Monday 30 October 2017

Dougie MacLean at Milngavie folk club

‘Dougie captured the mood with his embracing warm and spiritual voice’

He has become something of a legend for many in Scotland and his songs have deep connections to the land. Dougie grew up in Perthshire where he now runs the MacLean Perthshire Amber festival – his grandfather was a shepherd and his father a gardener. Both his parents taught him the love of music – his mother played melodeon and his father fiddle. His family came from Mull, where they were crofters. Dougie now runs the old school both he and is father attended, as his studio.

For his first set he sang songs from his new album, 'New Tomorrow’ along with older favourites -   
‘Shadow of the Mountain’, ‘Talking with my Father’ when he spoke of his father walking over the moors to school. He spoke of his travels to gig at many far flung places. He sang of the ‘Singing Land’ (Shine on Your Singing Tree), 'Holding On', 'Feel So Near', and 'Holding Back'.

And a moving song too to his grandson ‘New Tomorrow’ with the words – If time will be our friend / I’ll help you to defend/ Your new tomorrows. If fear should enter in /You’ll find me hiding in the wings / Ever near you.

He sang ‘Broken Wings’ at the start of his second set and ‘Child of this Place.'  We all sang along to - Will you Catch me if I’m Falling ‘On This Wild and Windy Night’, Dougie enthusiastically encourages his audience to sing his choruses.His songs are often poignant and tender. And we sang his well loved 'Caledonia’, and ‘She Loves me when I’m Gone’. 

His Encore song was ‘This Love will Carry me.' 

His ’Caledonia’ has become part of Scottish culture – and is sung at weddings, major events and played at the Edinburgh Tattoo. He wrote this song while on a French beach and thinking of his Scottish homeland. He is also a passionate supporter of freedom for Scotland. One fan spoke of the emotions at Stirling castle Hogmanay event a few years ago when Dougie played Caledonia at the new year and hoped that Westminster might hear the singing!

Dougie knows the beauty of keeping things simple – with catchy choruses and also hidden depths.

the Friel Sisters
 *He was ably supported by the award-winning and talented Friel Sisters – whose roots are in Ireland’s Donegal. They included a quality guitarist from Japan.

Sunday 29 October 2017

Celtic Connections 25th festival 2018!

Karen Matheson & Julie Fowlis

Celtic Connections festival celebrates its 25th anniversary 2018 - with an ambitious and eclectic line-up of world class musicians from all corners of the roots, folk, world, Americana, and indie music world.

I’ve enjoyed some of my best ever concerts at Celtic Connections – The opening concert with the GRIT orchestra, Cara Dillon, Rura the Old Fruitmarket, Jerry Douglas and his band, the legendary Rab Noakes and Dick Gaughan. Mary Chapman Carpenter, Richard Thompson, The Chieftains, Punch Brothers, concert for Gerry Rafferty; concert for Michael Marra.
the awesome Transatlantic Sessions, beautiful Gaelic singers – Julie Fowlis, Karen Matheson, Rhiannon Gibbons,

Some at the bigger venues, some at intimate smaller venues and the many medium sized. In fact Glasgow is ideal, providing colour, history and upbeat vibes. Celtic takes over most of Glasgow’s renowned venues from the warm hub at the concert hall, the atmospheric Fruitmarket, the world famous Barrowlands, intimacy Oran Mor, the historic St Andrews in the Square.

There is always such as unique vibe – from the behind the scenes meetings, the quality musicians who come worldwide, the exciting new talents at the Danny Kyle Stage, the fun Fruitmarket ceilidhs, the famous names, late sessions and so much more.  
Celtic Connections offers subtle intonation, creative musicianship, artistic storytelling, friendly collaborations

Thursday 18 January - Sunday 4 February 2018. The 18 days of the festival will brighten up the winter nights with one-off musical collaborations, talks, workshops, film screenings, ceilidhs, art exhibitions, free events and late night sessions. Celtic Connections festival now has over 300 events across 26 stages and an attendance figure of over 100,000. Begun 25 years ago, some wondered how successful a time January might be, but it has proved that fine music certainly warms the soul in mid-winter nights!
Aly Bain

Highlights of the 25th Festival
Following its stand out opening concert at the Celtic Connections 2015, the GRIT Orchestra of folk, jazz and classical musicians, will world premier Martyn Bennett’s Bothy Culture at the Hydro, arranged by Greg Lawson. They will be joined by stunt cyclist Danny MacAskill (55m views YouTube). The GRIT Orchestra is a unique ensemble of Scotland’s diverse contemporary music scene, a scene that Bennett himself helped pave the way for.

Blazin Fiddles

Gaelic singers with the Scottish National orchestra – Julie Fowlis, Karen Matheosn.
There will be a tribute concert for Dundee bard, the late great Michael Marra with friends and fans, at the Glasgow Pavilion.

OTHER HIGHLIGHTS include - American singer-songwriter Shawn Colvin, Shetland’s Fiddler’s Bid, Finnish seven-piece Frigg, award-winning Kate Rusby, punk folk band the Levellers, Irelands Sharon Shannon, Skerryvore, The Mavericks, Shelby Lynne and Allison Moorer, Julie Fowlis, Dougie MacLean.  

Highlanders Blazin’ Fiddles, have their 20th anniversary show, with Jenna Reid, Rua MacMillan, Kristan Harvey, Anna Massie and Angus Lyon – PLUS Duncan Chisholm, Aidan O’Rourke, Catriona Macdonald, Iain MacFarlane, Allan Henderson, Marc Clement and Andy Thorburn.

The ever popular Celtic finale, Transatlantic Sessions concert will have special guests, the US country queen Suzy Bogguss, duo The Secret Sisters, Southern gospel, bluegrass and swing; Arkansas instrumentalist Shawn Camp; blue grass players Douglas in the Flatt & Earls of Leicester, Dubliner Daoirí Farrell, and North Uist Gaelic singer Julie Fowlis.

This year the festival will partner with Ireland with many well known and emerging Irish talent appearing at the festival.

Tickets on sale from Wednesday 25 October 2017.  The festival will run from Thursday 18 January - Sunday 4 February 2018.
Follow the conversation @ccfest
For the programme line-up and tickets :

**Celtic Connections 2018 will embrace music from the past to music of the present and will look ahead to the future of an increasingly experimental and exciting music scene. With this year’s line-up and collaborations the festival will show how much Scotland’s music scene has changed over the last 25 years, with more musical styles and cross genre fusions of jazz, classical, folk, world and electronica.

Donald Shaw, Artistic Director of Celtic Connections, said: “Since the inception of Celtic Connections in 1994 the Scottish music scene has developed and diversified hugely. When the festival began there was still significant compartmentalisation of genres, which although has its place at times, has become less prevalent over the years. The influence and inspiration that the traditional music scene has had across the whole musical landscape in Scotland and worldwide has helped to make the journey of Celtic Connections all the more adventurous and exciting. As an internationally renowned festival we continually strive for better and the 25th edition is no exception. Audiences will be treated to performances from some of the best artists from across the world and an array of unique collaborations and an eclectic mix of world music.”

Brexit threat to Scottish Musicians

The weak pound is having a negative effect on major Scottish arts and music festivals, such as Celtic Connections and Edinburgh International festival. Musicians, particularly folk, jazz, and classical depend on collaborating and touring across Europe. Fashion and the arts and design also thrive on these European collaborations. Scottish musicians are campaigning for exemptions for musicians for ease of travel across Europe.

The Scottish duo The Proclaimers are warning that Brexit could be catastrophic to Scotland’s major festivals and also for touring musicians.

Brexiteers claim Britain will now instead look ‘Globally’ to china, Australia, US – while maintaining links to Europe. I’ve no idea what they mean. Scotland’s links to Europe run much deeper, plus Europe is a closer trading partner than these far flung trading partners.

RATHER than "Bathgate no more" and "Linwood no more" we could soon be singing "Fringe no more" and "Celtic Connections no more".  The Proclaimers - famed for their anthem 'Letter from America' - are among a host of Scottish music stars who are warning that Brexit risks devastating Scottish culture. A new campaign by the Musicians' Union is warning that Brexit that will usher an era "disastrous" decline for Scotland's flagship cultural festivals.
Iconic events such as Glasgow's Celtic connections and the Edinburgh International Festival face being devastated by restrictions on European musicians visiting the UK after Brexit, campaigners say. There are also concerns that the careers of Scottish musicians will be damaged by the limits put on them in terms of working across continental Europe.

Fiona Hyslop, SNP Culture secretary at The Lorient Interceltic Festival 2017 in France spoke of how freedom of movement within the EU is fundamental to Scotland’s culture. Scotland was the ‘country of honour’ with a sold-out programme, to highlight the important contributions from the EU in developing the Scottish cultural sector) “European cultural collaboration is central to Scotland’s open international cultural outlook and EU membership is a very important modern dimensi‎on to this.
Lisardo Lombardia, Director of Festival Interceltique de Lorient:  "When the festival was born in 1971, Europe was only a project in construction. This festival has made a choice: to build bridges and not walls. The festival has always welcomed Scotland and it has been one of the festival’s most faithful supporters. The free circulation of culture and ideas, particularly for artists and works of art, has helped Scotland develop its strong reputation in arts, music and creativity and become a major country for European culture.  We want that to continue in the future.
“Despite the anxiety caused by Brexit, we will continue to support the free circulation of cultures and ideas, in particular for artists and works of art. This is what has helped Scotland develop such a strong reputation in arts, music and creativity. It has helped Scotland to become a major country for European culture." 

(PS  Why will Europe give Britain as good a trading deal as members of the EU? Its ridiculous. Yet Brexiteers want their cake and eat it too. They believe the EU will offer free trade with no strings attached and not agreeing to EU regulations!?  Scotland is run by incompetents.
They have truly messed up running Scotland’s oil and gas industry too – not simply mismanaged but screwed up.  Why does Scotland sleep walk into this noose as if we have no other choices?  It is really possible that those in Scotland might do a much much better job running our own resources!! Yes really!)
Either the UK joins EFTA - not likely as UK economy too big – or we crash out with nothing.

The NATIONAL newspaper

The National was begun in October 2014, after the Scottish referendum vote. We do not have a free press here.
Most of the Scottish press has been and is foreign owned (except for the Sunday Post)
We have no laws to protect Scottish businesses.

The National offers an informed conversation across the broad platform of views and from opposite ends of the spectrum of political debates. As well as some of the best journalists writing in the business today - 
 Kevin McKenna (Herald), Pat Kane (musician and journalist), Lesley Riddoch (Scotsman), Gordon McIntrye Kemp (Business for Scotland), Literature Professor Alan Raich, Paul Kavanagh (Wee Ginger Dug), Cat Boyd, Caroline Leckie, and more.

The National also has memorable front covers.

Thanks National – I enjoy your well informed, sometimes radical, thoughtful, humorous, challenging, academic, honest articles – on the economy, arts, Scottish literature (Alan Riach), politics, humour and more! That are not full of gossip, innuendo, advertising as some other newspapers are. The press still matters because it informs Broadcasting.

Many excellent letters also - one recently suggesting Scotland and England needs a new "Treaty of Union" as the 300 year one is not fit for purpose. This was always a union of convenience and not love. Scotland has been offered and voted for its Home Rule many times. During the Great war 1914, Britain has become heavily centralised.  

Although lots of Scots support our self determination (around 45%) we only have one newspaper supporting independence.
97% of Scottish broadcasting and press is controlled by the British nationalist government. The figures are stark, of TV license money only 55% raise in Scotland is spent here – by contrast 75% and 80% are spent in Wales and Northern Ireland. Its a shocking state of affairs.

If Scotland had a media as diverse and representative as Catalonia, we’d already be independent.” Wee Ginger Dug
 All the other devolved nations have their own public broadcaster, the British state is expert at suppressing others they rule, they've had centuries of practice at it..... We have to choose now - the 'money-driven capitalist system of Westminster' OR the kind of Scotland, more compassionate and caring, we want to build from the local level upwards.

The animosity will be reduced once England understands Scotland’s resentment at the historic overlordship of its affairs by absentee landlords, American tycoons and paid servants of the Imperial war machine (…and oil money used for Trident and useless aircraft carriers)  

Excellent series this week on “THE GREAT OIL SWINDLE – by Alex Russell” in the National,

(Scottish Questions is dreadful – other MPs speak over it.  David Fluffy Mundell tells lies – one is over the tiny amount being given to Aberdeen – 2 million! )
When the truth is that Scotland’s Oil and Gas has been stolen and squandered by an incompetent Westminster.  In fact Scotland back in the 70s had as large an oil field as Norway – yet through extreme mismanagement only a half has been recovered compared to Norway.  The McCrone Report which stated Scotland would be one of the richest countries, was kept Top Secret for decades. It’s a shocking scandal.  Instead of the money going to Scotland it has gone to the multinational Oil Companies and into the UK government coffers for London infrastructure and for Trident.

“The total UK Government take from the North Sea Oil and Gas is of the order of 400 billion – but that figure is approximately a half of that obtained by Norway for similar production volumes. Logically, that might mean the take of oil companies has been disproportionately high due to Westminster mismanagement.
Now the UK government is asking tax payers to foot half of the bill to decommission the installations. They will be leaving rusting protruding legs with little red flags attached to alert fishing boats and nuclear submarines – to save these mega rich oil companies money. Never mind all this rubbish is far removed from London.