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


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

Scots Whay Hae!’s Alternative Hogmanay Night In, 2015…


Once again Mr Scott raises a bottle to see out the old year and ring in the new and that means it’s time for Scots Whay Hae!’s annual New Year’s Eve treats. It’s an alternative to the Hogmanay telly, so if there’s little you fancy on the box, this might be more to your liking.

There’s music, comedy, drama (including an Oscar winner) and a fond farewell, all involving some of our favourite folk, including Duglas T Stewart, Peter Capaldi, David Kane, Only An Excuse, William McIlvanney, The Waterboys, WHITE and finishing with some Arab Strap. Heroes one and all. That’s quite a lot to get through, so without further ado….

We’re going to kick off with some music. This first post is inspired by Nicola Meighan’s article in The Herald on The BMX Bandits. It’s an interview with Duglas, followed by a brief clip of Wray Gunn & The Rockets, before the Bandits cover ‘Fight For Your Right To Party’, and it’s an all-time favourite TV clip in our house:

Next, a bit of a forgotten gem. Jute City is a 1991 dark thriller set in Dundee, with a cast who include Clive Russell, David O’Hara, John Sessions, Jenny McCrindle, Peter Mullan, and Fish (yes, Fish!) among many more. Written by David Kane, who would go onto write and direct This Year’s Love, Born Romantic, Sea of Souls, The Field Of Blood and Shetland, this is arguably his finest work. If you are a fan of Edge Of Darkness, this is for you. Here is just taster:

It’s been a hell of a year for Peter Capaldi, but then that applies to most years recently. In my opinion he has become a great Doctor Who, but then I am slightly obsessed with the man. Here are a couple of reminders that he is a fine a director as well as an actor. The first is a clip from the underrated Strictly Sinatra:

..followed by all three parts of his Oscar-winning 1994 short film, Franz Kafka’s It’s A Wonderful Life:

We sadly lost William McIlvanney this year, and you can read SWH!’s celebration of his life and work here. One of Scotland’s great writers, and a great man, let’s remember him in his prime. This is an episode of STV’s Off The Page programme, from 1992, where you can spend 25mins in the man’s warm and witty company:

Hogmanay telly means Only An Excuse, which I’ll still watch, but it isn’t a patch on the glory years of the 1990s, when Scottish football was nuts, with teams paying players and managers more money than their English counterparts, and becoming a fascinating circus because of it. It was ripe for satire, and Jonathan Watson and Tony Roper rarely missed their targets. This is from their live show of 1993:

As is only fitting, we will finish off with some more music. As an alternative to Jools, Ruby Turner and Tom Jones on the Hootenanny, here are three clips to bring in the new year. First, it’s the early days of The Waterboys on The Tube, when the world was theirs for the taking. I’ve rarely loved a band as much as I did them at that point in time. This is ‘A Pagan Place’:

Playing Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Street Party this year are a band who made a real breakthrough in 2015. They are WHITE, and here they are playing ‘Future Pleasures’ on a BBC Introducing session earlier in the year:

The perfect band for the end of any Hogmanay, at least most of the ones I’ve been at, is surely Arab Strap, and what better tune than ‘The Shy Retirer’:

And that was 2015. I’m not sure quite how 2016 is going pan out but whatever happens we’ll be there reviewing, commenting, and talking to some of those who are going to shape it.

From everyone involved with Scots Whay Hae!, Happy New Year and we’ll see you on the other side…

That Was The Year That Was: It’s The Best Of 2015 Podcast…


Willie, Chris, Wesley and Ali

For our “Best of 2015” podcast, Ian and Ali were joined by regular pod guest, Chris Ward, and Scottish music man, Wesley Shearer (manager for Campfires In Winter, Michael Cassidy and I Am David Laing) to talk about what floated their collective boats in the last 12 months. Add in the usual festive missive from our very own Stirlingshire seer, Ronnie Young, and you end up with an epic podcast which approaches the 2 hour mark. But never mind the length, feel the quality.

We start off with music, and realise that it was a better year than we first thought, with lesser known bands producing great new music as the better known acts took a back seat. The Scottish Album of the Year awards were discussed in length, and, more generally, the musical trends of the last 12 months with everyone’s personal preferences receiving a right good championing.

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The Tracks Of My Year: The Best 10 Songs Of 2015 (+1)…


If you’re sick of end of year lists, look away now. Right, if you’re still with us we have the 10 best tracks reviewed on these pages this year, plus one bonus track which I’ll explain later, but, if you want to know why you should bother with this Top Ten, to quote Nigel Tufnel, “Well, it’s one better, isn’t it?”

2015 was a cracking year for new music, with certain themes emerging, and some memorable one-offs. The summer was one of glorious electronic-pop, then the nights got longer and the music more reflective, but along the way there was some old school indie, classic pop tunes, intriguing lo-fi electronica and a welcome slice of rock.

This list is more about individual tracks rather than albums (although you can hear a discussion on those on our forthcoming End of Year Podcast), and you can discover much more of the new music we covered on Scots Whay Hae! by listening to our Best of 2015 Spotify list.

Enough yacking, here’s the countdown, in chronological order, and what we thought about them at the time.

The Duke Detroit – Iconic

More classy sounds from the indie disco in the shape of The Duke, Detroit and their latest single, ‘Iconic’, which is not out till March but is too good not to mention right now. Drum machines, snare, handclaps, bass-lines to die for, and a guitar break that could have come from Nile Rodgers himself; what’s not to like? They’ve been good before, but this is the best thing I have heard from The Duke, Detroit yet and they are quickly becoming one of those bands whose new music you can’t wait for. You won’t be able to listen to this and not have something move when you least expect it:

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Word Up!: Scots Whay Hae’s Best Books Of 2015…


You may have had your fill already of ‘Books Of The Year’ lists already, but we like to think that Scots Whay Hae’s selection is small, beautifully formed and well worthy of your attention.

These are the books which stood out against a lot of stiff competition in 2015. It could have been longer but we decided to stick to the traditional Top Ten. Consisting mostly of novels ,with a couple of music biographies thrown in, these books will take you to North Korea, Detroit, the Firth of Forth, the 17th century and Millport. Taken as a whole they are a testament to the breadth of artistic and cultural imagination at large in Scotland today. Need further convincing? Here’s what we thought at the time:

512+dd1NznL._SX314_BO1,204,203,200_A Book Of Death And Fish – Ian Stephen

There is a geographically thorough representation of Scotland as well as a historic and cultural one as we are taken from Shetland to the Solway Firth, West Coast to East Coast, and all around the coast as well. The land and the sea; the one constantly affecting the other, and this relationship comes to define Peter MacAulay’s life… This is an epic novel in more ways than one, but then this is the story of a man from cradle to grave and as such it deserves due consideration. Some people may be put off by the scale, but the writing is concise, accessible and memorable. Give it your time and you will not regret it for one moment. You may well think back on your own life in a different manner as a result.

916FbzrWB6LRise – Karen Campbell

Campbell is a writer who always manages to wrong foot you, seemingly for fun, and the results are never less than thrilling. She builds tension, often unbearably, as lies are threatened to be uncovered, and, even worse, so is the truth. All of her characters are fully developed and all-too believable, and this makes you take closer notice than you may have done otherwise as the various dilemmas unfold. You can not be a passive reader of a Karen Campbell novel. She refuses to let you. Rise is steeped in Scottish culture, but makes no big deal about it, just as it should be. Primarily it is a novel which is thought-provoking and involving, and never less than thoroughly entertaining. Spread the word; Karen Campbell has quietly become one of Scotland’s very best writers, and deserves to be considered as such. Consider it done.

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The Sound Of His Voice: The Scots Whay Hae! Podcast Talks To Ron Butlin…

unknownFor the latest podcast we took a trip through to the fabulous Summerhall Arts Venue in Edinburgh to talk to Ron Butlin, one of Scotland most acclaimed writers, and one of Ali’s favourites, as he will openly tell any one who asks, and often when they don’t.

The podcast begins with a discussion of his latest novel, Ghost Moon, before Ron and Ali talk about his previous work, methods of writing, belonging (and Belonging), music, family life, his time as Edinburgh’s Makar, and so much more.

You can read Ali’s review of Ghost Moonhere, and an appreciation of The Sound of My Voice over at Dear Scotland. If you haven’t read any Ron Butlin then we hope this podcast will persuade you to do so. We’ve done 49 of these recordings now, and are proud of every single one, but this is undoubtedly up there with the very best. A chat with Ron Butlin is one of the most pleasant ways of spending an hour I can think of. Have a listen and see if you agree.

If you are a subscriber you’ll likely know all of the above as the podcast will have already arrived in the inbox of whatever mode you choose to use. If you aren’t yet a subscriber you can do so, (or simply listen) at iTunes or by RSS. You can also download it by clicking on the relevant link to the right of this post under Feed, or, if you want it right here, right now, you can listen by clicking below:

We don’t yet have a guest for our 50th podcast, but you can be assured they’ll be worth listening to whoever they turn out to be.