Robert in lockdown – 3.9.20

Easier Now, by The Islands.

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Another week, another virtual festival performance – this time, Cowal Gathering last Saturday.

I have enjoyed great weekends at Cowal over the years with both Tide Lines and, previously, Skipinnish; so it was an honour to be asked to sing a few songs from my living room at their virtual festival.

And what a virtual festival it was: my Facebook page seemed to be dominated by Highland Dancing, Piping, and general Cowal Gathering performances, interviews, and trivia for the full weekend. A tremendous effort by all involved and a fitting substitute for an internationally renowned gathering.

Meanwhile, in Glasgow, the track and trace system is wreaking havoc with those Highlanders and Islanders with more than one first name – your Donald Archies and your Peigi Annas – because Glaswegian bar staff get confused as to the number of households!

For example, I recently walked into a bar with two pals and, when asked for our full names, the answers were Robert Daniel, John Alexander Donald, and Ian Geoffrey.
‘And how many households do we have here?’ the bar girl asked. ‘Oh just the three,’ said John. The girl admitted, on hearing the names, she had expected seven different people!

On a similar note, the aforementioned Ian (of Trail West and Tyree gin fame) had been in one of the establishments of Finnieston’s “teuchter triangle” a number of years ago when an uninvited and well-oiled local had joined their company.

All of the lads had nicknames, so the chap asked them what their real names were and where they were from.

‘I’m Ian from Tiree,’ said the first one. ‘I’m Iain from Tiree,’ said the second – with the slightly different pronunciation of the added ‘I’. When the guy found out the third man was also a Tirisdeach called Iain, he turned to the fourth and said: ‘And I suppose you’re Iain from Tiree too?’

The fourth man, a well known character called Speedy, smiled and said: ‘As a matter of fact, I am!’

The poor guy left the company wondering how strong his Buckfast had been that evening!

Moving on to new releases, a new album that is well worth a listen is Easier Now, by The Islands.

Their lead singer, Donald MacDonald, son of Runrig’s Calum, is a good pal of mine and a tremendous singer/songwriter.

Tide Lines had the pleasure of sharing a stage with the lads for our Barrowlands show last November, and we also included one of Donald’s songs, Wreck of a Ship in our latest album, Eye of the Storm.

So I have been looking forward to this album for some time and it hasn’t disappointed.

The artwork (pictured) is also a point of interest – created by the talented Caitlin Sonachan of Sona Design.

The colourful representation of the frontage of a Glasgow tenement summarises so much of what the lads’ music is about. If you’re looking for a good rock album to see you into the winter, look no further!