Wednesday, 31 March 2021

Women Musicians

KT Tunstall is performing in a new song We Rise Up -  a song for women’s rights. 

There are many high quality outstanding women musicians coming out today with their first albums – 

Valerie June, Phoebe Bridges. While few women headline festivals. But here's a big shout out to women who have headlined at Glastonbury - Beyonce, Dolly Parton, Kylie. And women who are lead singers with renowned bands - Stevie Nicks, Pretenders. 


KT Tunstall
Martha Wainwright
Stevie Nicks

I have photos of several top women musicians who have performed here in Glasgow venues – Laura Marling with the RSNO, KT Tunstall, Emeli Sande, Imelda May, Warpaint, Hiam. 

 

Scots singers - Iona Fyfe, Rachel Sermanni, Siobham Miller, Cara Dillon, 

Gaelic singers - Julie Fowlis, Kathleen, MacInnes, 

 

Women provide often thought-provoking new voices from a different perspective.

 

Laura Marling
Cara Dillon
Julie Fowlis
Nicola Benedetti


Warpaint

Scots Makar Jackie Kay

 

Excellent chat with Jackie Kay with Janice Forsyth about her 5 years as the Scots Makar on BBC Scotland’s afternoon show -  https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/jackiekay

POEMS

Poem for new babies - Lullaby welcome wee one

Poem for the Queensbury crossing - The long view

Poem for the Homeless, 

Scottish Parliament 2020 – Farewell for Hogmanay

plus the baton from poem to song.

  

Jackie chose singers – Celeste Lean on Me, Nina Simone, Peggy Seeger, 

 

BOOK - Elif Shakaf, How to Stay Sane in a world of Divisions 

 

“Its been a joyous , interesting ride to have been to every major city and to have been to so much of the highlands an disbands, rural part of Scotland. And incredible journey..

 

Nicola Sturgeon, “Jackie Kay made an enduring and positive impact –and has widened the  appeal of poetry.”

 


Tuesday, 30 March 2021

Thatcher’s Deregulations and the dangerous cladding


Thatcher stopped independent "Building safety" and "Material certification" as she believed in a reckless free for all capitalism for businesses. This de-regulation left a harmful legacy. A recent horror has been the disaster of Grenfell tower, when 72 people lost their lives. So who is to blame?

 

The main flaw was cladding that created a fire trap around the tower block. It now turns out that 11m people are trapped and unable to sell in modern buildings that are surrounded with this cladding. The construction firms of this cladding were left to do their own inspections – rather than an independent inspection firm. So who is liable and who should pay to remove all this cladding?

 

On Newsnight they spoke of the tax payer footing the bill, just as the tax payer had to pay for the banking collapse of 2008 – rather than the banks. The Tories plan is even further de-regulation. 

The Tories unregulated capitalism means we all pay a price.

 

First Lockdown anniversary Day of Reflection


We are alone with our thoughts and also not alone. We are all in this together.  The world has closed in on us.  Its been hard to comprehend the scale of this deadly virus, or where it all will lead us.  

Its been an opportunity too, to reassess what really matters in our lives. The daily walks have helped a great deal and reconnecting and appreciating nature in a new way, as we never did before. There’s been the pain of missing family and the distance between us, and wondering when we can meet again. If there will be a day we can hug again.

 

There’s been the zoom chats to keep contact alive. There’s been anger at the stupidity and incompetence of leaders, who pretend they are following the science.

And we are not alone we know the entire world is suffering and fighting this virus too. We must figure it together.



Richard Holloway speech to Scottish Parliament

He quoted Albert Camus -There are more things to admire than despair over. He expressed his gratitude for all the healers – the Doctors and nurses and scientists and care workers, who refused to bow to Covid. Gratitude for those who have guided us through the darkest days.

Another virus is political authoritarianism, which is spreading across the world and has killed the life of freedom (Isaac Berlin) Disagreements are vital – they are rival versions of good, allowing disagreements to keep us free. Democracy is hard, he said and he expressed gratitude to the Scottish parliament for allowing disagreements to flourish. 

 

 

There are many people we need to thank – Nicola Sturgeon and her hard work and consistent messaging that kept us going every day. The health adviser, particularly Jason Leith and Linda Bauld

Those who kept vital services going, particularly the health workers who were often stretched beyond their very limits. 

The scientists who strove so hard to develop safe vaccines. And particularly the children and young people who’ve had their lives disrupted. 



Empty Princes street Edinburgh

Some of us have suffered more than others. And we must remember all who have lost loved ones and not be numb to the dreadful death totals – with the UK the highest number.

 

We have become numb to certain feelings, not in a good way: because we must learn lessons for the future. At times we may feel in a time loop! We must understand its now essential to reduce pollution, reduce dairy and meat intake, reduce unnecessary travel, and buy local. And understand economic growth is not all its made up to be. There are other routes to leading productive and healthy lives. We must be prepared for any future pandemic (and there will be one) – and next time take swift action which protect lives and economies - and shut borders. 


People put rainbows and other messages in their front windows. 

One of the best memories from the first Lockdown last year was the wonderful clear air, the quiet skies, less noise pollution and the perfect blossom. I thought, this was what the world was like once, before all the pollution, the unnecessary air travel, the dirty chemicals and pesticides spewed into our rivers, the fumes that kill in our air. Instead we were able to hear the enriching bird song.

 

 

Sunday, 14 March 2021

Scots Language recognised Spotify!



Scots singer Iona Fyfe campaigned recently to have Scots language added on Spotify.

She had noticed on Spotify that there were all other living languages – Welsh, Cornish, Gaelic, Irish,

But no Scots. She contacted Spotify, asking to have Scots recognised also, but was ignored. 

 

Then she met a Spotify executive at a music event in America and told him of her request and within a few days Scots had been added. 

Result. Well done Iona!

 

I took photos of Iona at Celtic Connections and was impressed with her voice. Check her out here –  https://ionafyfe.com


Iona Fyfe Celtic Connections


Sunday, 28 February 2021

Ewan MacColl version of Scotland


Ewan MacColl & Peggy Seeger


 

MacColl was a Scottish indy supporter

He wrote some incredible songs. 

He is remembered best for his songs – Dirty Old Town, First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, Shoals of Herring

He was born Salford, Jimmie Miller -he would lie and said he was from Auchterrarder and had a Glasgow childhood. 

 

He had Scottish parents – his mother from outer Hebrides. He read of 19th century Gaelic poet Eoghan MacColl of Lochfyneside. He collected Scots ballads, 

 

MacColl recorded album of street songs from Dublin, Salford and Glasgow with Irishman Dominic Behan. He was friends with Scots poets Hugh MacDiarmid and Hamish Henderson.

 

MacColl was part of the Scottish Literary Renaissance – 1920s, 1930s connected to the Celtic revival movement renewed cultural nationalism. Both looked back to poets such as William Dunbar and also to contemporary poets such as Ezra Pound, TS Eliot, WB Yeats, Edwin Morgan , first Scots Maker. 

Town planning of people and their environment – place-work-folk. 

Also novelists  Neil Gunn, Lewis Grassic Gibbons, 

Scottish Gaelic Renaissance – Sorley MacLean.

Edwin Morgan

Hugh MacDiarmid

He had strong left wing views and monitored by M15. He married Peggy Seeger lived Beckenham, Kent on his song royalties. He was a prophet not fully acknowledged. Who felt and imagined himself as part of the Scotland of his parents. 

 

We need honest visionaries who recognise the past and see the ways forward.

BOOK: The cultural and political life of Ewan MacColl by Ben Marker.

 

Irish Times columnist Fintan O’Toole writes, “MacColl’s influence on the culture we live through now is so ­pervasive as to be almost invisible – so much taken for granted that we hardly bother to see it.”


Saturday, 27 February 2021

Believe in Scotland


Indy Winners 2021

Believe in Scotland - Led by Gordon McIntyre Kemp: Group independence winner 2021 and Business for Scotland - https://www.believeinscotland.org

Lesley Riddoch – individual indy winner, broadcaster, journalist, and activist. - https://www.lesleyriddoch.com

Important films on the success of similar small indy nations – Faroe islands, Iceland, Norway, Estonia.

 

-National newspaper - https://www.thenational.scot

Encourages debates from both columnists and readers letters. Several quality contributes and offers a voice for those. 

 

AOUB marches  - https://auob.org

Voices for Scotland - https://voicesforscotland.scot

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

 

Details of Scots Indy

Young people support Scots indy by 75 %, 

making Scots indy inevitable. 

They see little if any benefit to the union.

 

Currency. We must have a Scots pound right away and run both currencies side by side, 

Trade: 60% England, 19% EU, 20% elsewhere. 

Ireland’s trade was mainly with England, now its mainly to the EU.

 

The union of 1707 was a trading treaty. England went back on this deal and has therefore illegally broken this treaty multiple times. 

Scotland population  5.46 (8%)

Wales population 3.15 (4.7%) 

Northern Ireland population 1.89 (2.8%)

England population 56m (84%)

Therefore England is way too big for any kind of radical federalism a proposed by the Labour party. At the time of union Edinburgh was the second biggest city in Britain and Scotland’s population was 1m England’s 5 m.  


The EU. 

Scotland has for centuries had stronger links to Europe than England and voted by 62% to stay in the EU. Scotland has its own distinctive culture, history and language and is the oldest nation in Europe. 


Federalism. This population chart shows so clearly WHY any kind of federalism will never work in the disunited and over-centralised UK state.

England    Scotland    Wales    Northern Ireland
Class Issues.  Class is also an issue over Scots indy, as those from elite private schools tend to believe their middle class status is protected by the union – as history tells them. But this holds back the rest of the country as studies show. 


 

YES Challenge - https://yeschallenge.scot


Agency

Reformation is a crucial part of Scots history, and helped to lay the roots of the rise of the west. by making personal responsibly a virtue. 

 

And the interpretation of the bible by ourselves, rather than a priest. This led to improved education in which Scotland led the way, with its university traditions. To take responsibly for our work ethic, self regulation and perseverance. Our own agency. 

 

The novel and poets took up this idea also. That not only kings and queens mattered, but that the lives of ordinary people had an effect on the backbone of society too. As empire has declined, the reasons for the union has disappeared also. Scotland sees the many other newly indy nations of recent times across the world and wonders why not us too? I watched all these small nations enter the Glasgow stadium at the Commonwealth Games 2014 Glasgow, and wondered too. 



 

Thursday, 11 February 2021

CELTIC Connections 2021 review



Celtic Connections 2021 offered hope, renewals and light in dark times. 

This was such a treat to enjoy so many quality concerts in the comfort of our own homes! Variety is a key word at Celtic, and one of its strengths. 

 

The festival celebrates different cultures and the range and quality of talent. It also showcases Glasgow impressive, historic venues - Mackintosh church, Kelvingrove galleries, Barrowlands, City Chambers, old Fruimarket, 

 


The digital festival aired over 30 concerts showcasing over 100 musicians. It has been a huge success with sales (tickets and passes) surpassing expectations with 27,000 sold to audiences from over 60 countries. Over 10.5 million minutes of musical entertainment have been enjoyed by viewers over the last 19 days. 

 

I particularly enjoyed concerts with – Duncan Chishom, Elephant Sessions, Vent Du Nord, Blue Rose Code, The Roaming Roots Revue, The Opening concert, Karen Matheson. Other Highlights – Fara, Breabach, Dreamers Circus, Admiral Fallow, Jose Gonzalez (Sweden), The Staves, Molly Tuttle, Karine Polwart, more. And the Roaming Roots revue with Songs of survival,  


The ‘Farewell concert‘ ended the festival with a lone piper at the Glasgow SEE Hydro, the first performance there for a year - will we ever see it packed again? Also included was haunting Gaelic singer Darren MacLean. There was a poignant poem by Edwin Morgan, The Release. And while the pure tones of Rachel Sermanni sang her song ‘Lay my Heart’ the video showed highlight moments from this years online Celtic Connections. I recommend for a finale showcase of the breadth and quality range of talent. 



The festival overs the whole range of emotions with emotional melodies, reassuring vocal harmonies, and energetic rhythms. The festival is a platform for folk traditions and new talent.. While a scaled down festival this was an impressive line up! Here’s hoping to be actually at the concert hall in 2022! 

While a scaled down festival this was an impressive line up! Here’s hoping to be actually at the concert hall in 2022! https://www.celticconnections.com  




Strange times indeed. Music gives us a voice,

Brings us together,

Offers new horizons,

New hopes,

New dawns, 

That we can dream again, hope again, 

Touch again. 

 

Sunday, 31 January 2021

Scotland influence on Democracy and the American Constitution

Declaration of Independence

Scottish moral philosophy influenced the Founding fathers. 

Scottish enlightenment figures contributed to the American national character, constitution and democracy.- such as David Hume and Adam Smith.

Francis Hutchison – 1740 argued for the right of colonial resistance to tyranny. – and Thomas Reid.  

Recently I was inspired to hear Professor Tom Devine on Radio Scotland speak of Scotland’s great influence on the establishment of American democracy and constitution. 

 

“John Witherspoon (1723 – 1794) was a Presbyterian cleric from Paisley Scotland, who was the greatest force towards developing the national character and a signatory on the Declaration of independence.  Princeton was the seminary of statesmen from President to the Supreme court.”

 

“In the 18th century the Atlantic highway from Europe to America was a highway of ideas – of philosophers, clerics, physicians, and a great influence on the American first constitution. Scotland’s philosophical influence is mainly forgotten today – and sadly the image of Scotland is one of Brigadoon, whisky, bonny glens and hills. “

 

“American scholarship emanated from Scotland with the influence of the Scottish Enlightenment. Late 18th century Scots laid the foundations of the first USA universities – Columbia and in particular the College of New Jersey, now know as Princeton and its first president Scot John Witherspoon. “Scots were Founding Fathers and through John Witherspoon had a profound influence on the American constitution.”

Founding Fathers

What a relief to see Biden as American President along with the first woman Vice President! He spoke of humility, unity and healing and celebrating diversity. About the importance of our fragile democracies and how we must protect them. 

 

Scots Americans were some of American's Founding Fathers and profoundly important to the American Constitution - such as the Scottish Enlightenment figures, Scottish Moral Philosophy and Scot John Witherspoon who founded Princeton. I was amazed to learn!! It seems to me there has been a deliberate suppression of our histories:

 

 I lived 10 years in America and I had no idea of the significance of Scots to American history - except I did see many Scots graves in a small heritage village in the Smoky mountains. Now I can feel proud because the pillars for the transfer of power are so important. "We can only build dreams together." Many place names in America are Scottish. 

 

"Americans built their world around the principles of Adam Smith and Thomas Reid of individual interest governed by common sense and a limited need for government.' 

Historian Arthur L Herman

John Witherspoon

**During King James Stuart VI expeditions set up the first British trading settlement called Jamestown was named after the Scot. Scots trade to Virginia and religious prisoners from the War of the Three Kingdoms arrived 1670s. Glasgow did the main trade of tobacco, in defiance of English restrictions of colonial trade. In return the colony received Scottish manufactured goods, emigrants and ideas.

In 1670s and 1680s, Covenanters or Presbyterian dissenters fled prosecutions by the Royalist privy council under Charles I - to settle in south Carolina and New Jersey. 

The Scots Darien project failed, partly due to England blocking trade. After the Act of Union 1707 - Scots emigrated because of the commercialization of agriculture and the Highland Clearances. 50K Scots settled in the 13 colonies 1700s.

The Covenanters, who had ruled Scotland for 80 years (1581 – 1651), many left for America after being persecuted under Charles II.  

John Witherspoon – Presbyterian college of New Jersey at Princeton. Emigrated 1758. Scottish common sense school of philosophy and his thought son American liberty 1770s. signed of declaration of independence. He was concerned at the interference of the London government on previously devolved issues.

*Scots Americans came in 3 Main Groups - The Highlander Scots, Lowlander Scots and the Scotch Irish

Highlander Scots  - 1700s the Jacobites and the breaking up of the clans, the Highland Clearances. Highlanders often maintained their culture of the clans, such as Gaelic language and their music: they moved to Georgia, Mohawk Valley, Upstate New York, Cape Fear river, mostly loyalists. Many Highlanders left fro Canada.

Lowlander Scots – 18th century to New York and New Jersey, were well educated – clerics, lawyers, merchants, medics - professionals with commercial ties to the crown. They tended to be loyalists. Many were prosecuted Covenanters.

Ulster Scots or Scotch Irish, from the Lowlands of Scotland who under Henry VIII colonized province of Ulster to pacify the threat of Catholic Ireland 17th century Plantations. They left for America to the Appalachian mountains. They owned tobacco plantations, in Virginia and Carolina. Their indebtedness was an incentive for separation and had commercial ties to the old country. Scots-Irish settled in Tennessee and were drawn into the rebellion. Music Border ballads. They were mostly Patriots. Scots fought on both sides of the War of Independence

Devine said that in 2021 it is tragic that a Scots descendent has had such a wicked influence on American democracy today. Rednecks also came from Scotland. 


II  *American Founding Fathers

James Addison – Tutored by Scots minister. Princeton. 

Thomas Jefferson -  Taught by Scots Presbyterian minster. 

John Adams – Harvard Boston. 

John Jay – Columbia university

Benjamin Franklin – English

George Washington – Military career. 

Alexander Hamilton

*Alexander Hamilton - Attended Colombia University, Scots father and orphaned Caribbean. 

He joined and trained Patriot volunteers, senior aid Washington. Founder American financial system, US coastguard and New York Post newspaper. Today there is a population musical 'Hamilotn'

*Alexander McDougall – a friend of Alexander Hamilton. He organised the evacuation by boat, after the Patriots defeat at the battle of long island. The Sons of Liberty Reformers and New York Patriots. Alexander McDougall and John Jay were captains New York provincial artillery 1776.

 

*John Mercer – fought alongside George Washington. He had fought at Culloden and he was a martyr for the Patriot army. . seven years war.

 

*John Wilson – lawyer.  Consideration of the extent of the legislature . 

that power derives from the people. A framer of American constitution: he was also a justice of the supreme court.

 

*George Buchanan (1506 - 1582) – The great scholar George Buchanan, who based his writings on the Scottish clan system and he was the father of democracy. He wrote that all political power resides in the people, and it must reside in the people: and that it is lawful and necessary to resist kings (or queens) or (we might say all rulers) if they become tyrants. There were many attempts to suppress his work by James VI and he foresaw where stupid Stewart vanity would lead. 


Scottish school of common sense 18th century

Philosophers David Hume and Adam Smith, Dugald Stewart, Thomas Reid, William Hamilton, 

 The Scottish moral philosophy had a considerable influence on American constitution. They argued against scepticism – inherent in the acquisition of knowledge and to develop philosophical wisdom. 

 


Blue Rose Code at Celtic Connections



Blue Rose Code aka Ross Wilson, improves with each album!  His new album is certainly a step up.  With his folk and soul mix, and raspy vocals along with his brass and guitar band, he brings to mind Gerry Rafferty or Van Morrison. 

He’s composed a heartfelt and soulful song to counterbalance these challenging times – Peace in your Heart. 

 

Wilson performed songs from his new album With Headings of the Deepest Kind at a wonderful concert as part of the Celtic Connections music festival 2021.

- Stardust, Love a Little, Wild Atlantic Way,

And a moving rendition of Amazing Grace in his own inimitable style. 

 

https://bluerosecode.com


This quality concert also included Lyre, Karen Matheson and Rory Butler.

Highly recommend.