Later than ever before but in their new and permanent position it’s finally time for The 2019 Tartan Tights Awards. I’ve decided to cut a few awards this year mainly due to it being a quiet year in certain areas and the fact I’m not as active on certain scenes as was once the case. So let’s see whose brightened up my life in the last 12 months and let’s get this show on the road.
As always I start with my political awards and as tradition dictates my first award is for Politian Of The Year. Amongst those considered were SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford First Minister Nicola Sturgeon , and last year’s winner Joanna Cherry, all of whom had an excellent 2019 but my winner is the man who has without doubt shown all the unionist parties at Holyrood how effective opposition really works and who in my view will be as big an asset to the next independence campaign as he unquestionably was to the last one. He is the co-leader of the Scottish Green Party and the only credible leader of any party apart from our current First Minister. My Tartan Tights Politician of the Year for 2019 is Patrick Harvie.
Now I move on to my Young Politician of the Year which for the past two years has been won by Christina Cannon. This year however sees a new name added to a list which includes among others Saffron Dickson, and Laura Doherty, and the award goes to a young man who during the recent election was out every day spreading the SNP message in all weathers in every corner of the Glasgow East constituncey his efforts helped the party hold with a greatly increased majority My Young Politician of the Year is Jack McKelvie
My Vision Of Scotland Award goes to the individual who has made an outstanding contribution to Scotland’s political or cultural life and this year this award really was a no brainer. You see the winner created what I believe will be an enduring legacy for years and decades to come when as a gay man and a traditional musician he with the support of a group of friends created the first ever LGBT + event in the history of Celtic Connections and brought the Bohga Frois which is Gaelic for Rainbow to the stage of the Royal Concert Hall and did so to critical acclaim. So having attended this groundbreaking event I am very proud to say that The Vision Of Scotland Award for 2019 goes to our very own Man of the Minsch, Pedro Cameron
From the Vision of Scotland we move to those without whom those who have those visions may never see them realised as we name our Unsung Hero/Heroine of the year. This year the award goes to someone who isn’t involved in politics but is actually a very gifted musician and one of the best fiddlers in the country. On collecting his award for the Bohga Frois being named Community project of the year at the Traditional Music Awards in December, Pedro paid a fitting tribute to our winner for her incredible support in bringing it life. This amazingly talented woman is and always has been a principled supporter of equality and a fantastic ally to the LGBT community. So, as I’m sure many of you will have been able to guess The Tartan Tights Unsung Heroine for 2019 is the brilliant Laura WIlkie
Next up we have our Impact Award for the politician who I believe has made the biggest impact promoting Scotland and our values and this year the three main contenders were Alyn Smith, Alison Thewliss, and Joanna Cherry, and it was really difficult to call it between them but eventually I had to do it and on the basis of his farewell speech to the European Parliament and the fact that he defeated Stephen Kerr who is by any stretch of the imagination one of the most right wing Tories in Scotland when he gained Stirling for SNP in December’s General Election My Impact Award goes to Alyn Smith
Now for our final political award which is the One To Watch award and believe me when I say this award had a shortlist of one as the winner blew all other contenders not to mention the leader of the Liberal Democrats right out the water. To say that she pulled off the result of the night at the recent Westminster General Election would be a wee bit of an understatement as she unseated Jo Swinson with a stunning victory which sent shockwaves right through the heart of the British establishment and I’m delighted to say that My One To Watch is the newly elected Member Of Parliament for East Dunbartonshire Amy Callaghan.
From Politics my focus switches to the Community awards and this includes blogging which at least in the past year was able to sustain a category of its own. Due to the fact the blogging scene has been a wee bit quiter than usual there is only one category in this section and that’s my Blogger Of The Year. The main contenders for this award were Charlotte Dougall for By Charlotte Ann and Amie Cadwallender for The Curvaceous Vegan and by the narrowest of margins My Blogger of the Year is Amie Cadwallender For The Curvaceous Vegan
With regards to Activism there were several contenders for My Activist Of The Year award. Among those considered were Tracy Harvie for her work with the Ayrshire writers and Ayr For Independence, Pedro Cameron For The Bohga Frois, Lesley Traynor for her continued work with Women With Fierce Words , and the Scottish Writers Centre, Ailie Wallace for Rooftop Writers, Carla Woodburn For Express Yourself , Express Yourself On The Radio, and her work at the Scots Language Centre, and Jim MacKintosh For forming the Scottish Women’s Football Poetry Collection and as you can gather picking a winner from that lot wasn’t an easy choice but in the end I decided that because of her work in so many areas my Activist of the year is the force of nature that is Carla Woodburn.
Picture My 2019 Activist Of The Year Carla Woodburn Expressing herself at Express Yourself in The Project Cafe
As for my Young Activist of the Year, it’s fair to say that with talent like Alex Kerr, councillors Christina Cannon , and Laura Doherty, and of course young politican of the year Jack McKelvie the SNP have an abundance of talent in their ranks but the spoken word scene is also blessed with outstanding young activists with Ella Russell, Johnny Cypher, and the wonderful Imogen Stirling whose Soul Food Poetry night is one of the best new nights in Glasgow all being major contenders as is Rachel Cairns who successfully succeeded Jade Mitchell as host of Strathclyde University’s Live Poets Society but the winner of this award is an Aberdeenshire lass who used to grace the Blue Chair and other Glasgow venues with her considerable poetic talents and in September she organised the Rebel Rising Festival in support of Extinction Rebellion. She even read a poem of mine at the event because I couldn’t make it. My Young Activist of the Year is Molly MacLachlan
From Community I shift the focus to Culture and this will be a much shorter section than usual as my fringe was cut so short due to injury that if it was a skirt it would be so short it would make a micro mini look knee length.
I’ll kick this section off with the Best Poetry Performance of the Year. In a year in which I saw many poets share their work I think there were three performances which really stood out for me. They were Calum Rodger for his set at Words And Music In May, Emma Pursehouse for her set at Waterstones in June, and Scott The Redman Redmond for his set at Words And Music In September. As I’m sure you’ll agree choosing a winner from such a talented list was no easy task but eventually I made what was a really difficult call and decided that the winner of The Best Poetry Performance of 2019 is Calum Rodger
Calum Rodger rocking the mic at Words And Music in May as he shows why he won the Best Poetry Performance of the Year
For my next award in this catagory I focus on the Scots Language as it’s time for The Sandy Hutchison Memorial Award for Services To Scots. And though there were a number of contenders for this one such as Carla Woodburn, Janet Crawford, Jim MacKintosh and Sheila Templeton there was one member of the spoken word community who stood out and that to me was because his use of Scots interspersed with English added something to the nights I attended. It is for that reason that this year’s winner of the Sandy Hutchison Memorial Award is Jim Ewing
From language I move on to equality as I name my Equality Champion. In a year where transphobia has been more prevalent than it has for at least two decades this is a particularly important award as it highlights who is actually prepared to fight for my rights and if that sounds personal that’s because it is as I have needed more support in the past 12 months than I have in the last 12 years. I however am luckier than most and I know I have allies who will fight my corner as and when required and when it comes to allies I am fortunate to have the support of people such as Ailie Wallace, Carolyn Paterson, my Words And Music co-host and bestie Jen Hughes, last year’s equality champion Laura Wilkie, my outgoing man of the year Paddy Callaghan, Robin Cairns, Stacey McFarlane, Shaun Moore, and Stephen Watt, and that’s an impressive list from which to make my choice and believe me it wasn’t easy but in one of my hardest choices of the year that my Equality Champion is Stacey McFarlane
From equality I move on to the music as I name my musician of the year. Believe me this wasn’t an easy choice from Man of the Minsch, to Bob Leslie From Lisa Kawolski to Josie Duncan, Sarah Markey, Rachel Sermanni, Ronan Doran, and Emma Durkham there was plenty of candidates for this one but to me there was one candidate who absolutely stunned me with the quality of her voice. It is my opinion that she may be the only musician on earth who could sing the telephone book and make it sound like an artistic masterpiece. My musician of the year is the absolutely magical Kim Carnie
My next award is Band of the Year and candidates for this award included Folky Mac Folkface, Trio, a band who I thought deserved to win a Danny Kyle Award even though it wasn’t to be their fate. The Paul McKenna Band, The Southside Fiddlers, and last year’s winners St Rochs Ceili Band but it was on a summer’s evening in Glasgow city centre I saw the band who would win this award and win it by a distance as they put on a show which left me wanting to hear a lot more of them. That band has four of the most talented musicians in Scotland working to make fantastic music. My Band of the Year for 2019 is The Sarah Markey Band.
Picture The Sarah Markey Band brightened up my summer as they played an excellent set at the Griffin Bar in June
My Song of the Year was chosen not just for the song itself but for the story behind it. My choice was one of the highlights of the first ever Bogha Frois. It’s a song I’ve heard before and often play on my YouTube but when I heard the story of how it could be interpreted as a song of forbidden love it was as if I finally got it after all those years. My Song of the Year is The Ferryman By Rachel Sermanni
From songs I move on to events as I select my Event of the Year. In a year which was in some ways not quite as busy as usual there were three main contenders for this award. The events I considered are Bohga Frois LGBT Voices In Folk, The Sarah Markey Band At The Griffin, and the Ayr For Independence Words And Music Day. Despite having only three events on my list it wasn’t an easy choice as all of them would have been very worthy winners but on this occasion I decided to be guided by the hand of history and because of what it meant to me and many others in a personal capacity I decided that my Event of the Year for 2019 is The Bohga Frois LGBT Voices In Folk.
Picture The Bohga Frois LGBT Voices In Folk
Having looked at events it’s now time to think about the venues that host them and over the years I have attended some brilliant events in some truly amazing locations. From the old Sammy Dow’s which was the original home of Words And Music to the Banshee Labyrinth my Edinburgh local when the fringe comes to call. From The Royal Concert Hall which lights up the winter skies as part of Celtic Connections to the wonderful Cafe Rio, the much loved and missed Blue Chair. and of course the iconic Scotia Bar I’ve made memories in some truly wonderful places but there is one venue which has been a constant in my life since it opened its doors in 1989. This is a place I’ve enjoyed everything from slams to soup from diet cokes to caberet nights and that’s why my venue of the year is that Glasgow institution otherwise known as The Tron
From venues I move on new voices for my Discovery of the Year. Like every year 2019 threw up some new talent for me to enjoy. I qualify this by saying that whilst some of those selected may already be established in their field they were new in the sense that this was my first opportunity to see them. This impressive list includes poet comic and burlesque performer Angela Legg aka Miss A Leg, from the world of music we have Elaine Lennon, Emma Carr Martin, Kim Carnie, Mischa MacPherson, and Man Of The Minsch, and from spoken word Georgia Francis, Morag Steven, and Florian Neiderseer are names that come to mind. However, after a lot of consideration my Discovery of the Year award goes to Elaine Lennon.
From Culture I move to sport and and my Sporting Moment of the year. As a Celtic Supporter I have to say that this one came on a very historic day for our club when on the 25th of May 2019 exactly 52 years after our greatest ever victory we were able to deliver the domestic treble to paradise for the third successive season and say the immortal words Glasgow Celtic Treble Treble Winners
Now I move on my Team of the Year and despite Celtic’s great achievements I think there is another team who may just have done to shade it when it comes to winning this award. Well , when you supply a substantial number of the most successful Scotland team in decades win the league for the 13th successive season, become the first Scottish club to qualify for the last eight of the Champions League and clinch a league and cup double in the most dramatic fashion imaginable with a goal worthy of winning the World Cup itself then I think you might just be the appropriate choice for the award. It is for that reason and for proving that football can be more than just a boy’s game that my team of the year are Glasgow City
The next award is my Lifetime Achievement award. This one goes to someone who has made a significant contribution to either my life in a personal capacity or to Scottish Life more generally. This year’s recipient is someone who has done both of these and is a wonderful poet and performer and has been for more decades than I care to remember. After moving to Scotland from his native North East of England in the 1980’s he was a major force in both the Edinburgh and Scottish poetry scenes hosting and organising various but most notably 10Red at which so many of us were privileged to appear over the years and a poetry marathon which smashed the Scottish record for the number of poets appearing at a two day event with more than 150 poets including yours truly attending this two day gathering. A man not only of great talent but also known for his kindness and encouragement of others my Lifetime Achievement goes to Kevin Cadwallender
Moving on to my last award before the main events means it’s time to name my winner of The Beyond Call Of Duty Award. This is given to the friend who without even asking will go that extra mile for you and make sure you are in a good place before concluding your chat. Amongst those I considered for this one were Ailie Wallace, Emma Mooney, Hannah Cooper, Laura WIlkie, Joanne Burrows, Paddy Callaghan, and Stephen Watt. A pretty impressive list if I say so myself. I would have chosen Jen for this one but since she’s banned me from choosing her as a winner on the grounds of blatant favouritism of which I plead guilty. My winner is a cracking make up advisor and confident who is a far more talented poet that she realises. Well she’s still to make her spoken word debut though hopefully that will come in 2020 my winner of the Beyond The Call Of Duty Award is the lovely Hannah Cooper
Now at long last it’s time to move on the main event of the night as I name my man and woman of the year. As usual I’ll start with the guys and there were no shortage of candidates for this year’s title Among those in the frame were poets and writers including Charlie Gracie, Jim Ewing, Robin Cairns, and Stephen Watt. From politics we have Ian Blackford David Linden and Stewart MacDonald and from the traditional music community Bob Leslie. So as you can gather picking a winner from such. an impressive list was no easy task and though all candidates were given serious consideration I eventually made my choice. Our winner is a man renowned for his innovative and thought provoking poetry on topics from football to crime. He has by any stretch of the imagination a brilliant year in which he was Maker for the Federation Of Writers Of Scotland poet in residence for his beloved Dumbarton where he continued his groundbreaking football poetry videos as well his other work for the club and more generally. He also became the first poet ever to write a crime novel completely in rhyme and those who know me well will know that Fairy Rock has like all his other collections a place on my bookshelf. Between doing all this and so much more he took the time to perform a steller set for Jen and I at Words And Music in July which was enjoyed by all in attendance. It has to be said that succeeding Paddy Callaghan was never going to be easy but if anyone it’s this guy My Tartan Tights Man of the Year is Stephen Watt
Our 2019 Man of the Year Stephen Watt showing us why he’s one of the best poets in Scotland as he graced the Words And Music stage last July
Having named my Man of the Year it’s time to name the winner of the most important award of the lot and find out who I’ve selected as my tartan tights Woman of the Year. Just like the men there was a brilliant selection of candidates. Amongst those considered were, from the world of poetry, Ailie Wallace, Finola Scott, Molly MacLachlan, Imogen Stirling, and Tracy Harvie , Whilst traditional music saw Elaine Lennon, and Sarah Markey very much in my thoughts. There were also strong cases to be made for three of country’s best female politicians and Alison Thewliss, Angela Crawley, and Laura Doherty are the kind of women who will fight for a better Scotland and more than that a brtter, kinder world. With Hannah Cooper, and Stacey McFarlane completing a top quality list of nominees you can see this was always going to be a very close call and believe me it was. In the end however I made my call based on who I felt had the most influence on my life in the past and for that reason and only that reason I choose a woman who not supported me whenever neccessary but challenged me whenever she thought I needed it. She not only inspired me to write new poems she pushed me to improve my language skills and I’m a better Gaelic speaker than I’ve ever been because of her. She is my opinion one of the best poets in the country and a feisty voice for fairness. My tartan tights Women of the Year is the amazing Ailie Wallace.
So with all the awards given out we’ve reached the end of the Tartan Tights Awards for 2019. So with that in mind I offer my congratulations to the winners and if you weren’t so lucky then remember next year could be your year. Whatever the coming year holds for you I wish you all you wish yourself and I hope you’ll keep reading tartan tights throughout 2020 and beyond .
(Picture Our amazing Tartan Tights Women Of The Year the brilliant Ailie Wallace shares her words at the Burns Night Express Yourself.
Till next time