© 2019 Anne Leith & Les Oman.

by Clusterburach Meeja Inc

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Anne Leith

ANNE LEITH was born in Glasgow. She was brought up with her brother, Alistair, by their mother May and father Harry, a tailor to trade.

 

The Moffat family relocated to Campbeltown when Anne was 6 years old and her father was recruited as Manager of the local Harris Tweed clothing factory. Her schooldays involved taking part in musical events, and at aged 14 was a member of Campbeltown Junior Gaelic Choir, singing solo at the Mod in Largs. Her musical influences are Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and Sandy Denny.

 

Aged 20, Anne was introduced to other local musicians and became a regular at their weekly pub session, many of whom have become life long friends, and many a good time was had sharing musical influences ranging from The Corries, Steeleye Span, Pink Floyd, Fairport Convention and general Scots/Irish folk songs. She decided to learn a few chords on the guitar and her repertoire and confidence increased. A few years later Anne and three pals formed the folk group Spindrift, playing in local pubs, ceilidhs and for local charities. Spindrift split in 1975 but Anne continued singing and playing and when she moved to Aberdeen, was a regular guest at the Cults Fiddle & Accordian Club, appearing with them at various village halls around the North East.

 

On her return to Campbeltown in 1983, Anne again immersed herself in the music scene as a solo artist, appearing often at local events. A particular highlight of this period was a concert in memory of renowned piper Tony Wilson, a beloved Campbeltown character who's most notable accolades includes his pivotal involvement in Paul McCartney's worldwide hit single Mull of Kintyre. Anne and Graham Fuge tenderly composed lyrics for a tune “The Pilgrim” Tony had heard at the Lorient Festival, which became “Soldier of Fortune”. Needless to say there wasn't a dry eye in the house.

 

In 2002 she teamed up with Les Oman, his mid-Argyll trio Gun Ainm, Mod champion Norman MacKinnon and The Wee Toon Tellers to produce a CD “The Jewels of Kintyre” to raise funds to build a new visitor centre for the Saddell Abbey Trust. Tracks included a hauntingly beautiful rendition of “She Moved Through The Fair”, and a cover of Pentangle's “Trees They Grow High”.

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The following year, Anne and Les joined up with singer/guitarist Ross Kennedy and (at that time!) up and coming piper, Lorne MacDougall to form Ceann Tir

 

In 2004 Anne and Les met musicians Kirsty and Alex Johnson who had relocated from Shetland to Campbeltown and this briefly led to an expanded line-up of Ceann Tir.

 

Eventually, Anne, Les and the Johnsons got together to form the folk/rock band, The Wild Sarachs. Kirsty's fiddle/mandolin and Alex's double bass added a new level to Anne's much loved acoustic sound. The Wild Sarachs played in venues and festivals across Kintyre and Argyll, including Kintyre Songwriter's Festival, live recordings, a number of which are available on CD. The foursome also enjoyed a bucket-list moment when invited to perform at Celtic Connections.

 

When a local business development charity Opportunity Kintyre was formed in 2006, The Wild Sarachs - with help from The Twisted Melons - recorded a CD single “Campbeltown Loch Blues”, their own tongue-in-cheek rendition of the famous Andy Stewart song, as their contribution to the charity's fundraising efforts.

 

Fast forward to 2015 and Anne and Les are now performing as a duo. That year they collaborated with local poet and historian, Angus Martin, to celebrate the centenary of the birth of Scottish poet and translator, George Campbell Hay who was raised in Tarbert, Loch Fyne. Poems of GCH were selected and tunes composed for them, resulting in new and inspiring songs. In early 2016, an anthology of poems by Angus, entitled “A Night of Islands”, was published by Shoestring Press. The poetry within further sparked Anne and Les' imagination and new songs were created from a small selection that now feature, along with the GCH musical settings, on a brand new Extended E.P., released in 2019 by Anne & Les, entitled “Poets”.