phil smillie music


musician ~ composer ~ arranger ~ producer _________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Where it all began...


It all began for me in the early 70s. I met up with Roy Gullane when we both worked as managers in the retail trade. It did not take long to decide that line of work was not for us and a career in music was the path we should follow. In 1975,

ROY GULLANE, DOUGIE MACLEAN, HUDSON SWAN and myself took off for a tour of Germany as the Tannahill Weavers. To our unexpected delight we were so well received that we were hooked right there and then. This really gave us the impetus to expand our musical horizons and very soon after we were getting offers to perform at major European festivals.


In 1976 we cut our first album Are Ye Sleeping Maggie with Plant Life Records. It was produced by Nigel Pegrum, the Steeleye Span drummer. From there the foundations were set for a wonderful career in music. What a great adventure it was to take our music, songs and humour to far flung places such as Germany, Scandinavia, Austria, Switzerland, Spain and France.


Nearly 40 years of touring...


Forty years, I can’t believe it!

With all these years clocked up on the road, down-time was hard to find and any space we had was either spent rehearsing or recording.

To date The Tannies have recorded 15 albums, two compilations and many tracks on festival releases, plus my own recording; the Sound of Taransay.

Throughout my career I have been extremely fortunate to have worked with some very talented musicians with the Tannies; from the early days of Dougie MacLean, Roy Gullane, Alan MacLeod, Hudson Swan, and Mike Ward, to the many members that followed throughout the eighties and nineties, including my fellow band members today: Roy, John and Colin.

Nowadays, our travels not only take us to ‘far flung’ Europe but around the world. In the early days we supported such bands as Dire Straights, Steeleye Span, The Bothy Band and Van Morrisson, to name but a few. It was a great education in how to ply our musical trade, and for that I and we are very appreciative

Hebridean Inspiration...


My bonding with music must have stemmed from an early age, when my parents always had ceilidh music playing in the background.

My mother Chirsty Mary was from Tarbert Harris in the Outer Hebrides, so she would never miss the chance to listen to Gaelic music, whether on the radio, TV or recordings. On top of that my family and relations were keen Scottish country dancers, so ceilidh dance band music was the order of the day. On Sound of Taransay I play a number of the melodies on the flute which I remember from those days.

Over the years I have composed many of the tunes recorded on the new album. Sound of Taransay is not just Scots based, a number of the melodies have been influenced by touring in such places as the various States of the USA and Asturias in Spain.

However, the vast majority of the work tries to stay close to the feel of the music from the West Coast of Scotland and my youth.

I hope you enjoy listening to the album as much as I did recording it.




Old Pier Road

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