Robert in Lockdown – 13.5.21

Trail West playing live for the cameras at the virtual Gig in the Goil last weekend.

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Last weekend, the second virtual Gig in the Goil went out live from Drimsynie Estate, Lochgoilhead.

It is a fairly young festival with a quite remarkable history. Its organiser, Ross Coutts, is a lad about my age with a passion for music that is unmatched among anyone I’ve ever met in the Scottish music industry. He also has an eye for talent spotting.

When Tide Lines headlined Gig in the Goil about four years ago, back in the halcyon days when you could actually legally fit a bunch of people in the same room, there was a totally unknown singer away down the bottom of the bill somewhere who went by the name of Lewis Capaldi. I remember Ross turning to us at the time and saying: wait till you hear this guy – he’s going to hit the big time one day. I think I made a joke along the lines of: “you mean he’s going to win the Mòd gold medal?!” Little did I know, only a few years later, he would become one of the biggest acts on the planet.

I would consider it a feather in the cap of Ross and his team at Gig in the Goil that they had the foresight to book an extraordinary talent like Lewis Capaldi before the major record labels turned him into a superstar.

I first came across Ross in rather different circumstances – in his role as the head of the MidCalder Tartan Army. He is just as passionate about football as he is about music and I am fortunate that he has had me playing Tartan Army gigs in some pretty exotic locations: from the Maltese village of Buggiba; to the North Lanarkshire town of Bellshill! Both were equally good nights but the Malta trip narrowly trumps Bellshill on account of the roof top swimming pool that was attached to my hotel room.

My abiding memory of that trip was Ross, myself, and one or two of his pals getting our taxi back to the airport at something horrendous like 4am. In true tartan army fashion, the final lad we had to pick up had gone missing so we asked the taxi just to drive down the main strip until a kilted Scotsman came running out of a nightclub waving his hands at us. Great memories!

This past 12 months or so, Gig in the Goil itself has been one of the most pro-active festivals in terms of connecting with fans online throughout Covid. They held their first virtual festival this time last year, a smaller virtual event last autumn, and a selection of Christmas events throughout December. Their efforts over the weekend (featuring Dougie MacLean, Trail West, Callum Beattie, and Fergie MacDonald) raised a phenomenal amount of money for Tiny Changes – the mental health charity in memory of Frightened Rabbit’s Scott Hutchison. Their determination to keep going virtually throughout the last year has been admirable and I can’t explain how much I hope Gig in the Goil can host a proper festival next year.