A Great Night For Culture As Music Spoke Louder Than Words

Hey everyone. Last night saw the 10th annual Scottish Traditional Music Awards. It was broadcast live for the first time on BBC Alba & It was in direct competition with the X-Factor. However for me there was only one choice & I watched the show which had by far the more talented musicians.

On a night which made me proud of my culture my country& my heritage I sat enthralled & was so quiet my flatmate Janette must have wondered if I’d slipped into a coma or lost my powers of speech.

There were many highlights on a brilliant night for music & anyone tuning in for the first time would have been truly gobsmacked not only at standard of musicianship but also at the contrasting styles of those involved.

The competition in each category was truly fierce & in my opinion it was harder to call than the X-Factor final. From a personal perspective I was chuffed to see the brilliant & adorable Siobhan Miller presenting one of the awards on the show though if I’m totally honest I kept asking myself where’s Jeana Leslie? Well I do tend to see them as a double act.

It was great to see Duncan Chisholm a man who has contributed so much the traditional music scene win the award for instrumentalist of the year & Breabach were worthy winners of the folk band of the year. It was also good to see Kathleen MacInnes win the album of the year in one of the hardest categories to call.

I shall also need to send my personal congratulations to Yvonne Murray as Bogbain Farm was chosen as venue of the year. This is a brilliant result for someone who puts so much effort to creating what everyone I know whose been up there has told me is a brilliant venue with a unique & very special atmosphere. Other award winners to congratulate include Julie Fowliss Music In Media Award, Mike Vass Composer of the year, Session A9 Best Live Act & Niteworks who won the Best Up & Coming Act,

Apart from the obvious talent of all the winners & nominees there was another aspect of the ceremony which pleased me greatly. This was the fact that though some people may be have been surprised or even shocked at their victories all were gracious in their acceptance speeches & kept them mercifully short. This was not the Oscars there was nobody thanking god their families next door neighbours or people they met on a bus. This is Scotland & we do awards with dignity.

As happens every year musicians are inducted in to the hall of fame. Amongst those inducted this year were the magnificent Silly Wizard
who along with Phil & Ally made hogmaney programmes credible & the wonderful Hamish Imlach The man who introduced me to left wing patriotism. When I tried to type in Imlach in a tweet last night, the spell check didn’t understand it & suggested I change it to Impact. Hamish Impact, I have to say I like the sound of that. Well he certainly had an impact on me during my formative years & I will be forever greatful that I heard him sing The Seven Men Of Knoydart The D-Day Dodgers & Cod Liver Oil & The Orange Juice the last of which was written by a man in the year I was born by a man I call a friend Scottish Writer & Broadcaster Carl MacDougall.

It was good to recall such memories last night especially since just a few weeks ago the traditional music community was devastated by the loss of a gentleman genius as Dundee Bard Michael Marra was taken from this earth too early. Indeed one of my favourite memories of last night was the Ricky Ross version of Marra’s classic song Hermless. A song which can be best be described as a celebration of ordinary life written by an extraordinary talent. It is in my opinion a piece of gold set to music.

At the end of the performance it was described as Scotland’s real national anthem & you know the more I think about it the more I realise this may not be a bad idea. Well national anthems do not need to be about war or defeating neighbours in battle & it would I think be a good way for a new 21st century Scotland to demonstrate our commitment to global solidarity by having an anthem for the people written by one of our own.

I also enjoyed the performance by Karine Polwart who started off brilliant & just seems to get better & better with every year that passes. The fact that she dedicated a song to Michael Forbes the man who took the fight to Trump was a very definite statement of her concern for humanity but the highlight of a totally magnificent set was a song from her days in Malinkey
& Follow the Heron still gives me goose bumps every time I hear it.

This was the highlight of a truly fantastic set on an excellent night for traditional music & and when Celts can proudly say the reason we are proud of our culture is because we have much to proud of & believe me when I say I’ll let nobody tell me otherwise on a night when the music spoke louder than words.

Love & Best Wishes
Gayle X

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