Angus Lyon & Ruaridh Campbell
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Angus Lyon & Ruaridh Campbell

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The best kept secret in music



One of the successes of Celtic Connections has been both to highlight the wide and varied nature of traditional music and challenge its stereotypical image.

This show was a case in point. Both Lau and the Lyon/Campbell ensemble are firmly pegged under the "traditional" label, but their music offers so much more than that. Lyon announced that they would play their album, 18 Months Later, in its entirety and what a thing of beauty it turned out to be. With influences ranging from tango to jazz, funk and classical, it was a stunning tour de force.

Lau were a more straight-forward proposition. Three blokes - Kris Drever on guitar, Martin Green on accordion and Aiden O'Rourke on fiddle - played some of the finest jigs and reels you are ever likely to hear, the sheer intensity of which peeled the paint from the walls.

The crowd took a while to get going, but after green stood and implored them to move, they set to with a vengeance. Lau, too, pushed the boundaries and some of their arrangements, on tunes such as Unquiet Grave, called for an amazing range of sounds from three supremely talented instrumentalists. - The Glasgow Herald - 28th January, 2007


“Angus Lyon & Ruaridh Campbell’s first gig with their band, following their superb 18 Months Later album, put another feather in Big Big World’s cap. All the ingredients that take 18 Months Later out of the everyday fiddle and accordion arena were here: enquiring voicing, the Gallic, Eastern European and Nuevo tango influences, funky keyboards and an ability to sound ravishingly in the Scottish tradition and outlandishly and rivetingly adventurous at the same time." - The Glasgow Herald 27 Oct 2006

"I detect two young musicians absolutely brimming with confidence and ideas here. 18 Months Later is an album of striking originality – this accordion/piano & fiddle/viola duo’s gorgeous tunes offer compelling, absorbing listening. Their clear respect for Scottish folk tradition combines so beautifully with the classical, contemporary and jazz genres. You detect a Piazzolla influence here, a Breton folk touch there – and then you draw breath as electric guitar or fender rhodes interweave the mix. Ruaridh’s classical training is palpable throughout this recording, and Angus’ years of session work with contemporary UK musicians have paid off very handsomely.

This album succeeds on every level. There are huge shifts in mood and tempo, loads of space and detail in the arrangements – and the vast majority of these jigs, reels and airs are original compositions. The instrumentation works so well – Alan Train’s electric guitar is fabulously effective wherever it’s used, particularly on ‘The Trains (live from NYC),’ where the instrument threads its way sinuously through a lilting accordion-led tune. Highlight track ‘Drowsy Maggie’ is stunningly adapted to incorporate the most sublime ‘variations on a theme’, and makes you think in classical music terms – “allegro...lento e largo”. It’s an ambitious, intense, dramatic piece – passionately executed - Ruaridh's fiddle playing is superlative here.

The list goes on – there’s the liltingly beautiful ‘Compliments to Mr François Eberlé’, the effortlessly catchy ‘Washington Square Park’. A strong sense of rhythm and texture abounds.

This album is all the more impressive when you read the sleeve notes and realise that it seems to have been recorded in fairly difficult circumstances. Piano and double bass were recorded in the relatively civilised confines of An Tobar arts centre, Mull. But accordion, rhodes, bodhran, whistle, flugelhorn and trumpet were recorded in various rooms in Angus Lyons’ home, whilst Ruaridh recorded some of the fiddle/viola in his own living room.

A truly sensational recording from two of Scotland’s most exciting young musical innovators." - The Living Tradition Magazine

"Angus Lyon and Ruaridh Campbell’s 18 Months Later is a strong contender for the album of the year 2006 title.

Drawing on the Scottish tradition and influences from New York to Buenos Aires, they have given tunes such as Drowsy Maggie the mother and father of all blood transfusions and forged their own music full of vigour and creativity.

Accordionist Lyon is currently doubling up between the duo’s commitments and working with Yusuf Islam (the former Cat Stevens) and Strathclyde University music graduate Campbell is a winner of the prestigious Glenfiddich Fiddle Championship. So that will give some idea of the level of musicianship they’ve brought to the band they formed to recreate the album on stage.

Quite apart from its musical strengths, 18 Months Later was a triumph of persistence over technological meltdown. Recorded on the guys’ laptops in the An Tobar arts centre on Mull and various flats around Glasgow, it almost came to a disastrous end – twice. First, a crucial piece of software was found to be faulty and then on finally completing the recording and artwork, they suffered a computer crash.

Fortunately, the information was rescued and a modern folk classic was preserved. Don’t miss this outstanding music in its live incarnation." - The Glasgow Herald - Going Out Magazine 26th Oct 2006


"A fresh and imaginative approach to traditional music from this talented duo. The accordionist and pianist Angus Lyon and the fiddler Ruaridh Campbell's second album explores a soundscape firmly rooted in Scottish traditional music, but reshaped into new and intriguing harmonic and rhythmic contours.

In addition, several guest instrumentalists help expand the textural possibilities they use on this CD. Most of their material is self-composed, ranging from bright, sinuous melodies through to lovely slow airs.

They turn to traditional tunes only twice, in the shape of Scott Skinner's Bovaglie's Plaid and an epic theme-and-variations reworking of Drowsy Maggie, and remake both in their own style." - The Scotsman 23rd June 2006


'18 Months Later' - Angus Lyon & Ruaridh Campbell (2006 Mirrlees Records)

'Simple Tricks' - Angus Lyon & Ruaridh Campbell (2002 KRL Lochshore)

'Long Road' - Angus Lyon (1999 KRL Lochshore)


Feeling a bit camera shy


Angus Lyon and Ruaridh Campbell's latest album '18 Months Later' has been described as "a modern folk classic" (Glasgow Herald Oct. 2006). Angus, 6 times British accordion champion and session musician for Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens) and Ruaridh, former Glenfiddich fiddle champion, formed their duo in 2002 - the same year they released their first album 'Simple Tricks' on the KRL Lochshore label.

“A totally fresh take on the tradition. Lochshore has put out some fantastic stuff from Scotland in the last few years, but nothing has been better than this. Nothing. This is a full wonder of a thing. WOW!”

“You get the feeling that Simple Tricks is a precious thing, made carefully with lots of love and hard work."
– The Scotsman

The duo have played at festivals across the UK, including Celtic Connections, Orkney, Sidmouth, Towersey, Both Sides of the Tweed & the Big Big World music festival. They work with Live Music Now!, the UK charity started by Yehudi Menuhin, and have also performed for television & radio – on shows such as BBC Radio Scotland’s ‘Travel Folk’, ‘Celtic Connections’, ‘Global Gathering’ and ‘Take the Floor’. In January 2006, Ruaridh and Angus were invited to perform a live broadcast on Robbie Sheppard’s radio show ‘The Reel Blend’ for the BBC’s ‘Big Day of Music’ which celebrated the opening of the newly refurbished Glasgow City Halls.

Angus Lyon:

Angus has been playing the accordion since he was 5 years old. Competing at NAO events around the country, he went on to become a British champion by the time he was 13. After leaving school and working for a few years on the family farm he stated playing music full time in 1999. The following year he released his solo album ‘Long Road’ and formed his band A.L.B (Angus Lyon band) which included fiddle player Ruaridh Campbell. The pair then recorded their first album together 'Simple Tricks'. In addition to his own projects Angus has worked as a session musician – playing on over 30 albums, including the complete songs of Robert Burns and as part of the band that recorded the soundtrack to the ITV series Distant Shores. He is also a member of the band Box Club.

Over the last ten years Angus has recorded and performed with some of the biggest names in music including Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens), Paul McCartney, Rick Nowels (Producer for Madonna, Jewel, New Radicals) Maartin Allcock, Craig David, Nick Bicât, Dr Fred Freeman & John Wright.

Ruaridh Campbell:

A pupil of virtuoso fiddler Douglas Lawrence, much of Ruaridh’s musical development took place in the solo fiddle competition scene, winning the Scottish national MOD, Banchory, Kirriemuir, and the Doric festival. In 2002, he was the Oban Highlands & Islands invitational ‘Fiddle Master’ as well as winner of the prestigious Glenfiddich Fiddle Championship.

Ruaridh graduated from Strathclyde university in 2005 where he was studying classical music under violinist Clive Thomas. As well as writing and performing with Angus Lyon, Ruaridh has recently recorded sessions for bands and artists such as Million Dollar Disco Orchestra, the 44’s, multi-instrumentalist Steve Lawrence, piper Chris Armstrong, and various singer-songwriters in Glasgow.