Exposure: Mark McAnaw
Scotland’s notoriously vibrant folk scene has always bred a conveyor belt of talented musicians willing to strip back to their Celtic roots, and Wishaw acoustic songster Mark McAnaw is gaining notoriety for his adept playing and contemplative vocals.
Citing influences such as John Lennon, Richard Thomson and the recently deceased John Martyn, McAnaw has plied his trade for a number of years, playing in any venue that would accommodate his vocation, but only in recent times has his unique blend of country, folk and blues gained a wider audience. From the moment he lifted a guitar at the age of 12, it has barely left his hands since.
A sparkling songwriter, McAnaw paints pictures better than any artist and his hypnotically incessant plucking commands an audience. Songs such as The Muse (which recently appeared on a charity compilation for St. Andrews Hospice) and One Step Forward, Two Steps Back encapsulate his melodious vision and showcase his unique poetic style. Despite emanating from a distinctly folk background, which comes to the fore in his music, McAnaw also embraces other genres with equal gusto, which allows him a more diverse collection of influences than some of his contemporaries.
However, it's by travelling to folk festivals from a very young age that he has studied different techniques and truly honed his craft. Since then, he has become a live favourite in his own right, appearing at the likes of Perthshire Amber festival and the Girvan folk festival in the past 12 months, and gathering a number of admirers in the process.
These performances have led to radio slots on Heartland FM and also on Celtic Music, which have helped raise McAnaw’s profile. He has also recently performed at Glasgow venues Cosmopol and The Butterfly & Pig in recent months, with a view to the latter becoming a permanent residency, which should allow his music to reach a wider audience on a more regular basis.
Away from the stage, he gives the impression of a bashful, unapologetically reserved individual, but he never appears more composed and at ease than when positioned behind his trusty acoustic guitar. As comfortable a performer you can wish to find, his voice soars and sways with melancholy but he remains calm, contented, and at home on stage throughout.
Next up for Mark are gigs in April at Linen 1906 and at McSorley’s in association with OXJAM, both of which are in Glasgow, and he's also secured a slot at the Lomond Folk Festival in July. In conjunction with his own solo pursuits he also lends his name to Lanarkshire Songwriters, a talented band of musicians who do exactly as their name suggests, and his work can also be found as part of another local initiative, the Dead Lovers Project, which actively searches for new artists in the local area.
Mark McAnaw plays at Cosmopol, Glasgow Wed 25 Mar.