Glasgow Letter – 5.5.22

Beinn Lee played for the cèilidh dancing at the end of a successful night for Eilidh’s Trust – a night that raised £20,000 for young musicians in Scotland.

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I wrote last week that Ally Buckets MacLean and his band had played in the Park Bar. This was fake news.

Ali Buckets MacDonald was playing in the Park Bar and so was Ally MacLean… but they are two different people!

My confusion began the following day when I told my pal John Robertson that Ali Buckets had been playing the box in the Park Bar last night with Ally MacLean on the pipes. This, it turns out, was correct. But not in John’s book.

‘You’ve got confused,’ he told me assuredly. ‘It’s the same person – Ally MacLean’s nickname is Ally Buckets!’

I thought this was strange because I’ve known Ally MacLean for years and never heard anyone call him Ally Buckets. However, I trust John’s word implicitly so I took it at face value.

Right up until the Oban Times came out last Thursday and I got a message from Ally laughing his head off that I had confused the two of them.

My apologies to Ali Buckets MacDonald who led the band brilliantly on the box. Rhythm section was Màrtainn Skene on the keys and Darren Brown on the drums.

As I said last week, if you are looking for good, young, no nonsense West Highland dance music then look no further than Ally Buckets and his band. If you are looking for good, clear, accurate information about West Highland dance music, perhaps don’t read this column!

Anyway, joking aside, I must tell you about a wonderful evening for a great cause last Saturday in the Glasgow Marriott. Years after it was first booked pre-Covid, the Eilidh MacLeod Trust finally managed to have their long-awaited Tartan and Tiara’s Ball, and myself and the Tide Lines boys (minus our drummer who tested positive for Covid) were honoured to play a small part in the evening. Everything the trust does, of course, is in memory of Eilidh MacLeod – the young Barra piper who was sadly lost her life in the Manchester bombings five years ago this month.

The small team of volunteers has ensured her legacy lives on in quite a remarkable way – raising massive amounts of money to support young musicians throughout Scotland.
Saturday night alone raised a phenomenal £20,000 for the trust and, in his speech to the audience, Iagan MacNeil announced a new fund available for young musicians totalling a staggering £50,000.

Youth music groups across the country are being invited to bid for financial support to help them grow and develop their music tuition capacity and ensure lessons continue to be available to all.

Having grown up as a young musician in the Highlands myself, I know how important it is that youngsters are supported and encouraged in their musical endeavours.
In a time where the cost of living is rocketing and families are having to make difficult choices, it is therefore extremely heartening to see Eilidh’s Trust, and those who support it, doing everything they can to ensure our music and culture is carried forward to future generations.