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Folk: Phil Cunningham's Christmas Songbook
The Herald - 21st December 2006

Between his near-perfect attendance over the past 30 years on television at the bells ,his musical direction of the BBC's Burns Night celebrations and now what's shaping up to be an annual Christmas do in his home town, Phil Cunningham is truly a man for all-seasons greetings.

The self-styled Ayatolla Hogmanay - coined for his marshalling, some might say bullying into line, of musical guests in seeing out the Auld Year - first thought of doing a Christmas gig as a one-man show to complement the ones his late brother, Johnny, had created over the Atlantic.

When he finally got round to organising one last year, he decided that, rather than go it alone, he'd invite a few friends along, including Eddi Reader and former Battlefield Band fiddler John McCusker. It was such a success that the Queen's Hall management invited him back for a two-night run this time.

"I've always enjoyed Christmas," he says. "But it's always been from the point of view of watching other people enjoy themselves rather than me having the fun because entertaining an audience is my idea of fun."

This year the fun is likely to be bilingual as Capercaillie's Karen Matheson adds festive songs from the Gaelic tradition alongside Reader, McCusker, singer-guitarist Kris Drever amd brass players from the Coldstream Guards band.

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