SWH! Is 10…

Today (25/08/2019) marks the 10th anniversary of Scots Whay Hae!, making it the perfect time to thank all those who have supported and helped along the way.

So – with a sharp intake of breath – thanks to every writer, poet, and publisher, who has shared their words, wit and wisdom with us. The same goes to all the bands, musicians, record labels and promoters who have sent us music and songs to listen to and review. Similarly, those artists, filmmakers, theatre companies, comedians, and festivals, who have invited us to view their previews and shows. We know your art and work is something which is vital and central to who you are and we appreciate you choosing to share it with us. It’s a privilege to be able to write, review, discuss, and celebrate it, and it’s a responsibility that SWH! takes seriously.

Huge thanks to all our podcast guests, some of whom you can see in the pictures at the top of the page (as well as some ever-evolving facial hair). The first was recorded in July 2011 and we are at 122 and counting. Number 123 is with American writer Elle Nash and will be with you soon.

If you have missed any you can find them here – SWH! Podcasts.
When taken together we like to think they are an informative and entertaining record of a contemporary Scottish culture which is thrilling, thriving, and diverse.

Ian Gregson

Special thanks must go to our sound guru Ian Gregson (right), without whom there would only be silence, and Sarah Jane Gregson for her undying support and advice. Also to our regular end of year reviewers Chris Ward, Vikki Reilly, and Wesley Shearer, and our resident ‘Dr Books’ Ronnie Young, all of whose expertise has been essential.

We are grateful to, and thankful for, our various partners over the years, including Dear Scotland, ASLS, Scottish Opera, LP Radio, and Braemar Gallery. If I have forgotten to mention others then please remind me and I will add them to this list, with sincere apologies for a memory failing.

Also kudos to the bloggers, podcasters, critics, journalists, broadcasters, and other cultural contributors, who have inspired and supported SWH! over the years. It means more than you could possible know and I hope that you feel the support and appreciation is mutual.

But most of all thanks to you, Dear Reader and Listener, as it would be fairly pointless doing this without you (although we probably still would). We value and treasure each and every one of you.

Before moving on, it’s worthwhile reflecting on the very first post which set out the aims and ideas behind Scots Whay Hae!’s inception. It’s encouraging to find that it is as relevant now as it was a decade ago, and hasn’t really changed at any time. Here it is in full so you can decide for yourself. In the meantime, ‘Cheers!’ & here’s to 10 more…

Why Hae?

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This is a little mission statement as to the reason for creating this website. Contemporary writing and commentary that deals with Scottish art and culture often obsess over questions of inclusion and exclusion, questions that usually arise from the thorny issue of nation. This blog aims to, if not ignore such questions, demote them to the sidelines as all aspects of art and culture are discussed and dissected.

I cannot deny that I am Scots, writing in Scotland, and will concentrate (although not exclusively) on Scottish writers, poets, music, films, TV, art, comedy etc, but ‘where and when’ is of far less importance to me than ‘what and why’. Discussions can be had elsewhere as to what is or is not Scots and often they become a barrier to the enjoyment of that which is under discussion.

And that is what this blog is really for, to celebrate, debate and enjoy art in its widest sense. To deal with the art itself, and allow discussion and comment that looks at the old and new anew. To not take too seriously something which I take very seriously indeed. We have an ongoing relationship with our respective cultures throughout our lives and it is important to remember the relationship as it was when first consummated. The joy, wonder and the reason we fell in love in with bands, films, poems and books. Like all relationships it changes, becomes more ‘serious’ as time goes by, and although I cannot pretend that a wary, weary and cynical side will be suppressed fully, (nor would I wish it so – where is the fun in that?) I want to focus on my belief that art in all its forms can give us a reason for living better lives.

The first post proper are thoughts on John Byrne’s Tutti Frutti. What struck me is the way that Byrne created a thoroughly Scottish drama, one that wears its roots and knowledge easily, giving reference to outside cultural influence without apology, and does so with a light touch and a self-mocking sense of humour.

It is in this spirit that I write this blog. Of course this may change at any time, but until it does please excuse the indulgence and read on…

Alistair Braidwood 25/08/2009.

The Tracks Of My Year: SWH!’s 10 Best Songs Of 2016…

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Looking back, as is everyone’s wont at this time of year, two things in particular are striking about 2016 in music. There was the continued rise and success of the independent record label, especially Last Night From Glasgow, Song, by Toad, Olive Grove Records and Errant Media, and it was a year of classic albums, from the triumphant return of Teenage FanclubMogwai, King Creosote and Kid Canaveral, through the mostly excellent SAY Award nominees, to those released by the artists below.

These are our choices for the 10 best songs reviewed on these pages this year. As ever, it’s a list which focuses on individual tracks, but if you like what you hear you should investigate further as most of them are to be found on equally awesome albums.

If you aren’t sated by what follows you can discover more of the new music we covered on Scots Whay Hae! by listening to our Best of 2016 Spotify list.

But enough preamble, here’s the countdown listed in chronological order and what we thought about them at the time, with a few relevant updates…

Errant Boy – Black Dress, Black Cab

Errant Boy are another who have recently featured on those pages. That’s because we like to be surprised and delighted, and it appears that the ability to do both is in Errants Boy’s DNA. This is their latest single, ‘Black Dress, Black Cab’, and it demands repeated listenings as it takes you to different places every time. The song moves from menace to magic and back again in a single line, with layered acoustics and vocals which seem to pull you in opposite directions. It reminds me of The Woodentops in the sense that what you are listening to is way more complex than you initially believe, and that’s a great thing. I feel I could write a short essay on this song. I’ve been listening to it a lot. Can you tell?

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

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I’ve never really thought about how the changing seasons affect the music you listen to, but one of the interesting things about following the year through Scots Whay Hae!’s Tracks Of The Year Spotify list has been to see what the 2016 trends have been, and how they change.

It does seem that as the year has progressed the upbeat has slowly been replaced by more reflective and contemplative fair. I could try to come up with a clever reason for this, but the truth is this is the sort of music I like to have accompany me on cold, dark nights. So there’s melancholia as well as melody in this roundup of reviews. There’s even a mention of “mortification”. However, there’s also one tune which will be essential at any self-respecting Christmas night out. You’ve got to have an exception to prove the rule.

We begin with something magical and moving. it is something to have been is the new EP from Olive Grove Records, and features songs from Jo Mango (‘Wisps Of Something’), The State Broadcasters (‘I Am This’), The Son(s) (‘Mississippi’) and Call To Mind (Hole In The Heart’). Available on download and on beautiful green vinyl, it’s a reminder, as if you needed it, that the name Olive Grove has long been a guarantee of quality. They simply refuse to release anything other than the finest music, and, although each track on it is something to have been works individually, together they make one of the most significant and memorable releases of the year. Olive Grove’s Lloyd Meredith has gathered a fine family of artists around him, and it is fitting that this EP honours the memory of his late father as it’s the perfect summation of where Olive Grove have come from, and how strong they stand today.  Buy a copy for someone you love. They’ll thank you for it, perhaps more than you’ll realise:

https://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/album=709562230/size=large/bgcol=ffffff/linkcol=0687f5/tracklist=false/transparent=true/

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Get Yersel’ Connected: A Preview Of Celtic Connections 2016…

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If it’s January, it must be Celtic Connections, and it’s the perfect way to blow away the new year blues, often with the blues. Arguably the world’s greatest roots music festival, it continues to offer up a programme which is quite extraordinary in terms of its scope, and we should not take that for granted.

This year is no different, and you can peruse the full line-up at your leisure, but before you do here are some suggestions as to what to spend your hard-earned on.

The first ticket I bought this year was for The Bathers, who are playing two nights at The Mackintosh Church. The Bathers have made some of my favourite records, music that’s on my ‘save from a fire’ list. If you’re not aware of their work you should change that situation, and once you’ve fallen for the songs be assured that they are even better live. It’s rare for them to play these days, so this promises to be something special. Here they are playing at the peak of their powers with ‘The Belle Sisters’:

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Tales From The Olive Grove: The Scots Whay Hae! Podcast Talks To Olive Grove Records’ Lloyd Meredith…

Ian and Ali have been trying to get Lloyd Meredith on the podcast for some time, and this month they get their man. As music blogger Peenko he was one of Scottish music’s greatest champions, and, alongside Halina Rifai of Podcart fame, he founded Olive Grove Records, who are home to Jo Mango, Woodenbox, The Son(s), Call To Mind, The Moth and The Mirror, and more. He also finds time to manage Randolph’s Leap as well. All of the above are some of Scots Whay Hae!’s favourite bands and musicians, and what unfolds on the pod is basically one fanboy talking to another about Olive Grove and much more.”

But it’s not all chat; there is music from Skinny Dipper, The Son(s) and previous podcast guest, Jo Mango with new tracks from all three, and which ably show the quality that we have come to expect from Olive Grove. It’s become, over a fairly short space of time, a label which guarantees quality and class in a way that the best indie labels, such as Postcard, Factory, Fence or Chemical Underground, do. Unapologetically biased towards Scottish bands, Lloyd and Olive Grove follow a similar mission statement to Scots Whay Hae! in that they want to make people aware of the great things that are happening on your doorstep. We had a great time talking, and I hope you enjoy it too.

You can listen to the Scots Whay Hae! podcast at iTunesor by RSS. Subscribe and you’ll never miss it. Or, if you want it right here, right now, you can listen to it below, accompanied by a few visuals:

And as an added extra, and because we can, here is the video to Call To Mind’s Breathe from earlier this year:

That’s it for another pod, but we’ve got some rather interesting guests coming soon. In the meantime, you should have a listen to Scots Whay Hae! regular Chris Ward’s podcast, Seen Your Video, which is always worth your while…