Shiny New Website!

songwriter Kim Edgar new website Scotland piano vocals guitar Edinburgh

Welcome to my new website! I hope you like it.

The best thing about this new website is it enables me to offer special discounts and rewards to those of you who support me by subscribing to my mailing list newsletter.

You’ll find a button to join the mailing list at the bottom of most of my web pages, including the home page. If you sign up, I’ll keep in touch with a newsletter every couple of months, and whenever I’m able, I’ll offer you special treats! And if you’re already a member – thanks so much for your continued support, and I hope you’ll enjoy the new benefits…

Welcome Aimee!

We’re delighted to welcome our new CARA bandmate, Aimee Farrell Courtney! Aimee won the 2010 World Bodhrán Championship, and having played with her, we can see how…we’re delighted that she’s agreed to join CARA, and she’ll be playing with us on our quintet dates – you can check them out here: www.cara-music.com

September Update

CakeIt’s my 40th birthday! I enjoy living so much that I don’t like to think about mortality too much, but “the big 4 – 0” has made me take stock; I hope that, if I’m lucky, I still have half of my life to go (or maybe even more, if I’m really lucky!). And I’m grateful for all the blessings I’ve had in the past forty years. I have been so fortunate in terms of my childhood, my family, loved ones, and friends, and the fact that I’m able to carve out a career for myself doing what I love; creating and sharing songs and music. I was touched by the honest, open songwriting of young people at this summer’s BandCamp at The BIG Project. Thanks for your votes last month as well – The BIG Project Youth Choir won Young Community Musicians of the Year 2018! I had a lovely gig with Lorna Brooks; it was so nice to share a gig and an evening with her. And very soon, with CARA, I’ll be heading back to a Medieval festival in Selb which was an absolute hoot last time and I’m sure it will be again…I’m a lucky bunny. Thanks for making my job possible! Fingers crossed that I can keep writing, performing and making music in the community for another forty years…

If you’d like to celebrate with me, I’d be delighted if you’re able to make it along to one of the gigs on the forthcoming CARA tour in Scotland…If you saw us on our first Scottish tour back in 2016, we now have a brand new live album out, including 7 new songs and tunes that we’d love for you to hear, including Moran Taing, a thank you song that I wrote for my dad. And if you haven’t seen us before, here’s a wee taster:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ga9PTyPTUlI&feature=youtu.be

The BIG Project Youth Choir

Big Project Youth ChoirI’m really delighted to announce that The BIG Project Youth Choir are winners of the Hands Up For Trad Young Community Musicians Of The Year 2018! Thanks to everyone who voted, and well done to all the winners (including generous and supportive community musicians Alison Burns, Jane Lewis and Protest in Harmony who have inspired and helped us along the way!) and indeed all of the nominees, including Stephen Deazley at Love Music who are out there doing fantastic work across Scotland. And finally, thanks to Hands Up for Trad for thinking to shine a light on it all…happy days

Lovely fRoots Review For Stories Untold

Here’s a lovely review for my new album from fRoots:

Kim Edgar, Stories Untold (Quietly Fantastic QFM004).

Edinburgh songwriter-pianist delivers inspiring, thought-provoking original

songs conveying both the uplift and heartbreak of love and taking their cue

from core credos ‘love is the key’ and ‘write what you love’.  Intelligent

quasi-orchestral arrangements impart a dimension of intimate grandeur.

CARA Autumn Tour Blog 2015 – Final Days

I’ve been loathe to write a post this past week, with all that’s been going on in Paris and around the world, as well as close to home.

How do you square the joy I felt in performing with my bandmates in Soltau on Friday night (in a beautiful, new, felt factory museum, of all places – transformed into a music venue for the first time with the care and attention of volunteers), with the unfolding revelation, after our tasty post-gig Italian meal, of the atrocities that befell innocent audience members at a different concert, and everyday people enjoying their dinner, in Paris? How do I stop myself from imagining the sheer terror some people must have experienced in the moments before their death, and from a growing sense of helplessness?

How do I acknowledge my pleasure in playing a Grotrian Steinweg grand in Hannover, and finding a beautiful new teal merchandise case, alongside the unexpected loss of a generous, benevolent and supportive radio producer, who is ultimately the reason I’m making music, and all the bereavements which I’m aware are currently devastating the life of others? How do we all hold all of these kinds of things together? And acknowledge, with sensitivity, that even when really big, hard stuff is happening, all the little stuff, and the good stuff, continues, too?

After days of reflection, Ive decided that the only way for me to do this is to practise gratitude. So here are some things I’m grateful for, from the world outside the tour van:

STEWART CRUICKSHANK

Stewart Cruickshank was a very special man. Everyone who knew him agrees. On Tuesday, on my way to teach Christmas carols to a Primary School choir, I learned in the car of his death. I was deeply saddened, because Stewart had a huge impact on the path my life has taken over the past ten years.

Back in 2005, as a member of the board of Burnsong, Stewart heard some kind of potential in me, in a song submission for unsigned songwriters, and had the kindness and generosity to tell me so, and to convince a timid, nervous songwriter that she had something of value to say and should continue to try and say it. Through support on the Iain Anderson show (not just then, but ever since), and Stewart’s continuing encouragement, care and kind words, and the experiences which being one of the winners of the Burnsong Gathering 2005 afforded me (including being completely blown away by the songwriting and performance of Karine Polwart), I decided to leave my job as a primary teacher and pursue a career as a songwriter. The experiences snowballed into several fantastic years writing and performing with The Burns Unit, and then a song from that project brought me to the ears of Gudrun, which led to my most and unexpected (and fortuitous!) career move to date – to become a member of Cara.

This is not a unique story. Almost ever other member of the Scottish industry that Ive spoken with over the past few days has their own story of how Stewart took them under his wing, or helped them to develop. He had a genuine passion for music, of all kinds, and also a generous heart. What a legacy he has left behind him. I will always be grateful to have known him.

OUR INSTINCTIVE GOODNESS

There’s a danger of feeling overwhelmed and helpless in the face of terrorism. It’s an abyss of despair that’s easy to fall into. But from reading accounts of the response of members of the public to the attacks in Paris on Friday, there were two strong images which stayed with me: the surge on social media of porte ouverte messages from locals opening their doors to help strangers in need of a place to hide, or sleep, in the face of grave danger, and a man who instinctively grabbed the hand of a woman, a stranger, he lay beside on the floor of a restaurant during an attack. He didn’t know it at the time, but she had been shot in the chest. Nevertheless, she died comforted by and connected to another human being. I’m grateful that as humans we have an instinctive goodness.

A FRIENDSHIP BRACELET

I may have a low (or no!) taste barrier when it comes to music – I tend to enjoy everything! But nothing leaves me feeling more inspired than when I listen to music that I know intimately, recorded, or live, by my favourite artists, or when I hear community groups of all ages and abilities singing together. There is something about group singing that is truly magical.

In my first home break during this Cara tour, we took the kids from The BIG Project Youth Choir along to hear Love Music, a 350 strong community choir based in Edinburgh’s Usher Hall, ably led by Stephen Deazley with super talented Dave Milligan at the piano. In this performance, we were also treated to the beat boxing wonders of The Hobbit who thoroughly inspired our choir members.

We were attending this performance because the kids at The BIG Project are just embarking on a song commission, which well perform with Love Music next March in the Usher Hall. Its to be inspired by the writings and thoughts of Canadian astronaut, Chris Hadfield, the former commander of the International Space Station, who is talking at the Usher Hall next year, after his blogs, songs and writings became very popular. One quote from his astronaut’s guide to optimism seems particularly pertinent at the moment:

There are problems with everything and nothing is perfect. But that shouldn’t be cause to bemoan. That should be cause to achieve.

On the way to the concert, walking towards the 22 bus stop, a nine year old boy that I was responsible for gave me (and another child in our group) a white friendship bracelet. I was touched, and gladly wore my bracelet for the night, unfortunately forgetting to return it to the child when we got back to Broomhouse (it’s to be noted that I can’t be trusted with pens or money, either). This week, during my four day stint at home before the final three gigs of the tour, I remembered to catch the child while I was at The BIG Project in order to return the bracelet. Wordlessly, but with a few small sounds, he stuck his hand out, and gave it to me to keep. A generous, quiet gesture.

I’m wearing that bracelet today as I travel, to remind myself of all the small, good things happening on this tour, and all over the place, that we can be grateful for, despite there being problems with everything. I’m looking forward to performing the last three gigs of our autumn tour with my bandmates – hopefully making good music that spreads a little bit of happiness to our audiences, and having fun ourselves – even though there’s loads of hard stuff that I’m aware of, too. And I’m remembering another thing that Chris Hadfield said, that each of us are the only ones who can change things for the better, together.

Its actually the same message as in Gudrun’s lyrics from the title track of our forthcoming album, Yet We Sing: in darkness, raise your voice.

Over and out.

CARA Autumn Tour Blog 2015 – End Of The First Leg!

Last night’s gig in the Anton Bruckner Centrum in Ansfelden, Austria was our last gig in the first leg of the autumn tour. It was lovely to return to this venue where I played on my first tour with CARA – and the welcome, the backstage food, the Gruner Veltliner and the venue’s colour scheme were all as lovely as I remembered!

So far this tour, two particular piano highlights for me have been playing on the Yamaha grand in the stunning venue in Goggingen, and a Bosendorfer grand in Puchheim that was truly delightful to play. Though there are benefits in playing an instrument that you don’t have to carry around, or tune yourself, there are also challenges: you need to get to know the workings and responses of a new instrument every day, with their own personalities and quirks, as well as their own sound. Worst case scenarios? A piano that, it turns out, hasn’t been tuned, or an electric piano with an energy saving switch – this has already caught me unawares on several previous tours! So far this tour I’ve made it through relatively unscathed, though I did set off a metronome on one electric piano, and it took me quite a while to realise where the high beeping sound was coming from…

The dangers of binary thinking have been occupying my mind these past couple of days. It all started with a sauna ceremony (aufguss, I think, in German?) in Erding Spa which was for men only – a beer ceremony. Running concurrently was a yogurt face mask ceremony for women. I was frustrated to be denied access to the beer, and vaguely angry that this distinction had been made! It also reminded me of another frustration, last month, when, on a teaching trip with fellow Scots singer Fiona Hunter, our suitcases were lost en route. In Frankfurt’s airport pharmacy, we bought emergency toiletries – Fiona’s purchase went smoothly, but not mine. The pharmacist insisted that I had the wrong toiletries (because I prefer a turquoise to a pink razor, and don’t like the sweet, flowery smelling deodorant that is traditionally marketed to women). I tried to explain in a broken combination of English and German: aren’t smells and colours for everyone?

Imagine that you’re in nursery and you’re told (perhaps by another child, or perhaps by a staff member) that you shouldn’t play with the dolls because you’re a boy, and learn, at the age of three or four, that for a boy, feminine interests and imagination are somehow shameful. Or that you live in a country where because you’re female, you’re not entitled to go to school, learn to read, or get a job. It’s dangerous stuff.

Before the birth of my niece, Orla, when I just knew that she was a human being, but not whether she would be male or female, I wrote a song, The Whole Rainbow, to try to express my hopes for his/her future, whatever his/her gender. It seems appropriate to share it now: https://soundcloud.com/kim-edgar/the-whole-rainbow

Enough ranting for one day…see you back on the road soon!

CARA Autumn Tour Blog 2015 – The First Leg

Oct 20, 2015

It’s that time of year again already! I’m sitting in Heathrow airport, half way to Germany, with some minutes to spare and lots of anticipation for the CARA autumn tour.

After a recent experience of lost luggage throughout a trip to Germany with KLM, I’m not travelling light – my heavy hand luggage includes what I am now willing to acknowledge are essentials for me: hair straighteners, my favourite perfume and deodorant, and enough clothing for an entire tour without my suitcase (though fingers crossed it won’t happen again!). On top of this, all the handwritten music I need to work on for the forthcoming CARA album during this tour, a couple of books, and my laptop…my arms and back are already aching! Better safe than sorry, mind 🙂

It’s been exciting times for CARA so far this year, as we’ve been developing, recording, and most recently mixing and mastering our new album, which will be released in January 2016. But not content with the frenzy of activity we’ve already had, we’ve set ourselves an extra challenge for this tour – to play one new tune from the album every night – so if you’re coming along, keep your ears open! I’m really looking forward to the challenge, to meeting up with the CARAs again, and the tour.

Ill try to keep you posted with thoughts from the road over the coming weeks. First up tonight, though – filming a promotional video for the new album release – wish us luck!

Oct 26, 2015

Well, its been a delightful start to the tour, with only a few empty seats in the wonderfully grand Rosenthal Theatre in Selb, followed by four sold out shows!

We’ve also managed to squeeze in two spa days already – it feels a bit like a holiday! Its so nice to take time to relax – if only I could remember to do that when I’m at home, too…

I’ve been reflecting on why it feels so good to be back on tour with Cara again, and I think, for me, it’s down to connection. As a solo artist, only occasionally performing with other musicians, I feel very lucky to have joined this band! I’ve always enjoyed being able to connect emotionally with listeners through performance, and as a shy person, performing has provided me with a really safe way to feel that I’m not alone in the world, or in my thoughts. To additionally feel connected with bandmates on stage whom I admire and respect, musically and personally, is a real privilege – and not something that I take for granted. I’m having lots of fun!

I think I’m also finding great joy in the unexpected aspects of touring – discovering new and beautiful places, and meeting the challenge of adapting to different pianos and keyboards, and varied environments both on and off stage. Food is one area where I’m not used to being so adaptable, but I’m trying hard not to be such a fusspot, and already I’ve broken beyond my pizza/pasta/rice staples to enjoy both flammkuchen (okay, that’s a bit like pizza!) and goulash with knudel! And then there are the totally random events that enrich life – like, who could have foreseen, a week ago, that in Selb, I’d be serenaded by a Spanish man (Tony!) brandishing an immersion heater as a pretend microphone, and end up salsa dancing with him? Or that Hendrik was so good at darts? Every day a surprise…looking forward to the next leg of the tour.

CARA Autumn Tour Blog 2014 – The Final One!

We’re just about to perform the last Cara gig of 2014, and the autumn tour has been populated with many enjoyable gigs, friendly audiences and a whole range of literal highs and lows – both underground and at height. It’s strange how time goes; some moments in gigs, when I’m hyper aware, seem to pass so slowly, and yet the three week tour seems to have gone by in a flash. Ive certainly been meaning to write this blog for several days now…

Here are some of the highlights for me since I’ve last been in touch: my first visit to a Tropfsteinhhle – a cold, damp opportunity to see stalactites, stalagmites and stalagnates up close – some of them looking pretty scarily like wet, functioning internal organs. I really didn’t like the sensation of going underground in a small lift (that’s straight out of a recurring nightmare of mine) but the spectacular views in the caves more than made up for it. Here’s one of my favourite/less scary photos from down there above.

I was intrigued when we stopped for a coffee at the spot where the Loreley is reputed to have enchanted sailors on the Rhine by brushing her long blonde hair and singing, causing them to crash their boats and die.

Is it wrong for me to view her as a kind of role model? My hair’s a different length and shade, and I’m not intent on the death of listeners, but a little bit of enchantment along the way wouldn’t go amiss… 😉

We were made very welcome and enjoyed great hospitality from Gudrun’s mum and dad on one of our days off, and I felt completely pampered when Gudrun’s dad made me warm milk and honey to help with a cold which developed mid tour – this was a comforting taste revelation! I’m bringing the concept back to Scotland.

Gudrun’s dad also gave us a tour of a restored mill which was fascinating. The mill equipment itself was truly beautiful, and I particularly liked the hammers on this machine, which was used to beat all of the flour dust out of empty sacks returned to the mill by customers – and then the dust was gathered and resold again as food for animals. Very thrifty.

Yesterday, we made the most of the continuing beautiful weather on our last day off by walking up one of the hills at Oberlenningen. The hike was fairly steep (a bit of a challenge after three weeks of snoozing in the Cara-van), but the views from the summit were spectacular, there was so much sky, not to mention the splendid autumnal colours from the surrounding Swabian Alb. The journey up the hill prompted discussions on the merits of valleys and hills of the south versus the flat open landscape of the north. And if you could only choose one forever, would it be the sea or mountains? Forever indecisive, I’d want both. But if I had to choose: the sea.

There’s much more to say: Gudrun and Juergen’s first Cara-oke experience in Kaiserslautern for Gudrun’s birthday was a hoot, and it also finally provided a chance for Rolf and I to have a wee disco dance together after talking about it for over a year. We enjoyed our live TV performance on Kaffee oder Tee which was quite different from our usual gigs, and the staff team there were lovely – we even ended up sampling Halloween ghosts which were highly calorific on camera! I decided to bite the head off mine and leave the rest…we had another amazing therme/spa experience which included a salt water floating pool with underwater party music and psychedelic visuals projected on the ceiling and a ceremony with honey, menthol, salt scrub and lavender that finally kicked my cold away.

Reflecting on the whole tour experience this autumn, the depth and height of things seems to be a recurring theme, not only in physical terms, but metaphorical ones too. As a band, I feel we’ve been getting to know each other better, with late night philosophical discussions including what elevates us, or what elevates life for us, and touching on the edges of things that we find difficult to discuss or bring up into the light. We’ve also been using the travelling time in the van to understand each other better by listening to the music that moves and excites us as individuals.

I know that time will perform its strange stretching and bending again, and soon we’ll be back on tour in January, but already I’m looking forward in anticipation to the Cara collaborative week we’ve planned in May to work towards our next album. Hopefully well be finding new depth and height in our music, too.