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Celtic music superstardom? Easy squeezy; TALENTED YOUNG SCOT ON HIS BOX OF TRICKS; Concertina player up for top award.

Byline: Heather Greenaway

Justin Bieber may be top of the pops but, when it comes to traditional Scottish music, Mohsen Amini is the king.

The concertina player is not your classic pop pin-up but, in the world of celtic music, he definitely has the x-factor.

Mohsen, of South Park, Glasgow, made history last month when he became the first squeeze box player to be crowned BBC Radio Scotland's Young Traditional Musician of the Year.

The talented 22-year-old, who travels the world playing in four folk bands, has also earned a Sunday Mail Young Scot Awards nomination in the arts category.

Mohsen, whose mum is English and dad is Iranian, is first to admit he is not your typical traditional Scots musician.

He said: "I think it's kind of funny to be named Scotland's Young Traditional Musician of the Year as, although I was born and bred in Glasgow, I'm actually half-English and half-Iranian.

"I'm also chuffed to be the first concertina player to win the title, which is not only brilliant for me but also for the incredible instrument, which is often overlooked and forgotten about.

"The year has just started and I've already won a music award and been nominated for Young Scot. It doesn't get much better than this - 2016 is shaping up to be quite an event."

Mohsen, who started playing the concertina at 10 years old, never leaves home without his precious PS7000 instrument.

The former St Ninian's pupil said: "My sister Sophia was really into Irish dancing when she was younger and I used to go and watch her in competitions.

"One day, one of the musicians let me have a shot of his concertina and from that moment I was hooked.

"I mucked about on it until I figured out what to do with it.

"I haven't a clue why it struck a chord with me but it did. Playing the concertina just came naturally and, once I started, I could not stop.

"Over the years, I've been tutored by the amazing folk musicians Mairi Campbell and Catriona McArdle but, most of the time, I've just been teaching myself. I play for eight hours every day.

"My concertina and I are inseparable. I take it everywhere with me. It's a good job it's not too big but is very portable.

"The one I have at the minute is 120 years old and cost PS7000. It was disgustingly expensive and took me nearly 10 years to save up for it.

"But it was well worth it as I appreciate its value and it is extra special to me.

"I'm terrified of anything happening to it and rarely let it out of my sight. Luckily, it's small enough to take on planes as hand luggage but I do get funny looks when I am going through security."

Mohsen, who spent his childhood playing at fleadhs all over Ireland, is now a full-time musician after quitting university to pursue his musical career.

He said: "I was studying chemical engineering at Strathclyde Uni but dropped out halfway through because I knew I could not commit to the course.

"My passion was the concertina and I realised I would rather make one-tenth of what I would make as an engineer playing music and doing what I love. So far, I'm managing to make a living by gigging and working part-time for a roofing company."

Mohsen, whose grandfather was Irish, plays in four bands - Talisk, Imar, Fourth Moon and The Low Ground.

He said: "I love the whole folk music scene and the camaraderie between musicians is fantastic. I've travelled all over Europe with Talisk and Fourth Moon.

"Imar are a new quintet who just launched last month and one of our videos on YouTube has already gone viral with 150,000 views. Folk music is becoming more popular."

The Celtic Connections regular, who also plays the penny whistle and guitar, says his mum Susan and dad Hossein have grown to love his music.

He added: "They've had to put up with a lot over the years with me practising at all hours of the day and night. There were times when they screamed at me to give it a rest at two in the morning but they've learned to love my concertina nearly as much as me.

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HIGH NOTE Mohsen on stage at Celtic Connections in January and, left, last week. Main pic Mark Anderson
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Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Feb 14, 2016
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