The Roke | The Clan

In 1989, in Edinburgh, Colin Blakey gathered a group of 19 musicians together to make a record of traditional music. The record was called The Roke (which translates as ‘The Rock’) and was originally released only on vinyl and cassette. It has recently been re-mastered and re-released, and is now available to download from Bandcamp, and to stream from Spotify.

The Roke was Colin Blakey’s first large-scale collaborative recording project. In addition to traditional music from Scotland, England, Galicia and Brittany, the album contains original compositions by Colin Blakey, Robbie The Pict, Iain Haggarty, Stevie Hook, and Paco ‘Mariñeiro’ Lopez.

The album contains what we believe is the only available recording of The Pictish National Anthem – on which 15 of The Clan gathered to play fiddles, mandolins, cello, harmonica, guitars and percussion underpinned by the rousing sound of the didgeridoo.

The re-release of The Roke is dedicated to the memory of Marshall Stormonth, who sang brilliantly on The Battle of Sheriffmuir (track 2), and Deoch Slainte nan Gillean (track 9).


(For track descriptions, click here or scroll down page.)

  1. Spiddel
  2. The Battle of Sheriffmuir
  3. Comati (The Pictish National Anthem)
  4. Two Muiñeiras
  5. Pandaemonium
  6. Achmelvich Bay
  7. Scarlet
  8. The Roke, The Row and the Wee Pickle Tow
  9. Deoch Slainte nan Gillean
  10. Keel Row
  11. Whelan’s
  12. Ye Jacobites by Name
  13. Paco’s Tune
  14. The Hermit

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The musicians
Members of The Clan in the studio to record The Pictish National Anthem

The Clan were (in alphabetical order):

  • Colin Blakey – flutes, guitar, percussion, piano, border horn
  • Ron Blakey – clarinet
  • Wendy Blakey – percussion
  • Steve Bradley – harmonica
  • Philippa Bull – cello
  • Julian Goodacre – Scottish smallpipes
  • Seb Holbrook – guitar
  • Lucy Johnstone – vocals, guitar
  • Joe Kingman – mandolin
  • Pete Livingstone – fiddle
  • Shona MacMillan – fiddle
  • Geoff Pagan – fiddle
  • Robbie the Pict – electric guitar
  • Mark Ritchie – mandolin
  • Dave Robb – bouzouki
  • Marshall Stormonth – vocals
  • Billy Smith – fiddle
  • Kirsten Webster – percussion
  • Kenny Welsh – percussion
  • Rob Welsh – didjeridoo

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Track Descriptions

1. Spiddel (Colin Blakey)
This instrumental was written by Colin Blakey when he was to-ing and fro-ing between Edinburgh and Spiddel (in Connemarra, West Ireland). The tune features the cello-playing of Philippa Bull. Thanks to Pam Dobson for the loan of the melodeon!
Cello : Philippa Bull | Tin whistle, melodeon, fiddle: Colin Blakey

2. The Battle of Sheriffmuir (Robert Burns, arr. Colin Blakey)
This song describes a battle in 1715 during the Jacobite uprising. Sheriffmuir is north of the Ochil Hills between Srirling and Auchterarder. The song was written by Robert Burns in 1787, and he revised it in 1790. The ‘Cameronian Rant’ is the melody used for the song, and the narrative describes the dialogue between two shepherds who witnessed the battle.
Lead vocal: Marshall Stormonth | Guitars, border horns, backing vocal: Colin Blakey | Bodhran: Kenny Welsh

3. Comati (The Pictish National Anthem) (Robbie the Pict – founder of the Pictish Free State)
Written and co-produced by Robbie the Pict.
Violins: Shona MacMillan, Billy Smith, Geoff Pagan | Bouzouki: Dave Robb | Electric guitar: Robbie the Pict | Cello: Philippa Bull | Mandolins: Mark Ritchie, Joe Kingman | Tin whistle: Colin Blakey | Didgeridoo: Rob Welsh | Harmonica: Steve Bradley | Percussion: Kenny Welsh, Seb Holbrook, Lucy Johnstone, Kirsten Webster

4. Two Muiñeiras (traditional arr. Colin Blakey)
Traditional Galician – ‘Muiñeira de Chantada’ & ‘Muiñeira de Cabana’. Chantada and Cabana are towns in Galicia (North West Spain), an area – like Brittany and France – which still retains vestiges of its Celtic past. The music is normally played on the ‘gaita’ (bagpipe) and the muiñeira is the most popular of the traditional Galician dances. Colin learned these tunes when he lived in Galicia in 1983.
Clarinet: Ron Blakey | Flute, mandolin, guitar, fiddle: Colin Blakey | Darabuka, chack chack: Kenny Welsh | Timpani: Wendy Blakey

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5. Pandaemonium (Colin Blakey)
Written for Andi Chapple.
For the musos out there – this tune is in an unusual time-signature. It sits on a repeating rhythmic structure of three bars of 9/8 and a bar of 12/8, except for the percussion outro, which is plain old 6/8.
Bouzouki: Dave Robb | Whistle, mandolin, darabuka, fiddle, tambourines: Colin Blakey

6. Achmelvich Bay (Iain Haggarty, Stevie Hook, arr Colin Blakey)
The first part of this suite was written by Iain Haggarty. There follows a fragment of a Galician alborada which leads into ‘Birds at the Faery Fulling’ (from Skye), together with ‘Hookie’s Reel’ by Stevie Hook from Shetland.
Violin: Geoff Pagan, Colin Blakey | Tin whistle: Colin Blakey | Cello: Philippa Bull | Bodhran: Kenny Welsh

7. Scarlet (Colin Blakey)
This tune was often played live by Edinburgh-based band We Free Kings, several members of which appear on this version. 
Guitars: Lucy Johnstone, Mark Ritchie | Mandolins: Joe Kingman, Colin Blakey | Tin whistle: Colin Blakey | Cello: Philippa Bull | Violin: Geoff Pagan

8. The Roke, the Row and the Wee Pickle Tow (traditional arr. Colin Blakey)
A traditional melody from Lowland Scotland, first mentioned by Henry Playford in the 17th century. It can still be heard to this day on Marches Day in Linlithgow, West Lothian. ‘Roke’ means ‘rock’ – the title refers to a process of hand-spinning. This tune is followed by ‘The Gobbie-o’, also know as ‘The Lancashire Reel’. (Actually a jig!)
Tin whistles, piano: Colin Blakey | Snare drums: Wendy Blakey | Violin: Pete Livingstone

9. Deoch Slainte nan Gillean (traditional arr. Colin Blakey)
Written mid 19th century by a Tiree-born carpenter on board ‘The Tae Ping’, a tea clipper. The song describes a race between ‘The Tae Ping’ and a rival ship, ‘The Ariel’. This track features Marshall’s inventive vocal arrangements and harmonies.
Vocals: Marshall Stormonth | Tin whistle – Colin Blakey

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10: Keel Row (traditional arr. Colin Blakey)
A melody from an ancient bridal song, associated with the South East of Scotland, and Northumbria. The bagpipe used here is a Scottish smallpipes (with bellows), fitted with an English double-pipe chanter, made by Julian Goodacre, who is a prominent pipe-maker and also plays on this track.
Scottish smallpipes: Julian Goodacre | Bodhran: Kenny Welsh | Tin whistles, border horns: Colin Blakey | Didgeridoo: Rob Welsh

11. Whelan’s (traditional arr. Colin Blakey)
A set of three traditional melodies. The first two are from Ireland. The opening jig, ‘Whelan’s’, is followed by ‘Dick Gossip’s Reel’, and the set ends with ‘The Pigtown Fling’ from New Hampshire.
Piano, tin whistle, mandolin: Colin Blakey| Violin: Geoff Pagan

12. Ye Jacobites by Name (Robert Burns, arr. Colin Blakey)
Famous song penned by Robert Burns, 1792.
Vocal, guitar: Lucy Johnstone | Fiddle: Geoff Pagan | Border horn: Colin Blakey | Cello: Philippa Bull | Bodhran: Kenny Welsh

13. Paco’s Tune (Paco Lopez)
Written by Paco ‘Mariñeiro’ Lopez from Ourense, Galicia and taught to Colin when he lived in Galicia.
Guitar: Lucy Johnstone | Mandolin: Mark Ritchie | Fiddle: Geoff Paing | Tin whistle: Colin Blakey | Cello: Philippa Bull | Madal: Kenny Welsh

14. The Hermit (Colin Blakey, and trad arr. Colin Blakey)
The first tune, ‘The Hermit’, is by Colin Blakey. The tune came to him when he was in the Hermit’s Cell on Iona. The second tune, ‘Muiñeira das Zocas’, is traditional Galician. ‘Zocas’ are ‘clogs’.
Tin whistle, flute, fiddle, border horns, glide guitar: Colin Blakey | Cello: Philippa Bull | Bodhran: Kenny Welsh

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