Gary West was born and brought up in Highland Perthshire, attending Pitlochry High School and Breadalbane Academy, before moving to Edinburgh at the age of 18. He was the first person to graduate from the University of Edinburgh in the newly launched degree entitled Scottish Ethnology and Scottish Historical Studies, in 1988. Following a brief and ill-judged period as a banker, he returned to the School of Scottish Studies to undertake a PhD, and was later appointed to the staff there as a lecturer in 1994. He was appointed to senior lecturer in 2006, and to a personal chair in 2015. Since 2012 he has also served as the Director of the European Ethnological Research Centre at the Univeristy of Edinburgh.
From the age of 7 he has been highly active within the field of traditional music, learning his trade with the innovative Vale of Atholl Pipe Band with whom he won both the Scottish and European Championships. On settling in Edinburgh he moved sideways into the folk music scene, joining the band Ceolbeg in 1988, and the so-called ‘Scottish folk supergroup’, Clan Alba, in 1993. In more recent years he has played and recorded with a variety of musicians, and has toured widely in Europe and North America. Since 2003 he has presented the weekly specialist programme on BBC Radio Scotland, Pipeline.Events