Touring throughout the UK in 2017. An interactive show for schools, nurseries, theatres and community events.
I’ve always loved singing and when the folksong revival came along in the 60s, I was in my teens and for me it was a dream come true. Amateurs like me could get up and sing in public and not only would the audience join in but they would applaud at the end. Although my Dad was Cornish, I always felt 100% Scottish and enjoyed finding a whole new repertoire of songs from my own country.
I was in a few groups in the early years: The Cupar Ceilidh Band, The Great Fife Road Show and Down and Out, but it wasn’t until I met Cilla Fisher that things got serious (in more ways than one!).
We were married in the early 1970s and started singing together at home, round the fire. Our first paid gig was in the Footballers Arms in Linlithgow and that night “Cilla and Artie” were born.
The teaching career I was neglecting in favour of music was discarded and the two of us went on the road travelling throughout the British Isles performing mostly Scottish Songs to wildly enthusiastic audiences. It wasn’t too long before international touring started too and we performed initially in Europe and then further afield in the States, Australia and the Far East.
During our folk duo years we recorded several albums in Scotland, England, Germany and the USA. Our 1979 Topic Album “Cilla and Artie” was voted “Folk Album of the Year” by Melody Maker journalists. With that success under our belts we decided to become record producers and former our own company “Kettle Records”, named after our home village of Kingskettle in Fife.
It was on a trip to the USA that we heard folk musicians performing for children and a short time after that, after a gig in Bermuda, we were invited to do our first children’s concert there. It was a massive success and led to the recording of our, now classic album, “The Singing Kettle”.
The album very quickly outsold everything else we did and we were persuaded to start doing some shows for children. This led to lots of offers of Festival appearances and Tours and eventually we decided to become full-time children’s entertainers. TV shows helped to swell the audience number and within a very short space of time we were given our very own show on BBC Scotland
Within twelve months we went from playing small theatres to a Christmas season at the massive Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. We held the box office record of 32 sell-outs there and went on to hold the record at the Scottish Exhibition Centre too. By this time we had found Gary Coupland, a great musician, from an advert in the Scotsman, and his input meant that the musical quality of our stage performances went to another level
Touring continued for a number of years, we signed a DVD and video deal with Universal that boosted our standing even more leading to concerts all over the country including The Palladium in London, Birmingham Concert Hall and Sadler’s Wells. We were joined by our daughter Jane for 7 of those years and by Kevin MacLeod for over 10 years, both of whom brought an exciting dimension to our work.
The illusive network TV opportunity eventually came around and we did 5 series for ITV produced and recorded at Scottish Television. National success followed with audience numbers demanding that we did around 200 shows every year, continuing on for about 15 years. Audiences remained loyal to us throughout that time and every show had a different them, keeping it fresh for our fans and for us too.
Cilla and I took a well deserved rest from performing in 2012 and the company continued on for a couple of years. Neither of us enjoyed being the background production team and it was decided in 2014 to call it a day. To go out at the top.
Immediately I stopped performing I was given the opportunity to present a road show called “The Big Read” for the Daily Record newspaper in Scotland, telling stories and singing songs as part of their child literacy campaign. I found that I loved it and developed a new solo show, Artie’s Tartan Tales in June 2103.
Four years later Tartan Tales continues. I find that it is extremely challenging working solo and hugely rewarding to deliver a performance that is so well received by both children and their adult carers and friends. Without exception I’ve taken on every show I’ve been offered and I’ve enjoyed every one.