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" ... man to man, the world ower,

Shall brothers be, for a' that."

Robert Burns

Spent a fine summer evening in the very bonnie village of Kirkmichael in deepest Ayrshire, playing tunes with my friend Alastair Savage.  We of course chose repertoire with Burns connections.  (Interestingly, the church where we played was built in 1787, the year of the meeting between Messrs Gow and Burns.)

Had a visit in June from my old friend Jack Beck.  He was founder-member of a band called "Heritage" back in the '70s.   (Yikes!) Jack now lives in Big Stone Gap, Virginia.  Over ten years ago he started broadcasting his own radio show (on WETSfm and WEHCfm) which focuses on Traditional music.  Called "Celtic Clanjamphry" (try saying that after a couple of drams!), it celebrated its 500th edition last month.  Congratulations Jack!

Tunes in June ....  I recorded a few tunes last month - or rather, my friend John P. Martin recorded them on video - I just played them!

If you'd like to watch the FILM CLIPS, there are links on my "recordings" page and also on my "Tune of the Month" and "Teaching & Fiddle Weeks" pages.

Looking forward to teaching and performing

this summer at:

Common Ground on the Hill, Westminster, Maryland (July) and at

Boston Harbour Fiddle School (August).

May and The Orkney Folk Festival was blessed with blue skies and brilliant sunshine.  "Auld Hat, New Heids" had a weekend of great craic!

Played a special concert in the Scottish Parliament with Muriel Johnstone, in order to raise the profile of the initiative to create a memorial to Niel Gow in Dunkeld.  A big thank you to Perthshire's MSP John Swinney for sponsoring the event.

Bluebells (Wild Hyacinths) in bloom, Kinclaven Wood

(The Scottish Bluebell, or Harebell, appears later in the summer than the wild hyacinth.)

Had a tour of Fife on a train hauled by the most famous steam locomotive in the world, The Flying Scotsman! Then drove to North Queensferry for a photo of the train crossing the Forth Bridge on it's 2nd  outing of the day.

Arguably the most famous steam locomotive in the world crossing the most famous bridge in the world!!

Very sad news of the passing of Douglas Smith earlier in May.  Douglas did an enormous amount for the Dunkeld & District Strathspey & Reel Society. Thoughts are with his friends and family.

Thursday night sessions are now happening at the Royal Dunkeld Hotel (9-11pm).

Pictured are three of the regulars - Patrick, Daphne & Sheona.

May and most of our migrant birds have arrived for the Scottish summer.  Great to see Sandpipers and Sand Martins skimming the water.  Saw my first swifts of the year over Birnam on Wednesday 9th May. 

Spotted this fine sculpture in Belfast when the bus from the airport into the city stopped at traffic lights. The position of the sun was pure luck!

I later found out that it's by Andy Scott (yes, the "Kelpies" man) and is called "Beacon of Hope" (or as some wags might have it, "Nuala with the Hula"!)  Fabulous!

A small but perfectly formed Brownie from the River Braan.  First Troot of the year!

First fish of the year - a 5-pound pike from Butterstone Loch.  Caught - and released (of course!)

April and, at last, definite signs that Spring is here!!

Butterburr is in flower, a few primroses have appeared and the pair of ospreys at Loch of the Lowes have returned from Africa.

March, (Niel Gow's birthday on the 22nd) and Winter reminded us that it was still here!  The sunshine and blue skies finally arrived on the Monday following the festival.  However, the cold and snowy weather of the weekend didn't deter 25 brave walkers from the Niel Gow walk!  And another great weekend of music!

February and Spring is in the air.  Snowdrops blooming, ducks head-bobbing and dippers singing!

A snowy start to 2018.  Hoping this proves to be a peaceful and a happy new year.

December fishing for grayling on the Tay is a fine escape from the Festive obligations.  Alas, the fish showed no interest whatsoever in my maggots .... but this Robin became my best friend for a while!

November and fine, sunny high pressure weather for the Scots Fiddle Festival in Edinburgh.  The new album has officially been launched (and is available on line from www.musicinscotland.com )

Big sky over Rottnest Island, W.A.  A fabulous day with the friendly wee quokkas and, half a mile off-shore, a steady procession of humpback whales.  Braw!

By the way - this is a Quokka!  Very cute eh?!

A budding Biggles realised one of his dreams in California! A flight in a 1942 Boeing Steerman.

October is here.  Saw the first Goldeneye of the year on Butterstone Loch (and a few geese overhead earlier in the week).

An hour casting a fly on a late September afternoon, the River Braan falling nicely after a spate.

Caught only one wee brown trout - but there is so much more to fishing than fish!

More very sad and unexpected news with the passing of Ewen Sutherland. Very sad.  Fond memories of music, fishing and sailing off the west coast.

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.

Happy fiddlers by Little Dunkeld Kirk

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, and a pro-active and extremely helpful member of the Niel Gow Festival Society.  He will be missed by many.

And Oban fiddler Maurice Duncan passed away this month.  Maurice was a highly respected performer and teacher, and performed at the Niel Gow Festival on more than one occasion.

Loch Hakel, near Tongue, Sutherland

June brought plenty of rain to the Perthshire landscape (much needed, after a very prolonged dry spell).

 

The Troot Tour 2017 was a real blast, in spite of some serious gales and consequent ferry cancellations.

Steam loco "Kissack" on the Manx Railway.