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ONCE  UPON A TIME

I followed a path of defiance, rebellion and adventure.  All my life I lived and loved in the magical world of the imagination. Creating out of the scratches, bruises, romances and heartaches of a different soul, works of wonder, strength and healing. 

This is where I choose to share my songs, poems, spoken word and visual expression. Come in, have a look around. Stay for a chat if you fancy.

Listen to some music or watch a video.
I will be busy somewhere, the ancient alchemist turning nightmares into dreams and  dreams into reality .

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VAGABOND  YEARS

I left my native land  of Scotland at age 17 and went out on the wander
My vagabond years had me living in fifty seven different homes, in five countries and two continents
. I returned with my family in 1991. 

My wandering days over.  The prodigal son  has returned !

THE CORELLAS

My first group was The Corellas. and the lineup was myself on vocals, Dave Hill on rhythm  guitar , Ricky Jackson on lead guitar and Billy Sharpe on the drums . We thought with the fevered minds of young teenagers this was the name of the fat cigars smoked by Chicago gangsters  but of course that was the corollas. A corella is actually a beautiful sea bird  I found to my joy much later in life 
Dave Hill showed me a few chords on my beat up acoustic. This was the beginning  of my musical journey.

THE JESTERS

My restless wandering took me to North Wales where I lived for eighteen months in the mid 70's. While playing solo in Harlech I met Dafydd Pierce, a local guitarist recently returned from the U.S. where  he had recorded two albums with Chris Jagger, Mick's brother. Dafydd was looking for a vocalist to sing on demos of his songs. We formed a  band along with Chris Woods on bass and Gareth F. Williams on the drums . We called Gareth "The Doc" as the F stood for Finlay. Sadly, Gareth died several years ago after becoming a leading artist in his beloved Welsh language. All but Gareth lived and worked in the magical village of Portmeirion. Dafydd was a day porter, I was a night porter and  Chris worked in the gardens.
This was the my first real band since
The Corellas apart from several pickup bands during my early days in London.

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I was writing a lot of my own songs as well as co-writing songs with Dave. We played all the usual places including  working mens clubs and holiday resorts  in North Wales.  Our most bizarre gig  was a strip club, the only one we knew of in the area. The band had to accompany the two strippers while they did their act for local farmers still wearing their welly boots. Fortunately, the singer wasn't required.

BUSKING DAYS

From 1981 to 1983 I disconnected  from mainstream society. I paid no tax and claimed no dole. I made my money busking on the streets and picking up odd gigs here and there in London and Europe including roadie work for Harvey Goldsmith,
a major UK promoter. The highlight of my roadie days was working on.  
The Wall in Earls Court. I got five days on that gig  which was a spectacular  show initially  meant to be the basis of a movie.  Roger Waters decided he was not happy with the film quality so they went to plan B for the eventual movie featuring Bob Geldof as Pink.  

The next stop was Antwerp in Belgium where I lived  for eighteen months, being evicted from the country by the special police on two occasions. I would leave and visit a neighbouring country  and then return by train, dead sneaky ! 
As well as playing solo I was one half of a duo with my good friend Robin Rowley.  Robin was a talented song writer with a background in folk music.  I had known him since my student days in East London.  We had some mad adventures, drank a lot of beer, smoked a lot of weed and romanced a lot of women.

 

True Colours
I met the woman that became my wife in Antwerp at Jacques Café in Bercham.  She was South African so we went to live there.  During my time in Johannesburg  I hooked up with a friend of my wife called Malcolm Aberdein, a brilliant bass and Chapman stick player. Through Malcolm  I met Terry Dempsey, a legendary song writer and  producer. 
Terry had several songs that became international hits including  Daydreamer by David Cassidy.  I also met Doug Campbell an incredible guitar player, producer and songwriter.  Together Doug, Malcolm and I formed a short lived trio called True Colours. We recorded  a few songs at Terry's studio and played one disastrous gig.  Doug's sequencer packed in after only a few numbers and I was unable as the singer to hold the attention of the audience after this mishap.  Doug played in the legendary Panache band  in the late 70's  from Greenock, they were tipped for international success but just missed the cut.  Doug and his wife Storme still play regularly around Johannesburg.

Malcolm is playing regularly in Cape Town but sadly Terry is no longer with us.

It was still the apartheid years in South Africa so opportunities for mixing with like minded  African musicians were limited.  One place we could meet was the Market Theatre, a venue in downtown  Jo'burg.  I also  had the distinct pleasure at a showbiz luncheon to meet Ray Phiri, the leader of the band Stimela and went to hear them play at the  Market Theatre. Ray is better known for his fantastic guitar work on Paul Simon's Graceland album.  I went to meet Ray at Gallo Records and ended up running the bar for the roadies party.  It was a unique experience I cherish to this day.  Sadly Ray is no longer with us. He is a huge loss to South African music.

My other special memory of my South African years(apart from the birth of my two children) was attending the Concert in the Park, the first multi-racial pop concert held at Ellis Park, the home of South African rugby. It was a bright sunny day and the music was beautifully uplifting given the huge significance of this event in the countries troubled history.
 

1991- Back to Scotland
Due to lack of employment opportunities in South Africa I returned with my family to my hometown of Glasgow, Scotland.  Between 1991 and 2000 I played in local open mic nights primarily in the Paisley area as well as running a music night with my friend Gerry Hart. This was in O'Neills pub in New Street, Paisley, next to the Arts Center. 
I was also involved in getting my songs recorded and produced by Robin Inglis in Shawlands prior to moving to the West End of Glasgow. With my friend Paul Alger we started a music night in the Butterfly and the  Pig, Bath Street, Glasgow.  I booked the acts via a MySpace account which was my earliest experience of working with social media. We called the night '
The Butterfly Strategy' and it ran successfully  every Sunday for around two years. 
 

Due to health issues I was only involved in writing and recording in my first digital home studio. This studio went through many incarnations as I was never great with technology. I then put together The Callum Rae Band with Graeme Proctor on drums, Simon McLean on bass and myself on vocals. We had Pat Loughran on lead guitar for a short period, then Jimmy Fast Keys aka Jim Stewart. We sadly lost Jim a few years ago after a diabetic coma. He is immortalised  in song namely The Legend of Jimmy Fast Keys which I wrote in his honour. We played the odd gig or two around Glasgow. 

 

In January 2015 I met a fellow school pupil, Alex Smith at a book launch in Glasgow. Alex is a drummer who has been drumming consistently since our school days and as The Callum Rae Band had faded away I was in need of both a drummer and a bass player. To my joy Alex informed me he had a regular bass player called David McLachlan who he had been playing with for many years. I brought back to life the name The Corellas in honour of a founder member who had recently died and used this for my current band.  Up to date we have been recording my songs along with a project featuring a song by Annalena McAfee which is part of  her fantastic book Hame. The song was called Hame tae Fascaray. It was my pleasure to perform the song live at the Bath Festival as part of the promotion of the book. We had a vinyl single made of the song which featured The Corellas and members of the McAfee  extended family on backing vocals. Annalena herself features playing tin whistle. This was produced by Jim Lang, a talented multi-instrumentalist and audio-visual producer. Jim and I have become great friends over the years and to date have produced the best part of four albums together. The current line up of  The Corellas is myself on rhythm guitar and vocals, Alex Smith on drums, David McLachlan on bass and Will Purdie on percussion. With of course Jim Lang in the producer's chair as well as playing many instruments. Local Artists is the name I have chosen for all projects involving Jim and myself only. We are finishing production on the second Local Artists album as well as producing the last few tracks on the second Corellas album. These follow on from the completion of my first solo album featuring The Corellas with several guest musicians.  The Corellas only live appearances are at the Glad Café open mic but we hope to expand that in the future.  Watch this space!

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The Corellas - 2023.

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