John McCusker

Last updated

John McCusker
FIL 2012 - Mc Goldrick, Mc Cusker, Doyle 15.JPG
McCusker during the Festival Interceltique de Lorient in 2012
Background information
Born (1973-05-15) 15 May 1973 (age 47)
Bellshill, Scotland
Genres Folk rock, folk, Alternative country, Rock and roll
Musical Arranger
InstrumentsViolin, tin whistle, cittern, guitar, backing vocals
Associated acts Battlefield Band, Mark Knopfler, Paul Weller, Roddy Woomble, Kris Drever, Eddi Reader, Kate Rusby, Heidi Talbot, Kyle Carey

John McCusker (born 15 May 1973) is a Scottish folk musician, record producer and composer. An accomplished fiddle player, he had a long association as a member of the Battlefield Band beginning in the 1990s and was later a band member and producer for folk singer Kate Rusby. He has served as producer and arranger for artists in a range of genres and also has several solo albums to his credit.



McCusker was born in Bellshill, 15 May 1973 near Glasgow, Scotland, to an Irish mother who encouraged him to learn to play the fiddle beginning at age seven. He became a regular in local youth orchestras and ceilidh bands and formed the band Parcel O'Rogues (named from Robert Burns' Sic a Parcel o' Rogues in a Nation ) with some schoolmates when he was 14. A couple of years later he gave up a place at the Royal Scottish Academy in Glasgow to go on the road with the Battlefield Band.

McCusker spent eleven years as a member of the Battlefield Band. By the time he left he had composed a catalog of songs, and had become a highly regarded traditional musician. McCusker also guested on albums with many musicians including Ocean Colour Scene, Paul Weller, Teenage Fanclub, Danny Thompson, Eddi Reader, Tim O'Brien and Linda Thompson. By then he was already involved with folk singer Kate Rusby. He joined her band, became her producer and married in August 2001. They divorced in 2006. [1]

McCusker has long been recognised for his skill at transcending musical boundaries. As a live and studio guest he has shared stages with Bonnie Raitt, Patti Smith, Steve Earle, Rosanne Cash, Paolo Nutini and Jools Holland, and has been featured on recordings by Mark Knopfler, Paul Weller, Teenage Fanclub, Ocean Colour Scene, and many more. Film and TV work include soundtracks for the movie Heartlands (2002), Billy Connolly's World Tour of New Zealand and the Jennifer Saunders sitcom Jam & Jerusalem . His most recent solo album, Goodnight Ginger, was released in 2003. McCusker won the Spirit of Scotland award for music in 2001 and the BBC Radio 2 folk musician of the year in 2003.

McCusker's expanding portfolio as a producer includes debut albums by Kris Drever and Roddy Woomble. He's also manned the controls [ clarification needed ] for singers Eddi Reader, Linda Thompson and Eliza Carthy, and is currently at work on the forthcoming solo release from Radiohead drummer Phil Selway.

After a 6-month world tour with Mark Knopfler, McCusker released a new record along with Orcadian singer Kris Drever and Idlewild front man, Roddy Woomble. The album Before the Ruin was released in September 2008, and features members of Teenage Fanclub, Radiohead, Michael McGoldrick and Heidi Talbot.

In 2007, McCusker was jointly commissioned by the Celtic Connections festival and Cambridge Folk Festival to compose Under One Sky , uniting Scottish and English musicians of different genres, from Gaelic singer Julie Fowlis to ex-Blur guitarist Graham Coxon. He toured to support Under One Sky in the UK in November and December 2008.

After bassist Mike McNamara introduced John and Simon Fowler of Ocean Colour Scene to each other, Fowler subsequently presented him with the BBC Radio 2 folk musician of the year award in 2003. McCusker has appeared live on numerous of times with the Birmingham band, and in 2012 McCusker appeared on Fowler's 'Merrymouth' album, he also joined the band on their UK tour

In 2014, McCusker once again appeared on Fowlers solo project, now called Merrymouth, brand new album 'Wenlock Hill'. The album also features a guest appearance from Chas Hodges from Chas and Dave

McCusker now lives in Edinburgh with his wife, Irish folk singer Heidi Talbot.


Solo albums

As producer

Other appearances

Awards and nominations

Awards won


Related Research Articles

Michael McGoldrick

Michael McGoldrick is a folk musician who plays Irish flute, uilleann pipes, low whistle and bodhran. He also plays other instruments such as acoustic guitar, cittern, and mandolin.

Kate Rusby

Kate Anna Rusby is an English folk singer-songwriter from Penistone, Barnsley, West Riding of Yorkshire, England. Sometimes called the "Barnsley Nightingale", she has headlined various British national folk festivals, and is one of the best known contemporary English folk singers. In 2001 The Guardian described her as "a superstar of the British acoustic scene." In 2007 the BBC website described her as "The first lady of young folkies". She is one of the few folk singers to have been nominated for the Mercury Prize.

<i>The Remote Part</i> 2002 studio album by Idlewild

The Remote Part is the third album by Scottish rock band Idlewild, released on 15 July 2002. It received broadly positive reviews and is Idlewild's most commercially successful album to date, entering the UK album chart at Number 3 and selling 100,000 copies within a month. It is currently certified as Gold within the U.K. Vocalist Roddy Woomble notes that the band felt like "a collective of songwriters" during the writing process. Woomble credits guitarist Rod Jones with influencing the album's musical direction, stating that Jones "really started to take steps forward in terms of his guitar playing, and also his harmonies. I think he pulled the record in a more poppy way, as that’s the sort of musician he is – he loves bands like Teenage Fanclub and Yes and ELO and The Police."

BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards

The BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards celebrate outstanding achievement during the previous year within the field of folk music, with the aim of raising the profile of folk and acoustic music. The awards have been given annually since 2000 by British radio station BBC Radio 2.

Idlewild (band)

Idlewild are a Scottish rock band formed in Edinburgh in 1995. The band's line-up consists of Roddy Woomble, Rod Jones, Colin Newton (drums), Andrew Mitchell (bass), and Luciano Rossi (keyboards). To date, Idlewild have released nine full-length studio albums.

Celtic Connections Annual music festival in Glasgow, Scotland

The Celtic Connections festival started in 1994 in Glasgow, Scotland, and has since been held every January. Featuring over 300 concerts, ceilidhs, talks, free events, late night sessions and workshops, the festival focuses on the roots of traditional Scottish music and also features international folk, roots and world music artists. The festival is produced and promoted by Glasgow Life. Donald Shaw, a founding member of Capercaillie, was appointed Celtic Connections Artistic Director in 2006.

Karine Polwart Scottish folk singer (b1970)

Karine Polwart is a Scottish singer-songwriter. She writes and performs music with a strong folk and roots feel, her songs dealing with a variety of issues from alcoholism to genocide. She has been most recognised for her solo career, winning three awards at the BBC Folk Awards in 2005, and was previously a member of Malinky and Battlefield Band.

Roddy Woomble

Roderick Woomble is a Scottish singer, songwriter and writer. He is the lead vocalist of indie rock band Idlewild, with whom he has recorded seven studio albums. In 2006, Woomble released his debut solo album, My Secret is my Silence, and released three subsequent albums.

<i>My Secret is my Silence</i> 2006 studio album by Roddy Woomble

My Secret is my Silence is the debut studio album by Idlewild lead vocalist Roddy Woomble, released 24 July 2006 on Pure Records.

<i>The Girl Who Couldnt Fly</i> 2005 studio album by Kate Rusby

The Girl Who Couldn't Fly is an album by British folk musician Kate Rusby, released in 2005. The title refers to Rusby's fear of flying.

<i>Hourglass</i> (Kate Rusby album) 1997 studio album by Kate Rusby

Hourglass is the debut studio album by English contemporary folk musician Kate Rusby, released on 1 March 1997 on Pure Records.

Ian Carr is an English guitarist and record producer from Cumbria, who has performed with Swåp and The Kate Rusby Band.

Kris Drever

Kris Drever is a Scottish contemporary folk musician and songwriter who came to prominence in 2006 with the release of his debut solo album, Black Water. Drever is the vocalist and guitarist of the folk trio Lau with Martin Green and Aidan O'Rourke. He has worked with other British folk contemporaries, including Kate Rusby, John McCusker, Ian Carr, Eddi Reader and Julie Fowlis.

<i>Before the Ruin</i> 2008 studio album by Kris Drever, Roddy Woomble and John McCusker

Before the Ruin is a collaborative studio album by Scottish folk musicians Kris Drever, John McCusker and Roddy Woomble, released on 15 September 2008 through Navigator Records. The album entered the UK Albums Chart at #156 and the Scottish Albums chart at #45. The album was originally scheduled for a May release, but was delayed due to McCusker touring with Mark Knopfler.

Heidi Talbot

Heidi Talbot is an Irish folk singer from Kill, County Kildare, Ireland. Talbot is a former singer of Irish-American musical group Cherish the Ladies.

Kate Rusby discography

The discography of Kate Rusby, an English folk singer, consists of eighteen solo albums, four albums as part of a duo or group, four extended plays (EPs), two video albums, thirteen singles, and six music videos. Rusby's debut was Intuition, an album recorded in collaboration with five other female singers from Yorkshire, which was released on a small label in 1993. Her breakthrough came with an eponymous album recorded with Kathryn Roberts, another of the singers featured on Intuition. This album, which was named as the best of the year by Folk Roots magazine, was the first release on Pure Records, a label set up by Rusby's father on which all her subsequent solo recordings have been released. Rusby and Roberts also formed the band the Equation in conjunction with the Lakeman Brothers, but Rusby left the group after their debut EP. In 1996 she joined the all-female folk group the Poozies, with whom she released one EP and one full-length album.

Roddy Hart Scottish musician

Roderick John Hart is a Scottish singer–songwriter, film composer, and broadcaster from Glasgow. He has released three solo records – Bookmarks, Sign Language and Road of Bones – and one EP The Dylan EP. Hart now releases albums with his band The Lonesome Fire, the first of which was Roddy Hart & The Lonesome Fire produced by Patti Smith and Morrissey producer Danton Supple. Released in late 2013 the album was nominated for the Scottish Album of the Year Award in April 2014. Their second album - Swithering - was co-produced by Paul Savage and released in late 2016. The band made their American network TV debut on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson on 17 February 2014 and proved so popular they were invited back the following week to perform a week long residency on the show.

Merrymouth was a folk-oriented band founded by Ocean Colour Scene songwriter and vocalist Simon Fowler (guitar/vocals), Dan Sealey (guitar/piano/vocals), Mike McNamara (Bass/Piano/Organ/Guitar/Percussion) and later Adam Barry (piano/organ/accordion/harmonica/vocals).

Roddy Hart & The Lonesome Fire

Roddy Hart & The Lonesome Fire are a Scottish seven-piece band from Glasgow, Scotland.

Aidan ORourke (musician)

Aidan O'Rourke is a Scottish contemporary folk music fiddle player and composer. He was named the 2014 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards Musician of the Year and the Scots Trad Music Awards 2011 Composer of the Year. In addition to his solo career, O'Rourke also plays in the award-winning folk trio Lau alongside Kris Drever and Martin Green. He was one of 20 musicians commissioned for New Music 20x12 by PRS for Music Foundation to celebrate the 2012 Summer Olympics. O'Rourke has worked with Eddi Reader, Andy Sheppard, Alyth, Roddy Woomble and appears on more than eighty recordings. Previously, he was a member of Blazin' Fiddles, The Unusual Suspects and Tabache.


  1. "Kate Rusby – Wyvern Theatre, Swindon". 24 April 2010. Retrieved 23 March 2019.