Saturday, 18 July 2015

Scottish Samurai

Thomas Blake Glover 1838 – 1911. Indsutrialist and etrepeneur, traavelled to Japan in 1859 and later imported the first steam locomotive. He helped to establish the Misubushi Shipyard and receivedd the Order of the Rising Sun from the emperor in 1908. He was the Victorian Scotsman credited with helping to make Japan a modern industrial nation.

He was the Victorian Scotsman credited with helping to make Japan a modern industrial nation. A new exhibit Aberdeen’s Maritime Museum and a visitor trail exploring the life of Glover have been created to highlight the Scot’s place in Scottish-Japanese history. The booklet and trail were presented to the custodians of Thomas Glover House and Gardens in Nagasaki by the Cabinet secretary for culture, Europe and external affairs, Fiona Hyslop.

Japan and Scotland are celebrating the "Scottish Samurai" for helping to unite different cultures across the seas - Thomas Glover. -

Friday, 10 July 2015

Peggy Seeger Oran Mor

The timeless story of songs and words

I enjoyed a gig last week at the Oran Mor Glasgow with the delicate clear voice of folk legend Peggy Seeger (wife of renowned folk  songwriter Ewan MacColl) She sparkled and shone at the age of 80 and took us into her world of music. She said that it is only music that uses all of our minds.

What a lovely classy, dedicated and informed lady!  She offered us some of her collection of stories she held in a large notebook – some were funny, some profound and some moving. Seeger is an accomplished musician and the daughter of folklorist Charles Seeger and her brother is the American folk singer songwriter Pete Seeger.

The Gig
Peggy played a full set with her two sons from 7.30 to 10, (there was no support) with a twenty minute interval. I was glad I wasn’t late!  I feel sure it must take careful thought to choose from a lifetime catalogue of traditional folk songs and stories to chose from. Peggy beamed and showered little pearls of wisdom. 

They began the set with the traditional folk song Hard Times. They sang of longings and of good times and the words, “The dark rolling sea between you and me, How I long for the days gone by.“ Neill and Callum sang Freight Train and also a couple of unaccompanied songs. 

She clearly enjoyed sharing the stage with her two sons with Neill and Callum, who provided lovely blended backing harmonies and guitar. They played some traditional folk instruments - autoharp, banjo, guitar, concertina and piano. Ewan and Callum sang Freight Train. and also a couple of unaccompanied songs. 

The family trio finished the set with the life-affirming Ewan song The Joy of Living. For their encore Peggy treated us to the real version of MacColl’s most famous song, First Time Ever I Saw Your Face. Folk artists sing with a realism and true heart and never over sing or over do the emotions. 

There are no pretensions or airs or graces around Peggy. She stood for several songs and for others she clutched her instruments. Occasionally she waved her hands and arms wide. Peggy beamed and showered little pearls of wisdom.  It was heartening to see Peggy still full of joie de vivre and ready to command the stage! At 80, not only is she wise and like the highest quality red wine, she is still challenging herself to be fresh and relevant. 

After Ewan died Peggy returned to America. She returned to the UK in 2010 and has recorded her first ever solo album which marks a musical rebirth after she suffered from serious ill health.

In 2015 Peggy released Everything Changes. She has said that she enjoyed greatly working with a full session band for the album, which was produced by her son Calum MacColl and features musicians Simon Edwards (Talk Talk, Kirsty MacColl), James Hallawell (The Waterboys, David Gray), Martyn Barker (Shriekback, Goldfrapp) and Kate St John (Dream Academy, Nick Drake). 

I was pleased with my photos and hope they tell the story of the gig - it is always a challenge and at a classy gig like this full of dedicated folk fans I don’t like to disturb the set and I always aim to be discreet.  I take photos either seated or at the side. This was a family affair with her sister-in-law managing the tour.

Women need to say STOP! 
One story from Peggy stood out – about an Amazon tribe where they considered the men tended to be destructive – they cut down trees for canoes, they killed animals for food and they fought wars. Wheras the women were the nurturers of the crops and the children. So they felt the women needed to tell the men when to stop. They would say STOP, we have enough canoes stop cutting down trees. They would say we have enough to eat, STOP killing animals. We don’t need any more wars STOP! When one of the tribe visited the western world she wondered why there were only male voices to be heard and why the women were not saying STOP.

Music is the healer and motivator.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

NEW MugStock music festival 2015

Mugdock Park, just north of Glasgow will host a new music fstival in August 2015. The project has brought together an eclectic and quality line up of local and international talent. It will also include family and fun entertainment for all ages.

I have seen some of these artists live and can vouch for their being of the highest standard – there is a quality indie element here.

Back in 2007, I took photos at the first Mugdock music festival -

Broken Records

Preston Reed, Orkestra del Sol, Siobhan Wilson, Dave Arcari, The Amorettes, Colonel Mustard & the Dijon 5, Theremin Hero, Mickey 9s, The Girobabies, Broken Records, Jamie & Shoonie, Scunner, Mammal Hands, Scunner, and Mr Boom!.

MugStock Festival of Music and Merriment takes place at Mugdock Country Park, Milngavie, Mugdock, in Glasgow from Friday 7th to Sunday 9th August 2015.

MugStock Is a new boutique festival and run by a non profit organisation of an epxerienced team.
Sourcing performers and musicans of the highest calibre, offering sustenance from the finest breweries and gastronomic mestros the UK has to offer.  Mugostock festivals pledge is to offer young and old revelers alike the opportunity to enjoy an interactive experience set amidst the stuning surroundings of Mugdock Country park.
An eclectic selection of international legends, home-grown favourites, musical virtuosos, emerging artists and people who dance around with glitter balls on their heads

Scottish Writers museum

Scottish Writers museum
There are possible plans to have a proper Scottish Writers museum perhaps next to the Scottish library.  
At present there is a very small Scottish Writers museum at the top of the mound in Lady Stairs close, with only access up a narrow staircase and that houses only the writers Robert Burns, Robert Louis Stevenson and Walter Scott.  

I visited the wonderful and colourful Dublin and a few years back and I was highly impressed with the Irish writers museum housed in an impressive historic building.
I visited Dublin once - home of Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, Yeats and others and the Irish Writers museum was inspiring to visit. I had thought I'd find the city of music here - but instead it was the city of poetic words, slightly off-centre colours, a large open heart and.... a singing bus tour guide of course!  
Irish Writers museum
I notice in the Sunday Times magazine today that they list great biographies of American and English literature greats with not one mention of any great Scot there.  So here is an excellent biography by the poet and professor at St Andrews, Robert Crawford, of the unmatchable Scottish songs smith and poet Robert Burns - The Bard .