scene inside Springwell, Kevin MacLeod’s croft house in his native village of Achiltibuie would’ve been very different. Linoleum has replaced hard earth flooring, an open fire replaced by spotlights and the pot which hung over it by a gas cooker. The table round which the musicians sat - the heart of the cèilidh - would definitely not have come from Ikea.

What hasn’t changed is the music. On their newest release Rhu Beag, Kevin MacLeod, Ali “Beag” MacLeod, Alasdair Fraser and Will MacLean play melodies played, sung, shared and enjoyed around Achiltibuie kitchen tables for generations, shared between neighbours, friends and family members like a common language unique to the place.

Culkein Waltzes are named for a cove on the Assynt coastline. Those melodies, sung by previous generations of Achiltibuie locals, are hauntingly beautiful, particularly Cuir Culaibh ri Assainte. This music (on bagpipes, accordion, tenor guitar, mandolins and trump) is amazing far beyond its social and anthropological qualities - it’s a joy to listen to, filled with life and character. It’s easy to see why traditional material such as this inspires much innovative modern composition - its power as a source of inspiration re-enforcing its place in the constantly changing musical world.

Rhu Beag is a refreshing listen; a reminder that traditional music in this simple form can be as rewarding as some of the most innovative new music.

Joseph Peach

Rhu Beag “Rhu Beag” Own Label, 2015

A taste of traditional music from the far north west of Scotland, this relatively short CD unites four local musicians who play regularly together. Their music is natural, unpolished and unrefined, the genuine spontaneous product of Gaelic culture and good company. The region of Coigach looks across the Minch to the northern end of the Outer Hebrides, and inland to the fiddle and piping traditions of Lochaber and the central highlands. All of these combine on Rhu Beag’s recording: piper Alasdair Fraser, accordionist Ali Beag MacLeod, mandolin and guitar master Kevin MacLeod, and the distinctive jaw harp of Will MacLean.

From big pipe marches to beautiful Gaelic waltzes, jigs and reels to strathspeys and hornpipes, Rhu Beag present pretty much what you’d expect from a local west highland session or ceilidh. About the only thing missing is a double speed Canadian Barndance: Kevin’s mandolin solo on Old Toasty comes close, but switches into jig time for Roddie MacLeod of Polbain by Freeland Barbour, before finishing off with Lord MacDonald’s Reel. Among many familiar tunes, there are some distinctive marches and waltzes: The Ross-shire Volunteers, Lady Lever Park, and Ali Beag’s three Culkein Waltzes in particular. There’s great variety here in only twenty-five minutes, from bagpipe solos to band selections, plus some unusual reels and jigs including The Steamboat which I had only heard as a Canadian tune called Uncle Jim’s Jig. Rhu Beag certainly provides a good helping of highland music in its natural habitat.

© Alex Monaghan

1.  RHU BEAG MARCHES Ali ‘Beag’, Alasdair, Kevin & Will
      The Sweet Maid of Glendaruel, Campbell’s Farewell to Redcastle, Teribus
2. CULKEIN WALTZES featuring Ali ‘Beag’ & Kevin
      Cathair A’Chulkein, Cuir Culaibh ri Assainte, Ninag A’Chulkein
3. HEBRIDEAN PIPE MARCHES Ali ‘Beag’, Alasdair, Kevin & Will
      Father John MacMillan of Barra, Lady Lever Park
4. MARCH STRATHSPEY & REEL - solo bagpipes featuring Alasdair
Ross-shire Volunteers, The Islay Ball, The Old Ruins
5. ENARD BAY REELS Alasdair & Kevin
Lochinver, Achnahaird, An Londubh
6. SPRINGWELL KITCHEN SET - solo mandolin, resonators and bouzouki featuring Kevin
Old Toasty, Sabhail Iain ic Uisdean,
Roddie Macleod, Polbain, Lord MacDonald’s Reel
7.  THE STEAMBOAT SET Ali ‘Beag’, Alasdair, Kevin & Will
Kenmure’s Up and Awa’ Willie, The Steamboat, Cock o’ the North

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Rhu Beag (available now! July 2015), £5.95


KEVIN MACLEOD (TENOR GUITAR, MANDOLIN, CITTERN, FENDER SLIDE & BOUZOUKI), ALI BEAG MACLEOD (ACCORDION), ALASDAIR FRASER (BAGPIPES & WHISTLE), WILL MACLEAN (TRUMP) Traditional Highland music is performed here by four Coigach locals from the north shore of Lochbroom in the far North West Highlands of Scotland. Their lively tunes are played here on bagpipes, accordion, resonator tenor guitars, mandolin and trump (jaw's harp), and this fine recording makes a great memento of the music and landscape of Coigach.

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Reviews for Highland Strands

Certain things are as constant as the sunrise, the enduring attraction of lovingly-delivered Scottish traditional music is one of them. ‘Highland Strands’ from Kevin Macleod (plus a few good friends) is a fine example, played by musicians rightly classed as masters of their art. The relaxed and easy way they deliver the mix of music on this album belies the dexterity and skill that clearly goes into its creation.

The album takes a wide-spanning turn through a selection of reels, waltzes, jigs and marches, and along the way covers some of the best traditional music and includes influences from Scotland, Ireland and America. Ancient music rubs shoulders with newer tunes and the fusion is seamless. Hardly surprising, when you consider the artists involved and performance pedigrees that include Shooglenifty, De Danann, Ossian and Tannahill Weavers.

With Kevin playing mandolin, bouzouki, cittern and tenor guitars, are Luke Plumb (bouzouki, mandolin, tenor guitar) Alec Finn (bouzouki, guitar) John Martin (fiddle) Matheu Watson (guitar) Tim Jones (mandolin) and Phil Smillie (flute, whistle).

Music like this is ceaselessly uplifting – listen to ‘Highland Strands’ - I’m certain you’ll agree.

Reviewer: Dan Holland

When one finds a ‘solo’ CD with a whole list of famous friends, the result can often be a rather flashy band. Mercifully, that’s not the case here - just a lot of very high quality accompaniments, rarely by more than two people, which never distract from Mr Macleod’s superb playing. Mercifully again, he’s a dance musician, so the emphasis is on the music and not on the man - again, something of a rarity when the man in question is so technically accomplished.

If Kevin Macleod’s playing is new to you (it was to me), then here’s a taster: from track 1, Whiskey Before Breakfast. Despite the CD’s subtitle ‘Scottish Traditional Music on Mandolin ...’, I think this is actually a Canadian tune! The selection of tunes is quite varied, although reels do predominate.

This is an altogether lovely CD which, I’m pleased to say, I can find nothing to comment adversely about ... another rarity! You can buy it from:

Rod Stradling - 5.8.14

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Highland Strands, £12.00

Beagcd003, 2014

The brand new recording by Kevin, released on 26th July 2014. You can purchase a cd using the website here, or go to iTunes for a download option. Also, you can hear several tracks off the cd in the short film to the right entitled "Highland Strands"

"Music like this is ceaselessly uplifting – listen to ‘Highland Strands’ - I’m certain you’ll agree." - Dan Holland, 6th August 2014 

"This is an altogether lovely CD" - Rod Stradling, 5th August 2014 

 "Bright of string, warm of heart .... this album is a dead straight and joyous celebration of largely Highland music" **** 4 Stars, Jim Gilchrist, The Scotsman 16th August 2014

".... the tone of backroom session intimacy blended with care and fidelity ...." - Rob Adams, Sunday Herald 7th September 2014

Kevin Macleod plays Scottish traditional music on mandolin, bouzouki, cittern and resonator tenor guitars. He is accompanied here on his 4th solo recording “Highland Strands” by longstanding friends Luke Plumb (Shooglenifty) on bouzouki & mandolin, Alec Finn (De Danann) on bouzouki, fiddler John Martin (Ossian, Easy Club, Tannahill Weavers), guitarist Matheu Watson, mandolinist Tim Jones & flautist Phil Smillie (Tannahill Weavers).

Together they perform Scottish marches, reels, & retreats from the ancient repertoire of the great Highland bagpipe, jigs, waltzes, and airs from Ireland and America and new tunes by Ian Hardie, Andy Statman, Freeland Barbour, Ali 'Beag' MacLeod and Allan MacDonald. This is lively, upbeat, acoustic music rooted in the traditional folk music of Scotland, performed with vivacity and spirit by masters of the tradition.

  • RHU BEAG live in Achnahaird - Rhu Beag Marches
  • Making of "Highland Strands" in 2014

Taran Guitars "Springwell" mandolin prototype, May 2015

  • Taran Guitars "Springwell" mandolin demonstration - Reels and Interview with luthier Rory Dowling