Scots Whay Hae!’s Alternative Hogmanay Night In, 2019…

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

2019 saw the launch of BBC Scotland which, despite some initial concerns, became home to some terrific original programming as well as becoming the place to find Scottish film and drama which wouldn’t be shown elsewhere. An example of this is Prophecy, a film about the life and work of artist Peter Howson. You can watch the whole thing here, but to tempt you, here’s the trailer:

One of the best dramas of the year was undoubtedly Guilt, written by Neil Forsyth (of Bob Servant fame) and starring Jamie Sives and Mark Bonnar. It was the first drama commissioned by BBC Scotland and it sets the standard very high. You can find all four episodes here but below is the trailer to give you a taste:

Celtic Connections is almost with us again, and there’ll be a full SWH! preview in the new year, but one of the highlights of 2019’s was undoubtedly the Marina Records Showcase celebrating 25 years of the label, and which saw James Kirk, Malcolm Ross, The Pearlfishers, Cowboy Mouth, The Secret Goldfish, Jazzateers, The Kingfishers, The Bathers, Sugartown, Colin Steele, The Magic Circles, Starless and more share the stage. A highlight was Chris Thomson fronting the house band to give us the old Friends Again classic ‘State of Art’. This is the original:

Our collaboration with Scottish Opera was a highlight of 2019, one which will continue into the new year. You can listen to the SO podcasts to date here, and you can peruse the current programme here, but this is the trailer for their incredible production of Tosca:

Another highlight of our 2019 was getting to do the SWH! Radio Show on the sadly missed LP Radio, a station created by Lorenzo Pacitti which burned brightly for too short a time. We hope that the show will find a new home in the new year, but here’s an old one from 15th July to bring back musical memories of a glorious summer:

While we’re talking about radio, this was the year where there seemed a real renaissance in local radio, with Cam/Glen and Cumbernauld FM n-particular building on the great work done by Sunny Govan among others. In early December Ali joined Cumbernauld FM’s Mark & Gary on their Postcards From The Underground show to talk about their choice of albums of the year:

While we’re talking music, we always like to offer you an alternative Hootenanny so here’s five of the best tracks of 2019 which are perfect for starting the New Year in style. First of, ‘Car Crash Carnivore’ from HYYTS:

2019 was a year of great pop music, and one of the very best songs came from Anna Sweeney in the shape of ‘Way Back When’:

Emme Woods had another cracking year and proved, as if she needed to, that she is one of the very best musicians both recorded and live. To make that point better than mere words could, this is the standout ‘it’s ma party’:

One of the best new bands to emerge in the year were Lemon Drink who you just have to see play whenever possible. This is their debut single ‘A Song For You’ which shows you why you’re going to love them, if you don’t already:

Released in the dying days of the year, this is DENI and the excellent ‘I Don’t Know How To Feel’, which promises great things from them in 2020:

And finally, some classic hogmanay telly from over 40 years ago. This is from Scotch and Wry, and features a young David Hayman:

And that was 2019 for you. We’ve no idea how 2020 is going to pan out (who could?) or who is going to feature, but whatever happens we’ll be there reviewing, commenting, and in conversation with some of those who help 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: The Best Of 2019 Podcasts – Films…

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year from Wesley, Chris, Ali, Ian & all at SWH!

For the last of our Best of 2019 podcasts Ali is joined once more by annual regulars Wesley Shearer and Chris Ward, with SWH! sound guru Ian Gregson also in the house (which turned out to be lucky for all).

This time around they are looking at the best films of the year, and Ali’s role becomes more host rather than participant as his own movie going has been admittedly lacking this year.

Luckily the others more than make up for it as the talk turns to the best Scottish films of 2019, personal favourites, trends and themes, who had a good year, and whose was not so good, and each pick their best film of the decade. Listen in and see if you agree. (*Spoiler – it’s not Avengers: Endgame).

If you are new round these parts there is quite a substantial back-catalogue of podcasts for you to discover. If you aren’t yet a subscriber you can do so, (or simply listen) at iTunes, on Podbean, with Spotify, or by RSS (but you’ll need to have an RSS reader to do so). 

You can also download the podcast by clicking on the relevant link to the right of this post, or, if you want it right here, right now, you can listen on SoundCloud

..or on YouTube:

Once you have enjoyed this podcast you can still listen to our Best of 2019 – Music and our Best of 2019 – Books. They’re rather good, even if we do say so…

That Was The Year That Was: The Best Of 2019 Podcasts – Books…

For our Best Books of 2019 podcast Ali was once again joined by Publishing Scotland’s Vikki Reilly to have a chat about their year in books.

As well as discussing in detail their personal favourites they look at the writers who have left their mark, awards and award winners, festivals old and new, the healthy state of Scottish poetry, the continuing prosperity of crime fiction, what’s happening in the publishing world, the prevailing trends and themes of 2019, what to look forward to in 2020, and a whole lot more. Although they don’t quite manage to cover everything they give it a right good go and we hope you’ll find something to pique your interest.

This is always one of the most pleasant podcasts to record as the two geek out on their love of books. It’s also the perfect companion piece to our earlier post The Good Word: SWH!’s 10 Best Books Of 2019… where you’ll be able to link to reviews of many of the books and writers that Vikki and Ali discuss.

And don’t forget to check out the Books from Scotland website for more of the best of Scottish books (the latest issue has lots of suggestions for Christmas).

If you are new round these parts there is quite a substantial back-catalogue of podcasts for you to discover. If you aren’t yet a subscriber you can do so, (or simply listen) at iTunes, on Podbean, with Spotify, or by RSS (but you’ll need to have an RSS reader to do so). 

You can also download the podcast by clicking on the relevant link to the right of this post, or, if you want it right here, right now, you can listen on SoundCloud

..or on YouTube:

You can listen to our Best Music of 2019 podcast here, and the Best Films of 2019 will be with you soon…

That Was The Year That Was: The Best Of 2019 Podcasts –Music (Part 1)…

For this year’s Best Music of 2019 podcast Ali spoke to Mark McNally and Gary Bannatyne from Cumbernauld FM’s Postcards From The Underground radio show. The two are among the finest champions of Scottish music and beyond, playing old songs and new, and having regular live sessions and guests. 

As well as hearing all about the Postcards From The Underground show, the three discuss their favourite tracks and gigs of the year, and try to avoid talking about their favourite albums of the year as Ali will be joining the chaps on their show on Sunday 8th December (8-10pm) to do just that, so do listen in to see what they pick over at http://cumbernauldfm.co.uk/.

You can read all about, and listen to, SWH!’s pick of the Best Songs of the year here, and our Best Books and Best Films of 2019 podcasts will be with you shortly. But before you think about any of that here is the SWH! Best Music of 2019 podcast, and see if you can spot Ali’s quite deliberate mistake in the first 5 minutes.

If you are new round these parts there is quite a substantial back-catalogue of podcasts for you to discover. If you aren’t yet a subscriber you can do so, (or simply listen) at iTunes, on Podbean, with Spotify, or by RSS (but you’ll need to have an RSS reader to do so). 

You can also download the podcast by clicking on the relevant link to the right of this post, or, if you want it right here, right now, you can listen on SoundCloud

..or on YouTube:

You can catch up with all the previous PFTU shows on MixCloud here.

 

Hills & Tales: The SWH! Podcast Talks To John D. Burns…

For the latest podcast SWH! was back in Edinburgh to talk to mountaineer, storyteller, and writer, John D. Burns, and the story he has to tell is a fascinating one. He talks about how he first discovered the delights of hillwalking in the Lake District in his youth, his thoughts on how we should treat, view, and interact with nature, why he fell out and then back in love with the hills, the politics of the wild, his forays into poetry, theatre, and stand-up, and so much more. It’s one of the most interesting and informative podcasts yet, and I know you’ll come away with a new view on our landscape, and on life.

John’s first two books, The Last Hillwalker and Bothy Tales, are both bestsellers where John describes his time spent on the hills of Scotland, and the stories accrued over that time, both personal and from fellow hillwalkers and bothy dwellers.

His latest book, Sky Dance, (right) is a novel set in Highlands, and John sets out why he decided to move into fiction, and the importance of telling and sharing stories as a way to understand and respect the land and the creatures who dwell there.

If you are new round these parts there is quite a substantial back-catalogue of podcasts for you to discover. If you aren’t yet a subscriber you can do so, (or simply listen) at iTunes, on Podbean, with Spotify, or by RSS (but you’ll need to have an RSS reader to do so). 

You can also download the podcast by clicking on the relevant link to the right of this post, or, if you want it right here, right now, you can listen on SoundCloud

..or on YouTube:

All of John’s books are published by Vertebrate Publishing.
Thanks to Holyrood 9A in Edinburgh for their hospitality & understanding when we were recording (and their excellent selection of beers).

Coming soon are our Best of 2019 podcasts which will be with you very soon, but in the meantime you can also check out our series of Scottish Opera Podcasts.

The Scottish Opera Interviews #8: Music Librarian, Gordon Grant…

Gordon Grant in Scottish Opera’s Music Library

For the latest in our series of podcasts in conjunction with Scottish Opera SWH! spoke to Gordon Grant, the company’s Music Librarian. What unfolds is a fascinating insight into a role which few consider when they think of opera but which, as you will hear, is a vital one.

Crucially involved in productions from the very beginning to the final curtain fall, Gordon explains what the role entails, how he came to it, the importance of close collaboration, and what are the challenges and constrictions when it comes to the musical score. 

As well as being SO’s librarian Gordon is also in charge of their supertitles, the written translations and text which have become an important part of opera and he explains the technicalities faced. Overall it’s an engrossing conversation which looks in detail at an individual role but which will give you a greater insight into Scottish Opera as a whole.

These podcasts attempt to give greater understanding into the workings of Scottish Opera and the different roles of those involved, lending a rare and engaging appreciation of Scotland’s largest national arts company.

If you are new round these parts there is quite a substantial back-catalogue of podcasts for you to discover. If you aren’t yet a subscriber you can do so, (or simply listen) at iTunes, on Podbean, with Spotify, or by RSS (but you’ll need to have an RSS reader to do so). 

You can also download the podcast by clicking on the relevant link to the right of this post, or, if you want it right here, right now, you can listen on SoundCloud

..or on YouTube:

The next Scottish Opera Interview will with you soon.
In the meantime you can find all The Scottish Opera Podcasts in one handy place.

Lessons From History: A Review Of Catherine Czerkawska’s A Proper Person To Be Detained…

Sometimes you start a book which defies your expectations to such an extent that the only thing to do is recalibrate and start again. That’s what happened with Catherine Czerkawska’s A Proper Person To Be Detained (Contraband, Saraband Books). I knew the story was centred around a real-life crime, one which had a direct relationship to Czerkawska and her family, and think I was expecting a whodunnit with the author acting as detective through the ages. I should have known better – Catherine Czerkawska would never be so obvious.

There seems to be a real appetite for true crime which is always with us, and which is often accompanied by a sense of voyeurism – a desire to get a vicarious thrill from discovering the worst that men can do. This is an accusation which cannot be pointed at A Proper Person To Be Detained despite the premise. What unfolds is more of a social and cultural commentary on the Britain of the day, but one which forces you to make parallels with the present.

Regular readers of Czerkawska’s will know that she takes her research seriously. A prolific poet and playwrite as well as a celebrated novelist, her previous books include The Curiosity Cabinet, The Physic Garden, The Posy Ring, and 2016’s The Jewel (the story of Jean Armour whose life has always been overshadowed by that of her husband, Robert Burns). A champion of the under-represented, overlooked, and persecuted Czerkawska is rightly known as one of the most interesting and individual historical novelists we have, able to find a relatable way to tell a story which may have been overlooked otherwise.

With A Proper Person To Be Detained the author’s familial relationship to events lend it an extra dimension which is almost palpable. This time it’s personal and it shows. Murdered in a drunken quarrel, her great-great-uncle John Manley was the son of Irish immigrants, and the way he, and his kith and kin, were treated shows that many lessons are taking a long time to learn. The tragic incident is used as a ground zero from which a family tree evolves and then runs throughout the book, allowing the writer to examine the multiple strands which lead to her own.

But this is not simply a literary Who Do You Think You Are?. Czerkawska uses the plight and experience of her family, and the documents and details resulting from her research, to examine so much more, particularly the plight of immigrants. She discovers plenty of evidence to suggest that myths and stereotypes were widespread and had influence. Well into the 20th century signs could be found on hostelry doors which read “No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs” (the title of John Lydon’s 1994 autobiography) and Czerkawska looks in great detail as to why such victimization prevailed, and what it meant for those who suffered it.

Perhaps the most shocking commentary on how the Irish were viewed at the time comes from the pen of Frederich Engels, who famously co-authored The Communist Manifesto with Karl Marx, but who appears to have believed that although all working men are equal, some are more equal than others. His thoughts and attacks on the ‘Irishman’ have to be read to be believed, and have parallels with the treatment of, and the reporting on, immigrants and their families today, often persisting through generations. Such prejudice can be as stubborn as it is damaging.

In some ways A Proper Person To Be Detained makes an interesting companion to Jemma Neville’s Constitution Street and the call made in that book for a written bill of rights which should include, among others, the ‘Right to Housing’, the ‘Right to Education’, the ‘Right to Food’, ‘Health’, ‘Work’, and even ‘Life’. An aspect of Czerkawska’s book which is shocking yet unavoidable is the thought that we may be moving backwards rather than forwards when it comes to respecting those rights, particularly when she looks at the social structure of the various places that her family found themselves, including Glasgow’s Calton/Trongate. The detail of the poverty and hardship that had to be endured resonates all too clearly with some areas in cities today.

A Proper Person To Be Detained examines poverty, immigration, mental health, racism, and misogyny, all of which were inherent in everyday life in the late 19th/early 20th century, and unarguably still are today. As you read on you can sense your own anger growing with that of the writer as ever more hardships, tragedies, and injustices are visited upon her ancestors and those like them. Starting with the personal Catherine Czerkawska has written a powerful historical novel, arguably her most memorable to date. By looking at the past with an eye to the present she makes you realise that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Catherine Czerkawska’s A Proper Person To Be Detained is published on the Contraband imprint of Saraband Books.

You can still hear the podcast we recorded with Catherine Czerkawska back in 2017.

The Talk On The Street: The SWH! Podcast Talks To Jemma Neville…

For the latest SWH! podcast Ali headed to Edinburgh to chat to writer Jemma Neville all about Constitution Street: finding hope in an age of anxiety (published by 404 Ink), her fascinating and inspirational book which SWH! described as, “a socio-political work with humanity at its heart, and a timely reminder that there is more that unites than divides us.”

Talking in the welcoming surroundings of The Hideout Cafe (below) on the very street itself the two discuss the ethos behind the book, the way it is structured, and how both are reflected and inspired by the place and the people who live and work on Edinburgh’s Constitution Street.

Jemma talks about what prompted her to write this book, the importance of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the responses of her interviewees, how an area can change but still retain an identity, the importance of communal spaces for meeting and more, how the issues and themes of Constitution Street relate to communities of any size and place, and a whole lot more. You’ll never look at your own locale in the same way again.

This podcast is the perfect partner to the book, expanding on some of its themes, but by no means all and the best thing you can do is to discover that for yourself. To convince you further you can read the full SWH! review of Constitution Street here.

If you are new round these parts there is quite a substantial back-catalogue of podcasts for you to discover. If you aren’t yet a subscriber you can do so, (or simply listen) at iTunes, on Podbean, with Spotify, or by RSS (but you’ll need to have an RSS reader to do so). 

You can also download the podcast by clicking on the relevant link to the right of this post, or, if you want it right here, right now, you can listen on SoundCloud

..or on YouTube:

The next podcast will be with you very soon, but in the meantime you can also check out our series of Scottish Opera Podcasts.

The Scottish Opera Interviews #7: Resident Stage Manager, John Duncan…

John Duncan backstage at The Magic Flute in Glasgow’s Theatre Royal

For the latest in our series of podcasts in conjunction with Scottish Opera we spoke to John Duncan, the company’s Resident Stage Manager. Over the course of the conversation he provides a fascinating insight into a role which is vital to all theatre, but which rarely gets discussed.

Recorded backstage at Glasgow’s Theatre Royal (so beware the passing fire engine) John talks about how he initially fell in love with the theatre, his early years in the role, how the team dynamic works, the different productions he has worked on, the challenges he has faced over the years, a horse named George, and much more. If you have ever wondered what goes on behind the curtain then John has many of the answers.

These podcasts attempt to give greater understanding into the workings of Scottish Opera and the different roles of those involved, lending a rare and engaging appreciation of Scotland’s largest national arts company.

If you are new round these parts there is quite a substantial back-catalogue of podcasts for you to discover. If you aren’t yet a subscriber you can do so, (or simply listen) at iTunes, on Podbean, with Spotify, or by RSS (but you’ll need to have an RSS reader to do so). 

You can also download the podcast by clicking on the relevant link to the right of this post, or, if you want it right here, right now, you can listen on SoundCloud

..or on YouTube:

The next Scottish Opera Interview will with you in November.
In the meantime you can find all The Scottish Opera Podcasts in one handy place.

Cosmic Entities: A Review Of Amadeus & The Bard…

In the fourth of our Scottish Opera podcasts we spoke to the Director of Education & Outreach, Jane Davidson who explained the ways SO reach out to all areas of Scotland, and work with all age groups. The latest example of this in practice was Amadeus & the Bard: 18th Century Cosmic Brothers which has just finished a tour some of the High Schools, Academies and museums of Scotland before ending its run in Glasgow.

The final shows were held in Scottish Opera’s Edington Street building, which has a wonderful performance space. The Bard in question is Robert Burns, and he was well represented in body as well as spirit at the performance SWH! attended with at least one fellow national Makar, as well as an actor best known for his portrayal of Burns, in the crowd. They were part of an audience whose aged ranged across the generations, and who were immediately involved with the show, greeted at the door by the players themselves with wonderful musical accompaniment. This, as Burns would have wanted it, was a performance where all were made welcome.

As the title suggests, this was a tale of two geniuses, Burns and Mozart, affectionately referred to as Rabbie and Wolfie. To distinguish them on stage a simple but effective wardrobe technique was applied, with a green coat for Mozart, and a blue one for Burns. The two were compared and contrasted, but it was the similarities of their lives which were the main focus, with Rabbie’s words and Wolfie’s music interweaved throughout.

Born three years apart, both died in their mid-thirties, they achieved fame, if not fortune, for their music (Mozart) and their words (Burns), and are more celebrated today than they had been in their all-too-brief lives. Staged in the convivial setting of Burns’ favourite boozer Poosie Nansie’s, the regulars tell tales of the two men’s lives, loves, and losses – referencing their most famous work as they do so. As matters progress the two stories are brought closer together, until a mash-up of Don Giovanni and ‘Tam O’Shanter’ proves a supernatural and devilish highlight, before a rousing ‘A Man’s A Man For A’ That’ brings matters to a suitable and moving conclusion with the audience joining in.

With their eagerly-awaited production of Puccini’s Tosca beginning this Wednesday, Amadeus & the Bard: 18th Century Cosmic Brothers was a reminder that while Scottish Opera is rightly known for its spectacular, large-scale productions the work they do on a smaller scale, all around the country, should be acknowledged and supported, and on this showing, and the reaction to the current ‘Opera Highlights Tour‘ (SWH! review here), they are rightly receiving both.