Thursday 4 October 2007

Kilsyth festival 2007

- August 2007

Colzium park is an intimate park for a festival, with people dotting the grassy slopes down towards the main Colzium, stage. There was a Japanese tea ceremony in the Walled garden, an enclosed area for dancers and drummers, the waterside stage surrounded by stalls and rides and the Acoustic stage. KIC was set on 4 stages and fortunately the rain held off. The colourful fun festival provides something for everyone. There were colourful dancers energetic drummers, young rock bands and lots of fun events for families. Billed as a day out for families it attracts a good turn out.
Headlining was in demand Ceilidh band the Peatbog Faeries. 

A highlight is the Parade from the Colzium house and down through the park, including Rhythm Wave drummers, Pipers, dancers and Majorettes. The festival was very pleased to be able to bring over from Africa ‘Gandawi’ from Ghana, who proved a highlight of the day, bringing their African culture to Scotland.

The Peatbog Fearies ended the day’s entertainment with a blistering set of tunes. They mix Celtic and jazz, with a full brass section. They have an energetic fiddle player, and vary this with the flute. The crowd were on their feet dancing to end a fun and colourful festival.

Diwan and Samba Sene Mugdock Festival 2007

Diwan bounced onto the bandstand in colourful African outfits and lifted the looming clouds with African  sunshine and dancing rhythms.
Sene is a charismatic front man backed by a dynamic band. The band played with both a wild, infectious vitality and chaotic beats, both loose and ragged, that resulted in both a laid back and upbeat mood. It was music that came from every angle. They play West African music of soft jazz, swaying bass rhythms and gentle percussion beats with a wide assortment of percussion instruments from Africa, one called the ‘djembe’ drum.
Samba enjoyed every minute, he smiled often and rarely stopped dancing. Catch them if you can!
As Samba commented – ‘Even the midges were dancing!’

Sene was born in Senega and moved to Scotland seven years ago. He writes his own material and sings in French, English and his native Wolof. His style is strongly influenced by the jazzy grooves of Senegal with grooves and beats to get you dancing.
I met their bass player, Kamli N’goni from Wassonlon Southern Mali earlier, when he and their American percussionist were dancing to Partick Beats drums in the courtyard. I asked him about their music and he told me their music was ‘Afro jazz grooves.’

Music is Mali’s most famous export. The level of musicianship is extraordinary – there is even a traditional musicians class known as griots. Throughout Africa, music holds this incredible power; in a place where life hard, it is one of the greatest joys. Mali and Senegal are the two leading places to go for West African music - there is the hypnotic ‘dessert blues’ of the north and the ‘danceable rhythms’ of the south. In the 70s Mali’s government, like others in Africa, funded larger bands to express the culture and vitality of the new nations. For example the ‘Super Rail Band, that mixes Afro-Cuban dance rhythms with the traditional. This is a land of no media, and no Internet, where music can travel by cassette. Mali is a Muslim democracy and while poor is also tolerant, diverse, optimistic and stable. In Mali swords have turned into guitars and music helps to express a feeling of national unity. The arrival of the electric guitar gave young men a new voice. There is a music festival in the dessert, at an Oasis called ‘Essakane’. This is a three day event, where many travel across the Sahara by camel for weeks to attend.

Edinburgh International Festival 2007

Ah how does it feel – another year has passed – and the EIF is here again. I have put in my order for warm sunny days. On a dull Tuesday I ventured rather late in the day up the High Street and I met John Kielty, writer, actor, musician, leaning in the St Giles doorway. John is now shuttling between San Francisco and Edinburgh the past year. The Martians performed their cover songs and the designer and the producer of their musical the Sundowe are there. John's lyrics in a show at the Underbelly are nominated for a Lyric Fringe award. The good news is that John is doing one of his ghost tours on Thursday evening. The Martians are so much fun!

‘INTERPOL’ gig at the Corn Exchange with Macabee supporting who were also good, although they kept us waiting an hour rudely. Very hot, sweaty venue with light coloured walls ( used to be a slaughter house!) They were powerfully dynamic and full of energy with strong harmonies and interweaving rhythms, recommend them.
The sun’s here! and the Martians busking on the High Street. This is the weather I expect for my festival visits, it makes all the difference. I went to the Andy Warhol exhibition at the mound.

I took the Ghost tour to Greyfriars Bobby’s graveyard and the Covenanters Grave where there are many buried and you can feel the passage of time. The spooky dark graveyard has inspired many writers including John and he quoted from his Sundowe musical which was about the dead rising in Edinburgh. In this dark eerie place you can feel their very presence and their lost voices. 

Friday - I went to see the play - A History of Scotland in 60 Minutes. It was highly entertaining.
I spent time at the Book Festival, which is quiet after the High Street madness. Later we took one of the rickshaws down to the Traverse theatre behind the castle! Fribo gig at the Acoustic Centre who are an innovative mix of Norwegian and Scottish traditions.

Saturday - I went to the C venue where Oxford students do their shows and I saw Out of the Blue, which was an  entertaining show.  I had lunch in the café and enjoyed the young costumed artists having fun with their shows.  I read of an Irish fiddle player who did his show ‘Around the World on 80 quid’ with no advance PR or venue. Travelling the world he got involved with drugs and ended up on a beach with no violin and thought to himself, what’s the point? Then he decided he could play anything at hand.  He played a few sold out shows in Ireland and people said to him – ‘Why not play the Edinburgh Festival?’
While there are many fun things such as the Speigel tent and more, a festival needs to evolve and Edinburgh has been going since the 40s! More streets available for new musicians to perform – say blocked of streets near Princes street with a central place to buy their cds – similar to Montreal’s Blues and Jazz festival. The sun casts late rays across the High Street blinding anyone walking towards the castle. Playing any festival is a buzz, there’s that exaggerated feel to it all and the heightened senses - the odd street performers and people of every nation brought together in a melting pot- from Australian scouts to north Americana Indians. Here’s hoping for sun and fun shows next year. See you there 2008!  THE  SUNDOWE musical plays in Eden Court Inverness Nov 2007 - before touring.

Mugdock Music Festival 2007

The Festival brought young and old, Indian and Scot, European and African together in a celebration of world, modern, classical, traditional music, and ‘jazzy Afro grooves!’ The festival braved many hazards also fFrom wind, rain, midges, accidents and more ….. so that music from the cool of Norway to the warm breezes of Africa might bring us all together. We had Chinese and Indian dancers, Scottish and Gaelic singers and pipers, Norwegian songs, fiddlers and African drums. The headliners were Karen Matheson (Capercaillie), Caledon the three tenors, and world famous fiddler Ali Bain and Alle Muller.
Friday Concert - June 2007. This evening we had Erne’s Crossborder band, who combine English and Scottish folk and with Harry on tamblas and a cello player who were followed by the local Milngavie pipe band and the Islay choir

Saturday The Courtyard, Peter Donegan’s (son of Lonnie) upbeat skiffle band. The central hub of the festival was the Courtyard stage at the historic visitors Centre which staged a wide variety with colourful dancers, cool classical music, traditional Celtic and atmospheric Jewish wedding music, upbeat Scottish drummers, cheerful Barbershop, children’s choirs and enthusiastic young Indians.
Saturday Afternoon concert. Seylan and Cheyanne, Cheyanne on harp played delicate yet energetic rhythms that were like waterfalls that counterpointed perfectly to Seylan’s deep toned cello melodies. The band Caledon were next and included Alan Beck, Jamie MacDougall and Ivan Sharpe and they belted out Scottish songs, with Burns, traditional and modern tunes.

Saturday Evening Concert was a Night of Contrasts and a classy concert of Scottish traditional music and African rhythms. Fribo from Edinburgh, bean the evening with serene, innovative sounds, and they blend Scandinavian and Scottish music traditions, combined with a positive feel for contemporary sounds and rhythms.
Lovely Gaelic singer Karen Matheson was engaging with a beautiful, natural purity to her  voice, that takes you on a calm breeze. Karen sang Gaelic, Burns and modern songs. She has been hailed as the ‘finest Gaelic singer. She was followed by Diwan and Samba Sene, and their wild, infectious vitality and a chaotic stage presence, both loose and ragged, that added to their laid back yet upbeat feel. Diwan band members play African percussion instruments and are from Senegal, Mali, Colorado and Scotland. Catch them if you can!
Sunday - The Courtyard,  .
The Sighthill Project ,were enchanting and were led by two former RSAMD students. They consisted of asylum seekers and refugees from the likes of Kosovo, Albania, Ski-Lanka and Africa. They played Scottish and Irish traditional music.  They were followed by Two’s Company: a classical trio from Edinburgh, that included violin, piano ,clarinet and cello.  Vivien Scotson provided a contrast as a solo singer songwriter with only her acoustic guitar, her soul-searching voice and her emotive songs. Sunday afternoon concert, was led by accomplished players Ali Bain and Ali Moller on the bandstand stage. Here were two musicians, one the master of traditional Shetland music, the other on mandolin, an accomplished Norwegian musician. Ali Bain’s fiddle music has an unsurpassed clearness and a lyrical beauty.
The new festival included many accomplished, entertaining, diverse and interesting artists, performing both traditional and new music. From the expert and world travelled Ali Bain to enthusiastic young singers. We had two bands bringing together Norwegian and Scottish traditional music. One band, Diwan, that brought artists together from around the globe – from the USA, Mali, Senegal and Scotland. We had the two main stages, the Courtyard and the Walled Garden. The Highlights for me were the energy of Diwan, the beauty of Karen Matheson’s voice, the expert traditional violin of Ali Bain and the innocence and joy of the Sighthill project.
Mugdock 2008 -

Mugdock festival 2009 -