Saturday, 31 October 2020

Singers Transatlantic Sessions

Jim Lauderdale

Julie Fowlis


Here are a few images of the top singers I’ve been privileged to take photos of, who have sung with the Transatlantic Sessions band at Celtic Connections music festival Glasgow over the past decade. Nothing much beats singing with such a quality band! 

Wonderful memories. 

 

https://www.celticconnections.com


John Paul White

Kris Drever

Cara Dillon
Sierra Hull

Eddi Reader

Karen Matheson

Rachel Sermanni




**Celtic Connections 2021 announced!




**Celtic Connections 2021 announces its first live digital festival from 15th January to 1st February 2021

Offers a unique content online fro the very first time, hoping to reach an even wider audience with special collaborations and workshops.

 

Donald Shaw, artistic director on Folk nights Radio Two, spoke of his long time collaborations  with American Dirk Powell and of the ceilidh bands he grew up with on the Argyll peninsula. Shaw visited Powell when the Transatlantic Sessions played several concerts over in America a few years back. Shaw likes to soak up the ambience of any region and celebrate our differences and also for the festival to engage internationally.

 

Folk music is about the community and is inter-generational. The old plus the new.


Celtic Connections is Europe’s largest winter music festival – welcoming over 2K artists over 300 events. 2021 will be the festivals 28th year with some of the biggest names in Scottish music scene and beyond. The full program will be announced in early December – with some fo the well-known and bets-loved acts that have graced the festival stages.

 




Roots music is always at the heart of the festival that unites with cultures and music world wide. The festival will focus on creating new digital content commissioned projects filmed over some fo Glasgow’s iconic venues. To support and encourage creative industries and to protect Scotland’s rich musical legacy. 

 

A number of international artists will be filmed remotely and added to the line up. Shows will be available for a week .

Funded by Glasgow Life, Creative Scotland and the Scottish government.

https://www.celticconnections.com


Scots – Jamaicans are the forgotten diaspora. Scotland and Jamaica


In 1656 Cromwell shipped 1,200 Scots prisoners of war to Jamaica.

The Scots diaspora which is 28 to 40 million worldwide – share a common ethnic identity or community. Jamaican Scots are part of the Scots Diaspora. 

Many Scots left these shores in the 18th century – Covenanters, Jacobites and during the Highland Clearances. However until the past 20 years 2000 – 2020, there had been no academic studies into Scotland’s part in empire and slavery – Professor Tom Devine, Dr Eric Graham, Dr Stuart Nesbi.  Around 3K slaves went on 31 Scots ships over a 60 year period.

England had established Barbados colony in 1625. (and a British colony until 1966)  From 1790 – 1800, Liverpool cleared 1K slaves. Slave voyages with 1.5 million slaves – The Triangular trade to north America and West Indies, of Chattel slavery on the middle passage: west coast Africa to the new world. 

Chattel slaves had no human rights and could be murdered. Port Glasgow and Greenock records. Slave forts were built on the west coast of Africa. Scotland was a major trader from plantations of tobacco and sugar and cotton. 

Scotland and Caribbean

1740 – 1790 Glasgow was the centre of the Tobacco trade. The Tobacco Lords were Scotland’s richest men and built magnificent townhouses, and in the merchant city. Scotland was a poor country 1690s but by 1850 it was a leading industrial nation. 

Sugar traded for 200 years – with sugar houses in Glasgow from 1667. Scots were plantation owners. India remained mostly of English east India Co until 1801. After the loss of the American colonies in 1775, there was renewed focus in the West Indies.

1711 – 1763 Scots plantations Jamaica.

From 1750 – 1800, over 20 thousand Scots left to seek fortunes in the Caribbean  as doctors, lawyers, merchants, plantation owners, bookkeepers, slave traders and overseers - mostly to Jamaica. Scots originally surveyed Jamaica and set boundaries of slave plantations. Many Jamaican place names are Scots and are descended from Scots.  In 1774 Edward Long estimated that a third of the white population was Scots. 

Scottish Enlightenment figures helped to achieve the Abolition of Slavery abolished 1838. 

In Jamaica today there are many Scots surnames – Campbell, Douglas, Reid, McKenzie, MacDonald, McFarlane, grant, Gordon. Glasgow, Argyle, Dundee, Fort William, Montrose, St. Andrews. Of the names in Greater Kingston a quarter are Scottish.

Naomi Campbell

Jamaica became independent from Britain in 1962. 

In 2009 the Homecoming Scotland  which was a celebration of Scots culture and heritage, organised by Event Scotland and visit Scotland (funded EU) 3m program, 2m marketing. Shockingly in the Booklet mentions of the Jamaican Diaspora were taken out by the then Labour Scottish government.  I remember the major event called the Gathering and I attended one of its major events of a march up the high street by the clans and a tattoo at the castle. We photographers had to run ahead up the Royal mile. Photos below from this occasion. 

Homecoming Scotland 2009

Scotland has a very mixed history – with the tobacco and sugar trade many in Glasgow and Edina became rich, but in the18th century many ordinary Scots suffered under the wars with America and France. The sugar trade was a mainstay of Glasgow’s development for 200 years. 

Many SNP supporters would much prefer to be known as Democrats (the SDP Scottish Democrat Party) and not as nationalists. We must acknowledge our nationalism as international, forward-looking and progressive. It has only been in the past 20 years that there has been recognition in academic study on Scotland’s part in the slave plantations.

One way is by acknowledging the Caribbean, as professor Tom Devine often mentions, as being a large part of the Scots history and Diaspora – a part of our history which has been ignored until recently. Time to change all that. 

MUSIC 2020

 



Christine and the Queens – what style, musicality and joy. Young French singer, who combines melody and funky dance beats. 

 

Bob Dylan’s new album – Rough and Rowdy Ways. His first album of original composition since 

 

Blue Rose Code – New Album - Healing of the Deepest Kind

 

Bandcamp Fridays – when you can contribute all your money to the artists you support.

 

Top 100 albums Rolling Stones

 Includes 

Fleetwood Mac – Rumours

Marvin Gaye – what’s going on Joni Mitchell - Blue

Bob Dylan - Blood on the Tracks





**Celtic Connections 2021 announces its first live digital festival from 15th January to 1st February 2021

Offers a unique content online fro the very first time, hoping to reach an even wider audience. With special collaboration and workshops. Folk music is about the community and is inter-generational. The old plus the new.

Celtic connections is Europe’s largest winter music festival – welcoming over 2K artists over 300 events. 2021 will be the festivals 28th year.- with some of the biggest names in Scottish music scene and beyond. The full program will be announced in early December – with some fo the well-known and bets-loved acts that have graced the festival stages.

 

Roots music is always at the heart of the festival that unites with cultures and music world wide. The festival will focus on creating new digital content commissioned projects filmed over some fo Glasgow’s iconic venues. To support and encourage creative industries and to protect Scotland’s rich musical legacy. 

A number of international artists will be filmed remotely and added to the line up. Shows will be available for a week .

Funded by Glasgow life, creative Scotland and the Scottish government. https://www.celticconnections.com

 

 

We continue to enjoy the entirety and story of the album.

The album, as musician Pat Kane writes – “can contain express and captures a whole imaginary world or a rich slice of their era – and sometimes they can do both at the same time. “

 

Wednesday, 30 September 2020

Burning the Books


Burning the Books: A history of knowledge under attack by Richard Ovenden 

 

Ovenden writes of the importance of knowledge and creative thought. 

 

The Benedictine monks of Canterbury preserved the writing of the Greek philosophers such as Aristotle, Ovid, Soppho – “most were destroyed by that fat oaf Henry VIII – the manuscripts were sold off to local grocers to wrap their wares.”

 

“But all too often civilization, with its many book and competing ideas, has presented a feeble self-doubt in the face of marching fanaticism. A reading culture is multiple, full of competing viewpoints. The fanatic surveys the world with a monochrome simplicity, and before advancing to burning people, always begins with books, statures and memory.”

 

The great library of the ancient world at Alexandria, with thousands of scrolls. Many were lost in a fire during Caesars’ campaign and destroyed by religious extremists – both Christian and early Muslims, who despised other narratives. Legend says the scrolls were used to heat the 4,500 baths of Alexandria’s lasted 6 months. 

 

Today we have control by tech companies – “the worlds memory has now been outsourced to these companies without society realising the fact or really being able to comprehend the consequences.”

Rather than enforcement, the better way is through education and teaching philosophy. Knowledge is the key. So is freedom of speech. Now we have speech censorship and safe spaces in universities. We must beware censorship, while also hate speech must not be allowed. We must beware the blind and ignorant fanatic. 

 

I believe change can’t occur on the grand scale – but rather with those small ripples we send out on the small scale. Its about changing the system too and having a government used to working in a consensual way and collaborating – and not as the UK government with its 2 man show used to pushing their weight around. 

 

As the caliph Omar said, with impeccable logic, “If these books of the Greeks agree with the book of God, they are useless and need not be preserved; if they disagree, they are pernicious and ought to be destroyed.”

There is the awful image of the young German students burning books in Berlins Unter den Linden in 1933, with Goebbels boasting about ‘wanting to commit to the flames the evil spirit of the past.’ We must beware censorship.

 

Knowledge and philosophy, libraries, bookshops and education are the key to a better future.

Stalin had a philosophy steamer expel all the creative thinkers and artists. Because independent, creative art and thought is a threat to dictators everywhere. Scarily we also have the rise of fierce extremists’ echo chambers and thought police on social media and big Tech platforms. There is so much out there – we must check who are sources actually are.

 

Ovenden is head librarian at the Bodleian oxford and devoted to the preservation of books – a key tool in the defence of open societies. 

 

Fanatics burn knowledge 

 

 

BURNS Photos


May liberty meet wi success

May prudence protest her frae evil

May tyrants and tyranny tine i the mist

And wander their way to the deil! 

For the past years I have been following in Robert Burns footsteps and reading of the national Scots bard. As I live north of Glasgow I’ve been able to make several journeys down to Burns country in Ayrshire to find the real Burns behind the many myths. Here are some of my favourite Burns photos.

Burns wanted to be a Bard for all of Scotland, not only Ayrshire – and so in 1787 he embarked on travels by horseback across the Borders, the west highlands and further north. He collected songs and poems, to help keep Scots heritage alive. Its not widely recognised but he gained great inspiration from many English poets, such as Alexander Pope and other writers and his letters are written in English. But it was when he read Robert Fergusson’s poetry in Scots, he realised the power of his native tongue. So he combined the force of Scots and the imagery of English. He also knew Latin and French and had been tutored by his father and a young teacher John Murdoch. He was also a great reader. 





 

Burns pens

Ellisland farm beside the river Nith

Burns desk Ellisland looking over the orchard 



Burns was a unique mix of his mother's ballads and his fathers education. He worded hard, wrote and read constantly. Robert Burns 1759 - 1796

1786 

Burns first book of poems published

1787

 Oct. Again in Edinburgh and wrote songs for the Scots Musical Museum. Dec met Nancy.

1788. Left Edinburgh and married Jean in April and moved to build a farmhouse Ellisland north of Dumfries. Jean joined December at the farm. Trained to be an exciseman collecting taxes. 

1790 Feb. Third Volume of Scots Musical Museum with 40 songs published.

At Hallowe’en composed Tam O’Shanter. 

 

1791 Moved to Dumfries in October 

July his brother William died at 13. 

1792

Fourth volume of poems published with 47 of my poems. Nancy left for Jamaica in January 1792. Elizabeth Riddell born November.

April given the Dumfries first foot and walk, which paid more.

Reform was happening. John Taylor was arrested and accused by Robert Dundas as a ringleader – ‘of a mob, raged in a riotous and tumultuous manner.’  And brought before Creech. A witness was Robert Graham of Fintry and Alexander Nasmyth was on the jury. Burns asked him to design scenery for the new theatre. 

Sent Creech poems autumn 1792 and signed myself Ca ira, a wild flourish! 

 

1793

Creech published Second Edinburgh Edition, 2 volume edition of Burns Poems. 

The French king was executed. Burns suffered extreme mood swings and conflicts – hypochondria he called it. 'I often despaired, suffered low moods. The more I was in the position of authority the more I rebelled!'

May moved to a red brick 2 storey town house, Mill fennel, 

1794

James Glencairn born August. 

1795

Joined the Dumfries volunteers. Sept Elizabeth died. Burns fell ill. 

1796

December fifth volume of  Scots Music Museum published with 3 Burns songs – 

Dancing was independence. Burns died july 1796


Mauchline


Dumfries house



First Book Poems Chiefly in the Scotch Dialect

Monday, 31 August 2020

Hugh MacDiarmid’s Renaissance


MacDiarmid reimagined a Scottish rebirth and renewal of a truer heart and stories, that had been forgotten ever since the unwanted ‘union’ . 

He looked at the Edinburgh historic skylines, the seashores of Shetland, the north eastern town of Montrose and his border hometown of Langholme and felt  strong disgust at all that had been lost.in his 1942 Scottish art and letters essays: the Present position and Post war prospects, included 17 chapters on Scotland’s reconstruction. He welcomed a new generation of Scottish writers – Sorley MacLean, WS Graham, Sydney Goodsir Smith and others.

Professor Alan Raich writes, "The Scottish renaissance was conceived in the first world war and then leapt into lusty life in the second world war. In the 1920s, national self-determination became a cultural priority." 

"Partly as a result of reimaging of Scotland by MacDiarmid, and other writers, artists, composers, critics and historians. The 20rh century saw the irreversible development and re-establishment of cultural and political self-consciousness, and ideals of self-determination. In Scotland. The beat goes on." 

"At the heart of that beat is a regenerated sense of national identity and international connection, both with a sense of historical depth. The artist is not refined out of existence, but bears the weight of conscious connection with his or her society, family, language and national history. And this is to do with a feeling of home or belonging." 

Friday, 28 August 2020

Song for Scotland -'Auld Lang Syne'



Scots spread around the world as – explorers, lecturers, innovators, writers – and had close trade to Europe.

Kane writes of the impact songs can have, to bring us all together in community spirit, to build hope. 
From a shattered apartment Beirut – windows blown in, amid her ruin an elderly woman sits at her piano and plays the classic international song by our Bard Robert Burns, his song of unity and friendship -

'Auld Lang Syne.’

Making beauty from ashes.....
This song's emotional power travels the globe and gives people hope. Not about divisions but about bringing people together in what really matters. 

Making beauty from ashes.

Scots and journalist musician Pat Kane concludes for indy (Scotland National August 8th)
All the way from Beirut the perfect national anthem for indy Scotland. 
“hardly for the first time, Scotland is already profoundly woven into the world, as the world waits for our official return. Closing suggestion, isn’t this the obvious, post indy Scottish national anthem in waiting? A song the world already sings – joyfully, harmoniously, in happy celebration? Right under our noises, all this time. “

Here are the pipes and chorus and a perfect rendition of Auld Lang Synehttps://www.youtube.com/auld-lang-syne

Burns heard the old song and added new verses - its a song too for the auld Scotia that was being lost. 
This is a song about bringing people together. Because Scotland's self-determination is not about any nationhood - but rather our right to democracy for all who live here in Scotland - for our fairer, more equal, greener and well being future. 

Kane writes of the impact songs can have, to bring us all together in community spirit, to build hope. Collective singing can ‘induce feelings of happiness, safety and security in a group – calming, energising, organising and inspiring. 
He recommends the book - David Levitin , The World in Six Songs.