Thursday 31 March 2022

Glasgow named as City of Music

Laura Marling

Cara Dillon and the RSNO


Glasgow is a vibrant and exciting city of music, with the diversity and range of music venues. It has a slightly wild, irreverent and challenging side. Many musicians also say Glasgow audiences are the best!


From the concert hall to the modern 14K seater Ovo Hydro; iconic mid-size venues and the large number of small venues. World renowned venues include – the Barrowlands, King Tuts, Oran Mor and the Old Fruitmarket. These venues offer a close up and intimate live music experience.


There is also the unusual and historic venues – the Tall Ship, on the Clyde, the Macintosh church, Nice n Sleazys, St Lukes, Brel. All this matters in terms of building a healthy and active grassroots music scene for the future. Plus a number of busy folk clubs, jazz bars and more.


Over the past years I’ve been to many memorable concerts and taken photos of my musical heroes. I saw my music and lyrics hero Bob Dylan on the Braehead arena - I have to assume he found the large SECC arena impersonal and remote for his previous gig here. I went with my teenage son and his audience is certainly a broad church – from the dedicated disciples who go to every concert, to the curious. At 70 Dylan is a proliferate as ever with a new album release in 2020, with his stunning, immersive songs.

Rab Noakes

Karine Polwart

Another icon was Paul Simon, Clyde Auditorium, which was uplifting and joyous. Plus Fleetwood Mac, Elton John, Neil Young. Paul McCartney.

On the smaller stages – Arcade Fire, Barrowlands; Admiral Fallow, King Tuts; Hiam, 

Oran Mor, Emeli Sande; Karine Polwart, Tall ship.


Blue Rose Code

Emeli Sande
I’ve seen other folk heroes at both Celtic Connections and Milngavie folk club - notably the legends Dick Gaughan. Dougie Maclean, Rab Noakes, Gaelic singer Julie Fowlis. And Blue Rose Code (Ross Wilson) was another favourite.


Plus the excitement of taking photos at the Royal Albert hall London for Emeli Sande!  2012.

I’ve taken photos at many top class gigs – its often been a thrill and an honour with the buzz of the pit and the adrenalin rush to try to capture the right image, that not only tells the story but the artist expressing their innermost reflections.. 

Music photography expresses my passion of both art and music.

The Arts and music is a huge industry for the UK and for Scotland. 


Glasgow boasts lively Trad sessions, decades of history, iconic venues, intimate gigs,


 Outstanding festivals, passionate audiences, record shops, 




Kathryn Joseph

Admiral Fallow

Reasons for Scotland’s Independence

Many write lengthy reasons for why they want to see Scotland’s independence, as I have too - and there are many reasons certainly. Many people don’t have the time for complex explanations. Here are my main reasons - Democracy, Economic, elites, Resources, Culture, History & Belief. 


Scottish Democracy.  Scotland does not get the government it votes for, for the past 75 years. This is mainly because of an out-dated first-past-the-post voting system.  On top of this the UK boasts the largest unelected second chamber (after China). The UK is a failed and superficial democracy. The first Parliament of Britain was set up as long ago as 1707, before universal suffrage or a constitution and crucially Westminster shows no sign of any desire to reform. The UK abuses the powers of the “Crown” with its highly centralised state.

Constitution. The UK operates with no constitution, so I want a new Scotland to set up a constitution to protect our human rights and protect democracy. 


Economic. One main reason is economic. The UK economy has been set up for decades to service the city of London – to increase its house prices and serve the finance centre. This holds back and sucks from the rUK, and means any manufacturing base is discouraged. Manufacturing business is the basis for a healthy economy. In order for Scotland to have economic control we require our own currency and central bank. 

Elites. Another reason is the unworthy elite, and the UKs proliferation of Boarding and Private schools. This 2-tier system holds back large numbers of children from future successes.

And leading on from this is Social Justice – so all children are given a fair chance in life. Otherwise our nation is held back .This is not about being equal, because clearly we’re all different, but about fair opportunities.

Resources. For Scotland to control our own resources and land. Our resources have been exploited and stolen for centuries.


Another is Cultural. 

To improve our knowledge of our past stories and our sense of place: to know our heritage in art, music, literature. Scotland suffered centuries of having our Scots language, culture and history suppressed. Scotland is one of the oldest nations in Europe and dates back to the 9th century – so its very important to protect our stories, culture and history. 


History. The teaching of history urgently needs improved and to continue history teaching throughout primary and secondary schools and to move on from projects on the Roman empire, to broader and more recent topics of Europe, America, and Scotland. Scotland was at the centre of the Enlightenment, Post Reformation with many top scholars taught in Paris and key figures such as - John Mair (1467-1550), James Dalyrumple (1619-1695), Duns Scotus (1265 – 1308),  Francis Hutcheson, 1694 –1746), George Buchanan (1506 – 1582), David Hune (1711- 1776), Adam Smith (1723- 1790). Scotland was a much part of Europe as France!


Scots Media and Broadcasting. To set up Scotland’s very own media. When the British broadcasting corporation BBC, was set up 1933, its strange that Scotland, an ancient nation begun 9th century, did not insist on its own media – when Scotland has always kept its church, law and education. Its been a cultural disaster for Scotland,

Security. To set up a proper defence system. 

Belief. In Scottish people and our ability to make our own decisions. 


What Scottish independence is NOT – it is not about nationality. Scotland is multi-national and international. Scotland welcomes all who want to make their home here. What Scotland independence is about, is making our own decisions for our ancient nation with a new de-centralised model and greater local government. Boris Johnson keeps calling those who want Scotland’s democracy “nationalists” – this is totally fake and WHY is he allowed to keep calling the SNP the ‘Nationalist party? He thinks this slow drip is very clever and the SNP must fight back with a SLOGAN – 

‘SNP for Scottish democracy” and make it much clearer what we are fighting for here. 

The National stands for the nations best interests. 


We might argue also in these times of turbulence Scotland needs the protection of independence more than ever before - to secure our energy policy, protect our resources and economy, protect our jobs, and futures and much more besides. We don’t need every detail decided ahead, only broad outlines, because the whole point of independence is to be flexible, innovative, creative and adaptable! 


There are no risk free options, rather we must consider what path is in our country’s best interests.  (OR a so-called union that holds Scotland back.) The Scottish independence movement must now make the Westminster supporters or the unionists defend their positions! Tory catastrophes – Windrush scandal, Grenfell, Brexit, Covid failure and deaths, bombs to Yemen, billions to PPI scandal. (Plus the Failures of the Labour opposition).


The UK portrays itself as a ‘benign democracy’ – when the reality is that the powers of the crown means a highly centralized government, that is often unaccountable, corrupt and elitist. I hope an independent Scotland gives us the chance to meet these challenges and to build a reformed and better Scotland.


Ultimately the Scottish Independence question becomes - is Scotland a nation with its own culture, history and stories distinctively and if so, how is Scotland best governed? The national interest is considered  a good thing around the world! The question returns to – is Scotland a distinct nation or simple part of Britain? It used to be Scotland was an integral part of the UK – but today the Scottish Parliament has less powers than a hundred years ago. The biggest issue driving a wedge into the UK right now is English nationalism.


Step back for the bigger picture with the crises of rising seas, loss of workers rights, drives to net zero and. It truly makes so much sense for Scotland to forge its own future in the 21st century. Any arguments to hold onto the past mistakes only ring hallow and false. We shouldn’t hesitate to vote for the future and not the past. Enlightened thought matters as much today as it ever did.


I don’t know if these reasons are in order of importance, because culture seems central and all about how we see ourselves. It is the smaller nations that are more successful and adaptable. With only limited devolution powers it is not possible to achieve these goals. Only with full independence. #¥esScots



(**In 2022 we see the passion and drive of Ukrainians. Theirs is a fight is between democracy, their rights and freedom AND autocratic dictatorship, that rules through fear. )

Art Exists to Give


 It is the work of minds alive,


“The great works of literature are inexhaustible- that is one of the things that makes them great. However often you go back to them, they will always have something new to offer.”


"Re-reading is one of the great pleasures that literature offers us.”


A little History of Literature, John Sutherland, IBSN 2014


 “Art exists to give, it is the work of minds alive.”

 "Since government know full well that an ignorant electorate is easier to guide, their interest by and large is not to educate anyone and certainly not to invest in the arts.”

McGrath – “We are in the hands of people with no concern for cultural well being” – 

BOOK – A GOOD NIGHT OUT, Popular theatre, audience, class and form (1987 John McGrath)

Theatre – directness, comedy, music, emotion, variety, effect, immediacy, localism of place, location of performer,

Commercialisation -TV sells American sports, sentiment, patriarchy, tv sells news as a commodity. 


“a set of tricks or disasters adding up to a fictional construct of the world.” The values espoused as fundamentally conservative.

TV is advertising – advertising exists to take stuff from you. Art exists to give."


The Plantations of Ireland

There is a great ignorance of history here UK. 

In European countries history is a main subject and is taught right throughout secondary school.

Here UK, history (unless a chosen subject) stops after only two years.

I firmly believe in order to understand correctly, analyse and imagine a better future, we must teach history and crucially modern history in our schools (and not the Tudors or Romans over and over!). 

An important story is Irelands independence and the Irish Plantations – not taught even in northern Ireland.  Even though I studied history to higher level in Edinburgh, I learned nothing of Scotland’s history – how bazaar! (By a unionist led curriculum). 

Henry VIII

1542 – Henry VIII, Tudor King of England, declared himself King of Ireland. 

Under Henry VIII 16th century, the Tudor expansionism and plantation of Ireland began and was continued under his daughter Elizabeth. Henry claimed he was bringing peace to the warring Irish tribes. (much as Putin is claiming today)


The Pale around Dublin had been under English control. It was decreed that it was a barony’s right to sit on the Irish House of lords. The Irish law of the tribes did not suit such an arrangement, because the chieftain did not have the required rights – and the plan was abandoned in 1563. There followed one million deaths due to famine, displacement, and pestilence.

There was the disruption of the Nine Years War, followed crucially by the Fight of the Earls in 1607 – the rulings O’Neills left their northern Irish territories for Europe. 


17th century – There was the War of the Three Kingdoms, Charles I executed 1649 and Thirty Years war in Europe.

In 1789 a great frost destroyed crops, 250K died, and 100K were transported to West Indies.

1798 United kingdom – Irish Catholics and Presbyterians for reform, democracy and an independent Ireland – the United Irishmen.

There was the Great Famine 1845 – 1851 when one million died, and one million emigrated (half of all immigration to US was Irish.

Ireland’s population continued its decline until 1961. Ireland’s population reduced from 8m – 4m.


1801  - UK of Great Britain and Ireland formed, governed from London; and pushes for the two kingdoms to merge to quell sectarianism, remove discriminatory laws and to prevent spread of French republicanism and calls for reform for democracy.

*Ireland’s Independence

Daniel O’Connell and Charles Stewart Parnell, campaigned for Home Rule 

Late 19th century, (Irish nationalists MPs), Westminster committed by the Liberal party, to Irish Home rule, first bill defeated, third Home rule was introduced, suspended by first World War. The Conservatives opposed and threatened violence and 1914 weapons smuggled from Germany by the Ulster Volunteer Force, to oppose Home rule for Ireland. 

Homerule bill passed 1914 but the First World War delayed the act.


*Easter Rising 1916

For full independence rather than Home rule. Irish Convention 1917-18

– by the Irish citizens army – after which 15 leaders were executed over 10 days and one thousand imprisoned. This changed opinions – and support for Irish Republicanism increased because of the war and conscription crisis.

Sinn Fein, won election 1918, and proclaimed Irish republic (Dail Eiream)


British Lloyd George proposed Home rule.

Fourth Home Rule to divide Ireland was passed May 1921, with the creation of Northern Ireland - with 26 counties Dublin/ 6 countries Belfast.

1921 Great Britain and northern Ireland formed.


There followed 3 years of Irish civil war

December 1923 – Anglo-Irish Treaty

Eamon de Valera ended 1923


Ireland had to fight for its independence. Union/ Plantation caused huge loss of population, and Irish Gaelic and culture were suppressed. 

Since Ireland joined the EU it now does most of its trade to the Europe and has a hig level of economic growth. 


***Important dates many of us know little about -

Ottoman empire

War of the three kingdoms

Thirty years war

Elizabeth Stuart

Wednesday 16 March 2022

Nicola Benedetti First Scots Director of Edinburgh Festival!


Nicola Benedetti Celtic Connections 2012

Classical violinist Nicola Benedetti has been appointed as the new director of the Edinburgh festival – the first Scot and the first woman, since its start after the second world war in 1947!


The festival prepares to celebrate its 75th anniversary next year 2023 and event director Linehan (previous director) wants the event to be a “huge civic event from celebration to requiem.” Russian Conductor Velery Gergieu, (as a result of incursion and war on Ukraine by Russia) has been asked to resign as honorary president by the festival  - Edinburgh is twinned with Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital


I first saw Benedetti perform at the opening concert of Celtic Connections in 2012. She had been collaborating for an album with Shetland fiddler Ali Bain and composer Phil Cunningham Her playing was magical and elevating. 

Benedetti began violin at age four. At 10 she began studying ta the Yehudi school, Surrey. She sat Grade 8 at age nine. Benedetti has performed with the RSNO, Scottish opera, LSO, Scottish chamber orchestra, London Sinfonia. 

Awards, Young BBC Musician 2004, member Royal Society Edinburgh 2017. (MBE 2013, OBE 2019.


Grammy 2020 for Marsalis violin concerto, fiddle dance suite. 

Benedetti was given a 1717 Sradavinsky by LSO board member Jonathan Moulds. 


Nicola Benedetti is an arts educator and ambassador for classical music. She improves the lives of deprived children through Sistema Scotland and the Big Noise orchestra. She enjoys exploring new music and challenging new ideas.