American Horror Story: The Scots Whay Hae! Podcast Talks To Andy Davidson…

39223105_305145936924638_8729861735990689792_n.jpg

For the latest podcast Ali met up with the American novelist Andy Davidson before his event at The Edinburgh International Book Festival. In an ironically dreich Charlotte Square the two discuss Andy’s terrific debut novel In The Valley Of The Sun which is among the best of the year so far.

DhhU22jWAAAKJSQPublished on the Contraband imprint of Saraband Books,  In The Valley Of The Sun is set in the small towns of the Texas desert. We’re calling it a vampire thriller unlike any other, but, as you’ll hear, that’s not necessarily how Andy sees it.

If you want a point of reference think Kathryn Bigelow’s 1987 film Near Dark, or even Jim Jarmusch’s 2013’s Only Lovers Left Alive, among many other cinematic and literary influences. Dripping with blood, sweat and tears, it is as shocking as it is compelling, and in Travis Stickwell Davidson has created an anti-hero for the ages. If you are a fan of horror and/or crime fiction then you don’t want to miss out on this one. Continue reading

The Write Stuff: Scots Whay Hae!’s Top 10 (+1) Picks Of The Edinburgh International Book Festival…

programme_cropped.png

From the 11th – 27th August in Edinburgh’s Charlotte Square Gardens (and George Street) once again becomes the place for book lovers to meet, greet, and be merry as the Edinburgh International Book Festival takes up its annual residence. It’s always an oasis of calm and conversation in a city gone daft, and it is one of SWH!’s favourite places to be.

There’s a lot of great events to choose from, so to help you find something just for you here are Scots Whay Hae!’s Top Ten Picks of what to see at this year’s book festival (with a bonus extra because you’re special).

67dac432Robin Robertson, Sat 11 Aug 12:00 – 13:00 – The Spiegeltent
A renowned poet whose work often hauntingly evokes the lives of Scottish outsiders, Robin Robertson strikes out with a breathtaking new project, The Long Take. In this verse novel, Walker is a war veteran from Nova Scotia who sets out for Los Angeles in 1948. Robertson’s book demonstrates the origins of ‘noir’, presented here with period filmic and musical accompaniment.

And you can read the SWH! review of The Long Take here. Continue reading

Black Magic: A Review Of Robin Robertson’s The Long Take…

DSC_0793.jpg

There are regularly heated discussions about the worth of prizes in art and culture. Recently announced, the Scottish Album of the Year longlist provoked debate about the worthiness not only of those on the list, but of the nature of the award itself as a very long, (and very strong), list of eligible albums was whittled down further to twenty by a chosen group of critics, journos, and others (of which I should declare that SWH! was one).

The arguments for are that the chosen records and musicians will benefit from the publicity, reach a greater audience as a result, and showcase the strength of Scottish music at the moment. Among the arguments against is that all such awards reduce art and culture to a competition, one which pits artists against each other, and which, at least according to one well-known and respected musician, can lead to anxiety and stress amongst those who find their music being judged in this way. Continue reading

Fringe Benefits: Scots Whay Hae!’s Top 10 Picks Of The Edinburgh Fringe…

download-1_55
For many of us August means Edinburgh and its attendant festivals. As ever, the Fringe in particular has so much on offer that it can be tough to see past the big names, sort through the plethora of posters, and separate the wheat from the cultural chaff. To help you do so here are Scots Whay Hae!’s Top Ten picks of the Fringe. There’s comedy, poetry, theatre, music and more – hopefully, something for everyone.

2018THISSCR_T4This Script and Other Drafts (Jenny Lindsay), Aug 13-14, 21-22 – Scottish Storytelling Centre
At a time of schisms within feminism, ongoing revelations of #MeToo, endless discussions about womanhood, and sirens being the soundtrack to our newsfeeds, Jenny Lindsay found herself getting a bit angry in 2017… Putting that anger to work she wrote a series of univocal poems, invented a superhero on her period, explored the rifts within feminism, set up a date with capitalism and penned some poems based on comments on PornHub videos. Amongst other drafts… Come join an award-winning poet for an evening exploring sex, gender and feminism. Can she rewrite this script? Can you? Continue reading

Fine & Dandy: The Scots Whay Hae! Podcast Visits Aberdeen…

sdr

Charley, Jon, Shane, Ali, & a hawk

After our recent Dundee podcast Ali moves up the coast to Aberdeen to talk to Charley Buchan from Fitlike Records (as recently featured on Radio 4’s Notes From A Musical Island), writer Shane Strachan, and arts blogger Jon Reid, otherwise known as Mood Of Collapse,

The three talk about the changes in, and challenges for, Aberdeen’s arts and cultural community, the influence of the city’s educational and civic insitutions, the importance of spaces and places, graduate and talent drain, what inspires them to do what they do, and their hope for what happens next. It’s an impassioned and inspiring chat about the past, present and future for the arts in Aberdeen.

During the hour there are mentions for Nuart Aberdeen, Gray’s School Of ArtJamie Dyer, 10Ft Tall Theatre, Painted Doors, Fat Hippy Records, Kathryn Joseph, Aberdeen Art Gallery, University of Aberdeen’s Creative Writing MLitt, the SAY Award long-listed Best Girl Athlete, Peacock Visual Arts, The Lemon Tree, The Blue Lamp, Iona Fyfe, and many more. Thanks to artist Mary Butterworth for putting up with us and taking the picture at the top of the page, and to Charley for being the perfect host. Continue reading

Cheers For A Clown: A Review Of Scottish Opera’s Pagliacci…

DjEEeloW4AEiecH.jpg

5232Every now and then, and not very often, a piece of theatre comes along which blows you away. My own favourites include The Tiger Lillies’ Shockheaded Peter,  Robert Lepage’s Elsinore (his take on Hamlet), and David Greig’s adaption of Lanark: A Life In Three ActsTo those I can now happily add Scottish Opera’s production of Pagliacci.

Staged in a circus tent in a sports field in Paisley, it was the sort of magical evening which will live forever in the memory, and by the smiles on the faces of those around me I would say that feeling was shared.

Pagliacci is arguably the classic tragicomedy, one which is often referenced in popular culture – the Seinfeld episode ‘The Opera’, The Simpsons, Alan Moore’s The Watchmen, Brian De Palma’s The Untouchables, and the Smokey Robinson & The Miracles’ song ‘Tears Of A Clown’ being just a few examples – so even if you don’t know the story you are likely aware of the iconography. Scottish Opera set the tone for the evening by having dressing-up boxes, fun-fair games, a Punch & Judy show, and even a donkey, for people to interact with before the performance began. With the orchestra dressed in their civvies, and people in fancy dress and face-paint, this was the most relaxed atmosphere imaginable. Continue reading

This Is The Story: A Review Of Vic Galloway’s Rip It Up: The Story Of Scottish Pop…

DSC_0792.jpg

Currently running at The National Museum of Scotland is Rip It Up: The Story Of Scottish Pop exhibition, on till the 25th November this year. It’s an admirably exhaustive celebration of Scottish pop from the ’50s till the present day. With a wide range of exhibits, memorabilia and video footage, I highly recommend anyone with an interest attend, but make sure you allow yourself plenty of time to take it all in. There are also related events throughout its run, including Key Note Sessions, Film Showings, Free Fringe Music, some Late-Night’s at the museum, as well as various playlists put together by the great and the good for your pleasure.

To accompany the exhibition Vic Galloway has written a book of the same name, and there is surely no one better placed to do so. It would have been easy to put together a “Scottish Pop by numbers” publication that does little more than name names and places, but Galloway is too steeped in the music – too much of a fan – to do that. This is his world and he wants to share it with you.

The book is an unashamed celebration of the music which has provided the soundtrack to much of our lives, one which is packed full of incidents and anecdotes, and even if you know some of the story I guarantee you won’t know it all. It was the earlier years of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, which was mostly new to me, and it was fascinating to learn more about Lonnie Donnegan, Frankie Miller, Stone The Crows, and the early careers of Alex Harvey and Rab Noakes, as well as hearing about The Beatstalkers, The McKinleys and The Sutherland Brothers for the first time. Continue reading

Great Scott!: A Review Of Allan Massie’s The Ragged Lion…

61RpmCjwEtL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

The first book of Allan Massie’s I read was his historical novel Augustus (I think in the late ’80s) and it made a deep impression on me. I hadn’t been a huge fan of historical fiction up to that point, preferring the modern and contemporary even then. Written in the form of a memoir by the titular Roman emperor in old age, what was so impressive was how Massie managed to get into the character and make the reader believe that this was his life, at least from his point of view.

It’s a style which served Massie well in 1991’s Tiberius, the second of his “Memoirs of the Emperor” novels, and it is one he similarly applies in The Ragged Lion, his 1994 novel about the life of Walter Scott which has just been republished by Polygon Books. For those who are fans of Scott’s fiction it is essential, but, as with the Roman Trilogy, it is also a great read for those interested in the history of the time as it looks at the people, places, events and attitudes through the prism of arguably the most famous Scottish writer, and, certainly at the time, the most celebrated. Continue reading

City Of Culture: The Scots Whay Hae! Podcast Visits Dundee…

IMG_20180708_195623.jpg

For the latest podcast Ali visited Dundee to talk about all things cultural in relation to that great city. To help him do so he was joined by the co-founding director of Creative Dundee Gillian Easson, the writer and playwright (and long-term supporter of SWH!) Anna Stewart, and the TV and theatre actor, (currently to be seen on the brilliant drama ‘The Terror‘ on AMC) Gordon Morris.

All three are proud Dundonians who have close connections with the city’s culture. They talk about the past, present, and their future hopes for the city and its artistic community, examining how it has become an internationally renowned centre for the arts while remaining determinedly committed to engaging with its citizens. It’s a fascinating discussion which gives a great overview of a place, its people, and its culture. Continue reading

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

a4094438180_10.jpg

A recent visit to the National Museum of Scotland’s Rip It Up: The Story Of Scottish Pop exhibition was a reminder, as if one were needed, that Scotland’s pop music heritage is deep and wide and tall. It’s a must visit for anyone interested in music, and it is also the place where you can pick up a copy of Vic Galloway’s book of the same name (a review of which will appear on these pages shortly).

But, as nice as it is to look back, these reviews are all about the here and now – and what, and who, you are about to hear prove that while the past may be memorable, the present is pretty darn good as well. We start with bands new to Scots Whay Hae! before the return of some firm favourites, and finish with a new release from one of the best records of 2018. It’s a summer soundtrack which is lazy, hazy, and little bit crazy, but, hey, don’t we all just love that?

The music man himself, Warren McIntyre of Starry Skies fame, asked SWH! to host one of his legendary Seven Song Club nights at The Tron Theatre last month. It was an honour to do so, and as usual it proved to be a memorable occasion with singer/songwriter Lynnie Carson, the fabulous Xan Tyler, and an acoustic set from The Whispering Pines. The latter have just released their album, A Reminder. It’s an impressive and assured record made by muscians who know what they’re doing, boasting a mix of styles while always remaining distinctly original.

There are beautiful harmonies and melodies, some lovely drumming, and good old-fashioned lead guitar – unfairly maligned these days. Moving from the quietly contemplative to epic and back again, it’s the sound of a band who don’t just love playing together, but who love playing together well, with Barrie Neilson’s plaintive, almost world-weary, vocals lifting the music to another level. If you’re looking for comparisons, I’ll give you The Bible, The Bathers, Grant Lee Buffalo, and Matthew Sweet to start – the classiest of company I think you’ll agree. From A Reminder, this is ‘Snow’:

Continue reading