Glasgow Letter – November 26 2020

Sian and Trail West who will perform a virtual gig for the Blas festival on Saturday November 28 2020.

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Iain MacKay

I was saddened last week to hear of the passing of Iain MacKay. Iain was a simply phenomenal Gaelic singer (one of the very best) and social media has justifiably been full of lovely tributes to him. He was not a man I knew particularly well but, on the odd occasion I would bump into him, he was always up for a blether – usually on the subject of Gaelic singing about which he was so passionate. I greatly enjoyed chatting to him for a fair while in the street one afternoon as the sun beat down on a Stornoway Mòd a few years ago and have great memories of hearing him singing in pubs or at cèilidhs during various Mòds when I was younger. His Voice of the Hebrides album often comes on in my car and his rendition of Guma Slàn do na Fearaibh always captures my attention immediately. What a voice. Iain’s contribution to Gaelic music and culture was immense. My thoughts are with his family.

Virtual Gigs aplenty this month

While live music is unfortunately still on hiatus, there have been plenty of virtual performances to keep Gaelic music lovers entertained in recent weeks. I previewed Mànran’s virtual 10th Anniversary gig from the Barrowland Ballroom a number of weeks ago and thoroughly enjoyed watching it from the comfort of my flat the other weekend. The Blas Festival has also had a number of great virtual gigs and its programme runs right until the end of the month with performances still to come from the likes of Trail West, Sian, Ingrid Henderson, Hugh Dan MacLennan, Mary Ann Kennedy, Rachel Walker, Beinn Lee, and Gary Innes. The Edinburgh Sutherland Association also has a fantastic virtual cèilidh lined up on Monday November 30 including performances from Julie Fowlis, Allan Henderson, Sandy Brechin, James Graham, Darren MacLean, Calum Alex MacMillan, Carol-Anne MacKay, and Neil John MacPhail. If you’re in a similar tier of lockdown restrictions as I am, I can’t imagine you have any other plans this weekend anyway! So put your feet up, pour yourself a large one, get online, and check all these gigs out!


Comunn Tìr nam Beann Greetings Card

The Comunn Tir nam Beann Dùn Èideann, whose cèilidhs I wrote about regularly prior to lockdown, have this year released a Christmas and New Year’s greetings card to mark its centenary year. The card has a beautiful picture of sunny Arthur’s Seat and costs £1 a copy, including post and packing, sold on a first-come-first-served basis. Contact Tam Burke on 07984943192 with orders. It is a difficult time for such associations so it’s nice to see them raising a little bit of money in order that they can host cèilidhs once it is safe to do so again. To that end, this comunn hopes to have ceilidhs on February 6 and March 6 2021 and its centenary dinner on Friday March 26 2021 in the Royal Scots Club followed by entertainment from Gaelic singers and musicians.