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.

I was lucky enough to talk to Scott about The End Of The Game, and it’s clear that while this is different in terms of place and people from his previous films, which include Iboga Nights and the brilliant Wireburners, it became as personal as any other, which is arguably the defining feature of all his work. He is a director who makes films not because he simply wants to, he simply has to.

SWH!: Hi David, could you give a synopsis of The End Of The Game?

DGS: The film follows a man called Guy Wallace as he prepares to go on his last big game hunt and fulfil his ambition to bag the Cape buffalo. It’s Guy’s last chance to relive his glory days in the African bush and finally lay down his guns. At its core The End of the Game is about the relationship between myself as director, vegan, and animal rights supporter, and the ageing hunter, which is how Guy Wallace defines himself. It is the central drive of the film, exploring the ethics of big game hunting and which had me questioning my own animal rights stance when faced with the realities of a hunt.

SWH!: Why make this film in particular?

DGS: I had been working on another documentary called  Arcadia which was set on a hunting estate in Caithness, although the film itself is more to do with wind farms. But when I was filming on the estate I met this incredible character who lived in this ramshackle caravan. He seemed to me, at first sight, like an old, British colonial relic. It was like finding a prehistoric fossil or similar.

SWH!: This turns out to be the man you call “Sir Guy” Wallace (see below). From the CeMK6AoXIAEQQ9goutside it’s difficult to imagine two more different people; the liberal, vegan film-maker and the colonial big-game hunter. How did your relationship with him, and the film, unfold?

DGS: As with most of my films what develops is more than you imagine initially, and circumstances affect this as well. I actually started filming about eight years ago but I had no funding. Then Hopscotch Films and Creative Scotland offered funding, and this allowed me to go to Africa. I then had to film everything I could to make it work as people’s lives can’t be put on hold to suit your documentary.

In the meantime, Guy kept changing his mind about where he wanted to do his hunt. I should point out that he was funding the hunt himself. This was money which may arguaby have been better spent elsewhere as he was living in the most ramshackle, cobweb-infested caravan while his croft crumbled. But, one moment it was Tanzania, the next somewhere else – he couldn’t settle. Eventually we ended up near Kruger Park in South Africa. So it was a long waiting game, and a getting to know you period. It wasn’t constant, though, as in that time I also made Iboga Nights, but eventually everything tied together nicely and we went to Africa in 2015.

There is a build up to that as around a third of the film is shot in Caithness, and that is the initial getting to know you period, for the audience as well as me. There will be people who think I am pandering to a man who holds what can be seen as reactionary views, and which I don’t agree with, but I genuinely feel that this is a an individual from another era. There will be those who will write him off, but I couldn’t and would not do that. I don’t see the world in this black-and-white way.

SWH!: The film is as much about Guy raging against the dying of the light – about his own mortality. He says, “Inside this 73-year-old bloke is a 33-year-old hooligan trying to fight his way out”. Is this something which you also wanted to explore?

DGS: It’s a vital part of the film – an integral moment. You can’t plan it, you just try and capture these things. It shows the vulnerable side of him when he talks about being an old man in decline, but it can also be seen, if you like, as the end of the age of Empire. The last colonial standing. That may seem a bit cliched, but from the outside Guy is a walking cliche. The last big game hunter.

SWH!: Did making this film change your view on hunting?

DGS: I have been vegan for the vast majority of my life and am a supporter of animal rights, so by all rights should be against the whole undertaking. However, I have to admit the intricacies of the hunt and hunting were fascinating, and I did get drawn into the process on a primitive level. But the film is about complicity as well – my complicity at being drawn in to the hunt, and also building a bond with this man. In both cases, the story was not as simple as it first appeared, and I had to explore that. This is one man’s story, I’m not making any sweeping statements about hunting just as I’m not about him. I’m ready for those who will attack me for making it, and making it in this way, but it was the only way the film was going to work for me.

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The End Of The Game is on Mon 20th Feb (18.30) and Tue 21st Feb (15.45), at the CCA.

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Here’s the trailer:

The SWH! review of The End Of The Game can be read here

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.

To buy tickets, click on the films’ titles.

Mad To Be Normal

The Levelling

Mifune: The Last Samurai

Bodkin Ras

Happy Hunting

Lost In France

End Of The Game

Housekeeping

The Slab Boys

Stockholm, My Love

Chinatown

Thanks for watching, and see you in the cheap seats…

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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:

Another welcome return to these pages comes in the understated and elegiac form of The Color Waves, who are Alison Eales and Garry Hoggan. They make gorgeous dreampop which manages to lift your spirits as it breaks your heart, and their new single simply confirms this. The tracks are ‘Play Along’ and ‘The Sky I Saw’. Both are beautiful, but the latter, with Eales’ unforgettable and affecting vocal, is my favourite song of the year so far. Over the years there has been a lot of music which has followed a pattern of quiet – quiet – loud. Well The Color Waves are all quiet and all the better for it. Inviting you to move closer to the speaker, they put an arm around your shoulder and sing just for you.  Listen to them here and now and see if I’m not right. But I can assure you I am:

 

As I hope everyone is aware, we at Scots Whay Hae! are a forward-looking, positive thinking and carefree bunch, usually facing the day with a spring in our step and our hats on the sides of our collective heads, but it’s been tough to maintain that recently. There are times, and these are times, when you need a band and a song who will sort things out for you, and, at least for a short while, make things all right. Yakima are that band, and ‘Wabi Sabi’ is that song, from their forthcoming single Medicine For Family Entertainment. Sounding like the cooler and less-uptight young cousins of The Afghan Whigs, or a less cynical Buffalo Tom, this is a song guaranteed to brighten your day or your money back*. I suspect Yakima have an excellent record collection from which they have learned some important lessons and used them to make something brand spanking new and all of their own:

*(This is clearly not a binding promise – clearly).

Just because it’s the new year doesn’t mean we’re going to stop singing the praises of Last Night from Glasgow, because the great records keep on coming. You can still hear our podcast with Ian Smith and Murray Easton from the label, but you’ll also hear some music from Mark W. Georgsson. Well, his debut album Faces And Places is out now and I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s a proper collection of songs, each one feeding into and enhancing the others. This is how albums should be, and it has rarely been off my record player since it came out. Sounds too good to be true?  See for yourself. This is ‘Oh My Dear Friend’, and it’s only a part of the even greater whole:

We get a lot of music sent to Scots Whay Hae! and we are so appreciative that people take the bother to get in touch. Every track is listened to and considered. The great thing about the breadth of music that we get sent is that expectations are not only challenged, but often rightly dumped on their head. When Ged Cartwright sent us music from his “one-man metal project” A Cunning Man I assumed it wouldn’t make the final cut as metal is a genre which no-one here listens to that much. But one play of the EP ‘Practical Applications Of Theurgy’ made it clear this was too good to ignore. I’m going to try to avoid dipping into the big book of metal clichés, but the sound is modern, heavy power-prog. Do you know what, it’s just awesome in the true meaning of the word. As the late-great George Michael said, with pride, “listen without prejudice” and I doubt it will be the only time you do. This is music which demands your attention:

 

Here’s a tip for you. If you start your song with a reading of Hugh MacDiarmid’s ‘The Bonnie Broukit Bairn’, one of the great poems from one of our greatest poets, you are always going to find favour here. But St Christopher Medal‘s song ‘Wayne Moon Pilot‘ stands on its own and is sheer class from start to finish. It’s easily as good as the best alt-country records you know and love, such as those made by the likes of Giant Sand, Uncle Tupelo and Jay Farrar. In fact, imagine Peter Capaldi fronting Lambchop and you have a fair idea of what you are about to hear. Understated yet epic, it promises even greater things to come. Watch this space:

When we interviewed Stephen McLaren and Sean Ormsby from Errant Media last year, Stephen spoke about the solo material he was working on. The first example of this is ‘We Used To Go Raving’, a wonderfully nostalgic track for a misspent youth which would not be out-of-place on the soundtrack to T2 Trainspotting as it shares that film’s sense of looking back to move forward. The classic House piano underpins Stephen’s understated yet evocative vocals, sounding not unlike the great Pete Wylie. In fact, ‘We Used To Go Raving’, could be seen as a ‘Story Of The Blues’ for today, which makes it a great thing. It’s not only about missing youth, it’s about loss and longing – regrets and unfulfilled possibilities. The more listens you give it, the better if gets. Great video from Jordon Yorkston as well:

We’ve already got some great music lined up for the next roundup, but you’ll have to meet us back here to find out the who, what and why. See you then.

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.

There are plenty of nods to the first film in both style and substance. This could have been overplayed, and threatens to be at times (freeze-frames and flashbacks fall just on the right-side of overkill). But mostly director Danny Boyle gets it spot on. Renton’s impassioned reworking of the “Choose Life” monologue, Begbie reciting his own best lines, Mickey Forrester’s appearance as a well-to-do gangster, Renton returning to his shrine of a bedroom, a partly begrudging pilgrimage in Tommy’s memory, Kelly MacDonald’s Diane’s poignant warning that a girl is “too young for you, Mark”. These are all note perfect, and are a reminder of what a good filmmaker Boyle is. There’s even a nod to Boyle, Ewan McGregor and screenwriter John Hodge’s first collaboration, Shallow Grave.

Hodge may be the real star of T2 Trainspotting. He has taken elements of Irvine Welsh’s sequel to the novel TrainspottingPorno, but improved on them in every way. He also returns to the original source material, most tellingly in the scene where we meet Begbie’s father, and from which Trainspotting gets its name. To fans of the novel, it was probably the biggest cut from the original film (that and the character of ‘Second Prize), but it makes more sense in this one, making us aware of where Begbie has come from, and where he could be heading.

Like the first film, T2 Trainspotting is about friendship, and those ties that bind – often tighter than ever as we grow old. It shows how something as apparently arbitrary as who you are made to sit beside on the first day of primary school can have lifelong repercussions, both good and bad. Mark Renton’s reappearance in Sick Boy, Begbie and Spud’s life has a dramatic effect on all of them, particularly the latter, and it is Spud’s story which carries the heart and soul of the film, with Ewan Bremner never better.

In fact, all of the cast are on peak form. If the audience have been waiting with anticipation for this film to be made, you get the feeling this applies doubly to the main actors. Perhaps the greatest directorial masterstroke Boyle makes was to wait for real-time to have passed – time which is etched on the cast’s faces. Of course Ewan McGregor is a Hollywood star, but a 45-year-old one (and one born in Perth), and he is perfect as someone who has seen a little of what choosing life did for him, perhaps even making him happy for a while, but which has driven him back to what he knows best, and who he knows best. Mark Renton is McGregor’s perfect role, a mix of cocky self-confidence and well concealed vulnerability. Here he adds a world-weariness and last-chance desperation that is all too believable.

You can see why Jonny Lee Miller makes for a much more realistic Sherlock than the clear-eyed and flawless skinned Cumberbatch  (in CBS drama Elementary, which I highly recommend) as he looks like a man who is on good-terms with a just about under control drug habit. As Sick Boy, he is pulled between a desire for revenge and an undeniable love for his oldest friend which he can’t understand. His head says he wants to destroy Renton, his heart says something else. “The power of love, is a curious thing”, as a denim-clad poet once sang, and he was right.

Robert Carlyle reminds us that when he is at his best he is just about the best there is. Francis “Frank” “Franco” “The Beggar Boy” Begbie has put on some prison beef since the last time we met. No exercise yard regime for him, but he is as psychotic and menacing as ever, although this time with just a dash of humanity. Begbie is a true cinema monster, and Carlyle understands that the best of those are never simply one-dimensional.

But Ewan Bremner is who you’ll remember. Physically and psychologically bringing Spud to life, all the youthful tics and mannerisms are there, but buried beneath the hardships which life has thrown at him. At times he is almost bent double with the weight of the world. Renton’s reappearance isn’t just a trip into the past for him, it offers a future which he thought was gone. This is what friendship can mean, and is perhaps the central theme from the film. They say you can’t choose your family but you can choose your friends. Sometimes you can’t choose your friends either. For better and for worse, no-one understands you like they do. Of course, you could choose life instead – but look where that gets you.

Here’s the trailer – as if you haven’t seen it already

And, from the soundtrack, Young Fathers whose music is the perfect accompaniment to your existential crisis…

Here’s the audio version of this review:

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.

Mary’s relationships with adults, and with other children, are telling and ring true. There are instant likes and dislikes of the former, often to be doubted and overturned at a later date. Childhood friendships are cemented quickly, and are of huge import to Mary, especially as she tries to make sense of new surroundings and the realisation that the things she believed to be certainties are no longer so.

Ross Sayers takes you back to your own childhood and makes you think about that stage in your life when time moved at a pace when a week-long holiday friendship could be a defining one. This isn’t a book dealing in nostalgia, but rather one which celebrates childhood, a time which can be too often overlooked and dismissed. Mary’s story is the most important in this novel. She is determined to be both seen and heard.

I must make it clear that this is a novel which contains imminent threat, danger and action, most directly to Mary and those she meets, and much of that action takes place on the Isle of Skye. Mary’s The Name  is the latest in recent novels to use the Scottish islands as their setting. From Robin Jenkins’ The Changeling, through Kevin MacNeil’s seminal The Stornoway Way, to Louise Welsh’s Naming The Bones, Doug Johnstone’s Smokeheads, Robert Alan Jamieson’s Da Happie Laand and Amy Sackville’s Orkneythe islands have become a reassuringly familiar setting in Scottish writing, but one which retains enough difference from the more prevalent urban settings to make them unfamiliar for the majority of characters and readers alike.

Mary’s The Name marks Ross Sayers as a writer to take note of. In it he manages to pull off the difficult trick of making you laugh on one page, cry on the next. He does this by relating honestly the relationship between a child and their grandparent without it being mawkish or sentimental. He also manages to convey the world through a child’s eyes, highlighting the things that she believes are important, and which are important to Mary, but which adults often dismiss. You’ll care about Mary, even after the last page, wishing the best for her. You’ll also remember a time in your own life where what you now see as complicated was trivial, and what you perhaps now consider unimportant was very important indeed. Once you’ve met Mary you won’t forget her in a hurry.

Mary’s The Name is published by Cranachan Publishing.

Here is the audio version of this review:

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

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Jewel_Cover-HighresFor 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’.

As well as historical research Catherine went to Burns’ poetry, songs and letters to get a better sense of their relationship, and her publisher, Saraband Books, have also published an accompanying collection of the relevant ForJean_cvrwritings.

Taking the above as a starting point, what follows is an hour of fascinating chat which touches on the reality of family life rather than on the mythology which surrounded, and continues to attach itself to, Burns. Catherine also talks about her previous novels and why history appeals to her as a writer of fiction.

But if that’s not enough for you there’s also a little bit of poetry and song. It is Burns Night after all. You can also find out more about Catherine Czerkawska and her writing at A Writer’s Life, and by following her on Twitter.

If you aren’t yet a subscriber to the SWH! podcast 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, or, if you want it right here, right now, you can listen on

SoundCloud

..or on YouTube:

For your Burns Night needs, you can still find all you require at the BBC’s exhaustive online resource.

The podcasts are coming thick and fast this year, so watch out for our next one appearing in your inbox some time soon. In the meantime, happy Burns Night, and sae the Lord be thankit…

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.

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Emme Woods: I Don’t Drink To Forget

They have done so by approaching the music business with new ideas, and some old ideas presented in a new way, and Ian and Murray discuss these in detail, and how they put them into practice.

It’s a fascinating chat which will be of interest to those involved in all areas of culture as they offer thoughts on how, in an ever changing and increasingly on-line world, the arts, and specifically music, can be supported and promoted.

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Stephen Solo: Pii

What comes across is a passion bordering on obsession, but combined with a professionalism and determination which means that there’s is a success story which is looking long term and shows no signs of slowing.

But, if that isn’t enough for you, there’s also some music to boot with an exclusive play of ‘Stay’ from Mark W. Georgsson’s forthcoming debut album, and trust me that it is worth listening out for.

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Teen Canteen: Say It All With A Kiss

If you aren’t yet a subscriber to the SWH! podcast 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, or, if you want it right here, right now, you can listen on

SoundCloud

..or on YouTube:

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Be Charlotte: Machines That Breathe

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BooHooHoo: DebutHooHoo

We’ll actually be back sooner than you think with our Burnscast 2017, so see you back here soon…

Devil’s Advocate: A Review Of Neil Broadfoot’s All The Devils…

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The last few years have seen a real development in the breadth of what I’m going to loosely call Scottish crime fiction. A genre which for so long seemed one-dimensional in style as well as content has become as varied and interesting as any other area in Scottish writing today, arguably more so.

Don’t misunderstand me, there have always been great writers in this genre. McIllvanney, Rankin, Brookmyre, McDermid – they all have a style which is distinctly theirs and which has shaped how we think of modern crime writing. But, in the last 15 years we have had important and genre busting novels from Louise Welsh, Doug Johnstone, Alex Gray, Helen Fitzgerald, Neil Mackay, Mary Paulson Ellis and Graeme Macrae Burnet, with each writer being very different in terms of style and content, but they were all to be found on the programme for the Bloody Scotland Book Festival 2016. Where readers used to perceive stereotypes they can now find variety and fresh perspectives. Continue reading

January Rhythm & Blues: A Preview Of Celtic Connections 2017…

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“January…let us endure this evil month”, to paraphrase the French writer Colette. You may think this overly dramatic, but you know what she’s getting at. For me, a year doesn’t get going properly til Celtic Connections begins. A festival which never fails to deliver, and which continues to grow in terms of number of gigs, breadth of music, and international stature – deep, and wide and tall.

As always, we’d like to point you in the direction of lesser known gems which can be found at the festival alongside the headliners and more well-kent attendees, which this year include Laura Marling, Billy Bragg & Joe Henry, Fairport Convention, Mary Chapin Carpenter with Altan & Julie Fowlis, and Eliza Carthy. Some of the names below you may recognise from our regular music reviews, and they all are deserving of your attention. Each one promises an unforgettable night, and what more can you ask for in these early days of 2017?

You can peruse the full programme at your leisure at Celtic Connections, and receive all the up-to-date news by following on Twitter, and Facebook.  But before you rush away, here is the Scots Whay Hae! guide, (complete with links to further details), to what we’re calling ‘the best of the rest of the fest’.

Mark W. Georgsson – 19th Jan, Hug & Pint

Continue reading