" ... man to man, the world ower,
Shall brothers be, for a' that."
A fabulous sunny Sunday in late March and the first ever Niel Gow Scottish Fiddle Awards at Blair Castle, Perthshire. Following the decision late last year to discontinue the Glenfiddich Fiddle Championship, local hero Campbell Smith decided to put together a rescue plan. With help and advice from many fiddlers, notably Patsy Reid, that rescue plan came to fruition on Sunday 26th March in the form of the Niel Gow Scottish Fiddle Awards.
It was a day of great music .... but more than a littel stressful for the adjudicators!!
The inevitable down side of an event such as this is that most of the participants return home "empty-handed" as it were. However, it is the taking part which is important and those fiddlers who were bold enough certainly gave the decision makers a difficult task. Well played everyone!
AND I accepted an award on behalf of Niel Gow and his descendants as he was inducted into the "Hands up for Trad" Music Hall of Fame! This award will hopefully reman on display at Blair Castle, close to the famous portrait and Niel Gow's old fiddle.
Very sorry to hear of the death of a good friend and one time fellow member of "Heritage" Mike Ward. Mike was a "man o' pairts" - linguist, musician, teacher, raconteur, curry maestro - but extremely modest. He will be hugely missed by many people in Scotland and beyond. He leaves us with fond memories.
January gales and high water levels have at last taken their toll. The tenuous hold of the root network could no longer support the giant and the mighty Douglas fell, spanning the pool at the Hermitage and smashing the information panel! (A quick count of the annual rings revealed the age of the fir to be much less than one might think. Less than 100 years.)
October, and very sad to hear of the passing of Angus Grant, son of Aonghas and Moira. His music will live on.
September fiddle week in Birnam was great craic,as ever. The weather was a real "mixed bag", with some days being - would you believe it? - too warm!! (Finished one day with a session outside!)
Most of August I was in the U.S. for a wonderful spell of fiddling and fishing in the Sierra Nevada - "Snowy Mountains" - of California. (Thank you Barbara, Jane et al for organising!) When you're used to being relatively close to sea level, doing stuff at 10,000ft is a challenge! And what a stunning landscape. No wonder John Muir was inspired to campaign for the preservation of such beautiful wild areas.
Caught a few wee fish - and had a magical encounter with a bear! (I was assured that it was a BLACK bear and not a Brown Bear - in spite of it's relatively small stature and brown fur!)
July and a fine weekend in Islay, in spite of the dreich weather. Great craic in the bar of The Port Charlotte Hotel and fine tunes with Alastair Savage, Jim Leighton & surprise visitor Archie McAllister. And the hospitality of our host Graham Allison and his staff was fantastic. Thank you all!
May fiddle week and the sun shone almost all week (the Friday morning was a bit cloudy). (Good news for our swifts, who arrived back from their African holiday on May 5th.)