Wednesday 30 June 2021

Piping Live!


Piping Live is a major Scottish piping festival.



A week long celebration of piping culture with everything from traditional Piobaireachd to contemporary bands all lined up to represent the international world of Piping.

The week culminates in the World Pipe Band Championships organised by Glasgow Life on behalf of the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association.

So if you love piping, or are completely new to the pipes there is something for everyone at Piping Live! 


Other artists appearing are the ever popular Manran, and Mairearad and Anna.



Is Scotland a nation or Region? Radio Six Music

A few weeks ago, I was listening to a Radio Six Music program– ‘Cerys Matthews – A Birthday Tribute to Bob Dylan’ to celebrate his 80thbirthday. She was having a chat with one of Dylan’s legion of serious music fans. They were discussing the influence of British or Anglo-folk on Dylan’s music. Mathews asked whether Irish folk had a major influence on Dylan’s music. The fan replied, well apart from being close with the Clancy Brothers during their time in Greenwich village, not so much but,….. that Scottish folk music…

Matthews interrupted and stopped him twice and then said, “Oh we can't single out one region of the UK for particular attention.”

It took me aback and I thought, clearly those in England view Scotland as a region, merely due equal attention of other regions of England – say Yorkshire or Northumberland – and not a nation or country in its own right. A region of England? This is truly shocking and clearly politically driven.

Matthews must be unaware that Scotland is in fact the oldest nation in Europe with centuries of history, trade, inventions, kings, ballads, traditions, song, culture, and leading writers, scholars, Scottish 17th century enlightenment and philosophers. The Scots have contributed a great deal to the world.

And Scots do not feel English or even British in any sense – so how exactly are we a region of England/ Britain? Scotland’s Law, language and culture have been supressed for centuries. But since the union 1707 poets, artists, writers and musicians fought back to keep the Scots traditions going.

Back last century Scotland was very much treated as North Britain. Perhaps this all used to work once, during empire, but not anymore. Perhaps (?) there was once more equality between the UK nations, but not anymore. So is England south Britain?

I was keen to hear the influence of Scottish folk on Dylan: although I know he named Robert Burns love song ‘Red Red Rose. as the poem that influenced him most. Burns was also a song collector, as Dylan is, and he took the traditional Scots ballads and adapted and wrote new verses for them. And on the topic of Robert Burns – he was NOT an illiterate, drunken womaniser – but while a poor tenant farmer’s son, he was highly read and educated.

I would prefer to see more respect and consideration shown by the BBC to the OTHER 3 nations that are part of the British Isles – so we can all enjoy a healthier democracy and a more grown up partnership. Surely in the modern age it is time for this?

On the other hand its become clear to most Scots that the BBC does not represent us and never will. (With Indy we must set up – Scots media, trade links, currency, central bank) This is the ultimate question for us now – is Scotland a region or a nation? 

50th Anniversary of Joni Mitchell’s Blue album



Hard to believe, where does time go! I have to name Joni and this album as probably my biggest musical influence, how I’d love to have seen her live!


First she colours her words with such vivid and honest imagery – with shades not only of blue but every other colour in-between.  

 I am a lonely painter, I live in a box of paints, 


 I’d play her Both Sides Now on piano. There are only a few albums you come back to over and over – where the songs linger and pull you back.  

So I grew up on Joni Mitchell.  Her Voice. Well actually I first learnt to play and sing the stage musicals and Burns songs.  I can't remember when I first heard Joni's pure and touching voice but her personal and intimate songs became ingrained in my head, in particular Both Sides Now. 

Her dreams and passion took me skyward when I was young and the sands of time stood still for those moments. She sang of her sorrows and offered us a voice. Most memorable was her pure soaring voice. She wrote of loss, of heartache and love with more creative insights than I'd heard before.  I remember the deep blue colours on her 'Blue' album sleeve. I bought the sheet music and played it often. Like Dylan some of her lyrics are so true we never forget them.  For me Joni is at her best when her songs are lost in those confessional deeply felt emotions.  





A bit late - my favourite Dylan songs - Visions of Joanna, If not for You, Make you Feel my Love, Tangled up in Blue, Tambourine Man. So many questioning, ironic, layered, story telling songs. Thanks Bob. Good to be alive in the times of our Bard.


.. oh yes things have changed alright...