Performed with the Xeremiers of Soller in Soller
By Shirley Roberts
Published in the Majorca Daily Bulletin on
Sunday 30th October 2016
Photographs by the Xeremiers
Mick West is a lover of Mallorca and has a home here as well as in Glasgow. The relocation of his daughter and family to Palmanova some years ago introduced him to the island and to the local music. His affinity is with the Xeremiers of Soller and their traditional bagpipe sounds. He has worked with them in their frequent visits to Scotland to play in the International Folk Festival. He just loves their music and enthusiasm for the music of the people.
Mick is a singer equally at home in concert performances or as part of the Ceilidh celebrations that the Mick West Band perform in. With the renowned guitarist Frank MacLaughlin and the expert family fiddlers the energy and happiness they bring to the dance floor is legendary.
Soller had its moment last Saturday when the outstanding performances of Mick West followed by the Xeremiers of Soller gave way to a Hooley. The chairs were pushed back and the dancers of Scotland and Soller joined as one family and danced the night away. This was one special night and was a first for Mick West. He has played in venues the world over but this was his first time in Spain and Soller was the only location he could have launched from.
The solidarity of the music of the ordinary man is dear to the hearts of the musicians in both places. There is nothing elitist in this music which teaches fine instruments and develops singing and dancing skills for all. Mick has his teaching time in one of the finest Traditional Music School in the world in Plockton where he is delighted to share his knowledge and skills to the next generation of traditional musicians.
Plockton is the internationally acclaimed National Centre for Excellence in Traditional Music, based in the West Highland village of Plockton in Scotland. The young people learn from leading teachers in the world of Scottish traditional music how to play and sing in a live and studio setting, and to compose and arrange. They leave knowing the history and context of traditional music, stagecraft and music technology.
Some go onto to study at prestigious music colleges, others to form award winning bands, and wherever they go they are ambassadors for traditional Scottish culture.
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.
He has won many awards and recently been nominated as a contender in the Scottish Traditional Folk Music Awards in the Scottish Traditional category. 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. He says
“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.
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.
Mick was responsible for starting up the Partick Folk Club, in Glasgow’s West End, 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, pull together a fantastic evening of entertainment. The friendly atmosphere reflects Mick’s personality and helps create a great atmosphere.
Mick West and the Hillside Ceilidh Band got Soller dancing and in fine style. The award winning fiddlers plus Frank Maclaughlin on guitar and Micks voice transported a slice of Scotland to Soller. Mick was delighted to be part of the Soller scene. He reflected that the affinity between the music of the people is the same the world over. He has strong views on the manufactured candy floss of the X Factor style of music. He is loving the growth of traditional music in cultures all over the world with Spain and the UK Folk scene leading the way.
Mick is a Godfather of Scottish Traditional music and his students have enjoyed soup, chili and music Sundays at his home. The nurturing that Mick and his family do of young impoverished musicians goes beyond the music and have created lifetime, worldwide friendships.
Mick West is a part time resident here in Majorca but he would love to open the door to an understanding of his musical genre to a wider audience right here. So anyone out there who is looking for a traditional music specialist to sing and educate – look no further.
The Xeremiers of Soller were formed in 2001 and their aim is to perform at local cultural activities using the popular music of Majorca. The bagpipes and traditional instruments are featured and they number musicians, singers and dancers among their thriving group. The Soller musicians are highly respected in the Balearics and are the energy behind helping many villages of Majorca to resurrect their traditional folk music roots. They, like all folk musicians, love to share their sound and it was a very proud day in Soller when Mick West and the band played with them in the heart of Soller.
The music of the people that comes from the heartland of Majorca and Scotland joined forces for the first time last weekend. The word from both organisations is that this certainly won’t be the last and the people of Soller are delighted.