Saturday 31 December 2016

Musicians at EIBF

Nile Rodgers
john taylor
Alfred Brendel
Jonathan Miller
Alfred Brendel and festival director Jonathan Miller

Some of the musicians I've have photographed at Edinburgh book festival. 

I enjoyed my talks at the Edinburgh International book festival EIBF 2016 and some of the top authors and musicians this year included -  Melvun Bragg Paul Mason, Erica Jong, Roddie Woomble, Alan Taylor, Tom Devine, Billy Bragg, Wilko Johnstone. 

Artists at EIBF

Cornelie Parker
Gao Xingjian
John Byrne

Alasdair Gray

Nathan Coley

*My Photography 2016*

I am continually inspired by B & W images and by my favourite portrait photographers –
enjoying late sun on the south bank

Sometimes colour works better though and some images just don’t translate into B & W.  But for me the B & W photography has more impact if you can capture enough subtle tones, and contrast.

BMX Bandits

My top B & W images recently are from travelling to Fife coastal walks and on my favourite London walks and the buzz on the south bank and across the Thames from Westminster. 

Coastal walks from Pittenween
walkers past the national galleries
the Shires at Oran mor

My Top images from Celtic 2016 were of Blazin Fiddles, Rura and Karine Polwart.

piper with RURA
Karine Polwart and Julie Foulis

Photography and Music December 2016

enjoying late sun on the south bank
MUSIC 2016
It’s been an honour to get to know some of the great Scottish folk musicians and writers of today – Dick Gaughan, Rab Noakes, Karine Polwart, Kris Drever.
Rab Noakes plays a home gig

This year I attended a house party gig for the incomparable Rab Noakes and it was good to chat and hear him perform in a more informal relaxed setting. This year at Celtic Connections 2016, I enjoyed the concerts of The Chieftains, Lucinda Williams, Rachel Sermanni, Siobhan Wilson and especially the fun ceilidh bands of Rura and Blazin Fiddles. As usual the highlight was the classy accomplished musicianship of the Transatlantic band with the wonderful singers Rhiannon Giddens and Cara Dillon this year.
At Edinburgh festival in 2016 it was a thrill to hear Alan Cumming perform his inimitable interpretations of songs. I enjoyed my talks at the EIBF and some of the top authors and musicians this year included -  Melvun Bragg Paul Mason, Erica Jong, Roddie Woomble, Alan Taylor, Tom Devine, Billy Bragg, Wilko Johnstone.

Emeli Sande returns
Exciting New Music 2016 - 
Christine and the Queens. The biggest new artist on the scene, made an impression on the Jools Holland show. She mixes movement, rhythm, music and mood to great effect. Impressive.
Blue Rose Code – Folk blues singer songwriter from Edinburgh. I saw him this year at Milngavie folk club and was mightily impressed and I have enjoyed his album very much – classic songs and energetic blues rhythm guitar and voice.

Emeli Sande returned with a wonderful second album Long Live the Angels. I was so honoured to take photos at her Albert hall concert in 2012. I saw her return to the Oran Mor Glasgow – I first heard her here in 2007. Loving her new track Breathing Underwater.

Some top albums this year too from Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool: Coldplay, Mumford, Muse, Adele, Ellie Goulding, Chvrches, Mark Ronson, Disclosure.
Sadly there has been in 2016, the deaths of many iconic musicians – Leonard Cohen, Prince, George Michael and David Bowie. Sadly the most successful architect ever Zaha Hadid and one of the most successful record producers ever, George Martin. In 1962 he started working with and unknown band, the Beatles, with innovative music productions.
Karine Polwart
At Celtic 2017, they will focus on the half of the population often ignored – the women’s voices with the singers and musicians. The women care about home, children and mother earth. There is a story of a south American tribe where the women tell the men to STOP.

Blazin Fiddles

With music I feel at home. It was the one safe happy place when I was a child. When I played piano, the rest of the world seemed to disappear and make sense. When I played piano and sang I felt connected to those positive things in life - the sunshine days, the happy memories. I felt good about myself in a world that was often dark and full of despair it seemed.  When my fingers learned to play Bach and Mozart a whole other dimension opened up, as if I was on some small way connected to those genius artists and transported to far away shores...  I travelled with folk artists and learned the shared joy of harmony singing and fiddlers rhythms.  And I have never looked back....  

Paul Simon said that he was inspired by African skies and African rhythms, but the anti-apartied forces shunned his musical collaborations for his amazing Graceland album 91986)
Simon was reaching out through his music.  
Yet now all these many years later we see that the unison of Simon's American voice along with African voices helped to offer a unifying hope that anything was possible. That the voices of fear and hatred might be overcome by the melodies and rhythms that we all understand and that unite us.

Some of us suffer great insecurities, and more than anything we need those voices of hope. Simon's journey was about music not politics. My belief was once a bright shiny thing... We all have our ingrained insecurities and they may lead to great art or they may lead to terrible despairs and fears.
Blue Rose Code

**The big Issues that Really Matter -  Scottish Land Reform, Greener energy, (only at 32% just now!), Child poverty, Social Care.  To hide the Tories failings on the economy and more – they use Brexit as smokescreens, instead of focusing on what really matters. 

They are about money and the Unionist press raining down on us.
According to Gordon McIntyre CEO business Scotland, perhaps only 10% of the population research, read and are knowledgeable about politics – the rest look for comfort and that’s why these maverick appeal, such as Farage or Donald Trump. The trouble is these opportunists don’t know how to fix anything.

**HAPPY NEW YEAR**!  to all who read my 'Scottish Arts and Music blogs' and posts here! 

2016 has been a rather scary, tumultuous year! Here's to ALL the independent, honest voices in 2017..Lennon, Dylan, Tony Benn, Mhairi Black,...And listening to ALL sides and not those echo chambers!. Yes I do read the Sunday Times and watch Question Time... even though it hurts at times!  
It's been a year of tremendous times personally and also of sad difficulties - that's life as they say!

My favourite Christmas song is by John Lennon, So This is Christmas - To all those masters of war, including those in the arms trade, Dylan wrote of - give peace a chance.. There is more to living than treasure chests. . In Karachi the wells are dry, in the Antarctic polar bears are dying … if we don’t’ care about our planet – then what do we care about. Mr Trump , please listen? 

Back in 2014 many of us dared to dream there could be a better, more productive, fairer, greener SCOTLAND. With all these voices of fear we need more than ever voices of our shared humanity of shared hopes.  Yes, we need angels, voices fo freedom, informed thought, more than ever.
At Celtic Connections in January 2017 we will hear many women musicians’ voices...I look forward to it!

enjoying late sun on the south bank

**My Photography 2016**
I am continually inspired by B & W images and by my favourite portrait photographers. Sometimes colour works better though and some images just don’t translate into B & W.  But for me the B & W photography has more impact if you can capture enough subtle tones and contrast.

Saturday 24 December 2016

Scots children’s authors

JM Barrie

Many of the best and most enduring children’s classic novels were written by Scots in the 20th century -
Robert Louis Stevenson (Treasure Island, Kidnapped, Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde) 
Robert Louis Stevenson 
Andrew Lang
RM Ballantyne (Coral Island), Andrew Lang (great populiser of folk & fairy tales), Kenneth Grahame (The Wind in the Willows), Catherine Sinclair ( Holiday House),  JM Barrie (Peter Pan), John Buchan, (The Thirty Nine Steps)

Arthur Conan Doyle (1930) Sherlock Holmes)  
George Macdonald (The Princess and the Goblin, At the Back of the North Wind), Pioneer fantasy literature, mentor Lewis Carroll, influence on JR Tolkien, Walter De la Mare, E Nesbit.

I am shocked reading of al these great authors that growing up in Scotland `I leant nothing about them. Well apart from a Disney film on Treasure Island. Then again I grew up in Edinburgh where many support the unionist imperialism of a superior race. – that is that one group of people are better than others. Are we not all considered equal….?