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 during the Festival Interceltique de Lorient in 2012
|Born||15 May 1973|
|Genres||Folk rock, folk, Alternative country, Rock and roll|
|Instruments||Violin, 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|
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.
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 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
McCusker now lives in Edinburgh with his wife, Irish folk singer Heidi Talbot.
- Kate Rusby and Kathryn Roberts – Kate Rusby & Kathryn Roberts (1995)
- Kate Rusby – Hourglass (1997)
- Kate Rusby – Sleepless (1999)
- Cathie Ryan – Somewhere Along the Road (2001)
- Kate Rusby – Little Lights (2001)
- Kate Rusby – 10 (2002)
- Blazin' Fiddles – The Old Style (2002)
- Kate Rusby – Underneath the Stars (2003)
- Cathie Ryan – The Farthest Wave (2005)
- Kate Rusby – The Girl Who Couldn't Fly (2005)
- Roddy Woomble – My Secret is My Silence (2006)
- Kris Drever – Black Water (2006)
- Eddi Reader – Peacetime (2007)
- Drever, McCusker, Woomble – Before the Ruin (2008)
- Under One Sky – Under One Sky (2009)
- Kris Drever – Mark the Hard Earth (2010)
- Ballad of the Broken Seas – Mark Lanegan & Isobel Campbell (2006)
- Ballads of the Book – Idlewild's "The Weight of Years" (2007)
- This Is What Makes Us – Foxface (2007)
- 22 Dreams – Paul Weller (2008)
- Kill to Get Crimson – Mark Knopfler (2008)
- In Love and Light – Heidi Talbot (2008)
- Hold Your Horses – Ella Edmondson (2009)
- Love is the Way – Eddi Reader (2009)
- Post Electric Blues – Idlewild (2009)
- Get Lucky – Mark Knopfler (2009)
- Bretonne - Nolwenn Leroy (2010)
- Transatlantic Sessions 5 (2010) – (directed by Jerry Douglas and Aly Bain)
- Merrymouth – Simon Fowler (2012)
- Live (with Michael McGoldrick & John Doyle, 2009 tour) – Vertical Records (2012)
- Privateering – Mark Knopfler (2012)
- Suitcase – Jennifer Byrne (2013)
- Wenlock Hill – Merrymouth (2014)
- Tracker – Mark Knopfler (2015)
- The Art of Forgetting – Kyle Carey (2018)
Awards and nominations
- BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2016 - Good Tradition Award
- Spirit of Scotland Award for Music 2009
- BBC Radio 2 Folk Music Awards 2003 – Musician of the Year
- Spirit of Scotland Award for Music 2000
- BBC Radio 2 Folk Music Awards – Musician of the Year 2010
- Best Instrumentalist Irelands Music Awards 2009
- BBC Radio 2 Folk Music Awards – Musician of the Year 2009
- Composer of the Year Scots Trad Music Awards 2007
- BBC Radio 2 Folk Music Awards – Musician of the Year 2008
- BBC Radio 2 Folk Music Awards – Musician of the Year 2007
- "Kate Rusby – Wyvern Theatre, Swindon". morethanthemusic.co.uk. 24 April 2010. Retrieved 23 March 2019.