Glasgow born Alan has been taking Scottish folk music all over the world since 1975. He joined the fledgling Battlefield Band in 1969 while studying at Strathclyde University and subsequently recorded almost 30 albums with this hard-working and enduring band, in that time garnering a reputation for his playing and his singing. His groundbreaking keyboard work helped cement the band’s reputation as one of the most influential Celtic bands of its generation. With the band Alan toured the world, bringing Scottish traditional music to audiences in five continents and playing in many prestigious music festivals and venues. Along with former Battlefield Band colleagues he was inducted into the Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame in November 2016 in recognition of their contribution to Scots traditional music.
He began composing songs and tunes in the 1980s and from 1990 was the band’s principal songwriter. His songs are noted for their strong storytelling element whilst being firmly grounded in Scots history and tradition. His songbook ”Martyrs, Rogues and Worthies”, was published in 2001 and in 2009 he was nominated in the ‘Composer of the Year’ category at the Scots Traditional Music Awards.
In 2010 he left the ‘Batties,’ to concentrate on his duo with guitarist/singer Rob van Sante. He composed all the music for the duo’s third album, ”The Adventures of John Paul Jones’, which told the story of the Scots born mariner who was a hero for the American colonists during the American Revolutionary War. A presentation of the album (with drama written by Alan) was performed at the 2012 Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival and at the 2013 Edinburgh Festival. The duo also developed a multi-media show telling Jones’ story which was showcased at Mystic Seaport Sea Festival in Connecticut in 2015.
2014 saw his music featured in the National Theatre of Scotland’s award winning production of “The Glasgow Girls” musical about asylum seekers, while his singing and speaking talents were featured in “The Life and Times of Scrooge”, the solo album of Finnish rock star Tuomas Holopainen of metal band Nightwish. That same year Alan and Rob's fourth CD “Rough Diamonds” was released and was followed by “The Dear Green Place” in 2017. The duo continues to tour Europe, North America and Australia.
In recent years Alan has taught Scots Song at the prestigious annual “Swannanoa Gathering” in North Carolina, USA. He was also a guest artist in the Linn Records mammoth 12 CD recording of the songs of Robert Burns, Scotland’s beloved National Poet, whose poems, songs and music have endured over the centuries.
As well as the recordings with Battlefield Band and with Rob Van Sante, Alan has released two solo albums, “The Sunlit Eye” and “Recollection”.