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Beggars Row Celtic Folk band

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Neil's history

On this page you will find out more about Neil's history in his own words.




I was born on 6th March 1952 in Kirkcaldy, Fife. My mother was an operatic contralto and a classically trained pianist.My father was Polish (Leon Abramowski) and played Polish folk tunes on the accordion.Music was heard almost constantly in the house so no wonder I took an interest in it.My mother used to get me up in the morning for school by playing 7 notes of the C major scale.This drove me crazy so I had to leap out of bed,rush to the piano and play the remaining final note.I felt better after that. I was sent to accordion lessons at the age of 6 and piano lessons at the age of eight.This kept me out of trouble because instead of hanging around the street like my mates I was diligently practicing.


I joined my first band at the age of 13 and can remember changing into school uniform in the back of an old Bedford J4 van outside Kirkcaldy High School at 9am on a Monday morning having just driven down from up North somewhere after a weekend's gigging.


I obviously took music as an option in third year and was set for an academic career in music at the R.S.A.M.D. in Glasgow.However at the age of 17 my father died and my grandfather (also Neil) wanted me to join the family firm (Neil Nicholson and Co.Painters Ltd). I did but my heart was really in music and I continued to play keyboards and bass guitar in various club bands.In 1977 I left the family firm to open Strings Music, an instrument retailer in Kirkcaldy however lack of business accumen (which I still have to this day by the way) caused this venture to fail.I was now a professional musician,poor but happy.


One of my biggest musical influences was the music of the Incredible String Band ever since I heard the first album in 1964.I admire the musical genius of Robin Williamson and Mike Heron.I jumped at the chance to join the Mike Heron Band on a ten day British tour in 1987.I could not believe I would be playing with one of my musical heroes.


In 1992 I obtained an H.N.D in Arts Management and enrolled subsequently for a Masters degree in Management at St Andrews University and I graduated with honours in 1998.However jobs were hard to obtain so I once again found myself a professional musician again (only this time a good deal more intelligent!!??)


Folk Music was in my blood having been brought up with the String Band,Dylan,Donovan,Peter Paul and Mary(Yes, Puff the Magic Dragon and all that!!)

I teamed up with Bill McArthur,ex Beggars Mantle,from Kirkcaldy as his partner Bruce Davis was embarking on a solo career.The new duo was called Crann Tara and we successfully toured Scotland an Denmark.

Sadly Bill died in 2003 and will be sadly missed.


In 2000 I answered an ad in the Glasgow "yellow paper" for a musician required by Beggars Row.I met the guys and was given the job (it's all downhill from now folks!!)

I honestly am having a ball with these crazy guys.If I wrote a book about the exploits of this band noone would believe it.


I am living now in Biggar and am busy with Beggars Row, and also Celtic Horizon (a duo which consists of Bob Ferguson and myself)  


So there we have it, a brief history of me.I have missed out loads of stuff about the countless club bands I played in over the years, and the countless musicians I have played with.To these guys I apologise for not giving a mention but it is probably just as well when I think back on the things we got up to!!!!!!!!! 

If you have a question you would like to ask neil then do so by going to our interviews page and send email from there.

click here to go to Neils own page

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