By Mike Ritchie
TOURING Europe with her band The Midden was a musical success with co-founder Kate Reid really hitting it off with audiences with her chat.
And that was because she used her linguistic skills to talk with fans in their own language during performances – and, equally importantly, at the bar after shows.
But Glasgow-based Kate has stuck to her own mother tongue and turned to her lifelong love of Robert Burns for her first solo single,
which is being released next week (Thursday, January 21).
The song, The Banks o’ Cree, is one of Burns’ lesser-known poems and has not been recorded by anyone else, according to Kate, who started working on it several years ago.
“It means everything to me to finally be releasing this song as I first recorded it away back in 2014,” said Kate.
“We set it to a bonny tune and I spent hours rehearsing, just listening to the guitar and piano parts over and over and over, and singing along in my head to get it absolutely spot on.”
The decision to record proved a pivotal moment for Kate, who lives on the southside of Glasgow with her 18-month-old son, Alexander.
“I was having a bit of a battle with life when I recorded them as I’d lost my direction and wandered completely off course,” said Kate.
“It was a time when I found I had no-one to make music with, so decided to do it by myself which, looking back, was a bold decision for someone feeling so blue.
“But I worked with a very kind producer, David McNee (formerly of The Paul McKenna Band) who bolstered my confidence and worked hard to get the best out of me, and I think he has,” she said.
“I remember clearly the day we recorded the final version.
“It was a crisp Easter Sunday, the sun was shining, the birds were singing and the bells were ringing out right across Barrhead.
“It’s a day I will never forget. I’m at my happiest in the vocal booth – nothing else comes close.”
Life as a touring musician started for Kate, who was an All-Scotland Accordion Champion at the age of 14, when she was a schoolgirl.
With the Banchory Strathspey and Reel Society she travelled around Canada for a month playing major venues and, of course, taking time out to see the Niagara Falls.
After gaining an MA Honours Degree in Modern Languages from The University of Glasgow University, Kate realised that perhaps her future career lay not in linguistics, but in music.
She formed The Midden in 2001 – the year she graduated – with two talented Fifers, Cat Chisholm (flute and vox), Karen Hannah (fiddle and vox) and her sister Meggan(correct) (violin and vox) and set out, in their own words “to conquer the Celtic Nations one at a time.”
Winning a Danny Kyle Open Stage award at Celtic Connections in 2001 launched the band into the folk/trad stratosphere and major tours including European folk festivals followed.
“We played all over,” said Kate. “We had dates in Belgium, Italy, Switzerland and France, but I would say we enjoyed the most success in Germany.
“Being able to talk to the audience in their mother tongue really helped to create a bond we still have today. In France, Germany and to some extent Italy, speaking with fans in their languages was such a bonus during and after performances.”
Without hesitation, though, Kate said The Midden’s most adrenaline-fuelled gig was playing Glasgow’s Hogmanay in 2004.
“We supported Snow Patrol and it was tremendous, a night to remember. You just don’t ever forget being on stage in front of 25,000 hard-partying Glaswegians.”
The Midden recorded their fourth and final studio album ‘In The End’ in 2012 and then, Kate said, “real life” and other plans took, over and they went their separate ways.
Kate’s current project may be a more sedate and refined experience but she is engrossed in the work she’s done on this first solo release.
“I have poured my heart and soul into these latest recordings so I hope people will enjoy the music,” said Kate
The B-side of The Banks o’ Cree is The Flower of Fochabers from the Ord Collection, a book of traditional songs from the North East, where Ayrshire-born, Kate grew up.
“This pair of songs are about love, both requited and unrequited, and take place on two Scottish riverbanks, one in Ayrshire and one in Aberdeenshire,” she said.
In 2017 she published her first book of poetry, ‘Balnakeil’ and she hosts a Sunday evening show on Celtic Music Radio.
The plan now is to put out more solo material.
“I am looking to release a single every couple of months or so throughout 2021,” Kate said. “That’s the aim and I am determined to do it.”
• The Banks O’Cree is available for download from katereid.online and across all digital platforms.