As part of our Partnership with The Touring Network we’ve been reaching out to artists for their memories of touring in the Highlands & Islands.

Singer/songwriter HORSE (Horse McDonald) who was born on the North East coast of Fife, recounts the last leg of her solo tour which had travelled right across the UK ending in Orkney just before lockdown.

Horse, Flying Solo

Performing solo is a blessing and a curse. The blessings are many but on the downside you do learn what you’ve totally taken for granted when playing with other musicians. Flying solo is just that, being on your own in all of your vulnerability. You rise to the occasion, as do the audience, as if to will you on!!

Every single venue has its own charm and its personality. From the beautiful locations, the lovely staff, interesting dressing rooms, ‘the techs’, dancing and tapping feet, voices raising the roof, to the fun, the laughter all bundled and soaked up in the space. It’s the ultimate adventure from start to end of show.

In the last leg of my tour were ; Cove, Ullapool, Lyth and Orkney – four very different spaces.

Cove is the encapsulation of ‘community orientated’, especially in the running and reaching out to the people in the surrounding area. Like all small community venues it is a master of multi tasking. I felt very looked after and when you’re looked after you always do your best! Its like being welcomed into the family .

The Ceilidh Place in Ullapool is located in a part of Scotland I have spent a lot of time in but never before played. This venue is a beacon. It’s an entire one stop shop – food, accommodation and a small venue all rolled into one. People travel from far and wide to see shows. The calibre of performers is legendary. 

My penultimate show on this tour was Lyth Arts and the most intimate. It is quite literally in the middle of nowhere. People seem to come from different directions and from many miles away – a deserted spot becomes a wee oasis. Full of light and life. You get to stay in the building to the rear of the theatre, which is like your own wee house – your home from home.

My last show, indeed, the last show on Orkney before ‘lockdown’, was in the Sound Archive. They’ve thought of everything. It’s the perfect performance space. I was so well looked after and another lovely audience. The recurring theme at every venue on this tour was that people had waited a long time to see me.

On this tour to have played as far south as on the Isle of Wight to this, the farthest flung of all – Orkney. I felt like I’d briefly dropped in on lots of friends. I am actively planning the next trip  – Covid willing!!


About Horse McDonald

HORSE is a singer/songwriter with a successful career expanding over three decades. She has opened and toured with various international artists, including Tina Turner, BB King, Bryan Ferry, Burt Bacarach. One of her best known songs Careful, was covered by Will Young. 

About The Touring Network

The Touring Network exists to strengthen the foundations of cultural life in the Highlands and Islands and believe in the relevance of remote and rural communities and the power of the live experience to help make Scotland a vibrant and diverse place to live, work and visit.