As Celtic Connections celebrates all that is great about indigenous musics, it’s about time Scottish audiences got wise to what's on their own doorstep.
‘i.‘.’or'cls Stan Reeves
OK, so it's a Tuesday night and there rs a slight drizzle, but the gig was rn The List and it's about 50 yards from Edinburgh Castle. So why the empty pub7 Here I am listening to Simon Thoumrre and Kevrn McKenzie, by any standards two of Scotland’s most talented musicians If this pub was in Dublin it would be thick wrth folk, but here there are a couple of guys hanging on the bar and two middle-aged, middle Arriericans They can't believe their luck. Brilliant, last and Inventive music, reels tumbling out of jigs, flurrres of notes expanding the auld Scots tunes and the sharp, chopped jazzy chords surprising at every turn
’Don’t y0u people like Scots music here in Scotland7’ one of them asks, noticing the lack of punters. What can I say? How do you explain the twrsted, ambiguous, apathetic relationship we have wrth our own music7
I had a holiday in Spain. Woke up, put the telly on. the sound of GalaCra — the Grata bagpipes — at 10am A wake-up call to a 'Day for Santrago' All day the TV was full of traditional music from Santiago de Compostela. People were p0uring into the Crty for the fiesta and, that night, 100,000 jammed the square to watch a fireworks display that equalled anything at the Edinburgh FGSllVal.
The music, however, was of the place. Nae old ClaSSICS, nae insulting, colonrsrng 'Land Of Hope And Glory’, just GalaCrarn tunes on Galacran instruments, played as they had been over the past 1,000 years, Beefed up With bass and beats, this was the mu5rc of these people and they loved rt As the spectacle came to a climax, the Gratas were jorned by the great Highland bagpipes rn ’lvlurdo McKen2ie Of Torrrdon’.
The next night Martyn Bennett was top of the bill, playing to 10,000. Here, he can scarcely frll Edinburgh’s Belle Angele. Want to hear Shooglenrfty.7 Go to a stadium rn Sydney or the Shore Bar in Lerth. Any Friday night in Sandy Bells you can see musicrans who regularly fill huge audrtorra around the world
How do you explain the twisted, ambiguous, apathetic relationship we have with our own
Martyn Bennett plays to 10,000 abroad, so why not at home?
being rgnorecl by the punters
Balrrarn House in Inverness goes down the tubes, joining Aberdeen Alternative Festival, the Edinburgh Folk Festival and the Assembly Rooms cerlrdhs Meanwhile the Bongo Club hangs to good live music by the skin of its teeth We celebrate a new venue for 300 in Glasgow, just after a vrsrt by a Breton musician who plays the free 12,000-head open arr shows every Thursday on the docks in Brest.
It's not as if we have any shortage of acts Loads of people want to play the music, but we as a c'ornrrrunrty don’t have a notion of how to promote or celebrate it,
The meclra are mostly indifferent. I saw more well presented traditional music in a week On Galrcran Televrsron than I would see in a year on STV. The Scotsman (note the namei sacked its trad music reViewer, ex-Lrst writer Sue Wilson. After years of lobbying, arts funding rs trickling in at around 1%. Two or three local authorities are getting the message that supporting the indigenous musicians can have benefits The Tocirrst Board studies how traditional music could benefit trade and yet I have a row in a hotel in Aberdeen because the manager backs four punters who want to watch golf on TV and not 30 folkres who want to play a prearranged session
What rs gorng on? MusrCrans, get yer heads up. Jocks, get off yer knees. Funders, cast aside the king’s new clothes, Open yer ears. Get out. Get dancrn'. Give yourselves and the music, song and dance of this place some respect and you’ll get rt back a thousand fold.
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