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Caledonia is one of those amazing songs that becomes a folk music classic within years of being written (like Green Fields of France, Crazy Man Michael, Fiddler’s Green and Fields of Athenry). It was written by Dougie MacLean in 1977, I believe, and released in 1979 on the album of the same title. It was barely out of nappies before everyone and their piper were performing it.  For 2 reasons:  It’s a fantastic melody; and it has a genuine feeling of longing to the lyrics.  An authenticity that cuts to the heart.

I came to the song quite late.  I’d heard it performed by many people, and loved it, but didn’t have it on my list of “must sing” numbers…mostly because I felt I had enough Scottish repertoire, and more songs about Scottish people missing Scotland were low priority – particularly as I was mostly performing upbeat stuff for pub audiences or else rock-based covers and originals.  I finally learned it about 4 years ago, and coincidently just before I got together with a group of musicians from my local area of Fyn in Denmark.

We drank coffee on Tuesday mornings and played folk music.  Folk music is a broad term, and – as we came from very different musical backgrounds –  we took material and inspiration from everything from Americana to Irish trad and from blues to ballads.  Suddenly there was a place that Caledonia belonged, and I can’t remember who suggested it.  But I had been playing it the same as Douglie MacLean’s original: in open C tuning, but with a capo on the 6th fret (as opposed to Dougie’s 4th) so that I was singing in G.

Doing it this way in a band set up meant either tuning the guitar or having an extra guitar handy, and that was too much effort, so I made a version in standard tuning, with captures the essence of the song (hopefully) though without those lovely open string timbres.  This has become my “go to” version, as it means I can seamlessly throw the song in at solo gigs without a major retune before and after…and this is then the version I have played on the following video.

covid update

Well…gradually Northern Europe ground to a second lockdown…bit by bit…country and region by country and region…so I now have no gigs left this year.

Hopefully the Brophy’s Law gigs in January are still on: 14th at Turbinen in Randers (this should be Ok whatever – they’ve managed to stay open all the way through) and Amager Bio in Copenhagen (fingers crossed for this one – there can’t be many people in Copenhagen who haven’t already had the virus!!)

Solo gigs will begin again as soon as the Government gives the go ahead…plus the time it takes to make the phone calls and organise the calendar.  Strong Ale are planning big things in small places, but need the Covid go-ahead…so basically…we just have to wait it out and hope that we survive.

Wednesday evening Love Streams have been interrupted by a couple of things that couldn’t be moved (I may not have gigs but I ain’t stopped working!)…but will continue as before each Wednesday whenever possible over on FaceBook.

Take care of each other and hope to see you at the Love Streams and in real life in the not too far distant future!

love and cabbage!


gigs this weekend in Odense

Hey folks…there will be no dancing, there will be limited numbers, there will be face masks and it’ll all be over at 21:30…BUT…

I’m going to be playing Friday and Saturday evening in Odense at the Old Irish Pub!  There is still some life left in Denmark!!!

We’re back!

A quick look at the concerts page should give you an idea of where we’re at as far as bringing the return of madness to the masses…obviously there are still restrictions on how many can be at gigs and the social distancing rules which we all need to follow (I’m not dancing on people’s tables atm) but we are moving towards a return to something similar to what some people inaccurately used to call “Normal”


The Wednesday night Love Streams on Facebook continue…

Live Stream Wednesday

Hi Folks!
The live streams on Facebook have been great fun and well received so I’m making it a regular event – until people have had enough…

Therefore there will be a concert of one hour’s duration every Wednesday from now on streamed live on the Martin Dale facebook page I will look into sharing it on YouTube and other sites, but for this week it’s just on FaceBook.

It is free entertainment…however, I always appreciate heckling, requests, comments, questions and general interaction! There is a paypal link and patreon page if anyone wants to contribute financially, but this is entirely voluntary.

Stay safe out there…come down to the virtual gig at the virtual pub!

Video a week on

Hi and happy new year beloved folkies!

A new feature for 2017 is the Martin Dale patreon page at:

Here you can see live performances of songs, background info about the songs, thoughts about new songs and much more.  Better still, it’s an interactive experience – you can tell me what you think, ask me questions, make requests or say whatever you feel like to me!  I’ll reply to every post.

It’s launched today (1st January 2017) and there will be a new video (plus background info video) every Sunday come rain or shine, as well as bonus recordings, musings, song sketches etc.

Click the buttons and become part of it.  You know you want to!

Afro celt soundsystem

I don’t get to as many gigs (of other artists!) as I’d like to (except at festivals), so when I finally get the chance to see an act I really like it is double the pleasure.  So when my good friend and ex-Rumpus partner Ed Conway suggested seeing Afro Celt Sound System at Birmingham City Hall while I was in England last week, I jumped at the chance.

First, I will get the only negatives out of the way.  They looked awful.  Dressed in the clothes they did their shopping in and with (in the case of the piper, Griogair Labhruidh) a sweater your uncle wouldn’t even wear at Christmas, they hadn’t made an effort on the visual side.  With the exception of the one (hugely talented) African member, N’Faly Kouyate, who donned a long colourful jacket, and the dancers, in their traditional Indian costumes.  And Griogair rapped.  Rapping is shite in any language – even Gaelic.

Right.  That’s the negatives out of the way.  The music more than made up for it.  I had always considered ACSS to be a very electronic project, with the acoustic, traditional instruments laid over computer-based rhythms and synthesizers.  The electronic side, actually, played a much smaller role than I expected and the bulk of the sound was produced by the pipes/flutes/whistles, guitars, kora, drums, percussion and bodhrán augmented by terrific harmony vocals.  The synth was mostly providing bass (I would have preferred a bass guitar, but that’s just a question of taste). One of those who made the biggest impression on me was Rioghnach Connelly on vocals and flute.  A hugely talented lady with great on-stage attitude.  But they were all amazing, and took turns coming to the front before stepping back into the huge African, Asian and Celtic sound soup.

The set was mostly from the new album “Source”, but with a few pieces I recognised from the early Afro Celt albums.  The members of the “other” band who share the name may be threatening legal action and disclaiming the project, but it was very much a Simon Emmerson project in the beginning, as I understand it, and he pulled off a spectacular show with this line-up, featuring all the elements we loved from the early records.

Fab night.

Neil Brophy UK tour roundup

Had a wonderful week eating great British food and drinking great British ales, whilst playing great British venues in Great Britain.  Neil Brophy Band made its first steps into the great British music market and at the same time had lots of fun and giggles.

First port of call after driver and on-road entertainment Jim picked us up from Luton airport, was Dublin Castle in Camden, London, where sound crew Martin and Jens from Powerstage were waiting.  Not a big crowd, but a good way to warm up for the tour, with reunions with old friends, quality curry beforehand, quality beer after and an unexpected headline slot, when the headliners didn’t show up.

After a sardine night at the hostel, we headed up to Northampton, and, having sampled pie, mash and mushy peas and admired Jim’s hotrod, played a much longer set at The Black Prince.

Next day we went to The Adelphi in Hull (after eating the best fish and chips in the world).  This place is like traveling directly back in time to the 80’s.  Great atmosphere, retro-sound, characature characters and terrific beer.  This was the first of 3 gigs supporting the wonderful Blackbeard’s Tea Party – lovely people, and great musicians.  A really fun night, and a great response from the crowd.

Long trip the next day to the beautiful city of Chester, where we stayed with the wonderful Brian and Ann.  The venue – Telford’s Warehouse – was as beautiful as the city, the sound fantastic and the audience appreciative.

The last day was more relaxed due to shorter driving distance…just up t’road to Manchester.  Fac 251 is the old Factory Records building, and there’s a sense of rock n roll history in the place.  Another great night and both NBB and Blackbeard’s were on fire.

Lovely to be back in Denmark now, but what a great week in the UK!


Will soon be off to the UK in one of my rare excursions outside of Europe 😛

Originally I was just going to go on a road trip with a mate to see Christy Moore play in Swansea.  This is still the case, but since booking that, it seems I have to stay a little longer in Britain.

Neil Brophy Band (of which, for those who don’t know, I am the bassist) have teamed up with Blackbeard’s Tea Party (one of my favourite bands) and will be warming up for them in Hull, Chester and Manchester in October.  Plus a couple of other dates without the Tea Party, one in London at the Dublin Castle and one in Northampton at The Black Prince…look on the “Live” page for the dates and venues!  This will be fun in more ways than I can express.  And even more fun if I get to see some of you Brits I so rarely catch up with!

I will also be doing a solo tour (just a couple of weeks) in April next year…watch this space

recent past and imminent future

So this week is a little more laid back.  I’ve been learning some songs and tunes – only gigs this week are a trip to Café john Wayne in Vejlby Klit,  Friday early evening at You’ll Never Walk Alone in Kolding with Strong Ale and 2 nights at the Old Irish Pub in Aalborg on the crazy Jomfru Ane Gade with a midnight start.  Sorry liver.

This is good – I haven’t quite recovered from last weekend yet.

It started with an afternoon gig at Vejby Strand Camping, followed by a fun Friday night at the Old Irish Pub in Holbæk.  Several Jægerbombs and rather fine IPA and a lack of sleep (late night and early morning) left me croaky and bleary eyed before the noontime gig at Nykøbing.  I recovered quickly thanks to a good audience and the new espresso machine.  Then on to join Neil Brophy Band at Vig Festival for 2 sets in the evening.  The 2nd set was really really good fun.  Fabulous audience and the band was rocking…happy days!