Singing On The Train: A Review Of Four Singers & A Pianist – Scottish Opera’s Highlights Show…

Scottish Opera is hitting the rails, and they’ll be doing so at a venue near you from 16th Feb – 18th Mar, traversing the Borders to the Highlands and Islands, and moving from the west coast to the east. The show is Four Singers & A Pianist and it is their annual Highlights show which has gained a reputation for being an essential event for music lovers.

Having been lucky enough to be in attendance at Easterhouse’s Platform for their first night I can confirm that this reputation will only be enhanced this year. The structure of the show is that four singers are on a train about to undertake a tour of Scotland, visiting the lesser visited corners of the country to spread the word and the music, when problems beset them. Taking classic and lesser known works, they weave them together to show off not only the breadth of music opera has to offer, but also allowing the performers’ to shine. Continue reading

Stranger Than Fiction: The Scots Whay Hae! Podcast Talks To Documentary Maker Lou McLoughlan…

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The latest podcast has Ali talking to director and cinematographer Lou McLoughlan. We could pretend that it has been perfectly timed to coincide with the first week of this year’s Glasgow Film Festival, but in all honesty it’s an interview we’ve been trying to organise ever since watching Lou’s fantastic feature documentary 16 Years Till Summer, one of the best films of 2016.

You can read the Scots Whay Hae! review here, and see the trailer at the foot of this post, but it’s worth listening to the director talk about the making of it first as it will add to the viewing experience, and spoilers are carefully avoided.

The two also talk about the practicalities and difficulties of making documentaries, and then with getting them to an audience, particularly a Scottish one.

There is also chat about Scottish storytelling, the Highlands and Islands as a ‘seductive space’, the importance of music to a film, how filming real life will always offer up the unexpected, and much, much more. Continue reading

Talking Movies At GFF17 – #1: An Interview With The End Of The Game Director David Graham Scott…

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David Graham Scott’s The End Of The Game is described as “A bizarre journey to Africa with a vegan filmmaker and an old colonial big game hunter.” In truth, that description just scratches the surface of what may prove to be the most controversial film at this year’s Glasgow Film Festival, most probably for people who only engage with it on the most simple and perfunctory level. Those who are willing to look beyond the perceived stereotypes which that description suggests will discover a layered and complex picture of a man out of time facing his own mortality, and the disappearance of all that he once held as certain.

It is also as much about the director himself and his growing relationship with his leading man and his beliefs, and how they appear to directly oppose his own. Scott avoids bringing his own preconceptions to the making of the film, and that’s the way an audience should approach it as well. Continue reading

Lights, Camera, Action!: A Preview Of Glasgow Film Festival 2017…

Glasgow-Film-Festival-2017-cardFebruary in Glasgow. Chances are it’ll be cold, wet and windy. It’s almost as if the Glasgow Film Festival was created specifically to offer discerning film-fans shelter from the storm. Running from 15th – 26th February, it’s a festival which has easily established itself as one of the very best.

Scots Whay Hae! will be bringing  you exclusive interviews as well as the usual reviews, but before we do here is our preview. 2017’s programme has so much to recommend it we couldn’t possibly do anything other than make some considered suggestions here, but you can and should download the full brochure, settle back, and persuse at your leisure.

However, before you do here’s a taste of what’s on offer:

As ever,  there are various categories to guide you as to what may be your cup of tea. This year they include Cinemasters, Crossing The Line, Modern Families, Dangerous Dames,  Local HeroesSound & Vision, Pioneer, Stranger Than FictionWindow On The Worldand the always popular FrightFest.

Add to those some very special events at appropriate venues, a wide-selection of Gala events, a cinematic celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederationa series of talks about the industry, the Glasgow Short Film Festival, the Glasgow Youth Film Festival, and many Special Guest appearances. You may fear you’ll have to break the bank to enjoy yourself, but there are free showings and events on offer, as well as a great selection which come under the Festival for a Fiver category.

You can keep updated throughout the festival on Facebook and on Twitter @glasgowfilmfest #GFF17 and you can sign up the the GFT Newsletter which is not only essential for the festival, but all year round.

To whet appetites even further, here are the trailers for 11 films to look forward to. They include David Tennant as R.D. Laing, a Bill Forsyth classic, Neneh Cherry, a celebration of a Japanese master, a John Byrne writing masterclass, at least one soundtrack to die for, and Faye Dunaway reminding us that few femmes are as fatale. Continue reading

New Musical Success: A Review Of The Best In New Music…

a4212747351_10Rounding up a year’s music, as we did in December, makes it feel like each year is self contained and we start afresh all over again, but in reality the music never stops and thank your lord for that. If January was anything to go by 2017 is going to be just as diverse and exciting as 2016 was, with this roundup featuring indie, pop, lo-fi electronica, alt-country and some amazing metal. As long as it’s good, it’ll find a home here.

Exhibit A. We’ve been waiting for new music from Campfires In Winter for what seems like an age, but I am delighted to say it has been well worth the wait. Appearing at the end of last year, ‘Free Me From The Howl’ is the first track from their soon to be released  debut album Ischaemia. It’s driven by a three pronged attack of drums, bass and guitar all of which support Robert Canavan’s plaintive vocals which are a perfect match to the lovelorn lyrics. It’s one of those records which helps to make sense of broken hearts and lost love – which we all need in our collection. And if you don’t right now, you will someday. It’s also got one of the best videos I have seen in some time:

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You Have Been Watching…T2 Trainspotting

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The sweat wis lashing oafy this boy. Was T2 Trainspotting a terrible idea, destined to disappoint and lessen the memory of seeing the original on its day of release in 1996, emerging blinking from a cinema thinking someone had made a film for me and mine? As soon as the credits roll, with Mark Renton pounding the virtual pavement of an Amsterdam running machine, interspersed with clips of Johan Cruyff showing that anything Archie Gemmill could do he could do better, it’s clear we are in safe hands.

This is a film which is an unashamed nostalgic experience for audience and cast alike, but it’s not wallowing – and it’s certainly not viewing that past through rose-tinted glasses. This is through a glass darkly, with old scores looking to be settled and many demons to be faced down. It’s rare for a film to hold a mirror up to its audience in this manner and ask them to take a good, hard look at themselves; who they are, who they were, and what they have done. Regrets? Too few to mention? If only. Continue reading

Speak Like A Child: A Review of Ross Sayers’ Mary’s The Name…

mtn-ebook-cover-finalWriting the voice of a child or a young person is one of the most difficult things for an adult writer to get right. If you don’t  then your fiction will fail before it’s even begun. Novels which have pulled it off successfully include James Kelman’s Kieron Smith, boy, Anne Donovan’s Buddha Da, Alan Bissett’s The Incredible Adam Spark, Des Dillon’s Me & Ma Gal, and Helen MacKinven’s Talk Of The Toun.

To those we can add Ross Sayers’ debut Mary’s The Name. Mary is an orphan who lives with Granpa, two people whose lives are going along with the usual trials and tribulations until an unfortunate event occurs which will change both of them forever. Granpa works in the local bookies and both he and Mary are under threat when the shop is help up by “robbers with hammers”, as Mary describes them.

It’s an arresting and memorable opening, and Sayers gets Mary’s voice and point of view straight away. She sees life through the prism of her grandpa’s influence and that colours what she believes, and what she sees  – and what she believes she sees. While Granpa hatches plans which will have a lasting effect on Mary’s life she starts out as unquestionably trusting of her hero, but as they travel and interact with the wider world she starts to see that he is as flawed and human as the other adults she meets. Continue reading

For Jean: The Scots Whay Hae! Podcast Talks To Catherine Czerkawska About The Jewel & Jean Armour…

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For the latest edition of our now annual Burnscasts, Ali and Ian travelled to the Bard’s own country in South Ayrshire to talk to the writer Catherine Czerkawska about her latest novel, ‘The Jewel’. It’s a historical novel which examines Robert Burns’ relationship with his wife, Jean Armour, and does so from Jean’s point of view.

It’s a fascinating book which looks at a story rarely told, and Catherine talks in detail about how she approached the not inconsiderable task of getting to know more about Jean and Robert’s family life, and to try and get Jean’s ‘voice’. Continue reading

Judge Dread: A Review Of Philip Glass’s The Trial…

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It’s difficult to think of a more apt time for Philip Glass’s take on Franz Kafka’s infamous 1925 novel The Trial to arrive in theatres. When a new American President is promising to refill Guantanamo Bay with inmates based on who they are rather than what they’ve done, the story of Josef K, a man who is arrested on his 30th birthday for a never specified crime, is one which carries a warning which will already be too late for some.

Glass’s ‘Trial’ is a co-production between Scottish Opera, Music Theatre Wales, The Royal Opera and Theater Magdeburg, and it is a great advert for European cultural collaboration. It opens in Josef K’s bedroom, a sparse set which will be subtly and inventively used throughout. Josef is awoken by two agents who appear to be the evil doppelgängers of Herge’s Thompson Twins from the Tintin books, with their bowler hats and wry moustaches. They are here to arrest him, but cannot tell him what for or who has accused him, something that Josef, after initial shock, takes lightly at first. But as the year unfolds, and his ‘trial’ begins, the seriousness of his situation begins to dawn. Is he an innocent man? Kafka asks which one of us can honestly claim to be, and that is part of the terror of this tale. Continue reading

Last Night, They Said: The Scots Whay Hae! Podcast Talks To Last Night From Glasgow…

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Mark W. Georgsson: The Ballad Of The Nearly Man

In our first podcast of 2017, Ali talks to Ian Smith and Murray Easton, two of the founding members of record label Last Night From Glasgow.

Starting with their first release, Mark W. Georgsson’s single ‘The Ballad Of The Nearly Man’, they went on to give us some of the best records of 2016 from the likes of Emme Woods, Stephen Solo, Teen Canteen, Be Charlotte and BooHooHoo.

Along the way they have built up a loyal and faithful following all of whom who are made to feel part of the ever-growing LNFG family. Continue reading