Happy New Year!
Posted: Saturday, 07 January 2006
Things got off to tasty start with a pre-hogmanay party at the old schoolhouse. Our hosts prepared us for the onslaught with a delicious mountain of shepherd's pie made with fine venison.
Easdale has a strong first footing tradition, probably due to the proximity of all the houses to each other, and the non-existence of roads and cars. So, after the bells, the 'snake' made it's way around the island's houses bringing cheer and whisky wherever it went. We even managed a tune in Ghalia's house, despite her liberal distribution of rather strong Arak from her native Syria. I survived until 6am when I though I better snatch some sleep before the football.
So, to the village square at 2pm for the traditional Ne'erday game of football. There was a good turnout of players and noisy spectators and one of the best games in years took place, with none of the mud pools of last year and none of the testosterone of the previous year. The result was fair, Easdale Island 2 - Easdale Island 2, although I am considering an appeal against my yellow card!
Then there was just enough time for a few pints and a bite to eat before heading to the community hall for the ceilidh. The usual combination of dances, tunes, songs and poems, all provided by islanders or visitors, made for a very entertaining evening.
The party in our house on the 2nd was excellent, he said modestly. Special thanks to Gica, Norman and Rab for the tunes.
Our panto took place on the 3rd, and the community pulled out all the stops to entertain a packed hall with many of the audience from the neighbouring islands and the mainland. This years self-penned production was The Wizard of Ozdale. We continue to be amazed at Mellon's ability to disguise his script. This year he had it on his wand.. the writing must have been tiny. Over £300 was raised for community funds.
That evening Derek and Margaret opened their unfinished house to us all and provided us with the traditional combination of stovies and Czech liquer. Thanks folks!
Things didn't finish there. We had an evening of goth nostalgia on Thursday and an 18th birthday party last night. Who knows what may happen tonight?!
Personally, this has been one of the best New Years I have experienced, and there was a real feeling of community spirit. If you have read the nonsense in the papers about Easdale being 'an island at war', take it with a pinch of salt. While the community danced the nights away, the tiny number of very vocal nae-sayers were nowhere to be seen.
May you have a happy and prosperous 2006.
P.S. Keep your eyes on the hall web page for details of the 2006 arts program. Details should be available soon.
Back from the fringe!
Posted: Wednesday, 31 August 2005
In all my years visiting Embra, this is my first time during the festival, and I can understand why some of my friends vacate the city for most of August. There's certainly plenty going on, but you need more then the second sight to sort the wheat from the chaff.
Our gigs went pretty well, and we got a good review in Saturday's Herald. It was quite a buzz to play in a 'tent' built in the 1920's, and to follow in the footsteps of other West Highland folk singers like Marlene MacDietrich!
My highlight of the festival? Luckily it's there all year round... Ann Purna Vegetarian Indian Restaurant. Excellent food, good prices, nae fag smoke and very friendly service.
Long gaps of silence!
Posted: Saturday, 20 August 2005
So what's been happening? The gap is too big to fill so I'll just start afresh.
Well the Macaroons have three reasonably important gigs next week at the Edinburgh Festival. I hope the fact that there are more critics than artists in Edinburgh doesn't make me nervous. If you're in Edinburgh we're playing at the Speigel Tent on 25th, 26th and 27th at 6pm.
I've just landed my strangest job yet... as a stone skimming double! I got a phone call from Granada television looking for someone to skim stones for a television drama called Distant Shores. The character that is a great stone skimmer is played by an actor who isn't, so they contacted the organisers of the World Stone Skimming Championships here on Easdale and for some strange reason they were given my name. I get a free trip to Northumberland and a few bob in my pocket!
Easdale is hosting Na hEileanaich Ealanta - Creative Islanders conference today.. so I'm off to hobnob with folk from all over the Hebrides!
Posted: Sunday, 21 November 2004
So what's been happening since June? Well the island ticks along much the same as ever. On the entertainment front we have had a bit of music, some dancing with a ceilidh band from Edinburgh, the travelling magician, some films and of course The World Stone Skimming Championships! Mull Theatre were here last night with their excellent production of Jeckyll and Hyde which was very entertaining and rather creepy.
The new band that I play in (Orchestra Macaroon, with 3 other Easdale Islanders, 2 'mainlanders' and 2 from Ireland) has had a good start in life! Radio Scotland seems to like it. They have given us quite a few plays over the last month and we have just recorded a studio session for Celtic Connections which will be broadcast on 30th Nov. We've had good reviews in Scotland on Sunday, The Guardian and The List. It's all very exciting and hopefully I will soon be paid large amounts of money to galavant around Europe playing tunes (I can but wish!). If your interested there's more here (and you can buy the album too... hint hint) - www.theshipbuilders.com - (follow the links to Orchestra Macaroon)
That's all for now, maybe it won't be 5 months till my next blog.
Posted: Sunday, 20 June 2004
Thanks to the folks on Luing for a lovely evening last week. It was a great pleasure to play acoustically, something we don't do very often.
The dance last night at Kilmartin was a bit of a wild one. Unfortunately everyone stays in the pub till it closes, so the marquee was very quiet until after 11, and the rapid consumption of 'babycham' doesn't improve the dancing skills. No offence Kilmartin, but i think we should organise some ceilidh classes!! Thankfully the wind dropped by the time we got back.... so we didn't get wet coming home on the wee boat.
No longer bottom of the pile!
Posted: Wednesday, 05 May 2004
What have I been upto since Jan 5th? I've recorded my parts for two albums, one for my brother-in-law and another for my neighbours Geoff and Brenda. I'm not a great fan of the recording process, but the pressure is on to make an album of my own music, so I better just get used to it.
We made a start on our giant, papier mache puppet heads for our Portuguese style carnival band. We were supposed to be debuting on Colonsay next weekend, but it looks like it's not going to happen (sorry Lucy).
It was nice to meet the guys behind Island Blogging project, and I'm just waiting for the offers of work to come piling in from the BBC drama department.
And I promise to try and update this more often.
Back to normal
Posted: Monday, 05 January 2004
I did however have an early night on hogmanay, the first time since I started on the drams many moons ago (the time Craig and I drank ourselves asleep about 30 mins after the bells doesn't count). Just Fi, me and a couple of glasses of fine port.
This meant I had more energy than usual for the Ne'erday football match in the square, which was just as well. Normally we have a fair smattering of ladies playing, but it was an all male game this year.... and my muscles and joints are still sore.
There was great comfort to be had during the panto, discovering the natural 'drag queen' talents of the un-named player (hi Pete) who broke my leg!
Posted: Tuesday, 23 December 2003
Then i had a look at my dictionary (admittedly it is very old) and discovered this -
mun·dane - of this world, worldly, of this universe.
So i suppose all the rest of the bloggers should be writing to the OT letter's page to deny allegations of not being of this world
Posted: Saturday, 20 December 2003
My 'sticky dressing gown' bug has developed into a full blown head cold, and when my head is on the pillow it sounds like a large ship is passing by the island (like all Easdale islanders, I only live a hundred meters or so from the sea, and I can often hear the deep engine throb of passing boats). I presume I'm listening to the sound of my own bloodstream, amplified by blocked sinuses.
I've made a good start on my new tunes page, although it is quite slow work. First of all I tidy up the abc's, then make sure the dots look good, then export it as a midi file. Check them out here - www.ceilidhband.org/tunes.html
Got a cold? Try tunes!
Posted: Thursday, 18 December 2003
I've been writing tunes on the various instruments I play since the very start. In fact when I first got hold of a tin whistle I didn't know any real tunes, so I made some up.
I've been using the web for about 7 or 8 years now, and placed my tunes on the pub web site (www.pufferbar.com) so that other folk could listen to them and learn them if they wanted. I used ABC software, which seemed most suited to the task at the time, but I've been meaning to make them more accessible for years now.
So what better time to start than now, when I'm unable to remove my dressing gown due to a strange 'sticky dressing gown' bug. Today I started porting them over to my band's website, making each tune available as an image and a midi file as well as an ABC file.
I've a long job ahead of me, I must have written more than 40 now...