Glasgow Concert Hall
Sound Atmosphere Performance
Where else can you discover that the term ‘red neck’ originally comes from Aberdonian emigree ploughmen living and working in America’s deep south who suffered acute sunburn? Only from the talented and vibrant M.C. Mark Stein who started off the evenings spectacular performances with an array of beautiful tartan in the form of The National Pipe Band of Scotland – such an incredible talent of young and super young pipers who warmed up the audience and melted our hearts. A tremendous and emotionally charged intro to the 50th year anniversary celebration of Scotland’s Traditional Music and Song Association.
Keeping the ‘spirit of Scotland alive’ and hosting an evening of Scottish (and International) music that, ‘gets under yer cuticles like the red soil of the Mearns,’ we can feel our M.C’s passion and admiration for the performers whose line up included Sheena Wellington singing ‘A Man’s a Man For A’ That’ (Scottish Parliament opening) and the famous Barbara Dickson who poignantly shared her love of the TMSA and how she wouldn’t have had such an incredible career if it wasn’t for their belief in her. Hearing her singing and guitar playing was a special surprise for me having seen her accompany Elaine Page last century.
She sounded so different and hauntingly captivating with no glitz and glamour needed to touch us as deeply as she did.Adding to line up was Thomas McCarthy, an Irish singer from a travelling family who evoked warm nights round a peat fire and Mischa MacPherson , winner of so many awards in 2014 that she can be safely said to have swept the boards with her sharp, melodic gaelic songs.Jimmy Hutchison,Kris Drever, Shepheard, Speirs and Watson and Malinky completed the stellar line up.
Alli Bain, celebrating his 70th year and friend Phil Cunningham , celebrating 40 years of being a professional musician also made a guest appearance that is not listed in the Celtic Connections brochure. The house band comprised of Euan Burton, Anna Massie, Aaron Jones, Tom Gibbs, John Blease and Megan Henderson who it has to be said were exemplary, accompanying all the class acts effortlessly.
Impeccably directed throughout by young singer/songwriter Siobhan Miller who at one point in the evening sang with her father Brian Miller and Arthur Johnson who thrilled Nelson Mandella on his visit here many years ago. Incidentally, according to our M.C. only Glasgow council could rename the very square that the South African Embassy was housed in to Nelson Mandela Square at the height of apartheid forcing their correspondences to have the great man’s name on it !
Adam McNoughton , responsible for bringing so much traditional Scottish music to our schools sang a Tom Johnson ballad. Tom, also known as the ‘Calton Barber Poet’ or ‘Figaro’ composed ‘The Soor Milk Cairt’ in 1880 which Mcnoughton thrilled the audience with who joined in the chorus:
Wi’ her cheeks sae red and rosy, and e’en sae bonnie blue
Dancin’ and glancin’ they pierced me through and through
She fairly won ma fancy, and she stole awa’ ma hert
Drivin’ into Glesga in ma soor milk cairt
Rich voiced Sam Lee gave an inspirational performance of a Stanley Robinson song of whom he was a former pupil. Robinson was Scottish folksinger Jeannie Robertson’s nephew and taught Lee many of his ballads before his death in 2009. Londoner Lee, who originally studied at Chelsea College of Art has carved a career for himself in folk music winning Best Folk Club night in the 2010 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards for his folk club night The Magpies Nest.
Invited American singer Rayna Gellert from North Carolina sang us a murder ballad called ‘The Cruel Mother’ which she thought we would all love because , ‘hey who doesn’t love a good murder song?’ but was advised by Director Siobhan Miller to give us a wee pallet cleanser after which she duly did. Intense but brilliant.
This once in a lifetime event sponsored by Glasgow City Council and Creative Scotland ended fittingly with a song about how we may or may not meet again. If you get the chance to meet any of these show stopping talents I strongly recommend you do.
Reviewer : Clare Crines