Nothing much to report on the music side of things this month – no gigs, and a chance for Irene, Duggie the Dug and I to get a couple of weeks away in the campervan, after we’d cleared the guitars and songwriting paraphenalia out of it. I took my wee Taylor acoustic away on holiday with me, but it didn’t come out the case at all.
As always, we headed for a week at Carradale Bay in Kintyre, and for once the sun beat down on our upturned apple cheeks for the whole week – fabulous weather in the most fantastic place, and great as always to catch up with all our pals who live there. On the first night we went to a concert of local musicians paying tribute to the late John Martyn, who had Carradale connections, and the standard of performances and musicianship was astonishing for such a wee community. Local artists the Twisted Melons from Campbeltown should be much more widely known, and watch out for singer-songwriter Adam Fortune, who I think has enormous potential – an accomplished and constantly-improving songwriter and a charismatic live performer, too.
Week two saw us upping sticks and heading for South Uist, after spending a night in Skye with my old band-mate from Dapplegrim Billy Ross and his lovely wife Christine in Skye. Billy was a founder-member of and lead singer in the acclaimed traditional band Ossian back in the 80s, but we go back all the way to our first band Hot Toddy in 1970 and have stayed close friends ever since, so we always look forward to seeing them.
What a change in the weather, though – we left Carribean sunshine in Kintyre to find mist, fog, gales and torrential rain in the Uists. A real shame, as I spent several summer holidays in Benbecula as a teenager on my great uncle’s croft, and love the area dearly. There was no respite from the endless mist and rain, though, so we cut our losses, abandoned plans for two days in Barra and headed back from Lochboisdale to Oban and then….back to Carradale, where the temperature was around 28! What a wonderful country this is – so many contrasts over such a short distance, but we don’t get enough days off to sit in a campervan staring at endless mist and rain, hence the sun-chasing. We’ll get back to Uist as soon as possible, though – this time last year that was where the good weather was, and I really love the islands.
Sadly, I got some awful news the day we returned to Carradale. Alan Neve, my colleague and friend at PRS/MCPS was killed in a cycling accident on his commute to work. Alan was only 54 – a dapper, cultured and utterly charming man who was universally liked and respected. Always helpful and friendly, and a really experienced and competent cyclist. I’m not sure of the circumstances of his accident, which involved a collision with a lorry outside Holburn tube station, but it brought home the vulnerability of all cyclists. My daughter Julie cycles to work in Glasgow city centre every day, and it just terrifies me, but there’s nothing I can do about it – she’s a grown woman, and in any case never took much notice of my nagging from the day she could first talk. Wouldn’t have it any other way, but I wish she’d just get the bus…..R.I.P. Alan, and thanks for all your help, advice and friendship over the years. Your wife Penny and 16-year old daughter Tilly have been much in my thoughts, although I haven’t met them – such a sad waste.
On happier matters though, a couple of new gigs have come in, and Cy and I are planning a trip to Islay in September, hopefully to play at the Port Charlotte Hotel. I’ll keep you posted.
That’s about it for now – I hope August brings a return to the fantastic sunshine we’ve had this month, and I’m looking forward to my gigs at the Wee Folk Club during the Edinburgh Fringe, and at the Corstorphine Folk Club on the 30th. Don’t know why I’m telling you about that one – it’s been sold out since early June – how good is that!!?
Anyhoo – wrap up well, and keep safe and healthy!