Hong Kong to Sligo | Orchestra Macaroon members

Members of Orchestra Macaroon on the trip from Hong Kong to Sligo were:
(in alphabetical order- click on a name or scroll down to read more):

  • Colin Blakey (Taynuilt, Scotland) – composer, co-producer/arranger – tin whistle, tenor banjo, wooden flute, guitar, violin, Galician pipes, Scottish smallpipes, swarmadal tambura, hand-claps – all tracks except 1
  • Philippa Bull (Taynuilt, Scotland) – composer, co-producer/arranger – accordion, strings, percussion, hand-claps – tracks 2, 3, 4 & 6
  • Ben Farmer (Lancaster, England) – accordions – all tracks except 6 & 8
  • Carolyn Francis (Kendal, England) – violins – tracks 3, 7 & 11
  • Pete French (Lancaster, England) – piano, timbale – all tracks except 5 & 12
  • Max Gore (Manchester, England) – hand pan – track 1
  • Trevor Hutchinson (Dublin, Ireland) – double bass – all tracks
  • Kimho Ip (Hong Kong) – yang qin, cello – tracks 6. 9 & 12
  • James Mackintosh (Peebles, Scotland) – drums, percussion – all tracks except 5
  • Stephen McNally (Taynuilt, Scotland) – bellows-blown border pipes – tracks 7 & 11
  • Sam Nicholls (Kendal, England) – marimba – tracks 2 & 4
  • Cath Sewell (Ingleton, England) – alto sax – tracks 1, 3, 6 & 10
  • Sharon Shannon (Galway, Ireland) – accordion – track 8
  • Steve Wickham (Sligo , Ireland) – violin – tracks 5, 9 & 12
  • Rab Woods (Oban, Scotland) – guitar, dobro, octave mandola – tracks 3, 5, 7 & 11

Mastering and artwork

Colin Blakey: composer and co-producer/arranger
Tin whistle, tenor banjo, wooden flute, guitar, violin, Galician pipes, Scottish smallpipes, swarmadal tanbura
Colin’s first band was Edinburgh psychedelic band The Green Telescope.  He joined another Edinburgh band We Free Kings, whose cello player was Philippa Bull, and it was through this band that he also met The Waterboys, which he eventually joined.  Three of the other members of The Waterboys at this time were Steve Wickham, Sharon Shannon and Trevor Hutchinson all of whom contribute to this album.  Colin’s interests in folk, world and roots led him to a diverse range of projects including initiating a samba school in Drogheda (Ireland), writing commissions for Edinburgh’s Mela Festival, and helping to found a ceilidh band and Galician pipe band in Cumbria (England). 
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Philippa (Phil) Bull: composer and co-producer/arranger
Accordion, percussion
The first band Phil found herself in was the Edinburgh-based punk-acoustic We Free Kings, in which she played cello, and of which Colin Blakey was also a member. Since that time she has also played drumkit, electric guitar, fiddle, mandolin, percussion and accordion in various other bands in Edinburgh, Argyll and Cumbria. She first learnt computer-based recording and sequencing on an Atari in the early 1990s and has composed for film and live performance. She also teaches the Alexander Technique.
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Ben Farmer
Ben lives in Lancaster, and he met Colin and Phil through the thriving NW English ceilidh scene.  Ben started playing squeezebox at 14 years old and by 17 was in the BBC Young Musician competition on Radio 2.  He graduated with a degree in Popular Music from LIPA (Liverpool Institute for the Performing Arts) and has been teaching and performing music for many years since then.  He heads up ceilidh and concert band Price of my Pig – a fusion of Celtic and global funk.
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Carolyn Francis
Carolyn has been instrumental in researching, teaching and promoting the canon of traditional Cumbrian folk music and along with the fiddle she also sings and plays border pipes and trombone. She leads The Lakeland Fiddlers, a 15-strong community fiddle ensemble which she co-founded in 2000, and plays with Cumbria’s busiest ceilidh band, Striding Edge, as well as the more recently formed Stir Ye Girls.
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Pete French
Piano, organ, timbale
Pete was pianist in Cumbria’s The Macaroon Ceilidh Band alongside Colin and Phil for many years. Pete has worked with with many people over his diverse musical career, including a collaboration with Ian Marchant some years ago to write and release an album of songs under the name The Mood Index. Pete is also a fine drummer, and as such is a founding member of Lancaster’s long-standing ska band Guns of Navarone.
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Max Gore
Hand pan
Max graduated from the University of Salford studying Latin percussion, jazz and ethnomusicology. He has found success as a session musician, touring with theatre companies, and performing original music. He teaches percussion in the Manchester and Salford areas.  Max met Colin when studying music at Kendal College while Colin was teaching there.
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Trevor Hutchinson
Double bass
From County Tyrone in Northern Ireland, Trevor lives in Dublin.  He was bass player with The Waterboys, through which he and Colin met, and was a member of Sharon Shannon’s band for many years.  Trevor is now bass player with leading Irish trad band Lunasa, and he also works as a music producer and session musician.
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Kimho Ip
Cello, yang qin
Kimho is from Hong Kong. Colin first met him through an intercultural collaborative music project for The Edinburgh Mela festival.  Kimho was awarded a PHD in composition from the University of Edinburgh, and he now  a composer and music educator.  He played on the previous Orchestra Macaroon album Breakfast in Balquhidder.
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James Mackintosh
Drums, percussion
James is drummer with famous Scottish acid-croft band Shooglenifty.  He first got to know Phil and Colin in the late 1980’s in Edinburgh when the band he was with then (Swamptrash) shared bills with We Free Kings and James played with We Free Kings on some recordings and a tour. James is a sought-after percussionist and his playing can be heard on many recordings and live performances of contemporary Scottish traditional music.
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Stephen McNally
Border pipes
Stephen played pipes on the first Orchestra Macaroon album Breakfast in Balquhidder, and is a mainstay of the Argyll traditional-music scene. He is a prolific composer of tunes, and was the founding member of The Ceilidh Bandidos and plays in The Absurdist Pipe Band. Stephen has a wide-ranging knowledge and repertoire of roots music from across Europe, as well as the traditional music of his native Argyll. He is Colin’s brother-in-law.
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Sam Nicholls
Sam is from Kendal, Cumbria (England), where he first met Colin & Phil.  Sam is the youngest player on the album. As well as being principal percussionist of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain (in which he gave a star performance on tv during the 2021 Proms), he has studied percussion at the RNCM in Manchester and is now beginning a Jazz degree at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in London.
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Cath Sewell
Alto sax
Since graduating from the Leeds College of Music Jazz Course, Cath has worked in music education, teaching in schools and leading learning and participation programmes at venues in various parts of the UK.   She is now based in rural North West England, and Colin met her when she was youth music coordinator at the Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal.  Cath has played with Orchestra Macaroon for live events in Cumbria. 
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Sharon Shannon
Sharon (sharonshannon.com) grew up in County Clare in West Ireland where she learned to play traditional music.  Her first (eponymous) album is the best-selling Irish traditional music album, and she continues to produce great recordings (she has released 17 of her own albums to date) and enjoys collaborating with other players.  Colin first met her when she joined The Waterboys when they were recording their (soon to be re-released) Room to Roam album.
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Steve Wickham
Steve is violinist with The Waterboys (through which Colin met him) and lives in County Sligo in Ireland.  Originally from Dublin, Steve was a founding member of In Tua Nua and played violin on the classic U2 song Sunday Bloody Sunday as well as recordings by Elvis Costello, The Hothouse Flowers, Sinéad O’Connor and World party. He has also made two acclaimed collaborative ‘solo’ albums. (stevewickham.ie)
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Rab Woods
Acoustic guitar, dobro, octave mandola
Rab has been playing Americana and Scottish traditional music for many years, contributing to live performances and recordings with acts local to the West coast of Scotland.  His has just released an album of own Americana project  Tonic by The Woods Family.  
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Mastering and artwork

Finlay Wells
In addition to being a top-notch mastering engineer, Finlay is an esteemed guitar player and teacher. He trained in studio engineering at ‘The recording workshop’, Chilliecothie, Ohio, USA in 1991/2, and founded Nutshell Music in 1992 . Contact: nutshellmusic.uk@gmail.com
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Fiona Blakey
After spending years designing everything from fabric to education resources, Fiona has started to embrace a new challenge of portraiture. She trained as a printed textile designer at Glasgow School of Art and regards drawing as her main passion. The artwork featured in Hong Kong to Sligo is derived from a series of miniature paintings inspired by ancient Celtic silver jewellery.
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Please explore the website to find out more about Backshore Productions, Orchestra Macaroon and all our releases: Hong Kong to Sligo, Breakfast in Balquhidder and The Roke. For any further information or if you’d just like to get in touch, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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