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One of Scotland’s most accomplished and versatile musicians in any genre, John McCusker is a multi-instrumentalist, producer and composer who has worked with artists as diverse as Paul Weller and Patti Smith, Teenage Fanclub and Billy Connolly.
Born in Bellshill, near Glasgow, in 1973, John began playing whistle aged five and fiddle two years later, forming his first band, Parcel O’Rogues, while still at high school. He joined the legendary Scottish folk outfit Battlefield Band at just 17, remaining with the line-up for the next 11 years, touring extensively around the world and featuring on seven of the band’s albums.
During this time, which also saw the release of his own first two solo recordings – 1995’s self-titled debut and 2000’s Yella Hoose – John also met the celebrated Yorkshire folk singer Kate Rusby, the start of a highly fruitful creative partnership that would continue until 2007. John produced several of her award-winning albums and performed in her live band. John has written the soundtracks to the Damien O’Donnell movie Heartlands (2002), Billy Connolly’s World Tour of New Zealand and the Jennifer Saunders sitcom Jam and Jerusalem. His most recent solo album, Goodnight Ginger, came out in 2003.
While initially emerging via the folk scene, John has long been renowned for his skill at transcending musical boundaries. As a live guest, he has shared stages with Bonnie Raitt, Patti Smith, Steve Earle, Roseanne Cash, Linda Thompson, the Waterboys, Idlewild, Paolo Nutini and Jools Holland. In the studio, his playing has graced recordings by Mark Knopfler, Paul Weller, Teenage Fanclub, Ocean Colour Scene, and many more. In recognition of his multifarious talents, John was also presented with The Spirit of Scotland award for music in 2001, and was named Musician of the Year at the 2003 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.
John’s fast-expanding portfolio as a producer includes the acclaimed debut albums by Kris Drever and Idlewild’s Roddy Woomble. He has also manned the controls for top folk chanteuses Eddi Reader and Eliza Carthy, and is currently at work on the forthcoming solo release from Radiohead drummer Philip Selway.
Other recent and current activities include a strictly-trad touring project with Celtic music stars Michael McGoldrick and John Doyle, and a new songwriting trio with the aforementioned Drever and Woomble. In 2007, John was jointly commissioned by the Celtic Connections festival and Cambridge Folk Festival to compose Under One Sky, uniting Scottish and English musicians of different genres, from Gaelic singer Julie Fowlis to ex-Blur guitarist Graham Coxon. With plans afoot to record and tour the project later in 2008, this year has already seen John serving as musical director of Celtic Connections’ gala opening concert, Common Ground, before releasing the Drever/McCusker/Woomble album in the spring. John recently joined Mark Knopfler on his 2008 world tour which will see him playing arenas around the world for the first half of the year. Later in the year he will be touring with Irish singer Heidi Talbot and Boo Hewerdine playing songs from Heidi’s new record “In Love and Light”.!
Upcoming tour dates
No shows booked at the moment.