Duncan’s Blog – December 2012

There’s something I like about December – cold, but there’s often quite a lot of sunshine around, and this year’s been no exception so far.

Only one gig this month – Me and Cy playing Helensburgh Burns Club’s St Andrews Night concert on the 1st. Organised by Kirsten Easdale, it was a fantastic night, playing to really nice, friendly people. Kirtsen’s a wonderful singer, and her set was much too short. We were also blown away by Bellevue Rendezvous’s set. Gavin, Cammy and Ruth – an ‘A’ list outfit in my opinion – should be much better known. Kirsten’s partner Steve Niblock, who is a masterful fine art photographer, took some great pictures at the concert, but when I look at me and Cy in them, I hope the camera lies, at least a bit!

Very proud moment watching ‘Scotland’s Greatest Warrior’ on BBC2 Scotland. An hour-long documentary about James Graham, Marquis of Montrose, and his escapades both with and against the Covenanters. A complex, fascinating man. Did I mention ‘proud’? Well, it was produced by my beautiful daughter Julie, who now has a string of broadcast credits to her name. She’s the most hard-working, conscientious person I know, and a truly lovely person as well. Proud doesn’t come close to covering it. Ach well, I’m her daddy, I’m allowed to go on a bit…

Irene and I headed up to Fort William for the Trad Awards on the 8th, and had a great time. Met up with lots of friends and people we haven’t seen for years, and the music was really good this year (as usual, to be fair). I’d kind of hoped Balerno might get the award for best club, but it went to Falkirk this year. I’ve never played there since the Clydesiders days in the 90s, but I’m sure it’s a worthy winner.

Talking of Clydesiders news, the new CD is finally here, and will be in the shops from 10th December, which is exciting news.

Well, I’m posting early for Christmas (not like me) in case I get lost in the nonsense of the weeks ahead and forget to keep up the blog. I hope everyone who takes the time to read this malarkey has a happy, relaxing time at Christmas, and I wish everyone peace and a nicer, gentler World in 2013.

Duncan x

Duncan’s Blog – November 2012

Crikey – just noticed it’s the 29th, and I haven’t put up the November blog yet, so just a quick few words to keep the (ahem) continuity.

Cy, Stevie and I played Balerno this Tuesday, one of our absolute favourite gigs. Packed out on a Tuesday evening in late November – it’s how a folk club should be…..everyone out for a good night’s fun. Carole and Alan Prior, and Norman Lamont (no, not that one..) played sets too. Carole wrote the tune for Violet Jacob’s poem ‘Baltic Street’, which I covered on the new CD, and I was truly nervous singing it with her sitting in the front row. She was very nice about it, though.

Good news this morning – confirmation of a gig at Celtic Connections. The Trio will be playing on Jim Malcolm’s show at the Art Club in Bath Street on Tuesday 22nd January – I’m delighted.

Other piece of good news is that I replaced the written off car today. I’ve now got a hybrid Citroen, which seems to run on chip fat and Duracells. I’ll have to ease up on slagging Cy for his Toyota Prius, I suppose. The new car’s all hi-tech, so it’ll take me a while, but it’s supposed to do 74mpg. Aye, we’ll see……

I’ll try and be a bit earlier with the December update, but just in case – Merry Christmas!

Cheers Duncan x

Duncan’s Blog – October 2012

Very glad to see the end of September. It’s a month I’ve always disliked, as it marks the end of summer – not the beautiful colours of autumn, but faded, tired greens, chilly damp air and short days. Ugh. It’s also my birthday month, so I get to be a year older…I say I’ll stop counting, but you can’t fool yourself – time marches on! Nice gig at Mugdock to finish off the month, too – quite a good turn out, which would have been excellent if everyone who said they were going did – around 17 no shows. Ah, well.

October’s gig free, so a wee bit of time spent sending emails to clubs and promoters, a job I really hate. Some reply, some don’t…plus ca change! Cy and I have some library tracks to finish, so that’s good, but I really need to start thinking about writing songs again – I gave myself a holiday from writing after all the energy spent on the album, but it’s high time I got my mojo working again, such as it is! Hopefully the new guitars will spur me on a bit.

Home life has been a bit stressful – my poor old father-in-law is having a real struggle with the last stages of emphysema, which means that my wife Irene is constantly running back and forth to hospitals etc, and looking after her mum. As an only child, she has a tough job, but our beautiful daughter Julie shares the load with her, despite her own hectic career as a TV producer. I’m very proud of them both.

Just as things were bad enough, I managed to get involved in a serious road accident on the first black ice morning of the autumn. I’ve been told that the car will cost £6000 to repair, and may be written off, but neither I or the young guy in the other vehicle were hurt, thankfully, so it’s just so much metal, glass and rubber. Could have done without it, though!

Anyway, this is starting to sound a bit too doom-and-gloomy, and life’s actually really good. Three gigs have come in for 2013 in the past week, and work at PRS/MCPS has been good fun.

We heard this morning that the wonderful songwriter Michael Marra passed away this morning. Michael was just a lovely guy – gentle, witty, humble and blessed with the most incredible talent for songwriting. I recorded his song ‘The Lonesome Death of Francis Clark’ back in 2001, after asking his permission first. I remember how pleased he was that someone liked his work enough to record it, and he gave his blessing. I met him several times after that, and had the honour of playing support to him twice. I’ll never forget how nervous he was before a performance, and how assured amd professional he was during it. Rest in peace, Michael.

Duncan’s Blog – September 2012

Great to get back to gigging after two months – a concert at the Royal Yacht Club in Greenock, and the audience was just fantastic. Everyone out to have a good time, and great chat afterwards. Sadly, I had to drive from there straight to Gartnavel Hospital in Glasgow, where my father-in-law had been taken earlier. Got there around 1.30am, and it seemed as though it was time to say goodbye, but he improved a bit during the night, and at the time of writing he’s still with us, although very tired. I married his only daughter, and my daughter’s his only grandchild, so it’s a tough old time.

To be honest, September’s not my favourite month, and brings some sad memories for me, so its good to have the music to take my mind off things. I’m looking forward to the next concert on Friday 28th – me, Cy and Stevie at the brilliant wee theatre in Mugdock Country Park, outside Milngavie. I’ll be using the new Gibson for the second time and I have to say I’ve fallen for it in a big way, after not being 100% sure to begin with. Fantastic big sound, and it looks fabulous – playability’s good, and I’m working on that.

After all the initial excitement of the album launch, things on that front have quietened down. Radio plays have slowed, but that’s how it goes – you get your five minutes in the sun, then it’s someone else’s turn. Ah well!

I’m hoping to get seriously back into the writing in October – 2012’s been so busy, I haven’t had time to even think about it, and I think I exhausted my mojo a bit with all the album malarkey!

I’m looking forward to the new Clydesiders album – the record label has been showing some ideas for the artwork, so hopefully it’ll be a tasty looking item. I’m hopeful it’ll make the shops by Christmas, but these things seem to take forever. Cy and I are also finishing a few tracks for a London publisher – the project is 95% finished, but that last 5% seems to be taking superhuman effort to get done!

Anyway….all work and no play just now, and relaxation’s not easy with the poor old dad in law being so ill. A holiday would be tremendous, but not possible in the meantime. Maybe a few nights away at a nice hotel on the West coast – we’ll see.

Oh, and yet another birthday this month. September…..I really don’t like it at all! xx

Duncan’s Blog – August 2012

Big news of the summer for me was getting my new guitar – a fabulous-looking Gibson J200 – stunning in ‘antique natural’ maple.  The first one let me down at a gig with intermittent distortion through the electrics, so Guitar Guitar in Glasgow – who have been great to deal with – replaced it with a brand new one.  Problem is…….I don’t think I like it as much as the one it replaces!  It’s been back a couple of times for adjustments to the action, so hopefully I’ll get to like it better as it plays in a bit.  Meantime, I’ve ordered another guitar to my un-neccessarily large collection – a Loar LH200VS –  which should be arriving any day.  It costs – I kid you not – a twelfth of what the Gibson did, and I’m told it sounds every bit as good.  We’ll see……

After a flurry of activity up to the launch date, radio plays of the album have slowed a bit – keeping the momentum is always difficult, so Me and Adam at Circular Records are looking at ways of giving the campaign a new lease of life.  Too much stuff out there!

Great to get away for a couple of weeks, though.  Kintyre, Ullapool, Lochinver and Gairloch.  Marvellous – would have been even better if the sun had shone a bit!!

A few new gigs coming in – Greenock Boat Club, and a new folk club at Lambhill in Glasgow.  Time we were getting a marketing campaign going again – I really hate that side of things, though.

The new music library CD ‘Scottish Roots’, which Cy and I arranged and produced for a London-based publisher was released in July….mostly arrangements of trad works for film and TV, so fingers crossed we get a few tracks used over the next few years.

The new Clydesiders album has been mastered too, and will be released on a well-respected Scottish label in September (hopefully), so quite a year for new recordings – more to come, too!  Watch this space……….

Duncan’s Blog June 2012

Leaving it a bit late to get the monthly news update done, but here goes……


May was an incredibly busy month one way and another – quite a few gigs in the diary to co-incide with the launch of the new album ‘Colourblind’ on the 14th.  Circular Records set up a really nice launch evening at the City Halls in Glasgow, with around 60 or 70 people attending, including musicians, songwriters, friends in the Scottish music biz and many more.  The usual Duncan McCrone Trio of me, Cy and Stevie were joined by Chris Stout on fiddle and Finlay Macdonald on whistles for a half hour set of songs from the CD, which seemed to go down quite well.  Now we wait to see if the nice reviews we’ve had in many of the well-known magazines (such as Maverick, Rock’n’Reel and Muso’s Mag) together with the round of radio interviews across the country set up by Bob Buchan PR translate into sales……it’s not easy out there, and realistically it’ll be a case of trying to get as many gigs as possible, as that’s where the sales are most likely.


In the midst of all the mayhem, Cy and I managed to finish off another library music album for a London-based publisher, and De Wolfe Music launched our CD ‘Scottish Roots’, which is a collection of ceilidh and pipe band tunes, aimed at TV, radio and film producers, and if that wasn’t enough, I managed to get together with my old bandmates The Clydesiders to record an album of songs for a Scottish roots-based label, to be released hopefully in late summer, and aimed squarely at the tourist market.  It was incredibly good fun – we hadn’t played together in this line-up for (gulp) 26 years and honestly, it was just like getting back on a bike – the years just fell away.  As a one-off special, we played a 45 minute set at the Fintry Music Festival, and I actually think it sounded better than it did in the 80s…….no plans to repeat the experience, but..never say never!


June started with a gig for me and Cy at the Kintyre Songwriters Festival in Campbeltown, which was one of the most inspiring evenings I can remember in a long, long time.  The musos, singers and writers down there support each other to an incredible degree – not an atom of competitiveness, just everyone wanting everyone else to do well, and huge support over the three nights from the local community.  I’ve read a lot of dreadful negative stories about Campbeltown in recent months, but all I saw was a vibrant crowd of people proud of the beautiful place they live in, and determined to put it on the musical map.  Kintyre’s one of my favourite places in the World, and we’re heading down there again on holiday in late July – can’t wait.


Back from Kintyre and down to London for a two-day work trip, which was actually really enjoyable – I work with genuinely nice, friendly people at MCPS and PRS, and the big Metropolis is always very atmospheric in early summer, so all good stuff.


After months of deliberation, I decided to take the plunge and buy a new guitar – I took delivery of an absolutely stunning Gibson J200 in antique natural .  Maple back and sides, and a stunning sound.  Some issues with the onboard electrics as I write this, but Guitar Guitar in Glasgow have been great so far.  Nice people to deal with.


Unsurprisingly, I was getting a bit knackered after all the fun and games, so Irene and I took ourselves off for a week in Puerto Pollensa, in Northern Majorca.  Lovely, sunny weather and very relaxing – except for  being royally ripped-off by the car hire company.  A new trick is to charge you a non-negotiable fee for a tank of fuel – some £90 for a Ford Focus, which would fill for about £60 in Scotland (where diesel’s a lot more expensive!), telling you to bring it back empty…try that in a 7 day holiday on an island when it’s enough to go 850 kilometres.  We brought it back over half-full and – you guessed it – no refund..they just top it up and charge another sucker £90.  oh, and they hit you for another £40 to insure glass, tyres, key etc.  If you’re going abroad and renting a car this summer, watch out!


Back in time to play at my local gig in Gartmore Village Hall, the last concert before the hall shuts for refurbishment.  This was the big set up – we call it the ‘Tron Band’ as it was originally set up to record my first live album ‘Just a Glasgow Boy’ at Glasgow’s Tron Theatre in 2001.  Me, Cy, Stevie, Chris, Finlay and Ray Laidlaw on drums.  A packed house, and the boys played their hearts out – it was a magical evening.


So, that’s it for the time being.  Things are quietening down over the summer, and I’m looking forward to getting some decent walk with Duggie the Dug around the Trossachs hills where I live, and some trips away in the campervan and in my old 60s MG, if weather permits.


Have a great summer – catch you again soon!


Duncan xx

Duncan’s Blog – 1st May 2012

Well, maybe it’s time I put my first blog on the new website…seems to be the done thing.

Recording the Colourblind album took an awful lot of time between August and December last year (2011), not to mention a hoor of a lot of money.  I’m so delighted Adam at Circular Records had enough faith to agree to release it on CD, and to pay for artwork, pressing, marketing and promotion.  Circular’s an eclectic label, and I’ve always regarded it as very high-end, with artists like Nigel Clark, Koshka, Savourna Stevenson, Hobotalk and hip-hop rising stars Stanley Odd, to name just a few. I feel privileged to be label-mates with them.

Now the time has come to try and start the tricky business of selling a few.  Launch is on the 14th of May – just two weeks away – and Bob Buchan, who is running the press and PR campaign for us, has been doing a fantastic job.  ‘Songwriter of the Week’ on Iain Anderson’s BBC Scotland show at Easter was a real high point.  Some really nice reviews too, and I’ve done a fair few live radio interviews so far, with several more booked in.  I actually quite enjoy this side of things, although it’s a bit weird sitting at home talking live to radio listeners  in Yorkshire. The presenters are really friendly and chatty without exception, and I have to concentrate on not letting the odd wee jovial swearyword creep out!

Quite a few gigs coming in, as you’ll see in the gigs section here.  That’s always a difficult thing for me – getting bookings.  In my band days, someone else took care of that, and I just turned up on time and behaved myself.  Now though, you have to go out and look for the work, and that’s a nightmare – I’d rather eat my own head than phone people up cold looking for a gig.

The last six months of 2011 and this year so far has been incredibly busy for me and Cy on musical projects.  Two substantial music library albums of ceilidh and pipe music written and recorded, music for the STV series ‘Too Good to Waste’, the Colourblind album, a remix of our song ‘When The Lion Wakes’ for a forthcoming digital album and, bizarrely, a new Clydesiders album, twelve years after the band called it a day!  That was really good fun, and quite emotional – I worked with these guys for 18 years in the 80s and 90s, and it was incredible how quickly it all came back together.  A one-off live festival gig at Fintry on May 20th – looking forward to it very much.

Trying to organise a concert with the six-piece band – me, Cy, Stevie Lawrence, Finlay Macdonald, Chris Stout and Ray Laidlaw – in my home village of Gartmore for Friday 22 June.  Not easy, as it involves a fair few musicians, and we’ll need a very serious PA as there’s drums involved, too.  Just organising quotes, but by the time we pay the PA and ensure the guys get a modest wage, it looks an expensive gig to put on.  We brought over 200 people (the hall’s capacity) in when we last played here in February 2011 and I’d hope to do the same again, but there’s always that risk – as it’s for funds to refurbish the hall, I can’t risk it losing money.  Originally I’d planned to put it on this month and double it as a CD launch, but a couple of they key players werent available, so we put it back to June.  Too far away to make it any kind of launch gig, so it’ll just be a concert, with parties to follow locally!

Anyway, that’s the first ramblings over.  Not sure if anyone ever reads these things, but it seems Twitter and the like would prove me wrong……..

Off to watch the 10 o’clock news now.  Pictures of people trapped in floods down South after the wettest April on record……but still suffering from drought!