A criminologist turned singer-songwriter is to host a launch gig following the release of his debut EP which takes its title from a well-known spot just outside Barrhead.

Fergus McNeill’s five-track record ‘Johnny Blues Well’ is available now on all major streaming platforms and is already winning fans from as far afield as the USA.

Barrhead News:

The ultimate theme of the EP is homecoming and local legend suggests the well on Springfield road was named after a dye-worker who stopped there each evening to wash away his stains, before heading home.

For Fergus, who grew up in the town and his childhood friends, the landmark was also a place of transition and escape, a place to run away to and to run home from.

Barrhead News:

“All these songs are rooted in and inspired by different places I’ve travelled to and from at different stages of life, and by my travelling companions, both real and metaphorical,” said the 56-year-old who is set to play at the Dream Machine in Glasgow near the Barras on Saturday, April 27.

“The EP explores the question of where and with whom we belong, so it feels fitting that it starts with a song that references Japan, which is as far away as I have travelled, but ends with the title track, back where I started in Barrhead, and with the line ‘I think I’m going home’.”

Barrhead News:

Indeed, raised in Barrhead in the 1970s and 1980s, Fergus went to Barrhead High School and by a “circuitous route” is now a professor of criminology at the University of Glasgow.

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In that role, he is well-known globally for his work on rehabilitation and was invited as an expert speaker at the United Nation’s last crime prevention and criminal justice congress in Kyoto in 2021.

Songwriting is a practice that he came to late he says, via his academic work exploring the role of the arts in rehabilitation and reintegration.

Barrhead News:

The impetus to share his songs with a wider audience came when his song ‘Bloodrush’ was chosen from more than 1,300 entries as the winner of a UK songwriting competition.

That success led to a memorable road-trip to record the song at Abbey Road Studios before it was released on JAM Records as his debut single in October 2021.

Barrhead News:

The new EP represents an evolution of the identifiably Scottish, contemporary folk-inspired sound that the university professor has developed, seasoned by a wide range of pop, indie, country and blues influences.

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For its recording he was joined Louis Abbott (on percussion, mellotron and additional vocals), Les Back (on Dobro steel guitar), Jill O’Sullivan (on violin and additional vocals), Graeme Smillie (on bass, harmonium, piano and organ) and Alison Urie (on vocals).

Letting it out into the world to do its thing has been a “strange feeling” for Fergus, which he likens to dropping your child off at the school gates for the first time with very limited control over the next stage of their life.

Barrhead News:

He is delighted though with the reception it has received since its release on March 31 and is now hoping to put together a campervan-enabled acoustic mini-tour of house gigs and highland gigs with Alison and Les.

“The songs have been played on BBC Radio Scotland’s Iain Anderson show twice, and I was ‘feature artist’ on ‘The Folk Club’ radio show last week," he explained.

“I also did an interview for Heartland Radio next week.

"The furthest flung CD order so far is from Texas.

"So far, the reception of the EP has been very positive."

To buy a ticket for the gig click HERE.