" ... man to man, the world ower,
Shall brothers be, for a' that."
September always brings some fabulous weather, with sunshine and cloudless blue skies. Alas, the fine weather gave way to some dreich days of mist and rain during the fiddle week, but it was still great craic.
Sunday the 10th saw the Dunkeld & District Strathspey & Reel Society annual fiddle extravaganza at Pitlochry. It was very much a tribute to Campbell Smith and Marion Chalmers, two very significant and much-loved members of the Society, who passed away this summer. Special guests were Ross Ainslie, Ally Hutton and Garry Innes (pipes, guitar & accordion/compere), who made a truly spectacular contribution to a superb night of music.
August , and the swifts have left for Africa after their all too brief visit. Sadly, there are other deartures to report ...
Campbell Smith is no longer with us. Campbell was a dynamic character - conductor and catalyst for the Dunkeld & District Strathspey & Reel Society, a pro-active and extremely helpful member of the Niel Gow Festival Society, and it was Campbell who initiated the Niel Gow Fiddle Awards last year, in response to the decision by Glenfiddich to discontinue sponsorship of the annual fiddle competition at Blair Castle. He will be missed by many.
And Oban fiddler Maurice Duncan passed away this month. Maurice was a highly respected performer and teacher. He was a guest at the Niel Gow Festival on more than one occasion.
Saw the first swifts of the year on Saturday 6th May. Summer is here! The fiddle week was great fun - a bunch of great folk, and the fantastic weather was a bonus!! Many happy fiddlers!
April and, in spite of the chilly wind, the first sand martins and swallows have appeared.
A fabulous sunny Sunday in late March and the first ever Niel Gow Scottish Fiddle Awards at Blair Castle, Perthshire. Following the decision by Glenfiddich late last year to discontinue support for the Fiddle Championship, Perthshire local hero Campbell Smith decided to put together a rescue plan. With help and advice from many fiddlers, notably Patsy Reid, that rescue plan came to fruition on Sunday 26th March in the form of the Niel Gow Scottish Fiddle Awards.
It was a day of great music .... but more than a littel stressful for the adjudicators!!
The inevitable down side of an event such as this is that most of the participants return home "empty-handed" as it were. However, it is the taking part which is important and those fiddlers who were bold enough certainly gave the decision makers a difficult task. Well played everyone!
AND I accepted an award on behalf of Niel Gow and his descendants as he was inducted into the "Hands up for Trad" Music Hall of Fame! This award will hopefully reman on display at Blair Castle, close to the famous portrait and Niel Gow's old fiddle.
Very sorry to hear of the death of a good friend and one time fellow member of "Heritage" Mike Ward. Mike was a "man o' pairts" - linguist, musician, teacher, raconteur, curry maestro - but extremely modest. He will be hugely missed by many people in Scotland and beyond. He leaves us with fond memories.
January gales and high water levels have at last taken their toll. The tenuous hold of the root network could no longer support the giant and the mighty Douglas fell, spanning the pool at the Hermitage and smashing the information panel! (A quick count of the annual rings revealed the age of the fir to be much less than one might think. Less than 100 years.)
October, and very sad to hear of the passing of Angus Grant, son of Aonghas and Moira. His music will live on.
September fiddle week in Birnam was great craic,as ever. The weather was a real "mixed bag", with some days being - would you believe it? - too warm!! (Finished one day with a session outside!)
August I was fiddling and fishing in the Sierra Nevada of California. What a stunning landscape. No wonder John Muir was inspired to campaign for the preservation of such beautiful wild areas.