Craig calls on celebrity connections

Alan Longmuir of the Bay City Rollers (right) playing Shang-A-Lang with Carnoustie celtic rock band Gleadhraich. PIc: ASM Media & PR

Alan Longmuir of the Bay City Rollers (right) playing Shang-A-Lang with Carnoustie celtic rock band Gleadhraich. PIc: ASM Media & PR

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A Carnoustie VIP piper who’s played for top acts including Queen and the Bay City Rollers called on his star connections to bring some of the top names to next week’s inaugural Scottish Variety Gala Performance as well as agreeing to play it with his band.

Craig Weir (23), who played with Queen at the SSE Hydro in January last year and on the Bay City Rollers’ most recent gigs, was contacted by organiser Ross Gunning to ask if he and his Celtic rock band Gleadhraich would support the October 17 charity event at the Clyde Auditorium in Glasgow by playing it. Craig immediately agreed and offered to ask some of the VIP acts he and his band have played with over the years to see if they would take part too.

A few calls and emails later, Bay City Rollers founder Alan Longmuir had agreed to play ‘Shang-A-Lang’ with Gleadhraich and the cast of ‘And I Ran With The Gang’ - the musical of how he created the legendary band.

Scots music legend Donnie Munro, who Gleadhraich supported in February last year, also said yes to headlining the show and singers The Highland Divas offered to fly from the USA to give their first Scottish performance at the show. They have played with Craig at the last two New York Tartan Weeks, where he has represented the World Peace Tartan.

Speaking about his role in helping put together the bill, which also includes George Bowie, the Glasgow Philharmonia, Cat Harvey and River City actor Tom Urie, Craig said: “Me and the other lads in Gleadhraich are really looking forward to playing the first Scottish Variety Gala Performance.

“It was great to be able to use my music connections to help Ross create such a great bill. Donnie Munro is a big crowdpleaser with a big heart and Alan Longmuir is the same.

“Gleadhraich are delighted to be playing some of the tracks from our new EP Definition as well as on Shang-A-Lang with Alan, Loch Lomond with Donnie and The Skye Boat Song with The Highland Divas. It’s going to be a great night with a fantastic line-up of acts.”

Speaking about Craig’s role, Ross Gunning said: “The lineup for this first Scottish Variety Performance is outstanding and having a full orchestra, choir, musical theatre cast and phenomenal guest artists is the biggest showcase Glasgow will have ever seen. The event is really going to showcase the best of Scottish talent and Craig’s help and support is much appreciated.”

At just 23 Craig is already an internationally-recognised piper and in 2014 won a Young Scot award for promoting the pipes to young people through teaching them and using the pipes in the songs he writes for Gleadhraich.

After taking up the instrument at just eight, he went on to be handpicked to become a member of the National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland (NYPB) and was chosen for the elite group of six who took Hogmanay on a tour of China in 2012. Earlier that year he was asked to write and play a tune to the Dalai Lama on his visit to Dundee.

Since then his VIP dates have included starting the encore of We Will Rock You for Queen at the SSE Hydro last year, touring and playing T in the Park with the Bay City Rollers, joining Babyshambles and The Libertines on stage as well as playing for Andy Murray, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Billy Connolly, Lorraine Kelly, Jimmy Fallon, Calvin Harris, Arun Gandhi and the VIPs at the 2013 MOBOs in Glasgow.

His band Gleadhraich have set themselves the task of transforming Scottish traditional music by making the bagpipes popular with young people through using them in rock music. They were Angus Cultural Ambassadors for 2014 and their celebrity fans include Scots music legend Dougie Maclean and Britain’s Got Talent winner Jai McDowall.

They have played support for him, Donnie Munro, ex-AC/DC drummer Chris Slade and Skerryvore. In March, Jai McDowall and Alan Longmuir returned the favour by playing surprise guest spots on Gleadhraich’s Dundee gig. Next month the band starts a four-date UK tour at the Hard Rock Café in Glasgow on November 4.

The Scottish Variety Gala Performance, in aid of Imagine Scotland Foundation, is on Monday, October 17, at the Clyde Auditorium. For more information, go to www.scottishvarietygala.com. For tickets, go to the SECC Box Office at www.secc.co.uk

For more info about Craig Weir and Gleadhraich, go to their website at www.gleadhraich.com