Friday 9 January 2015


Transatlantic Sessions
Fred Morrison
Julie Fowlis
CELTIC CONNECTIONS 2015 starts next week on 15th January!

Celtic is one of the music highlights of the Scottish calendar, with many top musicians worldwide and such interesting collaborations. Celtic is the world biggest folk music festival - with over 2000 performers, 300 shows, over 18 days and 20 venues.

Van Morrison is the biggest name this year.
Other highlights include, Fairport Convention, Eddi Reader, King Creosote, Skerryvore, Roaming Roots Revue, Braebach and more.

The main concerts are held at the festival.s centre, The Glasgow Concert Hall, which will host many of the bigger names and concerts;

Glasgow Concert Hall
The Opening concert will feature the music of Scottish composer Martin Bennett's Grit album with the full orchestra.

There is a tribute concert to celebrated songwriter and folk legend Ewan MacColl (1915 - 1989) hosted by his sons Calum and Neill - with Dick Gaughan, Martin Carthy, Karine Polwart, Jarvis Cocker and Eliza Carthy.

A show of the award winning Hollywood composer Craig Armstrong new album it's Nearly Tomorrow with singers Paul Buchanan, and Brett Anderson. His cinema scores include Moulin Rouge, The Great Gatsby and Romeo and Juliet.

Other highlights include - Fairport Convention, Eddi Reader, King Creosote, and world music with the exuberant soul of African singer Angelique Kidjo and the Scottish National Orchetra.
And of course the sold out Transatlantic Sessions with top musicians form Scotland and America joining forces – led by fiddler Aly Bain and dubro player Jerry Douglas. 
Nicola Benedetti
Rab Noakes
The Old Fruitmarket often hosts fun celeidh bands; The City Halls for seated concerts; The O2 ABC Sauchiehall street for some of the younger indie bands. The Oran Mor and St Andrews on the Square will hold smaller concerts – which can also be outstanding events with creative and top artists. You can check the festival’s online brochure for more details.
Angelique Kidjo

It is also well worth checking out the open mics at the Danny Kyle stage for new talent and also the Late Sessions which so many of the performers turn up for.

 Celtic Connections 2015  - 'music that is personal and unique'. Music that holds hundreds of stories like the big old tree.


Thursday 8 January 2015

French Murders

Gunmen shot dead 12 people at the Paris office of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in an apparent militant Islamist attack. I don’t know what this achieves…

I don't understand these "extremists" groups or what they hope to achieve through the murders of innocents.
If they feel downtrodden OR unheard they should take a leaf from the Black civil rights movements - they had their voices heard through MUSIC, POETRY and ART - and this works far far better!!

Here is William Bell and the beautiful Josh Stone singing together at the New Year!
Apartheid (Afrikaans pronunciation: [ɐˈpartɦɛit]; an Afrikaans word meaning "the state of being apart", literally "apart-hood") was a system of racial segregation in South Africa enforced through legislation by the National Party (NP) governments, the ruling party from 1948 to 1994.
I hope people in large numbers from what ever culture, background or country they come from, can speak against terrorism of any kind for the evil it surely is - and speak up for good, education and rights for all.

ISIS apparently want to kill all non-Muslims? Is this true? If so what on earth is religion about? If religion is connected to culture and tribalism then how can the world be only one tribe – that would means the end of tribes, it all makes no sense at all to me.

The other narrative is that George Bush and Tony Blair, decided to over threo Saddam Hussein to avenge the 9/11 attacks on New York and left a vacuum in Iraq which has been now been filled with people with no education, lots of money and advanced weaponry. 

Monday 5 January 2015

Glasgow School of Art Restoration

The famed and beautiful Macintosh building was badly destroyed by fire in 2014. On the BBCs Scotland 2014 program recently 3 options were discussed.
(1) to restore the art school to its former glory as all the designs are still here and were kept safe. (2) To build a totally new building. (3) To design a new building around the fire with some of Mackintosh's work included. 

I've asked friends and most reactions I've heard are to restore the Mackintosh building.
I was rather aghast - to me it looks like opportunism by a present day architect to redesign the school. Innovation and creativity such as Rennie MacKintosh and Margaret MacDonald showed us, come along rarely in a life time.

I believe this great historic building should be an Art Library and Research centre and a place for exhibitions and visitors. I don't care whether the school is a workable place for art students and concept instillations. Art students doing risky instillations can do so in another place in my view.

President of the Royal Institute of British Architects, Stephen Hodder, said: “The most important work by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, an architect of international significance, Glasgow School of Art, is held in the highest regard by architects and the public alike.“It was rightly judged to be the best building of the past 175 years, in a nationwide poll run by the Royal Institute of British Architects.
“Damage to  building of such immense significance and uniqueness is an international tragedy. It is irreplaceable. 

*Poet Robert Burns and The Romantics

He remains today, not only Scotland's, but one of the world's greatest poets. He notably wrote one of the greatest love poems and songs My Love is Like a Red Red Rose and also Green Grow the Rashes O.
One of the greatest parting songs, Ae Fond Kiss
He also wrote one of the greatest poems ever to friendship, Auld Lang Syne.

I recited and sang Burn's poems at primary school, I remember well, Up in the Mornings' No For Me and To A Mouse as well as Ca the Knowes. Recently the beautiful versions of Ae Fond Kiss by Scottish female singers Eddi Reader and Karen Matheson have brought Burns back into my life. As has the powerful version of Green Grow the Rashes O by Michael Marra. 

He wrote some of the greatest poems on nature such as To a Mouse, Westlin Winds, Mountain Daisy and more
He wrote political poetry, sometimes over looked and even ignored - on slavery Slaves Lament, on selling people down the river and on the rich being bribed in Parcel of Rogues to the Nation.

Few poets have managed to do this so clearly, beautifully or so movingly.  His words have musicality and fit perfectly to melodic tunes (not written by Burns) 

He also wrote one of the greatest poems on equality, A Mans a Man For All That -
that in  another place might have been made into a song
and caused a revolution.

The Romantic Poets and Their Circles
Oddly, I wonder is Burns taught in English schools while we learn Shakespeare here in Scotland. I am reading a book by professor Richard Holmes on 'The Romantic Poets and Their Circles' which includes Burns. Surprisingly Burns's important and world-renowned catalogue of work is squeezed into two simple pages.
Walter Scott is also squeezed in somewhere as another after thought.

Robert Southey is remembered for his Three Bears story, Wordsworth for his daffodils;  
Shelley, To a Lark; Keats, Ode to a Nightingale. I am not sure that many can recite or sing these poets words though.  
There are other errors too - Jerusalem, written by William Blake, is referred to as a substitute British national anthem! 

We understand Burns, he is everyman – he grew up with nothing yet he brought words of magic and spiritualism. I read of the romantic poets, of Shelley educated at Eton and many of them attended Cambridge University and I realise that many of them were men and women of privilege - Shelly in his yacht, Turner travelling Europe. Wheras Burns received a chequered and diverse education as the oldest son of a poor farmer. 

There are similarities between Scots, Irish, Welsh and `English but there are also profound differences.
I was surprised to learn during the referendum that Scotland is a third of Britain's land mass. I was saddened that the better Together campaigners knocked on old lady pensioners doors to scare them about loosing the pound and their pensions.  A fight based on fear and lies does not produce harmonious results.  

Robert Burns (1759-96) remains Scotland's greatest poet, songwriter and song-collector. Regarded by Keats and Wordsworth as a morning star of the Romantic Movement in verse, he was also admired by Beethoven and Haydn who set accompaniments for many of his songs. A farmer turned excise officer, he attracted censure for his outspoken advocacy of electoral and parliamentary reform, yet he died a serving soldier in a Volunteer Regiment during the wars with post-revolutionary France. The Burns Encyclopaedia was first published in 1959 by Maurice Lindsay and this is the fourth edition - the first since 1980. All aspects of the poet's biography and literary output are covered, as are his correspondents and contemporaries, many of the latter set against the backdrop of Enlightenment Edinburgh. The present edition has been thoroughly