Concert Reviews

Rick Davis, Executive Director, Hylton Performing Arts Center

"Alan Reid's performance at the Hylton Performing Arts Center was
fresh, engaging, and full of passion for the stories of the
people he sings about. And he is a master storyteller in song.
That he also sings like a dream and plays several instruments with panache
adds to the overall effect, which is sometimes witty, sometimes
melancholy, often mesmerizing, and always impressive."


London, Ontario

Reid and van Sante are ex members of the hugely successful and
long running (since 1969) Scottish folk group, The Battlefield Band.
Alan researches historical and contemporary events that catch his
interest with great depth and attention to detail. He then writes wonderful
story songs with such diverse topics as endangered species of Sea Eagles
to the loneliness of the life of The Last Lighthouse Keeper and
a whole album’s worth of songs about John Paul Jones.'
Rob provides beautiful guitar backing (and forwarding!) on guitar
which he jokingly referred to as his high strung wife. To continue this
image, he stroked her with gentle passion eliciting sighing harmonies and
driving rhythms as the mood warranted. He sings in an intrinsically
British traditional style delivering songs with heartfelt sincerity. This
came through strongly in one written by an ex-miner as a conversation
between the miner and the Coal: “Men may win the battles
but Coal always wins the war.”
Besides original material and modern songs, they livened
up well known traditional songs with a twist.


Moira McCrossan - Living Tradition

‘The Gairdener’s Son’, which was presented at the Dumfries and Galloway
Arts Festival at Shambellie House, on Sunday 3rd June and at Kirkcudbright
Parish Church on Monday 4th June, is a piece of musical drama to look out for.
We have been listening to Alan Reid and Rob van Sante’s album about the father
of the American navy, ‘TheAdventures of John Paul Jones’.  It is excellent, telling
the story in music and song of the hot-headed adventurer, who moved from humble
 beginnings as the son of the gardener at Arbigland on the Solway Coast to master
mariner, hero of the American War of Independence, friend to Benjamin Franklin,
George Washington and Thomas Jefferson and favourite of Louis XVI and Catherine the
Great.  However Alan has moved it to another level with ‘The Gairdener’s Son’.  Having
researched the story and written all the songs and tunes for the album, he has added
a script, telling the story from the point of view of a series of fictional characters, who
might have encountered John Paul Jones.  These characters are brilliantly presented
by the talented actress, Janis Marshall, who moves effortlessly in character from
the old gossiping crone of his home town, to the disparate loves, that he leaves behind
and the supercilious and dismissive Empress Catherine.  Ably supported by musicians,
Colin Train on accordion and keyboard and Laurie Crump on flute and fiddle, the script
weaves together the various styles of the music and songs.  The whole reflects the travels,
adventures and travails of this maverick mariner, making a tale that captivates from the
first word and note.  I’ve rarely known an hour and a half to fly so quickly.
Appropriately premiered in the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright, where Jones was born, this
show will appeal to audiences everywhere.  Look out for it playing in a venue near you.
You will not be disappointed.

Caberet Bar 60 - The Pleasance

"The Pleasure Will Be Mine, one of (Reid's) loveliest compositions its winsome melody,
vivid vernacular lyrics and tender sentiments, an ideal match with his warm, gentle voice,
echoed in later highlights such as The Riccarton Tollman's Daughter, while his storytelling
took on a darker hue in What Can A Lassie Dae?, and the slippery-slope momentum of The Arran Convict."
"Van Sante contributes fine contemporary ballad covers......playing guitar in a variety of open tunings".

by Rob Adams

It says much about the bond Alan Reid and Rob van Sante have forged that when they
get time off from the prolific Battlefield Band, as founder member and sound
engineer respectively, they simply change roles and keep working together.
Many a band, given the chance, might want a holiday away from each other, although
the Batties have long fostered something of a family atmosphere.
There were times here when the level of performance was more akin to two pals having
a song together, rather than creating the spark of two musicians really on their mettle.
Reid, however, does tend to sing out more in this situation and led several rousing choruses, chiefly
in the extracts from the duo’s Jacobite song collection, The Rise and Fall o’ Charlie.
Away from the mixing desk, van Sante is a capable guitarist and vocal
harmoniser, and his singing of The Rout of the Blues, an army mobilising song learned from the
classic album of the same name by Robin & Barry Dransfield, was a welcome return for an often overlooked gem.
Most of the repertoire, however, came from Reid, who plays guitar as well as the more familiar
accordion and keyboard in the duo, and showed his ready eye for song ideas.  There was much
evidence, of well-practiced ways with melodies, with The Last Lighthouse Keeper, fulfilling the ‘give ‘em
something to hum on the way home’ dictum.

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