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Folk singer Dougie Mackenzie's debut album Along the Way well worth 40-year wait as launch night at Beaufort Hotel beckons

By Kyle Walker

RELEASING his debut album this month has been a long road for folk singer Dougie Mackenzie – or as he puts it himself, “40 years after I should have made one!”

The veteran musician is launching his record Along the Way, a collaboration with guitarist Brian Miller, with a special evening concert at the Beaufort Hotel.

The Inverness hotel is an appropriate location, considering its role as the home of the old Inverness Folk Club – where Dougie was a regular performer 40 years ago.

“I started singing at the folk club when I was about 16,” Dougie said. “And I’d really immersed myself in the songs at the age of 20.

“This is not just me talking but not just in Inverness but all around Scotland I was the great new young up-and-coming singer – I’d won various competitions and I’d sang in a band out of the folk club, a band called Barad Dur with the late Duncan MacLennan and also Walter Allan and Doug Stuart.

“Those two are playing at the concert, but on their own obviously – we’re not planning on doing a comeback after 40 years!”

From left: Dougie Mackenzie, Brian Miller.
From left: Dougie Mackenzie, Brian Miller.

Things were going well for Dougie as a singer, and maybe an album could have happened four decades earlier than it eventually transpired – were it not for a sudden illness. “I took an infection in my larynx which got completely knackered, totally.

“So physically it was a problem for many years and then once it was over physically, psychologically a problem – because I kept coming back too soon and wrecking it again and wrecking it again.

“And then I came back and I just had no confidence and I couldn’t do it. I never sang for about 25 years.”

It wasn’t until a chance invitation from an old folk friend to sing with him that he regained his confidence. “It all happened in the Market Bar after a few pints – Norman Stewart was playing in the Market Bar and he got me up to sing.

“And I’d had enough pints to have the confidence, so I just opened up – and it was back again!

But it was totally different – as Jimmy Hutchison says on the album’s sleeve notes, not the choirboy voice from the past, a bit more mellow.”

And now, 40 years on from that young 16-year-old first starting out in the world of song, Dougie has had the chance to record an album of folk songs – some traditional, some from folk heroes of here and now.

It was, as Dougie puts it, “a bit of an unfulfilled ambition, because I had no doubt in my mind that if my voice hadn’t gone I’d have made one 40 years ago.

“It really didn’t start off to be like this, it started off with Ian McCalman giving me a few hours just to lay some tracks down just for the future and maybe to try and do a thing just to hand out to my pals.

“But with Brian Miller’s help we just kept bringing stuff to him – he just loved what we were doing and went on with it!"

Ian McCalman sent the mastered copy to Ian Green of respected Celtic and folk label Greentrax who happily took up the chance to help Dougie achieve his dream.

“I could never have done this without having friends – everyone just gave up their talents, you know? Which led to the road we’re now on, a very exciting one!

“I think as Jan Miller [who did the artwork for the album] said, people have done this because they’re friends, but they’ve also done this because they’re friends who respect what I do musically.”

Dougie Mackenzie and Brian Miller launches Along the Way at the Beaufort Hotel on Saturday night from 7pm with guests the Spiers family, Jimmy Hutchison, Dave Goulder, Walter Allan and Doug Stuart. The concert begins at 7pm and tickets cost £5 – go to www.facebook.com/dougiemackenziemusic

To purchase the album, go to www.greentrax.com

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