Kate was an All-Scotland Accordion Champion at the age of 14. She has been immersed in the Tradition since before she was born, both her mother and her mother’s mother played the piano with considerable skill and both loved to sing. Her grandfather on her father’s side was a fantastic fiddle player. She has music in her veins.
Her mum grew up in a tiny wee schoolhouse in Glenshee where Saturday nights were spent in front of the White Heather Club and Jimmy Shand’s Band! Her dad has more eclectic tastes, introducing her to The Beatles and classical music.
She was born in Ayrshire but grew up, with two musical sisters, Meggan (violin and guitar) and Hazel (piano, guitar, bass and whistles), in the Vale of Alford in Aberdeenshire.
Her first experience of a live concert was The McCalmans in Comrie Village Hall at the age of eight! She also remembers the Old Blind Dogs coming to Glenbuchat and seeing The McCluskey Brothers at Barra Live – which was the first time she saw a drumkit really being played (by Ross McFarlane) and realised that music was something she might want to do.
She and her sisters also attended the Barra Feis that year and dabbled in the clarsach!
She (accordion) and Meg (fiddle) toured with the Banchory Strathspey and Reel Society while still at school, seeing the Niagara Falls and playing huge venues on a month long tour of Quebec and Ontario. They also played a couple of spots on Rabbie’s Take the Floor.
Coming from the North East corner she grew up with the Doric and can recite poetry in both Doric and Scots. She fell in love with Burns as a schoolgirl and spent time studying his complete works later in life.
On achieving an Honours Degree in Modern Languages from Glasgow University, she realised that perhaps her future career lay not in linguistics, but in music. She formed a band with two talented Fifers, Cat Chisholm (flute and vox) and Karen Hannah (fiddle and vox) and her sister Meg (violin and vox), they called themselves ‘The Midden’ and went on to conquer the Celtic Nations one at a time!
Winning a ‘Danny’ [at the Danny Kyle Open Stage] in 2001 launched the band into the folk/trad. stratosphere and they began touring the big folk festivals in Europe, playing in Belgium, Italy, Switzerland and France, but having most success in Germany. Being able to talk to the audience in their mother tongue really helped to create a bond they still have today.
Kate’s favourite gig to date was playing Glasgow’s Hogmanay in 2004 for 25,000 hard-partying Glaswegians! The Midden supported Snow Patrol that night.
In 2017 she published her first book, ‘Balnakeil’ and hopes to write many more.
Kate has run Open Mic Nights in various bars and venues across Glasgow over the last 20 years [The Halt Bar, The Aragon, The Lansdowne, The Victoria Bar…] meeting a huge variety of talented musicians, many of whom she is now delighted to be able to play out on her radio show.
Mix Tape goes out every Sunday evening from 8-10pm. It’s an eclectic mix of contemporary folk, traditional and Celtic music and often includes up-and-coming artists in amongst more weel-kent bands.
Stick the kettle on, put your feet up and tune in to the wireless of a Sunday night and let Kate do the hard work for you.