the Glencraig
SCOTTISH  DANCE  BAND

Our History & Future

THE GLENCRAIG SCOTTISH DANCE BAND
Our six piece band includes a host of talented musicians with years of experience and awards to their names
Bandleader Nicol McLaren has been playing the accordion since the age of nine, when his father bought an old 48 bass Bell piano accordion from a junk shop in Stirling. There was no shortage of dance music around when young Nicol was growing up – his uncle was the great Alex MacArthur of Biggar and It was Alex who first gave Nicol the inspiration to be a band leader.  On the opening night of The Biggar Accordion and Fiddle Club, the family was part of the huge crowd in The Clydesdale Hotel when Alex asked his wee nephew to have a tune.  Alex then said he would put a bunch of "no-hopers" around him to see if he could make a band out of them.
 
The "no-hopers" were Ian Powrie on fiddle, Jim Johnstone on second accordion, Bobby Brown on piano, Robin Brock on bass and Bobby Colgan on drums.  Nicol came off the stage feeling about ten feet tall, and determined to lead his own band one day.
 
That opportunity came in 1983 and, since then, the band has developed and acquired a following, playing at dances and events all over the UK and Ireland, through Europe, to Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, Russia, Kazakhstan, Georgia, Australia, New Zealand, Martinique and Canada. 
 
The driving force is the band members’ love their music.
 
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NICOL MCLAREN
Since an early age Nicol McLaren has had a love for traditional Scottish music shared by his fellow musicians in the Band
Nicol McLaren, an Agricultural Sales Specialist and Advisor, is the Chairman of The National Association of Accordion and Fiddle Clubs.  He started playing the accordion at the age of nine, when his father bought an old 48 bass Bell piano accordion from a junk shop in Stirling.
 
Ian McCallum (who played with The Grace MacCleaver Band) worked for his father on the farm at Dunmore, and Nicol's uncle was the late Alex MacArthur.  There was no shortage of dance music around when young Nicol was growing up.
 
It was his Uncle Alex who first gave Nicol the inspiration to be a band leader.  On the opening night of The Biggar Accordion and Fiddle Club, the family was part of the huge crowd in The Clydesdale Hotel when Alex asked his wee nephew to have a tune.  Alex then said he would put a bunch of "no-hopers" around him to see if he could make a band out of them.
 
The "no-hopers" were Ian Powrie on fiddle, Jim Johnstone on second accordion, Bobby Brown on piano, Robin Brock on bass and Bobby Colgan on drums.  Nicol came off the stage feeling about ten feet tall, and determined to lead his own band one day.
 
Nicol studied Agriculture at Edinburgh University, and music took a back seat for a while.  The "bug" was soon back however, and Nicol formed The Glencraig Scottish Dance Band in 1983.
 
Outside music, Nicol's hobbies are rugby (he played full-back for Murrayfield RFC for fourteen years), golf and curling.  He was runner up on Granada TV’s "The Krypton Factor" (“Television’s Toughest Quiz”) in the early nineties.
 
In the media, Nicol formerly presented a weekly Scottish Dance Music programme, "Sporrans a Burlin'" on Heartland FM for many years and has also been the Guest Presenter BBC Radio Scotland's "Take the Floor" as well as numerous after dinner speaking engagements, at Burns’ Night celebrations across the globe. 
 
His services are much in demand for adjudicating and compering as well as playing, and frequently has also been a music tutor at workshops in Scotland, England, Europe and New Zealand.
 
Shetland is his "second home", and he visits at least twice a year for Up Helly-aa in January and The Shetland Accordion & Fiddle Festival in October.  He frequently plays and comperes at these events and, in 2002 was honoured to be asked to perform the opening ceremony at the Festival. In 2015 he had the greatest privilege of leading the Musicians for Jarl Neil Robertson at Lerwick’s Up Helly Aa.
 
Nicol is a keen dancer, having learned country dancing at a very young age and is currently a committee member of RSCDS Stirling Branch.
 
A prolific composer, Nicol has written numerous tunes, principally for dance music, many of which have been adopted as the “Original” tune for Scottish Country Dances.      
 
In 2003 Nicol was involved in designing a new accordion aimed primarily at the Scottish Market.  The SEM Scotia was manufactured by Scandalli in Castelfidardo in Italy and has been made to Nicol's specifications.
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