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Battlefield Band is a Scottish traditional music group. Founded in Glasgow in 1969, it has released over 30 albums and undergone many changes of lineup. As of 2010, none of the original founders remain in the band.

The band is noted for its combination of bagpipes with other instruments, most notably on their cover of Bad Moon Rising, and for its mix of traditional songs and new material. The group tours internationally, playing to audiences in Europe, Australia, Asia, the Middle East & Canada, and more than 60 cities annually in the United States.

Battlefield Band was winner of 'Best Live Act' at the inaugural Scots Trad Music Awards in 2003. In 2011 it was winner of 'Best Band' at the Scots Trad Music Awards 2011.

Battlefield Band's "Compliments to Buddy McMaster" (a track from its album Dookin' released in 2007) was nominated for the 7th Annual Independent Music Awards for World Traditional Song of the year. The band also has been nominated for the 11th Independent Music Awards 'World Traditional Song' category for its recording of 'A' Bhriogais Uallach' (The Pompous Trousers), a track from its album Line-up released in 2011.

They have collaborated with other musicians including the Scottish harp player and glass sculptor Alison Kinnaird.


The band's brand of music was developed when Brian McNeill and Alan Reid were joined by (vocals, guitar, cittern, appalachian dulcimer and whistle) and Duncan McGillivray (pipes and whistle). Stand Easy, the album they recorded in 1979, still stands up as one of the band's finest. The next line-up included Dougie Pincock (bagpipes) and Jim and Sylvia Barnes, Alan Reid (vocals and electric keyboards) and Brian McNeill (fiddle).

The band has gone through many line up changes over the years.

Alan Reid, who had been a member ever since, finally left the band at the end of 2010, concentrating on his musical duo with guitarist & singer Rob van Sante who has been Battlefield Band's sound engineer for the past thirteen years.

Instruments and themes

Every line-up since the Stand Easy album has had at least one bagpiper. Unusual aspects of the instrumental line-up for a traditional band include the presence of electric keyboards and the absence of percussion. Every album mixes traditional Scottish songs and tunes with modern (often original) compositions. Themes range from drinking, friendship, and hard times to history, geography, and politics.

The band's 2006 album, The Road of Tears, deals explicitly with the theme of displacement. Many of the songs deal with emigration, both voluntary and forced. Battlefield Band's 2007 album, Dookin'( former member of the Group)has a lighter feel, after the eloquently somber tone of The Road of Tears. Dookin' includes a mix of vocals, with lead being shared by Alan Reid and Sean O'Donnell, and instrumentals.

Successive lineups

Current members

  • Sean O'Donnell - vocals/guitar
  • Ewen Henderson - fiddle/bagpipes/whistles/piano/vocals
  • Alasdair White - fiddle/tin whistle/banjo/bouzouki/Highland bagpipes/small pipes/bodhran
  • Mike Katz - Highland pipes/small pipes/various whistles/bass guitar/guitar

Note: Sean O'Donnell replaced former Irish vocal/guitarist Pat Kilbride in July 2005. Multi-instrumentalist Ewen Henderson is the most recent addition to Battlefield Band and the youngest member.

Past members

  • Ricky Starrs (musician and early (founding ?) member) - multi instrumentalist guitar mandolin whistles. Played on original Arfolk recording later rereleased as Farewell to Nova Scotia.
  • Alan Reid (keyboards/guitar/vocals/accordion) - Alan was the last remaining founding member of the band before to leave at the end of 2010
  • Brian McNeill (fiddle) - writing detective novels, teaching with the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Dance
  • John Gahagan (fiddle/whistle) - now working as a graphic artist in Glasgow and continuing to play music.
  • Jen Clark (vocals, guitar, cittern and dulcimer) - among other things now running a and offering in Edinburgh).
  • John McCusker (fiddle, replaced McNeill).
  • Davy Steele (1948–2001) (lead vocals, writing) sang with Drinkers Drouth, Ceolbeg and Clan Alba as well as making solo albums.
  • Dougie Pincock (bagpipes) - now director of the National Centre of Excellence in Traditional Music (Sgoil Chiùil na Gàidhealtachd) in Plockton.
  • Duncan MacGillivray (bagpipes) - has won many piping competitions, including the Gold Medal at the Northern Meeting in Inverness in 1997.
  • Iain MacDonald (bagpipes) - was the musician in residence at the Gaelic College on the Isle of Skye.
  • Alistair Russell (guitar, vocal) - during his 13 years in the band he claims to have travelled one million miles. Currently has a solo career.
  • Pat Kilbride (guitar, vocal) - lived in Brittany, Belgium then the USA. Has recorded with "The Kips Bay Ceilidh Band" and done solo albums.
  • Ged Foley (guitar, vocal, Northumbrian pipes) - has recorded with The House Band, Patrick Street and Celtic Fiddle Festival
  • Karine Polwart (guitar, vocals)
  • Jim Barnes and Sylvia Barnes (bouzouki & vocal/dulcimer) - came to Battlefield Band via Kentigern. Jim died in 2004.
  • Jamie McMenemy (bouzouki, vocal) - still a very active musician and co-founder of the Breton group Kornog, now lives in Brittany.


Battlefield Band albums

  • 1976 [#01] Farewell to Nova Scotia debut studio album (first released on Escalibur label as Scottish Folk)
  • 1977 [#02] Battlefield Band studio album #02 (first released on Topic label)
  • 1978 [#03] Wae's me for Prince Charlie studio album #03 (first released on Escalibur label)
  • 1978 [#04] At the Front studio album #04 (first released on Topic label)
  • 1979 [#05] Stand Easy studio album #05 (first released on Topic label ; reissued as Stand Easy/Preview in 1980)
  • 1980 [#06] Home Is Where the Van Is studio album #06
  • 1982 [#07] The Story So Far 1977-1980 compilation album #1 of the 3 first studios albums released on Topic label
  • 1982 [#08] There's a Buzz studio album #07
  • 1984 [#09] Anthem for the Common Man studio album #08
  • 1986 [#10] Music in Trust Vol 1 Soundtrack album #01
  • 1986 [#11] On the Rise studio album #09
  • 1987 [#12] After Hours: Forward to Scotland's Past compilation album #2 of the five last previous albums
  • 1987 [#13] Celtic Hotel studio album #10
  • 1988 [#14] Music in Trust Vol 2 Soundtrack album #02
  • 1989 [#15] Home Ground - Live From Scotland live album #1 (a live recording of a concert in Spring 1989 in Aberdeen, Scotland)
  • 1991 [#16] New Spring studio album #11
  • 1992 [#17] Quiet Days studio album #12
  • 1993 [#18] Opening Moves: Best Of 1977-79 compilation album #3
  • 1995 [#19] Threads studio album #13
  • 1997 [#20] Across the Borders live album #2 (live recording of three concerts in Edinburghs Queens Hall during the Edinburgh International Festival)
  • 1998 [#00] Live Celtic Folk Music (live recording of a concert at the 1980 Winterfolkfestival, held in Dordrecht, Netherlands; released only on a foreign label)
  • 1998 [#21] Rain, Hail or Shine studio album #14
  • 1999 [#22] Leaving Friday Harbor studio album #15
  • 2001 [#23] Happy Daze studio album #16
  • 2002 [#24] Time and Tide studio album #17
  • 2003 [#25] The Best of Battlefield Band/Temple Records: A 25 Year Legacy compilation album #4
  • 2004 [#26] Out for the Night studio album #18
  • 2006 [#27] The Road of Tears studio album #19
  • 2007 [#28] Dookin' studio album #20
  • 2009 [#29] Zama Zama... Try Your Luck studio album #21
  • 2011 [#30] Line-up studio album #22
  • 2013 [#31] Room Enough For All studio album #23


  • 2008 In Concert (At the Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh) (DVD) (concert in 2006 at the Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh, Scotland)


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