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Neuse River Fundraiser

Posted by Bill Leslie on February 9, 2014 at 7:55 AM

Thanks to everyone who turned out for the multi-band benefit concert at Raleigh's Music House Music Hall on Saturday, February 8, 2014.  The concert benefited the Neuse River Keeper Foundation.  Please check out the new photos we have posted from the event.  Three cheers for photographer Bob Ayers! Thanks for these great shots from the fund raiser.  The light was low but Bob rose to occasion with his trusty Nikon. Special thanks to James Olin Oden for his great music and help on one of my tunes and to WRAL's Elizabeth Gardner and family for their strong support.


NEWS RELEASE ON #1 RANKING

Posted by Bill Leslie on November 25, 2013 at 12:50 AM

Bill Leslie’s Scotland Album Gets Number One Ranking on World Music Charts


RALEIGH, NC, November 25, 2013 – WRAL Television’s veteran anchor-reporter Bill Leslie has topped the world music charts again. Leslie’s hauntingly beautiful CD compilation Scotland – Grace of the Wild achieved the number one ranking among international radio hosts in October. The rankings are posted monthly by Zone Music Reporter in New Orleans, LA. This is the fifth time an album by Leslie has climbed to the top of the world music charts. The others are A Midnight Clear – Christmas in Mitford in 2011, Simple Beauty in 2010, Blue Ridge Reunion in 2008 and Peaceful Journey – A Celebration of North Carolina in 2005.



Scotland - Grace of the Wild is a 14 track all-instrumental album consisting of nine original tunes and five traditional Scottish melodies. Instrumentation is similar to previous releases including acoustic guitar, grand piano, Celtic whistles and flutes, violin, cello and oboe and accordion. The mastering engineer for the album was the legendary Greg Calbi whose client list includes Paul Simon, John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Norah Jones, Sarah McLachlan and Branford Marsalis. Bill Leslie co-produced the album with Bill Covington and John Plymale.



The album was inspired by a trip to Leslie’s ancestral home of Scotland as a college graduation gift for his son William. The music that was created out of the trip resonated with radio hosts and reviewers including Music and Media Focus Editor Michael Diamond who wrote:



“I could not help but be impressed with Bill’s sensitivity and skill as a composer and arranger. Each song so exquisitely embraces the spirit of Scottish Celtic music that when heard side by side with time-honored traditional tunes, it is hard to tell the difference in their origin. There is an air of authenticity which permeates each and every song.”



Scotland – Grace of the Wild and all of Bill Leslie’s music can be purchased at cdbaby.com, Amazon, iTunes and various retail outlets. You can follow Bill Leslie’s music on his web site at www.billleslie.com as well as on Facebook and Youtube.



For more information contact: Cindy Leslie at cindymleslie @gmail.com

SCOTLAND ALBUM HITS #1

Posted by Bill Leslie on November 23, 2013 at 4:15 PM

Scotland - Grace of the Wild hit number one on the world music charts in the month of October, 2013.  Zone Music Reporter listed Bill Leslie's latest album at the top of the radio airplay charts.  ZMR takes air play reports from radio music hosts worldwide.



This is Bill Leslie's 5th album to hit the coveted number one spot on the international charts.  Others to achieve that goal were "A Midnight Clear," "Simple Beauty," "Blue Ridge Reunion," and "Peaceful Journey - A Celebration of North Carolina."  To view the music charts:



http://zonemusicreporter.com/charts/Top100.asp



NEW LOCH LOMOND VIDEO

Posted by Bill Leslie on November 14, 2013 at 4:55 PM

It is a song that has been both sung and performed without words. I have now done it both ways and discovered the incredible power of the lyrics and the music.


Loch Lomond is a very familiar song. It has been performed by thousands of musicians and singers. On the surface it sounds like a pretty love song celebrating the beauty of the Scottish Highlands. But Loch Lomond is tinged in sorrow and sacrifice. The song is the tale of two condemned brothers captured in a foreign land during the Jacobite uprisings in the 17th and 18th century. One brother wins a reprieve. It is the younger brother who chooses to give up his life so his older brother can live. The younger brother takes the low and fast road. This is the death and spiritual road back to Scotland. This brother laments the loss of his sweetheart and the gorgeous setting of their romance. The other brother is allowed to live and take the high road back to the moors and mountains of home.


My band Bill Leslie & Lorica recently performed a lyrical version of Loch Lomond at The Boykin Center in Wilson on Saturday evening November 9 as part of a concert. On my latest CD pianist Bill Covington and I put together an instrumental arrangement of the Loch Lomond. Instrumentation includes grand piano, violin, cello and Celtic whistle.


We also collaborated with Scottish photographer Grant Glendinning for a multi-media version of the song. I hope you enjoy it. 


http://youtu.be/lXOTOzLiDcs



NEW DUNNOTTAR VIDEO

Posted by Bill Leslie on October 31, 2013 at 4:30 PM

"Dunnottar" may be my favorite song on the new album "Scotland - Grace of the Wild."  Dunnottar is a haunting and minor chord melody that I believes capture the spirit of the windswept castle ruins in Scotland by the same name.  I visited Dunnottar with my son Will and wife Cindy two years ago and fell in love with the land and the rain.  Each element is like a puzzle piece and they all seem to fit together.


I hope you like this video.  I could have never done it without the help of renowned Scottish photographer Stewart Mitchell of Aberdeen, Scotland.  Check out his web site.  Stewart is quite an artist.


http://www.earthlylight.co.uk


I wrote a story about Dunnottar on wral.com which is part of Capitol Broadcasting Company in Raleigh, NC where I work as a news anchor and reporter.  Here is a link to that story:


http://www.wral.com/-achingly-beautiful-dunnottar-is-highlight-of-scotland-trip/13038566/



MICHAEL DIAMOND'S REVIEW

Posted by Bill Leslie on October 26, 2013 at 3:15 PM

Michael Diamond of San Francisco is one of the music industry's most articulate, thoughtful and insightful reviewers.  Michael is a veteran music producer and performer.  He writes regularly for Music and Media and Awareness Magazine.


I really enjoyed his review of Scotland - Grace of the Wild.  The album is a blend of the old and new.  I tired hard to make the album as seamless as possible.  Co-producer Bill Covington and I began with five traditional Scottish melodies and wove them together with nine original tunes.  I tried as much as possible to tap into the ancient Celtic cauldron in crafting the new songs and according to Michael Diamond I succeeded:


"I could not help but be impressed with Bill’s sensitivity and skill as a composer and arranger. Each song so exquisitely embraces the spirit of Scottish Celtic music that when heard side by side with time-honored traditional tunes, it is hard to tell the difference in their origin. There is an air of authenticity, which permeates each and every song."


Read more of Michael's comments on Grace of the Wild by following this link:


http://michaeldiamondmusic.com/2013/09/05/scotland-grace-of-the-wild-by-bill-leslie/


 

LIVE TV INTERVIEW

Posted by Bill Leslie on October 25, 2013 at 7:30 PM

WRAL Anchor/Reporter Sloane Heffernan interviewed me recently about the new album "Scotland - Grace of the Wild."  She had some interesting questions during a live Saturday morning chat on the highest rated CBS television affiliate in the United States.  Here is a link to the interview:


http://www.wral.com/wral-tv/video/12988957/#/vid12988957

TV STORY ON NEW ALBUM

Posted by Bill Leslie on October 21, 2013 at 6:40 PM

WRAL's Tar Heel Traveler Scott Mason recently interviewed Bill Leslie about his new CD "Scotland - Grace of the Wild."  When you listen to the story,  notice the guitar lick during the introduction.  That is a little tune Bill recorded for his WRAL colleague about 7 years ago.  Scott is an enormously popular human interest storyteller and author.


Here is a link to Scott's story:  http://www.wral.com/lifestyles/travel/video/12979242/#/vid12979242

NEW VIDEO "BRIDGE OF LOCHAY"

Posted by Bill Leslie on October 19, 2013 at 2:45 PM

Scotland is a magnet for artists because of its haunting beauty and its fleeting forms of light. I recently interviewed a very talented woman who takes advantage of these qualities. Jane Lannagan is drawn to the Scottish Highlands for the multiple colors and textures which give her a constant source of inspiration. Jane grew up in an artistic family in Edinburgh. Family vacations were centered around the ramblings of her father who made a living sketching and painting images across Scotland. Eventually Jane would follow in her father’s footsteps. However, she would dabble in a different medium than her dad. The result is a unique and glorious gallery of work. Jane Lannagan’s art seems like a perfect partner for a song I wrote about Scotland. The tune is titled “Bridge of Lochay.” I hope you enjoy this multi-media presentation. I have also included a transcript of my interview with Jane.


http://www.tomintoulgallery.co.uk  - LINK TO JANE LANNAGAN'S ARTWORK


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLcTdtxc4uQ  Bridge of Lochay video


 Bill Leslie’s Interview with Artist Jane Lannagan:


(Bill) What about the Scottish landscape excites you as an artist?


(Jane) The varying hues and textures of the Scottish Highlands where I live have greatly influenced my work. With its ever-changing light and shade, hues and textures I am never at a loss for subject matter.


(Bill) How did you learn to paint such beautiful and evocative scenes? Tell us about your training and your artistic process.


(Jane) During a course in Dress and Design in the 70's I discovered the delights of batik. From an artistic family I learned very early to enjoy sketching and painting and still remember the pride I felt when my father framed one of my efforts. My father, Tom Guise, was a prolific painter in oils, acrylics and watercolor and despite himself being self taught, successfully exhibited in the RSA in Edinburgh and had many one-man exhibitions in this country and in America. I can remember watching him from an early age as he sat at his easel in the countryside - all our holidays were arranged around his painting!


(Bill) Did your father get to see your work as an artist?


(Jane) I am so sorry that he died just as I started to produce my own work. I really think that batiking would have appealed to him. Born and brought up in Edinburgh, I spent my early working life as a medical laboratory technician. I did not go to Art College as my two sisters did, but later on during a diploma course in dress and design I discovered the art of batik and fell in love with its concept and have never stopped producing work during the past forty years.


(Bill) Tell us more about your inspiration for this art form.


(Jane) I was influenced by my father and by my friends, who are also members of the Scottish Batik Guild - we meet twice yearly to share ideas and hold exhibitions. Originally batik was an Eastern art form and used to decorate clothing materials using wax and dyes and until recently has had no recognition in the West. I developed my own particular style over the years starting out with old white sheets, candle wax melted in a double boiler and applied with brushes and shop bought dyes and over time I sold my art. I bought a wax pot, proper batik wax, wax pens from Java and the Ukranian Bookshop and now use the finest Primissima cotton.


(Bill) When do you know that you want to paint a particular place?  What has to happen before you commit to an idea?


(Jane) When a particular image or scene appeals to me- it has to have interesting light, colour, movement and texture. I immediately start to translate it into a picture in my mind. As the last colors achieved are the darkest, I have to think in the negative to get the final results, all the time bearing in mind that the resultant shades are an overlaying of dye colors. In the image I select- light could be constantly changing and so too will the scene. I use my camera to catch that exact moment and to record the light and color which had so impressed me. I do not slavishly copy the photo as I like to think that my picture is my interpretation of how I view the scene. By the nature of the technique I have to work in a studio where there are electrical points for my wax pot.


(Bill) What are the nicest things people have said about your art?


(Jane) People are mostly complimentary about my work, they admire the color and atmosphere I have captured. I never fail to feel excited when I sell prints and originals for that is praise in itself. I felt very proud when I sold a picture in the Scottish Society of Artists in 2005 in Edinburgh and when the "Artist" magazine awarded me the Royal Talens Award in their annual exhibition. The fact that you, Bill, want to link my art with your lovely music makes me happy and proud.


(Bill) What is the best part of your job?  What is most challenging?


(Jane) One of the best parts of this job is that Bill, my husband and I can make a living out of it - something that most artists have wished for. Without Bill my art would be nowhere. Apart from his encouragement, he scans my original work and makes prints and cards from them- he frames them, organizes exhibitions and wholesaling the cards. For me the most amazing thing with this technique is that no matter how I have in my mind what the finished work should look like, it always ends up slightly different - I call it a technique with attitude for it comes out as it wants to - and gives my work great fluidity. My challenge is to have the public accept batik as a medium which can be fully appreciated alongside the more conventional techniques of oil and watercolor.

GARRY CRITES REVIEW

Posted by Bill Leslie on October 7, 2013 at 10:55 AM

Bill Leslie’s Grace of the Wild

 

Review

 

Anyone who has listened to Bill Leslie over the years knows that a recurring theme of his music is the sacredness of space. He explores that theme by inviting us on explorations of places that are near to his heart. The lion’s share of his music has described journeys through his beloved North Carolina—his meditation in the pews of Grace Episcopal Church in Morganton, his hikes among the ancient pines of Linville Gorge, and his times walking through the brackish mists of historic Bath.

 

In  his newest CD, Grace of the Wild, Carolina’s bard traces his roots back even further to Scotland, the homeland of Clan Leslie. In a masterful weaving of traditional Scottish airs and new songs, this album traces Leslie’s travels with his son, a fitting narrative from a composer who has introduced us to his own father in other albums.

 

While the traditional tunes give the listener a lovely combination of well-known melodies undergirded by new chords, and would themselves make for an excellent album, it is in the new material that Leslie shines. From the haunting title track (which is reminiscent of Bragh Adair, the Celtic fusion band led by Bill Leslie in the early years of the last decade—but with more depth, more soul) to the finale, the evocative “Across the Moor” played on solo low D whistle, this is Bill Leslie at his most mature and most introspective.

 

My personal favorite track, “Dunnottar,” is an achingly beautiful contemplation on a region of eastern Scotland, the site of a late ancient and medieval hold. In the interlaced whistle, keyboard, and strings, one can hear the ghosts of St. Ninnian and William Wallace whispering mournfully among the crumbling battlements of Castle Dunnottar.

 

The instrumentation on Grace of the Wild is very strong, not only in the ubiquitous Celtic whistle and guitar, but also with the more unexpected oboe, cello, and bodhran-like percussion. The arrangements by Leslie and pianist Bill Covington are varied and delightfully unpredictable. But it is the moving violin of Jennifer Curtis, dancing through the mists of Caledonia, that reminds us again and again to look back to our roots and remember.

 

As a long time listener of Bill Leslie’s music, I have never been able to point to an album that was my favorite. With Grace of the Wild, that may have changed.

 

Garry J. Crites

 

Duke University


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