brian mcneill

brian mcneill website

“ an unrivalled position at the top of the league” The Scotsman

Renowned Scottish singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Brian McNeill, founder of Battlefield Band and Clan Alba, releases his new album The Baltic Tae Byzantium, Tales of the Scots in Europe, on Mad River Records. This long-awaited album on the theme of emigration from Scotland to Europe is a sequel to Brian’s highly acclaimed 1991 album, The Back O’ The North Wind, which dealt with emigration from Scotland to North America.


Brian McNeill

THE BALTIC TAE BYZANTIUM - Tales of the Scots in Europe (2009)

1. The Baltic Tae Byzantium 5.50 [listen]
2. Scotus 2.40 [listen]
3. A Far North Land 5.31 [listen]
4. Bothwell 4.29 [listen]
5. The Holland Trade 5.38 [listen]
6. Auld Man By The Fire 3.31 [listen]
7. The Gothenburg Reel /
John's Awa Tae France / Danzig Willie's Reel 4.04 [listen]
8. How The Foreign Winds Do Blaw / Madam Dae Ye Ken
The Dance? 4.42 [listen]
9. Back Tae Berwick Johnnie 3.44 [listen]
10.Bring The Lassie Hame 8.13 [listen]
11.True To The Forest 3.23 [listen]


Brian McNeill's professional career spans more than three decades and he is acknowledged as one of Scotland's great musical forces -- as a songwriter, composer, producer and musical director, as well as performer. He is both “a master musician and a great writer," says Scotland’s Living Tradition Magazine.

An accomplished multi-instrumentalist, McNeill may be best known for his fiddle playing but he also plays guitar, mandocello, bouzouki, viola, mandolin, cittern, concertina, bass and hurdy gurdy. Born in 1950 in Falkirk, Brian began his musical training in his early teens with violin lessons. He forsook that for electric guitar and there followed a comprehensive musical education and “mildly misspent youth,” until his student years brought him to Celtic music. As a direct consequence, in 1969 he formed Battlefield Band, which became one of Scotland's best known ensembles. In 1990, Brian McNeill left the Battlefield Band to concentrate more on writing and solo projects.

Brian's new album, The Baltic Tae Byzantium, Tales of the Scots in Europe, follows fascinating tales of Scottish emigration across Europe, from shepherds and soldiers to Calvinists and queens. Originally commissioned by Celtic Connections (the international music festival in Glasgow), the album tells the stories of Scots who have made their mark all over Europe, among them Mary Queen of Scots, John Knox, General Tam Dalyell, Clementine Walkinshaw (Bonnie Prince Charlie’s mistress), and Brian’s own father, a soldier in World War II, who met Brian’s mother after the war when stationed in Austria. McNeill also looks at Scottish communities as a whole, including the wool traders with Veere in Holland and the farmers who took their skills to Poland.