Wednesday 31 January 2024

Positives for a Free Scotland II


Recently I’ve had a health issue, and had to have various procedures and scans to access the problem and now another wait. Then a pre-op. As I read of the consultants and junior doctors continued strikes in England over pay and conditions, and the NHS there being eroded and under-funded. I am very grateful to live in Scotland and that I don’t have to worry that consultants or doctors are on strike here. Its bad enough waiting a week for test results.  

I’m glad my three grown-up children don’t have huge levels of student debt to pay off. I’m glad that Scotland is at least trying to protect health care for all and the NHS. I’m glad that under Alex Salmond, Scotland developed it’s renewable potential. I’m also grateful that Sturgeon prioritised babies, nursery and childcare - with baby boxes and a child payment uplift, because she recognised that you can forget the next fifteen years at school if children get off to a bad start in life. 

 

I’m glad Scotland wants to protect food safety (but worry we won’t be “allowed” to).  Yes the Scottish government made errors over the ferry procurement – but at the same time the Queensferry crossing was a success story. I’m certainly grateful to live in a Scotland where most people prioritise a well being economy, where all children deserve fair opportunities; where people value equality and a greener Scotland. The trouble is Scotland doesn’t have the levers to achieve this or a modern democracy - all it can do under the devolved settlement is to tinker at the edges.

 

In a federal state the central government has clearly defined roles – federal roads, foreign police – and they don’t have to “allow’ the states to do anything! This confusing and unworkable devolved UK system is a mess and not used anywhere else. In a federal state the central government doesn’t “allow” the states broadcasting rights, immigration laws, or vat rates. Each state has its own laws for starters. I lived several years in Chicago and it surprised me greatly, that major decisions were made at the local level. (while things in the US are not perfect by any means). I also didn’t realise back then I should be a proud Scot. So many Scots are ignorant of our own heritage and history. 

 

The UK system is like a parent/ child – where Whitehall will only allow the Scottish people certain rights, over our own lives if it so chooses. The British state since inception, has been fixated on centralized control, of supposed “stability” of the Crown in Parliament.

 

I’m proud Scotland has leading universities and innovative scientists, I’m proud Scotland has major international festivals and a successful creative community of artists and musicians. I’m proud Scotland has a wealth of resources – whisky, quality food, and the potential to be a world leader in renewables. 

 

Even while most Scots want better equality and democracy, we don’t have the devolved levers tover the economy o achieve this – and sadly Scotland is one of the most unequal and exploited nations in the developed world. Like many Scots I wasn’t taught to be a proud Scot at school - but to feel second rate to London and its history. Just as in Northern Ireland where children are taught about English rivers, but not about their own Irish rivers!

 

The union believes in a mono-global culture. In the 1800s European countries realised to harness their real potential they must have national renewal and national aspiration and the map of Europe changed from huge empires to the small nations of today. Scotland must join this Europe of sovereign, free nations. In order to shape and control our future destiny.

 

We can still share security and co-operate on defence with rUK, independence just means that Scots voices have a say and not just a tiny Tory elite.




Sunday 14 January 2024

Celtic Connections 2024!

 

 

Folk music. What is folk music?

This festival is definitively NOT about only about folk music. Some might argue it should be more narrowly about Trad – while others want to hear experimental cross overs and colorations. 

Celtic Connections is definitely full of unexpected collaboration. One of its strengths is it diversity – crossing boundaries while drawing on Celtic heritage and traditions, 

 

There is always a wide variety of MUSIC at Celtic Connections – with its breadth of genres and cultures. The festival is known as Europe’s premier folk, roots and world music festival, and the home of  spectacular musical collaborations. Celtic Connections has continued to expand into a multitude of genres over its 30-year history. In 2024 the festival will stage an ambitious  genre-defying programme of acoustic, traditional, indie, Americana, Jazz, blues, orchestral, experimental and more. 

 

Americana – Bruce Hornsby, Bela Fleck, Molly Fleck. 

Pipes – Finlay MacDonald, Skerryvore (folk rock), Ross Ainslie and Ali Hutton. 

Gaelic – Julie Fowlis, Joy Dunlop, Breabach, Daimh

New composition, orchestral

Fusion, and rock bands, 

Trad music, jazz and blues

Ceilidh and dance, 

 

Some highlights - 

Concert for revolutionary John MacLean - Red Clydeside . 

Irish group, the Bothy Band -

Dougie MacLean anniversary concert. 

 

The festival includes a Showcase, education, open mic, late night sessions, new talent, multi-cultural. Plus the Scottish National Whisky festival


Celtic Connections of one of the world’s largest winter music and folk festivals, I always remember being in the Press office with a London reporter. I said you must have folk festivals like this in London – he replied, ’Oh nothing at all on this scale!”

“Celtic Connections stands as a testament to Glasgow’s status as the UK’s top cultural and creative city, honoured by the European commission. The festival embodies a global tapestry of music, welcoming diverse traditions from across the world. “

 

I’ve been covering Celtic Connections concerts from 2008-2024 (over 16 years) with both reviews and photos. I have so many highlights to recall – impressive opening concerts, old Fruitmarket buzz, the ABC venue (sadly no longer there due to the art school fire), the late sessions, Danny Kyle stage – and so much more.

TICKETS   at www.celticconnections.comCeltic Connections 2024

 





Sunday 31 December 2023

SCOTS TRAD AWARDS 2023

 

Kim Carnie
Blazin fiddles

21stst MG ALBA Scots Trad Music awards

Took place at the Dundee Caird hall this November and was presented by Alistair Heather and Mary Ann Kennedy – the awards reflect the success and Scotland’s rich cultural heritage. 

Along with grand performances by Joy Dunlop, Duncan Chisholm, Peatbog Fairies and Scottish Trad party starters Manran.

Duncan Chisholm

**AWARD WINNERS INCLUDE - 

Ducan Chisholm – Album of the year

Peatbog Fairies – (Skye folk fusion)  - folk band of the year

Julie Fowlis – Musician of the year

Joy Dunlop – Gaelic singer

Eilidh Cormack - Gaelic Singer of the Year,

Iona Fyfe – Citty Finlayson Scots Singer of the Year

Blazin Fiddles – Folk band of the year

The Shand- Up and coming artist of the year 

Trail West – live act of the year

**The Gatherin south sessions – club of the year

Julie Fowlis


2023 Year of Challenges

  


Its been a strange old year! Of scandals, inquiries, conflicts, of unexpected turbulence, global wars, right wing populism. Bob Dylan wrote once – “I still say that some of the biggest criminals are those that turn their heads away when they see wrong and know it’s wrong.”We must speak up. Every voice matters – if one voice becomes a thousand ripples, like the little pebbles thrown into the murky waters. 

 

Its been a tough year physically for me, while I continue with my many projects. Then the day after news of an operation I’d require, I had my Facebook profile hacked and I’ve been unable to contact Facebook. Its been tough trying to reset up a new FB page – my previous online page had around 800 followers and 12 years of around 50 photo albums. Ah well… here’s to new beginnings! For 2024

 

“Those who see wrong, and know it is wrong, but say nothing…”

“I still say that some of the biggest criminals are those that turn their heads away when they see wrong and know it’s wrong. “ DYLAN,  I’m only 21 years old and I know that there’s been too many wars… You people over 21 should know better. The first way to answer these questions in the song is by asking them. But lots of people have to first find the wind.

 

*MUSIC 2023

Lana Del Rey – 

Christine and the Queens – 

Duncan Chisholm – Black Cullins

Bach Goldberg variations piano Vikingur

 

*YEAR in Scottish politics 

Has been very strange with many conflicting forces: I’m not sure how much I believe of the nonsense put out by the media and press coming out of London. London sucks in so much – in London they spend £75 per person on the arts, in the rest of the UK merely £10 per person:

 

And Gaza?

If a terrorist group from Ireland took UK citizens hostages – I would expect the British army to do something to retrieve the hostages ……… BUT I would not expect them to bomb children indiscriminately! Over 16,000 Palestinians have been murdered, half of these “people’ are children. 

I’d be wondering too why this group felt so angry they felt the need to behave in such a barbaric way. 

 

Nicola Sturgeon?  She was by miles the most popular politician in the UK. 

Humza Yousaf - The First Muslin leader in the western world. 

*I agree  with Gerry Hassan’s critical article on Labour’s failures to address any sort of vision for the British state.  What I don’t understand about these British/ English political parties is - what is there vision, or what country are they trying to emulate – America?  In Scotland with our aging population we desperately need young workers to come and live here.  How can they wend people back to France, when France and Germany are taking in far more refugees that the UK does. 


(Timothy Calumet will play the young Bob Dylan in a new film)