Accordion Ceilidh Master & dance caller.
Native Aberdonian and Iron Broo founder, accordionist Charlie Abel is the band leader on accordion. He plays the bass lines on the accordion at the same time as the melody using modern trickery! (midi contacts installed in the accordion allow it to be used like keyboard is to a piano, giving a bass note and a piano chord from an external sound module, all played live.)
Charlie has played with many bands for the last twenty years from country and western, to acid jazz and American popular music with the Red Krayola. South America with the Lorne Scottish Dance band, and Rhynie with Shamrock from Ellon. His love for the accordion knows no borders nor boundaries.
I was born in the city of Aberdeen in 1975. At the time my mother was a primary school teacher and my father was a mechanic. My mother gave up teaching shortly after I was born to be a full time mum. My dad started his own garage business soon after.
I started primary school at Rosewood primary (P1-P2), now a sports centre and Kirkhill School from P3 –P7. My secondary education was at Kincorth Academy and I left school after 6th year, aged 17 with university entrance qualifications but declined to join any university. I had decided my destiny lay elsewhere.
I had planned to be a marine biologist but during one summer at 15 years old I started to play an accordion and I knew instinctively, this is what I wanted to do. I began honing my skills entertaining at pensioners clubs and charity events throughout the city, often for little or no fee.
Against the advice of my teachers I left school to pursue a life as a musician. To make ends meet I took a job working for my father where I learned a great deal of skill in manual labour, digging holes, moving earth, laying foundations, cutting grass, fixing things etc. I then became a vehicle recovery officer (breakdown truck operator) for my dad’s garage “ABEL CARS” and worked also as a mechanic.
At age 18 I passed my hackney licence with Grampian Police and Aberdeen City Council and became the youngest taxi driver in Aberdeen. For around 10 years I worked for my dad as both mechanic and taxi driver, always pushing my music and doing gigs every weekend and through the week. Eventually I decided to go it alone with the music.
At age 18 I toured Brazil with “The Lorne Scottish Dance Band” under the careful eye of the late Alasdair Hunter. I also visited Ireland and stayed with Mick Foster of Foster and Allen, he was one of my main influences to pick up an accordion.
Around 1995 Myself and a fiddle player took a job as musicians working for P&O playing on the ferry St.Clair, 2 days a week from Aberdeen to Lerwick for 6 months.
I recorded my first Album with Donside Records age 18, and my second age 24. I’m just finished a recording for release on 30th November 2018.
I met my wife Barbara when I was 23 while playing at the Knoydart games.
We were married in Italy in 2003 in Lecce. We lived in Edinburgh from 2001 to 2011 and had 2 boys, Marco (2006) and Daniele (Danny – 2010).
In 2006 I recorded 2 albums with Mayo Thomson’s ‘Red Krayola’ an Avaunt guard American popular music band from Houston, Texas. We recorded the albums in my house in Edinburgh and then John McEntire, a famous US producer and also the drummer with Red Krayola, edited them in a studio in Chicago and made them better, adding other musicians.. In October 2007 we spent 2 weeks touring Japan which was a great success and a fantastic experience. I sadly missed out on the USA leg of the tour due to Visa restrictions on musicians.
Mayo and I also recorded music to an American artists film. He was a famous guy who dressed up as a baby. The film was about studying at University and cramming your head full of facts. Very interesting, strange and arty film it was. I had never been exposed to the avant-garde.
My own Ceilidh band, Iron Broo, started as a pick up band in 1992 and has went through a lot of changes. We played T in the Park 8 times. We’ve done numerous charity events over the years, raising thousands of pounds for good causes.
In January 2014 we organised a Ceilidh for the Archie Foundation (local children’s hospital charity) and it raised over £2044.
As a solo artist I have played regularly at the Touch of Tartan Ball, held in November each year at Aberdeen’s beach ballroom. It regularly raises over £150,000 for Children’s first charity.
In 2009 and 2011 I played on the Ross Memorial stage in the centre of Princes gardens in Edinburgh as a solo and then a 4 pieces band “Charlie Abel & Iron Broo” during the Edinburgh Festival.
I taught as an accordion tutor at SC&T (Scottish Culture and Traditions) in Aberdeen.
I studied music production privately at Adam Smith college in Glenrothes in 2007 achieved “Operator level – Pro Tools HD” The industry standard in music production.
Nowadays I have my own ProTools HD studio at home. This is my next direction for music so I don’t have to be away from my family so much. Selling my own music on the internet. Number 1 here we come…;-)
Music has brought me to many places. I’ve played Brazil, Chile, Norway, Germany, Spain, Italy, Sicily, Sardinia, Latvia, Hungary, Japan, Ireland, Tenerife, England, just about every Island in Orkney. I’ve loved it all.
I train Shotokan Karate with Ronnie Watt (9th Dan OBE ORS)’s Karate Academy. I am a senior instructor and assist with teaching children in the school clubs and at the public classes.
I am a 4th Dan Black belt. (NKF, WKC)
I enjoy playing guitar and piano as well as accordion and I have a 5 string banjo I like to torture now and again, it might make your ears bleed if you heard me though.
I built an authentic Pompeii Pizza oven in my garden from scratch. Not a kit or a precast one. The real deal. I think it might be the only one of it’s kind in the Aberdeen area.
I love to cook. It’s very important to eat good food. I have learned to like DIY through necessity. I try to meditate every day.
I became a Free Burgess of Guild of the City and Burgh of Aberdeen. (August 2015)