Jon Bews is an Edinburgh born violinist of the highest pedigree, part time civil servant and a full time musician. He began playing at the age of four and undertook many years of classical training at the RSAMD in Glasgow before he discovered the joys of playing Scottish traditional music. Jon has toured with rock-folkers Bùrach and Gallus, has recorded extensively with Basque singer Mikel Urdangarin and spends some of his time fiddling with Malinky, the acclaimed vocal-led Scottish band.
Gavin Marwick, has been a fiddler on the Scottish folk scene for as long as anyone can remember. He too is a Bùrach survivor and was a founding member of the landmark Scottish folk band Iron Horse. He has toured, for musical purposes, in more countries and played with more musicians than any of us have bodily appendages upon which to count them all. Gavin is also a prolific composer and has recently scored a few numbers in several theatrical productions.
Dan Houghton grew up surrounded by Scottish traditional music and started his musical carrier playing the whistles and viola when he was about seven. He has been fingering the pipes and flute for the last seventeen or so years and studied the Highland Bagpipes under Andrew Haog in the US and Airdrie Stewart in New Zealand. Dan has played and taught in Canada, the US, New Zealand, France and Ireland.
Cameron Robson is from Denholm in the Borders and comes from a very artistic as well as musical family. He began playing music at the age of five on the piano and gradually worked himself up through the harmonica, tin whistle and trumpet before coming upon the guitar and then the bouzouki. Cameron has toured quite successfully as a guitarist in several rock bands and much of his style and drive were learned from playing around in R&B, and Jazz sessions. He has also recently played with Scottish power-folk group Deaf Shepherd
Cantrip is a foursome of Scottish traditional musicians that has been stunning audiences on several sides of the Atlantic since the end of the last century. The name is an Old Scots word meaning a charm, magic spell or piece of mischief and it aptly describes the unexpected twists and turns in their musical arrangements likewise the compelling potency of their musicianship. In its aspect of mischief it also nicely sums up the character and sense of humour of most, if not all, of the constituent members. There are, of course, other words to describe their character and sense of humour but we’ll get to those later.
Cantrip formed itself rather organically from the rich fallow ground of the Edinburgh traditional music scene. Edinburgh at the time was like unto a fertile field requiring only that seed be spilled thereon to bear forth fruit. The nucleation point for this was a Thursday-night session in one the Royal-Mile’s highest pubs where Jon, Cam, Dan and occasionally Gav began playing together on a regular basis, variously under the names ‘The Spare Tools’, ‘The Cracksmen’ or ‘ An Talamh Bàn’.
The name Cantrip was finally decided upon about the time the band’s first Ep, ‘An Oidhche a Bha na Gobhar Againn’, was recorded (it was later called ‘Bothy Days Previsited’ for reasons which no one can fathom). Though the full prowess of this CD was only ever unleashed on France it gave the band a new sense of itself and from this musical base camp Cantrip began playing locally, nationally and then internationally.
Gavin was fully initiated into the sacred order of Cantrip in 2001 after a wild four days at the Orkney Folk Festival and soon thereafter Cantrip released its first “real” album, Silver, on the Footstompin’ label. In 2005 the long awaited second album Boneshaker issued forth on the Mischief label.
Since its inception Cantrip has performed at festivals, clubs, bars, weddings, funerals, stonings and various other events and venues in Breizh, The People’s Republic of Vermont, The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, The State of Maine, The Territory of Tennessee, The Kingdom of the Angle, The Land of the Franc, Poblacht na hÉireann and of course Alba bheadarach (Scotland).
You can listen to short samples from some of the tracks from this artist using the player below.
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Our current header image was taken by Nick Bramhall and you can find the original here.