Mick West - Singer of Traditional Scottish Music

Mick West is among the nominations for Trad Singer of the Year in the Scottish Traditional Music Awards.
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Photo: Mick West, musician. Mick West is considered by many to be one of Scotland's finest interpreters of traditional song, attracting worldwide critical acclaim. A regular act at Festivals, Concerts and Folk Clubs in Scotland, he has performed in many other countries including: England, Ireland, France, Germany, Russia, Estonia, Italy and Japan. Mick is particularly in demand in his hometown, Glasgow, where he has been a key figure in putting, and keeping, folk music on the map.

A regular in the city's famous Star Club, he was also involved in the Glasgow International Folk Festival, which unfortunately folded in 1984. This left Mick considerably out of pocket and disheartened and he abandoned his musical activities for a number of years. However, in 1994 he was asked to perform at a St Andrew's Day Concert and this renewed his interest in performance.

Since then there has been no stopping him and he has gone from strength to strength - recently he has been nominated as a contender in the Scottish Traditional Folk Music Awards 2008 in the Scottish Traditional Singer Category. www.handsupfortrad.co.uk/tradmusicawards/ He is particularly delighted about this because it is the public who put forward the artists' names. Then a panel agrees on the nominees and it goes back to public vote.

Mick has recently been signed up by Greentrax, Scotland's most formidable folk label so there's certainly signs that important things are happening for Mick. The U.S. folk magazine Dirty linen asked the question "Why is this man not a household name?" - looks like he could be moving towards just that position.

A lover of song since he was a child, when he sang in the Church Choir and round the Scouts' campfires, Mick moved from Glasgow to Boscastle in Cornwall when he was a teenager. It was in this beautiful part of the world that his love for folk music was kindled as he listened to local farmers singing their traditional songs. On his return to Glasgow as a lad of 19 Mick's interest in this genre led to his forming his first band 'Molindinar' - "the most Scottish name I could think of".

His love for Scottish Traditional Song remains unwavering

"My favourite song of all is Freedom Come All Ye....It breaks down barriers, people everywhere know the song and it is so positive for Scotland and international aspects. I just love it!"

Mick also has a great fondness for traditional Irish songs and is equally at home singing these. He is a versatile performer, who loves to sing, whether it be as a solo artist or with the Mick West Band. The current line up for the band includes other highly respected musicians: Fraser Fifield (sax, whistles and percussion), Stevie Lawrence (Bouzouki) Frank McLaughlin (Guitar) and new addition to the band Ali Hutton (Pipes,whistles,bodhran, guitar).

Always in demand, they will soon perform at the St Andrew's Festival in Glasgow as part of the four days of celebration at St Andrew's in the Square. Apart from his own performances, Mick is very encouraging of other artists and always ready to help newcomers to the folk scene. This was illustrated recently when he offered to sing backing vocals when Jim, my partner, was recording his CD and he was delighted to have an artist of such high calibre contribute.

Mick was responsible for starting up the Partick Folk Club, in Glasgow's West End, six years ago in 2002 and this is still going strong. It takes place on the last Friday of every month in St Peter's Church Hall, Chancellor Street, where Mick, assisted by his wife Irene and a band of willing helpers, pulls together a fantastic evening of entertainment. The friendly atmosphere reflects Mick's personality and helps create a great atmosphere.

He is also the man behind the Partick Folk Festival, which takes place every year and includes not only music but includes a fun day out for the whole family. Seems that with all this going on he would not have a moment to spare but he manages to fit in some teaching up in Plockton at the School of Musical Excellence and Traditional Music. Could well be argued that nobody could be more suitable to fulfil the role.

Pat Byrne, November, 2008.

Youtube Mick West Band at Celtic Connections