The use of acoustic instruments combined with a highly syncopated language emerge from what they call the root of Capercaillie, consisting of Karen Matheson (vocals), Donald Shaw (accordion, keyboards) and Marc Duff (flutes, whistles, bodhran). Initially Karen and Donald met in the college of Oban, Scotland. Shaw's father taught him the art of accordion, who then led his own Ceili Band-dancing music band-in which Donald did not take long to join. Matheson grew up immersed in traditional songs from her parents while growing, and her grandmother, Elizabeth MacNeil, famous singer iof renowned career near the Hebrides Islands. Part of the repertoire is contributed by Karen's streak , other emerge from the archives of the School of Scottish Studies, closing the circle with her own compositions, some of them in English.
Donald and Marc attended together to concerts and festivals as teenagers. Capercaillie founded in 1983 with Karen and three other musicians who are no longer in training. Like many bands, they self-recorded their first album, Cascade, under the seal Etive in 1984. Note that was recorded and mixed in three days, and the musical arrangements are traditional with some touches of synthesized keyboards.
In 1986 Charlie McKerron, a violinist from the east coast of Scotland, joins the band. Like Matheson Shaw and his musical roots were very much akin to the region. Capercaillie toured Canada and recorded their second album, Crosswinds, published in 1987 under the Green Linnet label under the supervision of Wendy Newton. We can say it marks the Capercaillie's professional milestone, who from then began to visit United States.
In 1988 John Saich joined the group, a native of Bristol, who was since allways a bassist. Capercaillie decides to venture into this year with a project that leads them to compose a beautiful album, The Blood is Strong. The third achievement comes at the direction of the Channel 4 of Scotland for documentary miniseries about Gaelic history. This soundtrack is published under the Grampian TC Recs label in late 1988, and the album was awarded as a platinum disc by the Scottish Record Industry. That's when they joined Manus Lunny, who landed from Dublin with their guitars and bouzouki. It is no coincidence that the fourth album Sidewaulk was produced by his brother of Donal Lunny curiously again for the Green Linnet label. We must not forget that Donald was well known for his work on Planxty, Moving Hearts,The Bothy Band, or even as a producer for Clannad, among many others. With this album moved for the first time in Anglo-Saxon lyrical language .
Lunny produced Delirium released as fifth album under the label Survival / BMG recs. at 1991. From now Capercaillie starts a new and varied approach that brings it to the top of the charts of the Folk Roots Magazine. Embarked on tour with another great band, Runrig, with strong support from critics and a new Platinum award. Thus their sixth album Get Out, a reprint of earlier themes and live cuts under the Survival / BMG label. A week later is released under the Polygram label, the group's first commercial video, Two Nights of Delirium, which recorded concerts in their country.
By mid-1993 launched a new studio album called Secret People, again under Lunny's production, who closes with this album a central board to Capercaillie's trilogy in the history of popular Celtic music of Scotland. This album continues the sound of contemporary Delirium, with great emphasis on Matheson's vocals, who gradually became the group's image.
Published in 1994 there was a rare album called simply "Capercaillie", including remixed old themes with a more electronic sound, adding a few new shorts. After a major tour of Europe, the group began working on music for the film Rob Roy, placing seven items in its soundtrack issued in 1995. On this film Karen Matheson has a brief role as an actress,performing a beautiful theme a cappella in the middle of an outdoor festival, giving an impressive climax to one of the most important moments of the film.
This contribution does not stop the recording a new studio album, to be published in early 1996. To The Mooon includes 13 new items, including Rob Roy Reels, obviously inspired by the film. What is surprising is that only two are traditional, owning the remainder pieces, compositive responsibility of different members of the group. Production fell for the first time in the same group, now reduced by the departure of Marc Duff, and without doubt is one of their best records, although far from the almost pure traditionalist albums such as Crosswinds or Sidewaulk.
In 1997, Karen Matheson has released her first solo album, called The Sheltering Sea. It is not the first time that it's members perform other works outside the group, both together Shaw and Charlie McKerron & Marc Duff (then a member of the group ) participate regularly with Fish, performing on tracks like Internail Exile and Out of my Life. Manus Lunny had also participated in Andy Stewart's albums, the former lead singer of Scots supergroup Silly Wizard, and Phil Cunningham, the current producer of Wolfstone and Connie Dover, and also a former member of same band.
For some time Capercaillie has shown some interest in Spain, perhaps in search of the sunny beaches away the British Isles, opening new markets. In fact they had already participated in several Celtic Festivals & Womad concerts in Galicia and the Canary Islands, as well the recording of their "Beautiful Wasteland" album, moving to Villa Torres, near Ronda in the mountains of Andalusia, in which also some vernacular musicians collaborate.
Ironically, the "capercaillie" is a wild bird that enjoys high esteem in Asturias, North Spain.
Led to their children and tours, two years passed till the recording of the "Nadurra" album.
Much more acoustic and less produced.Then came "Glenfinnan" , a music CD that collects three or four years for a recorded TV program on BBC Scotland, which commemorates the 250th anniversary of the last Jacobite rebellion. In those times have also emerged collaborations of Karen Matheson w7Dan Ar Braz on his album Celtic Heritage, and with Idir. Donald Shaw has produced the latest album of current Capercaillie's flutist and piper Michael McGoldrick . As for Manus Lunny is wrote several songs along with Phil Cunningham,
Two interesting albums came afterwards: Live in Concert, 2002. and Choice Languaje, 2003.
When rumours about spliting were rising they issued in 2008 "Roses and Tears". With this album Capercaillie's reassures their unfailing enthusiasm for the music they inherited from Scotland and Ireland. The line-up of the band unites sublime vocals of Karen Matheson with Donald Shaw - accordion & piano; Manus Lunny - bouzouki; Charlie McKerron - fiddle; Michael McGoldrick - pipes & flutes; Ewen Vernal - bass; Che Beresford - drums; David Robertson - percussion.
Available from Vertical Records.
Nowadyas, Capercaillie is internationally recognized as one of the most valuable emerging bands from Scotland. Capercaillie exceeded their area, being part of both the folk scene and the folk rock. We hope that future production will continue with the same quality, opening up more and more ears to their wonderful music.
Karen Matheson — Vocals
Donald Shaw — Keyboards, accordion
Charlie McKerron — Fiddle
Michael McGoldrick — Flute, whistle, Uilleann pipes
Manus Lunny — Bouzouki, guitar
Ewen Vernal — Bass
Che Beresford — Drums
David Chimp Robertson — Percussion
Marc Duff — Bodhrán, whistle, wind synth, rauschpfeife
John Saich — Bass, guitar
James Mackintosh — Drums
Shaun Craig — Guitar, bouzouki
Martin MacLeod — Bass, fiddle
Joan Maclachlan — Fiddle, vocals
Anton Kirkpatrick — Guitar
Fred Morrison — Bagpipe.
- Capercaillie's official website
- Vertical Records website
- Capercaillie's Complete Discography
- An outdated but somewhat useful FAQ of Capercaillie (covers activity up to 1995)