Thursday, 30 June 2022

Rab Noakes at Milngavie folk club

 

Noakes performed SONGS: Branch, Gently Does It, Together Forever, Oh Me Oh My, Out of Sight Out of Mind. 

 

This evening at the Milngavie folk club was to celebrate Noakes 75th birthday and still going strong.

 

Rab spoke of all those significant people he has worked with over the years. Rod Clements, Gerry Rafferty, Brooke Williams, Jill Jackson, Barbara Dickson, And praised the women’s voices - and the all women in his band he had backing him at Celtic connections 2019.b

 

For his interview with 

He spoke of his respect for women’s voices - Helen Forrest, thanks for everything. The gorgeous voice, Jill Jackson, Jo Stafford, unforgettable, And of working with the young Scots singer Iona Fyfe and he spoke of her harassment and Equalities award. 

 

Rab spoke of his influences, such as the Everly brothers, his depth of interest in the song, and of Studio B Nashville, and his experiences travelling in the American south. He spoke of Bob Dylan’s 2021 album 'Rough and Rowdy' ways, a terrific place of work, and quoted from the song 'False Prophet' - I’m the enemy of treason, I’m the enemy of your meaningless life.”

 

He spoke of his style/ image he enjoyed Italian suits and aspired to be a teddy boy, winkle pickers, He likes to keep things smart. He said he was less political then he was, as it gets in the way, He was asked if he might write s book of his experiences, and replied that authors are very disciplined

 

He took some audience questions – How much was he influenced by Gerry Rafferty, back in1969 with the band Stealers Wheel? He responded that Rafferty had been a stimulus rather than inspiration. 

 

Noaeks was asked about the best song ever written - he dipped into his back catalogue for the song Westerin Home 1952. He talked of the great Michael Marra and his writing of his Fife connections, and said its good to write songs where you live, to write local. 

 

Rab’s been through some tough years with illness and loosing his wife Stephie last year from MSA illness. “When I had throat cancer, and Stephie got sick, He spoke of the pain but that “I don’t let myself get dragged into dark places, times getting short.” He spoke of writing songs with Stephie which influenced and channelled into his music, with the Treatment Tapes and Water is My Friend. 

 

He keeps his spirits up with music and friendships keeping him going – as do his long time supportive fans! Rab has often played house parties. I hope he keeps writing and being inspired by his musical heroes, such as the legend genius songwriter Bob Dylan! 

 

Noakes’s influences are broad from Americana, folk and blues. His songs express personal and memorable storytelling, matched to his intricate and melodic guitar style. 

 

http://rabnoakes.com

I will never forget singing in harmony his early songs on folk nights many years ago…

 

 

Edinburgh Book Festival 2022!



 

Edinburgh International Book Festival 2022 returns

with 600 events, 550 authors, 50 countries – under the banner “All Together Now”.

 

EIBF returns with a full program this year and hopes to recreate that buzz, after the Lockdowns. To build on the hybrid format developed over two years of pandemic – with live, in-person events also available to steam online.

 

For the first time since 2019, nearly all events will be live on stage in Edinburgh and will add a new venue at Central Hall - a 700+ seat theatre space in the heart of the city and a 5 minute walk from the Festival Village at Edinburgh College of Art.


 EIBF has re-located from its Charlotte square site (since 1982) – to save the 120 trees, the festival has been hurting their roots with the amount of foot fall: this has been an ecological decision. The festival’s new home will be the Edinburgh University Future’s building which will offer both enough indoor and outdoor space and a village green space.

This year the festival takes place at the Edinburgh art college Lauriston place.

 

*EIBF director Nick Barley  - “We’ve learned a great deal since 2019 – the world has changed immeasurably with the pandemic and war in Europe – but we’re also beginning to imagine what a better future should look like. Exploring these issues in inspiring conversations with scientists, historians, poets and novelists is exactly where the book festival comes into its own.

 






AUTHORS for 2022 – Ali Smith, Alexander McCall Smith, Julian Barnes.

Nobel peace prize winner Maria Ressa, Outlander Diana Gabaldon, linguist Noam Chomsky, director Armando iannucci. Meg Mason and many more.

FM Nicola sturgeon in conversation with Louise Welsh and Brian Cox (of Succession fame)

 

The festival plans to be more inclusive with Stories and Scarm – for all to tell our own stories, such a Syrian refugees. The festival has been encouraging people from all backgrounds. 


PLUS Val McDermid with her new book 89, which charts Scotland history via a thriller;  Maggie O’Farrell, Hamnet, her new book set in the Medici Renaissance. 

Douglas Stuart, author of Young Mungo, in conversation with Ian Rankin, 

Music – Martha Wainwright, Jarvis Cocker, Vishti Bunyan, Ricky Ross, Stuart Cosgrove.






Also discussions on the role of Europe, impact of war with Ukrainian historian Sarhii Plokky.

**PLUS the large Children’s Book Festival with its

Baillie Gifford program – Julia Donaldson, Cressida Cowell, Michael Morpurgo. And new super heroes, Little Badman and Stunt Boy.

 

'Come together' for conversations with storytellers, musicians, politicians, actors, chefs, illustrators and more this August. Attend live in-person events in Edinburgh or watch events at home, 

**Tickets  https://www.edbookfest.co.uk

 







The Glories of the Scots Kings


 
James IV and Margaret Tudor

In film and TV, Scots Royalty is often portrayed wearing drab cloth is dingy castles, and as backward or out of touch heathens! These images are totally untrue! Recently Stirling castle has been renovated to reveal a highly colourful and richly decorated ceiling in the Great hall.








The Scots Crown jewels
 and the Stone of Destiny were hidden after the incursions of Edward Longshanks.



The Scots welcomed Charles II back and  he was crowned at scone, after he promised to protect the Scots Presbyterian religion. But he went back on his word. 

For centuries Scots had close trading routes to Flanders and were highly influenced by European materials, style and fashions.

 

The Reformation, while bringing enlightened thought and education, also meant much of Scots Art was destroyed. But one remained hidden in  abasement according to artist Lauchlin Goudie.


 



This suppression of another nation’s culture and language is a way of destroying that nation. Russia presently in the process of flattening Ukrainian buildings but its also about crushing Ukraine’s’ culture and language. 


James V

 James V wears a gown with sleeves of cloth of gold, a fabric woven with expensive gold thread. Such a material, which could be melted down to release the precious metal, was a conscious demonstration of wealth and kingship. The collar is encrusted with hundreds of pearls – a style of which the Scottish king appears to have been fond. His wardrobe inventory of 1539 describes a gown with a hood and collar ‘stitched with 49,500 pearls’. The large-scale undulating design seen on the sleeves falls into the category of motifs later classified as pomegranate. Pomegranate patterns for fashionable clothing were increasingly replaced by smaller-scale designs during the sixteenth century, although later artists such as Anthony van Dyck continued to use them as backdrops in their portraits.







The Rise of Tik Tok

 

Kate Bush

The streaming of music changed the music charts 2009 to 2010, with new download charts and push back. Buying music CDs was once the only effect of music charts

Streamings started to count towards the charts

Tik Tok has introduced older music to a new generation. Download videos and short 15 seconds of music and dance moves.

YouTube has also been an important site for music, especially live music. 

 

Tik Tok – 

Harry Styles has been up against Kate Bush with her Running up that Hill’ by Kate Bush 1985, because of plays on the Netflix show Stranger Things

 

Early 2019 – a drumbeat $30, millions used it) artist shot to fame – old town road unpredictable.

 

Sam Ryder’s ‘Starman’ gained success through Tik Tok and the Eurovision song contest

Another song having Tik Tok success is ‘Dreams’ by Fleetwood Mac

 

Plus an impact of cover versions.

Traditionalists may not like it, but music fans are more in control

 Another add on having an affect on the music industry and charts. Its been organic and not over commercialised and more engineered.


Wednesday, 29 June 2022

Niteworks with BBC SSO Celtic Connections 2022


Niteworks

This key concert of Niteworks with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra (SSO) was rescheduled from January due to the Covid restrictions, as part of Celtic Connections 2022.

I first heard Niteworks from Skye supporting the Grit orchestra for their Bothy Culture concert at the Hydro, at Celtic Connections music festival in 2018 and was impressed with their music.


Sian

What a top class concert. 

Gaelic singers, Sian, which means storm or the elements are - Caitlin Lilidh, Ellen MacDonald, Eilidh Cormack (singer year Scots Trad music) are supporters of Gaelic song composed by women. Sian sang perfect vocal harmonies. The Gaelic voice offers such a unique experience, with lilting emotion, both soft and poignant. They were backed by Innes White on guitar.



Kathleen MacInnes


Niteworks from Skye, worked with composer John Logan and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra (BBC SSO) to create a one off concert with orchestral versions of the Skye band’s genre-bending music, 

 

Niteworks performed with full on energy.

- and clearly enjoyed the treat of having the full orchestra, to enrich and complement their sound. The band were joined on stage by a line up of quality singers –

Beth Maledin sang an moving interpretation of the English traditional song John Riley, followed by the renowned Gaelic singer Kathleen MacInnes.

 

At the front of the stage were a young, dancing and standing audience. An immersive and joyous evening. 


During the lockdowns the band collaborated on Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Farewell film reflecting  on the pandemic, with the orchestra. This then has had an impact on their music for their new 2022 album A’Ghrian (the sun) with a more expansive and cinematic sound. 

 

This young band fuse their Skye influences with contemporary sounds. and draws comparison to innovative piper and composer Martyn Bennet. They mix the Hebridean song traditions and bagpipes with stirring electronic dance rhythms and driving drumbeats. The band have worked with several Gaelic singers and the Kinnaris Quintet and have headlined music festivals.

 

(**This concert was filmed so hoping it will be shown on BBC Scotland)

 

NEW album A’Ghrian (the sun) is available herehttps://www.niteworksband.com


Niteworks

Sian

Drawbacks of first Past the Post

 With a Proportional Representation or PR voting system a party must have 50% of the votes – and they must work collaboratively. And crucially each vote has equal value.

With the UKS outdated First Past the Post or FPTP voting –

70% of votes are wasted

50% of votes go to loosing candidates.

Most voters haven’t voted for their MPs

 

Only a few thousand swing voters matter

Some seats haven’t changed for100 years.

Vote worth less in a safe seat.

Only marginal seats matter

And political diversity is suppressed with a minority rule.

 

In 2022-

Tories have 80 seat majority with 44% of the votes and 100% of the power

Lib Dems 17% of votes and 1 seat

Greens 18% of votes and 1 seat

Labour  (50K votes for each seat)

Tories (38K votes for each seat)

 

 

How can anyone who supports democracy support FPTP? 

 

Tuesday, 31 May 2022

Scotland must move forward with new ideas

 

Scotland must move forward with new ideas from the tired, old arguments of the social left vs extreme right capitalism, all controlled from a centralised power. There must be a new way – more nuanced, inter-changeable, connected, more accountable and inclusive, greener and more local. To be forward thinking, to pursue coalitions and the collaborative. To have ingenuity and renewability. To listen to young voices and believe in the future, rather than clinging to past, out-dated processes.

There are social issues that require policy guidelines and laws. Its urgent with the climate crisis to establish a progressive energy security policy and encourage reform and research and more scientists in politics. I’ve lived abroad and in most other developed nations most states run their own economies, immigration and more. Scotland’s future must lie with an improved way to govern. What is wrong is constantly harking back to live in a past that is gone and being stuck as the Westminster Bubble is. Everything Westminster or the Tory government does feel wrong, undermining democracy and with no moral compass. And encouraging its 2 tier system. 

Why I believe that History matters. I’ve learned from reading history – that the Scots did not invade Ireland under James VI, the plantations of Ireland were begun under Henry VIII and his daughter Elizabeth; that Scotland boasts three ancient universities; that Scots scholars established American universities Columbia, and Princeton, and were part of the founding fathers (John Witherspoon (1723 – 1794) according to Professor Tom Devine;  and that religion really IS a force for good in the world but that its ambitious and ignorant politicians who thwart and encourage religious divisions for their own gain; That there were 'United Irishmen' late 1700s for reform, that included both Catholic and Presbyterians. Perhaps (?) improved local government and decentralization would assist with northern Ireland issues? Who knows.    

The Scottish enlightenment has been Scotland's biggest contribution to the world and there were two enlightenments, according to Alexander Broadie, Professor of Logic and Rhetoric at Glasgow university in his book, The Scottish Enlightenment. The first was Post Reformation with Scots scholars studying and teaching in Paris, and being leaders in Europe; This resulted from the collaborations between France and Scotland. Scotland had close trading links to Flanders and the rest of Europe, in those days when we had busy seafaring ports. Scotland before union 1707 was a trading and outward looking nation and a leader in Europe, not isolated or backward at all!

Broadie writes about the first Scottish Post Reformation enlightened scholars and that Enlightened thought began with the collaborations between France and Scots in the 16th century. The professors at Scotland’s ancient universities studied and taught in Paris with famous figures in philosophy, law and theology. The auld alliance between France and Scotland lasted for over 400 years from 1290 to 1707, and continues to this day.

Scotland is very much a European country according to according to Broadie. He writes that Scotland was culturally as much part of Europe as France, with the shipping lanes to Flanders and France and Scots scholars studying in Europe. ‘The three pre-Reformation, Scottish universities – St Andrews, Aberdeen, Glasgow - have always been strongly oriented towards Europe” ..and that the teaching staff were foreign-educated Scots.”

 

Scotland’s European connections are centuries old, dating from 16th centuriy and beyond – and not only about wars but about our scholars, language, ideas and innovations. Many Scots words are from Flanders and France.

 

Its important to understand the significance of the Reformation and of enlightened thought on democracy and education in Scotland and worldwide. According to historian Tom Devine, Scots enlightened thinkers took their philosophy over to America and founded universities there, notably John Witherspoon who founded Princeton– and Scots were some of the America’s founding fathers. Freedom from intellectual servitude is celebrated by Robert Burns in 1796 when he lauds the stance of the man o independent mind, in his poem A Mans a Man for a That.  The man o independent mind is aboon them all.

 

II  History matters and is good for us! Essentially history gives us a moral backbone and human understandings. So there should be an increase in History teaching in schools, right through secondary school. Information and truth is crucial to move forward. To know history as a solid foundation. This teaching should run alongside the teaching of philosophy, which encourages critical thought.

In recent times we have witnessed the breakdown of democratic principles both in Europe and the US. We hoped the internet would open opportunities, but sadly it also provides dark tunnels of entrenched negativity. Our best defence is education, open debate, open minds – the opposite of narrow and limited populism. Crucially this is done through the arts, history and philosophy – and let us look to enlightened thought and freedom of speech as the way forward. 


Scotland's Enlightenment Freedom of Thought & Speech

 

The Scottish enlightenment has been Scotland's biggest contribution to the world and there were two enlightenments, according to Alexander Broadie, Professor of Logic and Rhetoric at Glasgow university in his book, The Scottish Enlightenment. The first Post Reformation with Scots scholars studying and teaching in Paris, and being leaders in Europe; This resulted from the collaborations between France and Scotland. Scotland had close trading links to Flanders and the rest of Europe, in those days when we had busy sea faring ports. Scotland before union 1707 was a trading and outward looking nation and a leader in Europe, not isolated or backward at all!

Broadie writes about the first Scottish Post Reformation enlightened scholars and that Enlightened thought began with the collaborations between France and Scots in the 16th century.  The professors at Scotland’s ancient universities studied and taught in Paris with famous figures in philosophy, law and theology. The auld alliance between France and Scotland lasted for over 400 years from 1290 to 1707, and continues to this day.

Because how could the enlightenment of the 1700s just happen - “the discoveries of 18th century were only possible because Scotland was already strong in sciences, in mathematics, experimenters and informed observers,” 

Scotland is very much a European country according to according to Broadie. He writes that Scotland was culturally as much a part of Europe as France, with the shipping and Scots scholars studying in Europe. ‘The three pre-Reformation, Scottish universities – St Andrews, Aberdeen, Glasgow - have always been strongly oriented towards Europe” ..and that the teaching staff were foreign educated Scots.”

 

Duna Scotus

James Dalyrumple 


The first Enlightenment was led by the scholars such as Duns Scotus (1265 - 1308), Philosopher and theologian;  John Mair (1467 – 1550). Professor theology Paris, who tutored John Knox; James Dalyrumple (1619 – 1695) Father of Scots Law and leading European. George Buchanan (1506 – 1582) Historian and scholar who taught James VI. Father of democracy; and many others.  **The second Enlightenment was in the mid 1700s, led by famous thinkers such as Frances Hutcheson, Adam Smith (Wealth of Nations, Theory of Moral Sentiment); David Hume, historian and philosopher; James Hutton  (1726 - 1797) geologist, naturalist and physician: father of Geology. The Scottish enlightenment is bound up with our country’s identity, and reaches back to the Reformation and beyond to the great cultural achievement of medieval Scotland.”

Some writers however claim the enlightenment began in England (and mention John Locke (1632 - 1704) and then spread to France – is this correct? Then again the term ‘England’ to many world wide is interchangeable for the term ‘Britain’ and Scotland is a mere region of England/ Britain much like Yorkshire or Devon. Does this deliberate distortion of history and geography matter? The BBC certainly view Scotland as a region. I believe it does, as Scots have over the centuries given significant achievements to the world, which in the past century have been ignored and downplayed and with Scots generally made to feel second rate. While the BBC broadcaster clearly has “a region for Scotland” agenda, with no mention of Nicola’s US trip all week on BBC radio Scotland – I’d not have known about her important trip to discuss global issues, if it wasn’t for reading the National newspaper.

Enlightened thought is crucial and our best defence against ignorant and often cruel dictatorships. Populism and dictatorships have been spreading around the world in recent times and are a threat to liberal democracies everywhere. The lack of moral leadership in Johnson’s has been causing a crisis of trust here in the UK. We’re now suffering chaos, no foreword energy planning and the central policy of service industries, based on the city of London. There is no real serious leadership at the centre of this floundering disunited kingdom. 

David Hume

Frances Hutcheson

James Hutton

II  Before the Reformation and enlightenment there was “slavery of the mind” and free thinkers were not only imprisoned but burned at the stake for heresy and for daring to think for themselves and not blindly obeying the authority. The enlightened thinkers believe that ‘thinking for ourselves’ is more moral, creative and superior to suppression and control. “an acceptance of authority, constrains and distorts humanity; and that to think and look for ourselves is morally superior; and means to grow intellectually.” Dictators fear the ‘chaos of democracy” and democracy certainly has flaws. However debates and liberty are also democracy’s creative strengths. 

 

To improve ourselves we must use reason and common sense and to learn the lessons history teaches us. David Hume recognised the need to use reason to fight ‘bigotry and superstition.’ Rulers feared freedom would lead to ‘chaos’ – here in Britain too. When the French and American Revolutions took place late 1700s, the church in Britain preached against the ‘French terror’ and reformers for votes for all men were exiled to Botany Bay (such as the martyr Thomas Muir).

 

There were two main principles of enlightenment – 1. Freedom to think for ourselves. Freedom of thought  2.  The social virtue of tolerance. The Scottish Theory of common sense. And the balance between personal responsibility and responsibility for society and a moral compass. Another key aspect of the SE was that is was a highly social activity with many societies, clubs and debating and meeting places. 

 

Enlightenment reasoning means challenging and thinking for oneself, rather than accepting dictates from a religious or political authority or mass media – how is democracy even possible without critical thought? I used to believe democracy was only possible with a free press, decent education, rule of law, balance of power and a certain level of economic growth. Of course all this reasoning and enlightened thought requires effort! Broadie claims the Enlightenment continues to this day.

 

The Scottish enlightenment’s impact on democracy and reform have been greatly ignored. I only first heard of this incredible history in a talk by professor Tom Devine a few years back, even though I studied higher history at school in Edinburgh, it was all English history we were taught. 

 

George Buchanan

III   A few miles north of me, in the historic village of Killearn, there is a tall memorial to the scholar George Buchanan 1506-1582 and I was curious – who was he and why the tall monument? He was tutor to the young Stewart king James VI and put forward the theory that real power resides with the people -  De Jure Regni apud Scotos, published in 1579 - one of the most important books on democracy and an essential text in our understanding of the constitution and the state. Professor Alan Raich writes on Buchanan, 

“His book follows the Declaration of Arbroath (1320) in saying 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 all rulers) if  they become tyrants….There were many attempts to suppress his work, particularly by the king he tutored and he foresaw where stupid Stewart vanity would lead. He was a major player in the European cultural context.”

 

The inscription reads – “born Killearn. He was famed in Europe for scholarship and poetry. His witty satire on a corrupt church led to exile and imprisonment in Europe. He travelled widely teaching in France, Portugal and Italy. He returned to Scotland in 1561 to the court of Mary Queen of Scots. He achieved high office as keeper of the privy seal and served as moderator of the church. He taught Mary Queen of Scots and James VI. His advice on the responsibilities of rulers was influential during the 1688 constitutional change and in the formation of the American constitution.” Wisest among the wise.” 

 

That’s the first time I realised Scotland before the union with England, was not a dark, isolated, backward, or ignorant place as often portrayed in both TV and film. The reality actually is that Scotland has given many innovations to the world, not least crucially the theory of democracy and government for the people, by the people


Scotland’s European connections are centuries old, dating from 16th century and beyond – and not only about wars but about our scholars, language, ideas and innovations. Many Scots words are form Flanders and France.. 


Its important to understand the significance of the Reformation and of enlightened thought on democracy and education in Scotland and worldwide. According to Professor Tom Devine, the Scots enlightened thinkers took their philosophy over to America and founded universities there, notably John Witherspoon who founded Princeton– and Scots were some of the America’s founding fathers.  

Freedom from intellectual servitude is celebrated by Robert Burns in 1796 when he lauds the stance of the man o independent mind, in his poem A Mans a Man for a That.  The man o independent mind is aboon them all.


Adam Smith author Wealth of Nations