Tuesday 31 March 2020

DYLAN, early days 1961 to 1969

Dylan left Hibbing Minnesota for New York 1961. He played the coffee houses of Greenwich village and was signed to Columbus records. 

Later that year he wrote some of his best loved songs.
Tambourine Man, Its all Over Now Baby Blue, Backpages, Don’t Think Twice, It Ain’t Me Babe.

'He experienced a dramatic expansion of consciousness'
He knew he’d tapped into something significant and the work was pouring out of him.  Eric Andersen

He took a 3 week tour coast to coast, in a blue ford station wagon. “Dylan in the back, typing incessantly at a portable typewriter, fuelled by Beaujolais, cigarettes, the odd benzamine and periodically m mailed to them at various stops along the way, let the word spill out, watching them dance in new and unexpected ways." 

"The way in which fantastic musicians could reduce a song to three minutes and do it in a marvellously surreal way, that it had an arc to it – that’s the way I edit films. You learn the wonder of making up stuff as you go along. “ D.A, Pennebaker, documentary maker Dont Look Back.
He credits his love of jazz for his improvisational documentary techniques. “jazz is how I learned to edit film, cos I never went to film school."

He went electric with his band. He wanted the band sound to work naturally around the songs – that is Dylan played and sang and the musicians had to fit in and improvise, to expand the sound. 

Dylan’s electric records. Highway 61 Revisited, Blonde on Blonde,  
“it was like the old Ezra Pound adage that music begins to atrophy when it departs too far from the dance, and poetry begins to atrophy when it gets too far from the music.”  Eric Andersen

“It was the first time we heard his album Bringing it all Back Home, Bob put it on this rickety old record player and turned it up. He was obviously very happy. We were dancing around the room for the entire length of the first side and transported by the performances on Side Two."

Thursday 26 March 2020

How was Edinburgh festival begun?

EIF was conceived in 1947 by Austrian Rudolf Bing, who fled Nazi Germany and settled in Edinburgh, as the location for his planned festival: with the intention of creating a new post-war identity for Edinburgh as the cultural resort of Europe, as Edinburgh has its impressive castle which reminded him of Strasburg.

Italian Scots Richard Demarco, has attended eif and the fringe every year since . he is co-founder fo the traverse theatre and the Demarco gallery.
He is calling directors of this prestigious festival to remind audiences of events since ww2 to promote European unity, reconciliation and co-operation.
“to provide a platform for the flowering of the human spirit” and  to“ heal the wounds of wars through the arts

The Edinburgh International Festival is an annual festival of performing arts in Edinburgh  over three weeks in August. By invitation from the Festival Director, the International Festival brings top class performers of music (especially classical music, theatre, opera and dance from around the world to perform. The festival also hosts a series of visual art exhibitions, talks and workshops.

The idea of a Festival with a remit to "provide a platform for the flowering of the human spirit" and enrich the cultural life of Scotland. Rudolf Bing conceived of the festival to heal the wounds of war through the languages of the arts.
The Edinburgh International Festival of Music and Drama was first discussed over a lunch table in a restaurant in London towards the end of 1944. 

Rudolf Bing, convinced that musical and operatic festivals on anything like the pre-war scale were unlikely to be held in any of the shattered and impoverished centres for many years to come, investigated the possibility of staging such a Festival somewhere in the United Kingdom in the summer of 1946. Recommended Edinburgh as the centre and promised to make preliminary investigations. 

This years festival launch has been cancelled due to the coronavirus – sadly I expect fro the first time since its launch will not go ahead this year. https://www.eif.co.uk

The Big Light PODCASTS

A new generation of Scottish-based media is emerging and we are passionate about seeing it succeed.”
Stuart Cosgrove, ‘Talk Media’
With highly respected Scottish broadcasters – Stuart Cosgrove, Janice Forsyth and Professor Eamonn O’Neill (Talk Media)

The company’s founders - broadcaster Janice Forsyth ad former TV producer Fiona White - are working with hosts Stuart Cosgrove and Professor Eamonn O’Neill (Talk Media). 

Stuart said: “A new generation of Scottish-based media is emerging and we are passionate about seeing it succeed.” Eamonn added: “I love new challenges and innovative journalism in all forms. The chance to join The Big Light network team was irresistible. Being able to re-invent and build a new format for a massively popular slot, and then hatch amazing plans to take it in a multitude of different directions, was what sealed the deal.”’

Song Exploder - http://songexploder.net
This American Life - https://www.thisamericanlife.org
Dessert Island Discs
Great Lives

Friday 6 March 2020

Year of Scottish Coasts and Islands

waves off the coast of north Uist

This is the year we celebrate Scotland's magnificent coastlines. I’ve been fortunate to visit Scotland’s islands and its North coast. If the weather is kind (as it is in May or the autumn) there is nothing to surpass the wildness, the subtle, shifting light, blinding wind, thunderous waves or Scotland's perfect white sands.

Harris Luskintyre beach

Orkney near Skarra Brae


Varasay beach, Hebrides

Thursday 5 March 2020

REVIEW Celtic Connections 2020

I always look forward to this very special folk, roots and world winter music festival, which offers a great start each year and is one of the highlights of my year. The central hub is the Glasgow concert hall, with its 5 venues spaces which comes alive to the sounds of pipes, whistles, song and those foot-stomping reels! 

This is also very much an international festival with musicians and visitors coming worldwide. For the 18 days of the festival take over Glasgow venues. This year the festival twinned with Finland. 

Celtic Music Radio is the place to hear the Danny Kyle stage open mic performers. This takes place each day 5 – 7pm at the concert hall. This year I heard finalists Muckle Spree and John Edge and the Kings of Nowhere.

On the first weekend there was a festival within the festival - Coastal Connections celebrating the vast and scenically majestic Scottish coastlines and islands. For the price of one ticket we were treated to many top performers – Tiree based Skerryvore, from the West Highlands Diamh, from Oban Capercaillie and from Orkney’s Fara.  A dramatic 10 metre sea goddess puppet made from reeds and named STORM, walked from the Clyde to the concert hall. 

For the opening night concert the unique GRIT orchestra performed the Declaration – with 6 new compositions commissioned to celebrate the 700th anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath. As well as some of ever popular Martyn Bennet’s music.  

The Auld Lang Syne concert celebrated our great Scots bard Robert Burns, at the Glasgow concert hall when his songs were performed by Eddi Reader, Karen Matheson, Shona Donaldson and all were on top form. I was impressed by Jarlath Henderson, piper, composer and singer from Ireland.

GRIT orchestra the Declaration
Auld Lang Syne

I also enjoy the atmospheric Old Fruitmarket venue and this year saw This Caledonian Soul hosted by Blue Rose Code and his top soul band. His biggest influences are John Martyn and  he performed the song Fine Lines and a new song from his upcoming album. I’m a fan, and I highly recommend his albums.

Blue Rose Code, Caledonian Soul

Julie Fowlis

Rachel Sermanni

Plus the Scottish National Orchestra who performed Scottish composer, pianist, harpist Phamie Gow, composition Lammermuir, along with musicians Jarlath Henderson, Alasdair Fraser, Mairi Campbell.

To top all this I enjoyed the excellence of  the Transatlantic Sessions band with guest singers– Americans Cahelen Morrison, Sierra Hull; Irish Cathy Jordan and Scots singers Rachel Sermanni. Other highlights included – Cherish the Ladies, Roaming Roots Revue, Phil Cunningham’s 60th, Salsa Celtica, Blazin Fiddles and much more.
Celtic Connections festival supports new artists –  with workshops, the open stage, and the
Scottish Showcase – with over 200 delegates from 23 countries.

Karen Matheson

Transatlantic Sessions 2020
The arts bring us together. Celtic connections is a class example of music crossing boundaries. There is mainstream pop – then there is the craft, heritage and depth of making of the live folk songs. It inspired Bob Dylan to do something more authentic. .

Scottish Voices

Voices for Scotland - https://voicesforscotland.scot

Scottish Independence Convention - https://www.facebook.com/ScotConvention/

Bella Caledonia - https://bellacaledonia.org.uk

Progress Scotland - https://www.progressscotland.org

Two of the main Indy websites below. There are many Scottish Indy sites - how do we pull together with our online presence? Its all about fast impact these days. 

**Common Weal -  https://commonweal.scot

**All Under One Banner - https://auob.org