In the mid nineties I had an idea to put together a band that featured young musicians but harked back to the music of Jock Tamson’s Bairns etc. I thought to my self a band needs gigs so I phoned the Edinburgh Folk Festival and they said yes you can have a gig! I phoned Eilidh Shaw (fiddle), Malcolm Stitt (guitar) and Aaron Jones (bouzouki) and told them about the band and that we had a gig. They said we’re up for it! We got together in my living room and recorded 2 sets of tunes on my 4 track recorder. It sounded great! We had to decide on a name and for some reason we settled on Keep it Up (after the tune from the Caledonian Collection). The name got a few guffaws at first but soon became a sound and no-body thought any more about it 🙂
We then decided to record a CD and for some reason that I can’t remember Kevin MacKenzie joined the band on guitar and Malcolm switched to bouzouki. We recorded the album in my living room and hired in all the equipment from The Warehouse in Leith. All the tracks were recorded onto my Session 8 system in the office. For the material we made a definite decision to not play too fast, let the music swing and always play the reels as many times round as possible. It was a great band to play in!
We mixed the album quickly – maybe too quickly as I was short of disk space and deleted the source files! I mastered it at the legendary Temple Records and sent it off to be pressed. I designed the cover with drummer Ian Copeland in Glasgow.
The photos are all from a mad trip to Halkær Festival in Denmark where there was a lot of drinking done… Karen Tweed (who was playing with Swap at the festival) tells me that I was responsible for getting her and Finnish musician Timo Alakotila together as I dragged her to a session where Timo was playing and she was so bowled over by his musicality that they got together to record ‘the very well received’ May Monday CD. Hey ho all in a days work 🙂
Anyway we sent the album away to get pressed and when it arrived back half of them featured Chinese music and Phil Collins! We had lots of problems getting this fixed for some reason and these copies have remained with us. I would like to think they are now collectors items…
When I listen back to the CD I smile. I remember Archie Fisher on Travelling Folk saying our music sounded bluesy which I was surprised at because it never. There were loads of lovely tunes on the album and it really grooved.
The Scotsman said of the album: “Keep it Up already rank among the most inventive and exciting interpreters of traditional Scottish music. Their sparkling form and transparent relish for the tunes communicating itself vividly throughout the performance.” and Sue Wilson said “There is plenty of evidence of traditional music’s buoyant vitality in a sparkling set from the four-piece Keep It Up, who bring a marvellously expansive spontaneity – as well as tremendous technical flair – to their repertoire of traditional and traditional-style tunes. The vibrant, luminous pairing of Simon Thoumire’s mercurial concertina and Eilidh Shaw’s perpetually restless fiddle seemed to be goading each other on to ever greater heights of semi-improvised invention, while guitarist Kevin Mackenzie and Malcolm Stitt on bouzouki cleanly but forcefully underscored their playing’s muscular lift and swing”.
We must have got something right! After this we made On Safari – a story for another time.