Glasgow Letter with Robert Robertson – Thursday December 16, 2021

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I was desperately sorry to hear over the weekend of the passing of Calum Campbell, who was a very well known and much loved man to all customers of the Park Bar.

Calum worked in the pub for years but will be remembered fondly for his guest singing appearances with all the bands who played in the Park. Calum probably sang with more musicians than most professional singers have managed in their whole careers!
His staple classics were Spancil Hill, The Portree Kid, and the Kishorn Commandoes – written by one of his favourite folk duos, Gaberlunzie.

I have many great memories of Calum’s company, going right back to when I first moved down to Glasgow. If I was playing in the pub on a busy Saturday and the crowd began to get a bit rowdy and close to the equipment or instruments on the stage, I could always rely on Calum arriving side of stage with his arms folded to watch over the punters dancing the night away without a care.

More than once, we would glance at each other and laugh at the scenes unfolding in front of us. He was one of many great characters who make the Park Bar what it is and will be missed terribly.

Fittingly, I happened to pop into the Park Bar the day I heard the news – there was only one place I was heading after 10 days of Covid enforced isolation, I’m sure you will understand!

In the Park that day, I heard of a new band from Skye called Valtos who had just played a sell-out show the previous evening. A number of people who had been were raving about how great it was. Valtos were described to me as a brand new band from Skye who blend traditional music with techno.

Unfortunately, I only heard about the gig after it had happened (news of it obviously hadn’t reached me in isolation!) but, by all accounts, it was a great show and it’s always lovely to hear of a new band enriching the west coast music scene.

I also managed to catch up with a few members of slightly less new bands for dinner on Sunday! Normally, each year, we have a full blown Christmas night out featuring members of Trail West, Skerryvore, and Tide Lines (among other friends), but clearly that is not possible at the current time – unless you are in Downing Street!

Last year it was cancelled altogether although, in hindsight, we could perhaps have managed a Christmas quiz with cheese and wine!

This year, due again to rising cases, we had a smaller, more civilised dinner with everyone having tested negative before meeting up.

We always put some money to charity as a group and this time it was Prostate Cancer UK whose ties we each bought and wore on the evening. It was great to see the lads before a quiet week or so in preparation for heading home for Christmas.