Robert in Lockdown – 10.12.20

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This is usually my favourite time of year in Glasgow: Christmas markets, Christmas nights out, and Christmas Shopping. Well, if I’m being honest, maybe not so much Christmas shopping…!

At the weekend, my phone rather unhelpfully chose to remind me of last year’s brilliant night at The Vatersay Boys in the Barrowlands. Nights like that with pals are special, particularly at this time of year, and I think their absence has given me a greater appreciation of them. I can’t wait for them to return.

For more than 150 years, the Glasgow Skye Association Annual Gathering has been one such brilliant night. I used to mark it in my calendar as the last event worth waiting for down in Glasgow before heading up the A82 for the remainder of the festive period.

This year, like everything else, it was a virtual, online event.

The association’s Facebook page played an hour’s worth of footage from the 130th Gathering back in 1995. The programme had been made at the time by Abu-tele for the BBC and funded by CTG, and was introduced by Cailean Maclean. What a remarkable bit of archive footage it was. I challenge you to name me a better line up than: Alasdair Gillies, Alasdair Grant, Arthur Cormack, Blair Douglas, Calum Ross, Donald Archie MacKinnon, Donald Murray, George Clavey, Ishbel Lamont, Kenna Campbell, Kirsteen Grant, Maggie Macdonald, Mary Ann Kennedy, Seumas Campbell, Wilma Kennedy, accompanist Alan Kitchen and the Glasgow Skye Association Pipe Band. It was wonderful to look back at performances from these greats of the Gaelic music world (some of whom, of course, are sadly no longer with us) and a perfect way to spend a Saturday evening in Tier 4 lockdown.

On a similar note, I was delighted to be involved in another virtual gig recently for St Andrew’s Night. Donnie Maroot teamed up with CalMac to put on a virtual, pre-recorded Care for a Cèilidh, during which viewers could donate to the Eilidh MacLeod Trust. It was a pleasure to be involved alongside musicians including former Traditional Musician of the Year, Hannah Rarity; Heisk’s Sally Simpson; Mànran’s Ewen Henderson; Skerryvore’s Martin Gillespie; world champion Highland Dancer, Rachel McLaggan, and vocal and guitar duo, The Laurettes.

Every single one of us was just delighted to be playing some form of live music again – even if it was only to a room of cameras – and, of course, it was great to be part of a fundraiser for such a good cause.

Donnie’s fundraising efforts continue apace with the release of the Trad Music Lockdown Cookbook.

Pictured is former Mòd Gold Medallist Darren MacLean cooking up a storm with the cookbook, which also includes recipes from members of all your favourite traditional bands. If you want a really good laugh, you can read my attempt at a Salsa. As in the garnish; not the dance.

Search Trad Music Lockdown cookbook on Facebook and message them to get your copy. So far, the first set of sales have raised £5,000 for Eilidh’s Trust. Great stuff!