Deaf Shepherd have performed to consistently rapturous acclaim and sellout crowds at many of the world’s leading Celtic music gatherings, including the Cambridge, Edinburgh, Shetland and Skagen folk festivals, the Celtic Connections festival in Glasgow, Brittany’s Lorient festival and the Edinburgh Fringe. Their three albums to date, Ae Spark O’ Nature’s Fire (1996), Synergy (1997) and Even in the Rain (2002) both won unanimously rave reviews, with Synergy being named by BBC Radio Scotland’s Travelling Folk programme as one of the year’s top releases, as well as earning a maximum five-star rating as “Album of the Week” in The Scotsman, one of Scotland’s two quality daily newspapers.
Based in Edinburgh, currently home to the UK’s most dynamic roots music scene, the band first got together in 1993, with most of the current line-up settling into place a couple of years later. Between them, they bring together most of Scotland’s major regional traditions, hailing variously from the Highlands, Glasgow, the Hebridean island of Barra and the Lowlands of Ayrshire, with a dash of Irish influence in the shape of percussionist Mark Maguire. While many of their musical contemporaries have pursued a fusion-based approach, Deaf Shepherd have stuck proudly to their traditional guns, introducing a new generation of fans to their rich native heritage by capturing the timeless spirit and beauty that has kept the venerable tunes and ballads in their repertoire alive down the centuries.
I’ve lost count of the times during this festival that I’ve heard people say what a shame it is that Deaf Shepherd aren’t a full-time performing outfit. Which is not to imply disappointment with what they deliver when they do play live, nor that they don’t have sound individual reasons – but I have to agree, nonetheless, because if they were, we’d get to see more of them. Still, here they were, and what a magnificent show they put on. Their signature blaze-of-glory dance sets, a charge of fiddles, pipes, guitar, bouzouki and bodhran, were expertly tempered with graceful slower interludes (the better to appreciate their shimmering interplay of harmony) and John Morran’s marvellously expressive singing. The Scotsman
The current lineup of Deaf Shepherd are John Morran (vocals, guitar), Claire McLaughlin (fiddle), Jenna Reid (fiddle), Finlay MacDonald (pipes), Malcom Stitt (bouzoukie), Mark Maguire (percussion, bodhran).
Pic of Lineup for Synergy and Even in the Rain. John Morran, Mariane Campbell, Rory Campbell, Mark Maguire, Clare McLaughlin, Malcolm Stitt.