Music is an essential part of my life and the catalyst and outlet for my emotions. As is mentioned elsewhere, I used to be a Sound Engineer a number of years ago, so my musical appreciation is pretty wide. I've mixed for everything from straight folk through to progressive rock, classical, jazz and even some punk. I only draw the line at "goodol' country music", which I really can't stand, though I did do some country-rock. For preferred listening I'm still pretty wide ranging if some might say a little old fashioned on the rock side. I adore the music of "Celtic" folk artists like Dougie MacLean and the guys who made up Silly Wizard, and also the brilliant Northhumbrian piper and fiddler Kathryn Tickell (who's also pretty good looking!)
Favourite classical composers include Beethoven, Neilsen, and Sibelius - preferring the more emotional compositions to the more purist approach of Bach or Mozart. However the wilder excesses of such as Wagner or Mahler don't appeal in the same way and sound contrived to my ears
Since I grew up with the sounds of the 60's and 70's I still love the old Beatles stuff and the progressive rock of people such as Jimi Hendrix, Cream, Led Zepplin etc. but my two favourites are without doubt Judie Tzuke and Yes. Yeah yeah, your thinking I'm just an old sentimentalist who likes long-haired blondes - probably about right ;-) (and I'm not thinking about Rick Wakeman either!) Judie continues to sing like an angel and now writes extensively for other artists. Her daughter Bailey has followed in her footsteps and also has a wonderful voice as well as her mum's good looks.
I've been very lucky musically to work with some truly excellent musicians, though few of them ever seemed to make much in the way of money or I might still be working in sound. At least twice bands collapsed under me on the point of getting much deserved recording contracts but I wouldn't swap the gigs we did together for anything. I wonder what they're doing now.
A couple of excellent musicians who I went to school with are still actively playing and performing and have remained firm friends.
John Sampson, the manic trumpet and multiple recorder player - a man of immense talent who is a star in Germany but, as so often happens to Scots, known at home only to afficionados and those fans of places like the amazing Cafe Graffiti. We've shared many gigs - each with total trust in the others ability to do their job to the highest level. We've had our disagreements, but come out of them firmer friends than before. He's the daft brother I never had. in 2003 I designed a web site for him as a birthday present - www.johnsampson.co.uk . He also has a site for his musical partnership with another dear friend, Pat O'Connell, at www.patandjohn.de
Gordon Dougal - Equally happy on guitar or keyboards with a natural arranger's ear, superb songwriting skills, and a wonderful sense of rhythm, he should have been a household name at the time of the "white soul" boom. Ignatz and Lucky Dog were just two of the bands that should have made it for him and are fondly remembered by those of us in our 50's. When John and Gordon get together as they did to write a couple of ballet scores and as they do for Cafe Graffiti-style cabaret from time to time, the creative sparks fly and despite their very different musical backgrounds they always emerge with a memorable set.
I also have to mention another school friend, fellow sound engineer Phil Martin, who was best man at my wedding. Phil and I used to spend hours discussing sound and each continually improved because of the other. Phil's first mix of John and Gordon's ballet score Belinda and the Magic Shoes was an enchanting blend of sounds that couldn't have been bettered. I still reckon I was better than him at rock (grin), but there was never the slightest edge to our friendly rivalry. Phil is still working in theatre with the Natural Theatre Company in Bath and is as good at stage management, carpentry and stage joinery as he is on the mixing desk. He's come to specialise in building stage props and radio controlled special effects and I built a website for his prop making company.
Silly Wizard were mentioned earlier. I'm a member of a mailing list called the Rambling Rovers which is devoted to that excellent and ground breaking folk band. (supposedly devoted - actually they talk about almost anything ;-) ) I had the great pleasure of working with the two Cunningham brothers very early in my sound career, and I've followed their careers ever since. They certainly deserved the fame that they have gone on to achieve but tragically Johnnie died of a heart attack a few years ago. On one of my Photographs pages, for the members of the 'Rovers and anyone else interested, are some pictures that I took at what was supposed to be a Cunningham Brothers gig at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe many years ago. It just happened that the rest of the band were also in town at the time and it turned into an SW reunion gig to the delight of the audience.
You can find some books on Scottish music on my new site Books in Scotland.