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Award-winning Tayside song writer Eddie Cairney immortalises Queensferry Crossing in tune

October 25 2017

An award-winning Tayside song writer who immortalised the 50th anniversary of the Tay Road Bridge in music last year has released an EP which pays tribute to the newly opened Queensferry Crossing over the Forth. Perth-born Eddie Cairney, 65, who now lives in Arbroath, has released an album called ‘Sketches o' the QC’ which includes songs dedicated to the “isolated” workers who were employed during construction and contrasts the old Forth Road Bridge to the new crossing with its wind shields designed to keep traffic flowing during storms. Eddie, who delayed the release of the album due to family illness and bereavement, said: “It's just another quirky album like I did for the Tay Road Bridge. https://youtu.be/Z6BblA_Zev4 “As you can probably imagine, how do you write six songs about a bridge? “I usually end up using a process of creative journalism. I get a few facts or even just a single fact and then I let my imagination take over. “With each album early on in the writing process I draw a blank and think there's nothing here I can write about but there's always something to write about. “You just have to hang around long enough and it comes eventually. https://youtu.be/a9NyQAFjDsY “I just took threads from here and there. I was going to call the album The Queensferry Crossing but thought that was a bit boring so I went for Sketches o' the Q.C. “It introduces a bit of ambiguity. If you Google the name you get lots of drawings of court scenes!” Eddie was inspired to write Columba Cannon after reading an article about the general foreman for the foundations and towers. https://youtu.be/y_y1y8oV7vo Eddie said: “It was the name that got me and that gave me the first line of the song "He is a bridge builder wi a missionary zeal" Has to be with a name like Columba!” Fishnet bridge was set in a meditative light, describing the bridge as a “thing of beauty that looks like a big fish net glistening high above the Forth but it is a symbolic fishnet with the song taking the form of an imaginary conversation with the bridge.” https://youtu.be/dJgsl2WQ5G0   “Midday starvation came from an article which highlighted the isolation of the workers working high up on the bridge,” he added. https://youtu.be/Dme-bfCXHRI “If you forget your piece you've had it and you starve for there's no nipping round to the corner shop for a pie. The article also said that a local pizza delivery firm regularly delivered a pallet load of warm pizzas to the bridge so that was "midday salvation"! Meanwhile, The boys frae the cheese is a play on words. https://youtu.be/phtQ2-Xx1I0 He added: “I read an article that said The Forth Estuary Transport Authority (FETA) could have acted sooner and avoided the costly closure of the bridge at the end of 2015.” Eddie is no stranger to music and song influenced by Dundee and wider Scottish history. In 2015 he featured in The Courier for his efforts to put the complete works of Robert Burns to music. With a piano style influenced by Albert Ammons, Champion Jack Dupree and Memphis Slim, and a song-writing style influenced by Matt McGinn, Michael Marra and Randy Newman, the former Perth High School pupil, who wrote the 1984 New Zealand Olympic anthem, has organised a number of projects over the years including the McGonagall Centenary Festival  for Dundee City Council in 2002. Last year’s Tay Road Bridge album included a tribute to 19th century poet William Topas McGonagall and also honoured Hugh Pincott – the first member of the public to cross the Tay Road Bridge in 1966. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y51tixl9GEs Thanks to The Courier, he also became one of the first to cross the Queensferry Crossing  when it opened to the public in the early hours of August 30.


Dundee band’s cine film mystery solved following appeal in The Courier

May 24 2018

The mystery behind a cine film that is being used by a Dundee band to promote a track from their forthcoming new album has been solved thanks to a recent appeal for information in The Courier. Spare Snare re-edited the 8mm film featuring Dundee and the Tay Road Bridge in 1966, Craigtoun Park near St Andrews and Southend-on-Sea, to fit the melancholy track Grow from the new album Sounds which is due for release on Chute Records in July. Now a relative of one of the families featured in the footage has come forward with details after Spare Snare lead singer Jan Burnett sought The Courier’s help. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1q8NcO6qd_A Retired local government worker Linda Gellatly, 62, saw the recent article in The Courier and recognised two of those in the film as her late aunt Frances and uncle Doug – and then realised she was in the film herself. She said: “I only know the people having a party at the end of the film. I do not recognise anyone else. “The party is held in my aunt Betty and uncle Alex's house in Harestane Road Dundee. “I stayed next door with my mum and dad, Rita and Bob Brown and my gran Maggie Barnes stayed up the road. “Frances and Doug stayed around the corner in Newton Road. “The Barnes family were Maggie Barnes, her son Doug and daughters Betty and Rita. “My cousin Margaret (Frances and Doug's daughter) is also in the film. “My gran's cousin Willie McKenzie is also there. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FZhUnBzTS_4 “I'm the youngest in the film. I think I may be around 10/11 so that film would be around 1965/66.” Spare Snare musician Adam Lockhart, who runs the Media Preservation Lab at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in Dundee explained that the films (super 8 and standard 8) were handed into the art college a number of years ago by persons unknown. They had been lying around in the photography department for a long time, until a student became interested in them. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dyZbb2r1ok4 The student came to him to ask if he could use the films for an art project, so Adam had them all digitally scanned. In the end the student didn’t use them so he decided to make the Spare Snare video with them. He added: “The reels were marked as being owned by a William (Willie) MacKenzie, who was a friend of Linda Gellatly’s family. He appears in the party scene at the end. “Linda said that he never married, so perhaps he didn’t have anyone to leave the films to, so when he died someone maybe handed the films into DJCAD?”


First man to drive across the Tay Road Bridge is immortalised in song by Tayside songwriter

February 14 2017

A former Dundee student who made history by becoming the first member of the public to cross the Tay Road Bridge when it opened in 1966 has been immortalised in song by an award-winning Tayside song writer. Perth-born Eddie Cairney, who now lives in Arbroath, has released an album called Tay Road Bridge which features a song dedicated to Welshman Hugh Pincott, now of Plymouth. The song ‘A dragon ow’r the Tay’, tells how Hugh, then a chemistry student at Queen’s College, Dundee, draped  a Welsh dragon flag over his car when he made the crossing from Dundee to Fife on the day of the bridge’s official opening on August 18, 1966. Eddie, who was inspired by Hugh’s visit to Dundee during the Tay Road Bridge’s 50th anniversary celebrations last summer, said: “When I read the story of Hugh being the first person over the bridge, I thought it was a great subject for a song. “ Hugh, who was awarded the first Phd from the new Dundee University, which also celebrates its 50th birthday this August, said of the song: “It’s unbelievable. I feel both humbled and honoured to be featured in verse and music by such a talented, well-known Scots artiste like Eddie. I am already collecting his albums!" Eddie, 64, says his Tay Road Bridge album should have been out “ages ago”. But he is no stranger to music and song influenced by Dundee and wider Scottish history. Last year he featured in The Courier for his efforts to put the complete works of Robert Burns to music. With a piano style influenced by Albert Ammons, Champion Jack Dupree and Memphis Slim, and a song-writing style influenced by Matt McGinn, Michael Marra and Randy Newman, the former Perth High School pupil, who wrote the 1984 New Zealand Olympic anthem, has organised a number of projects over the years including the McGonagall Centenary Festival  for Dundee City Council in 2002. Other songs on Eddie’s Tay Road Bridge album include:  A' doonhill tae Dundee -  a comical look at the outcome of Tay FM's poll to find a slogan to promote Dundee in 2002. It refers to the slope of the bridge from the Fife to Dundee side;  A right royal landfill  - which takes a swipe at the decision of the city fathers to destroy the city’s famous  Royal Arch; Beautiful road bridge of the River Tay -  pays tribute to William Topas McGonagall and speculates that if had still been around in 1966, he wouldn't have missed a trick; Fifies -  a nostalgic look at the former Tay ferries, and  Hanfaes  o' notes – which is all about the alleged corruption at Dundee city council in the 1970s. The songs are available via iTunes - https://soundcloud.com/albdemec/sets/tay-road-bridge or via Eddie’s website www.eddiecairney.com A dragon ow’r the Tay Verse 1 On the seventeenth of August in the year o’ 1966 A car drove awa fae the Blackie tae be the first ane in the que Verse 2 He gambled on a day’n a half jist tae keep on the safe side And settled doon wi’ the books an’ the spam’n the juice But the polis moved him on Verse 3 But Hugh was not to be undone so he set his sights on 7 o’clock So he went hame an’e dreamt o’ fame then he timed it tae a tee Chorus Then ou’r the bridge went the wee black car Wi a dragon tae the fore fur abudy tae see As it gaed ou’r the Firth o’ Tay joinin’ Fife, Wales and Dundee Verse 4 Sergeant Noble said “you’re first to go” And Hugh said “oh I know it is the shortest route” But it turned oot someone had just tossed a coin Verse 5 Place was right but the reason wrong And Hugh had been right all along And the press jumped in and aff they went And the car started first time Chorus x 3


Breakthrough by St Andrews scientists in fight against ‘antibiotics apocalypse’

November 25 2016

Growing resistance to commonly prescribed antibiotics is one of the biggest public health threats of modern times with the potential to cause 80,000 deaths in the UK over the next 20 years. But a team of scientists at St Andrews University -  awarded a prestigious prize in London this week - is fighting back. Michael Alexander reports. It has been described by the United Nations and World Health Organisation as one of the biggest known threats to humanity – an “antibiotics apocalypse” where a simple cut to your finger could leave you fighting for your life and where getting an appendix removed could prove deadly. Experts say an increase in drug resistant disease could cost 10s of millions of lives in the next few decades as simple infections could soon become entirely untreatable with existing drugs. The problem has been caused by over-use of antimicrobial medicines for humans, animals and agriculture. But now medical scientists at St Andrews University have made a breakthrough which they hope will help counter the threat. The researchers have created a laser that can identify the right antibiotic to treat bacteria present in an infection, in minutes instead of hours. The team hope that faster diagnosis will mean more targeted use of prescription drugs and ultimately a reduction of antibiotic resistance. In an interview with The Courier, Professor Stephen Gillespie, Sir James Black Professor of Medicine at St Andrews, who is leading the research team, said antibiotic resistance is “one of the most important threats facing humanity” with an estimated $50 trillion price tag for health care if nothing is done about it. He said: “In the 19th century the father of modern surgery Joseph Lister said that every surgery was an experiment in getting under someone’s skin. At the moment in modern medicine by comparison, there’s a danger of going back to those days. “Modern medicine is only made possible because we can treat infection. If infection becomes drug resistant then complicated surgery will disappear. “Operations and treatments that people now take for granted are going to become increasingly difficult.” Current estimates are that drug resistant infections already claim about 700,000 live per year globally. And if we do not create new antibiotics, or prevent the loss of the ones we have, it is estimated that this will rise to more than 10 million deaths a year globally within the next few decades. It’s for this reason that the Orbital Diagnostics team at St Andrews have developed a device - the Scattered Light Integrated Collector (SLIC) - to reduce the time taken to test bacteria for resistance. Current testing frequently takes 24 hours to produce a result, but the SLIC team can produce a similar result in around 20 minutes. The new tool aims to help patients get the right treatment faster. This reduces the risk of antibiotic resistance by helping ensure bacteria are not exposed to antibiotics unnecessarily. Professor Gillespie, a practising clinical microbiologist, explained that SLIC was a sophisticated technique of seeing very small numbers of bacteria. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYvX8tnCM9s At its heart is a sphere and inside that a spherical mirror. A laser beam enters one end and 98% of its energy leaves the other. However, the small amount of light that’s left is scattered multiple times throughout the internal face of the sphere and passes through the bacteria, counting the bacteria present. He added: “Our very sensitive device detects bacteria in very small numbers. This means when they grow in the presence of antibiotics, we can show that quickly. "Conventional tests take up to 24 hours – for some bugs we can now do the same job in less than 20 minutes. “At the moment this promising test can only be used in the laboratory; the challenge is to turn it into a test that can be used in a doctor’s surgery or a pharmacy.” Dr Robert Hammond, co-inventor and senior scientist, said the device could make a real difference if it came into everyday use. He added: “We aim to develop SLIC to enable a person with a suspected urinary tract infection to give a sample to a practice nurse or pharmacist – then within two hours be given an antibiotic prescription knowing that the infecting bacteria are susceptible. "This will be faster and better for the individual. It will mean that fewer unnecessary prescriptions will be issued, reducing chances that bugs will develop resistance.” The team’s ambition to develop it for practical use in surgeries has been bolstered this week by receipt of the prestigious Longitude Prize Discovery Award at a ceremony held at the Royal Society in London. The prize will help the team develop a device that can challenge for the coveted Longitude Prize, a challenge with a £10 million prize fund to reward a point of care diagnostic test that helps solve the global problem. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RpKZvnJwicA The Orbital Diagnostics team is supported by Scottish Enterprise to form a company that will take the SLIC device to market. Eleanor Mitchell, High Growth Ventures Director at Scottish Enterprise, said: “This prestigious award is fantastic recognition of Orbital Diagnostics’ strong progress in developing the SLIC device, which has significant global market potential. "Scottish Enterprise is delighted to be supporting the team to commercialise this emerging technology which exemplifies the strength of innovation in Scotland’s healthcare sector.”


Into the Valley – celebrating the 40th anniversary of The Skids

April 28 2017

As The Skids mark their 40th anniversary with a UK-wide tour, the band's front man Richard Jobson tells Michael Alexander why a new album means 2017 is not all about nostalgia. It was August 1977 when The Skids played their first live gig in their hometown of Dunfermline. The iconic post-punk band, founded by the late Stuart Adamson with Bill Simpson, Tam Kellichan and Richard Jobson, enjoyed their first big success with Into the Valley in 1979. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9udxbvHiqGw Other anthems included Working for the Yankee Dollar, Masquerade and The Saints are Coming which was given a new lease of life when U2 and Green Day released it as a charity single in 2006 to raise funds for Hurricane Katrina. But as frontman Richard Jobson and the modern line-up of Bill Simpson, Mike Baillie, Bruce Watson and Jamie Watson launch a 40th anniversary UK tour with back-to-back homecoming gigs featuring the classics, Jobson explains that the band’s latest project is about far more than nostalgia. This July will see the release of Burning Cities – the first album from The Skids in 35 years. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3p-9o9EQ4OQ And he has been surprised at the level of interest. “I didn’t expect it to become as big as it has,” the 56-year-old explains in an interview from London. “We wanted the album to be relevant and pertinent to the world today and not just about nostalgia. “I’m very aware of the interest in The Skids. That for many people we were part of their childhood with our anthemic big choruses. But at the same time we have to be relevant to now, because there’s so much going on in the world. I am not a juke box.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8CFZFVy5B1o Jobson, who reinvented himself as a poet, film critic and movie director after the band split when he was 21, has been involved in various reunion tours. The band were recently approached by Jesus and Mary Chain producers Youth – who are “massive” Skids fans - to work on the new album. They were also approached by David Mach, the Leven-based artist and fellow Skids fan, to do the sleeve. “Having Skids fans come out of the hedgerow has been the nicest part of the process,” he adds. Jobson, who has been living back in Dunfermline since January after years in Bedfordshire, describes The Skids as a “definitive part” of his early life. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hDrRK7MgSrQ The former miners’ son from Ballingry, who was a member of Dunfermline’s notorious Av Toi gang growing up, was just 15-years-old when he first met Adamson. Describing The Skids era as a “brilliant adventure into the world of creativity and adulthood,” he recalls how Stuart brought the “structure, melody and confidence” to the band. “My contribution was as front man,” he adds. “When he met me I was 15, confident, but not really confident. I could do things he could not do like my dancing. “We were very different people. I was very itinarent. He was a home boy. If he was away from Dunfermline for a week he’d be home sick.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=657TZDHZqj4 Jobson was as shocked as anyone when he heard that Adamson had committed suicide in Hawaii in December 2001, aged just 43. But he says he wants to lay to rest “once and for all” speculation that he and Stuart didn’t get on. “He was my friend as kids,” reflects Jobson. “We were very very close. “I want to end the rumour that our split was acrimonious. “We just wandered off in different directions. He did Big Country and I did my thing. There was no antipathy. I didn’t fit with what he was doing and he didn’t fit with what I was doing. “I think the ghost of him is always there in the songs. And he is there in the new songs. “We re-engineered stuff to bring in his sound. We are very careful to his legacy and very careful with the new songs. Stuart will always be with us.” The Skids play PJ Molloys in Dunfermline on May 3 and May 4. www.theskids.com


‘Forgotten’ Carse of Gowrie farmer credited with bringing giant redwood seeds to Scotland

August 19 2017

An American botanic and natural science illustrator is travelling to Dundee on Sunday to give a talk about giant redwood trees – and the role played by “forgotten” 19th century Perthshire fruit farmer Patrick Matthew who, it is believed,  introduced them to Scotland. Peggy Edwards will visit the Dundee University Botanic Gardens to talk about the Californian Sequoiadendron giganteum – the ‘giant redwood’ – and its historical journey from America to the Carse of Gowrie in 1853. James Veitch and William Lobb, from Exeter, have previously taken the prize of being the first to introduce the seeds to Scotland. But Ms Edwards, who lives in California, says it is now widely recognised that Matthews’ seed stock arrived first. She said: “I've always had a keen interest in the British plant hunters who went to America in the 19th century - so many of our species in California bear their names, David Douglas (Douglas Fir), Archibald Menzies etc. “I have been visiting Scotland for 10 years and found out about the Matthew redwoods while researching the history of the 12 redwoods on Gillies Hill near Cambusbarron, Stirling. “There is no doubt in my mind that the Matthew redwood seeds were sent to Patrick Matthew by his son, John, several months before Lobb brought his seeds and saplings to England. “After collecting seed in the grove in June 1853, John Matthew sent by steamer to his father back in Scotland, a packet of Giant Sequoia seeds, a branch from an 1800 year old tree,  a sketch of the tree, and a letter describing the grove. The shipment arrived on  August 18, 1853.” The talk is a pre-event for a Patrick Matthew Memorial Project event being organised by the Carse of Gowrie Sustainability Group on September 29. It follows controversy as to whether Patrick Matthew came up with the idea of ‘natural selection’ amongst humans 30 years before Englishman Charles Darwin published Origin of the Species in November 1859. Last year Dr Mike Sutton, a criminologist at Nottingham Trent University, claimed Scotland had been denied a “science hero” and that a “great injustice” had been done. He said his evidence suggested Darwin, who always denied plagiarism, must not only have been aware of Matthew’s work but borrowed heavily from it. Sutton’s findings have recently been published in a book ‘Nullius in Verba – Darwin’s Greatest Secret’. But it has prompted a bitter and ongoing war of words with Darwin author Julian Derry maintaining that Sutton’s work is “lazy” and mostly “fiction”, and that his methods, ideas and interpretation are all “flawed”. Sutton has defended his position, telling The Courier: “Obviously, the independently verifiable facts that I have originally discovered and published in peer reviewed journal articles and books about Charles Darwin and Patrick Matthew are a significant threat to the Darwin Industry and Darwin super fans alike. “Unable to respond to the facts honestly in the academic press all we have seen is fact denial behaviour and personal abuse and sully attempts at character assassination directed at me.” The Peggy Edwards talk takes place at Dundee Botanic Gardens from 1.30pm to 3.30pm on Sunday August 20. Entry is by ticket only and these are available from Eventbrite or by emailing carsesus@btinternet.com. For more infromation on the Patrick Matthew Weekend Memorial Project which runs from September 29 to October 1 go to www.carsesus.org


Snap happy – preview of inaugural St Andrews Photography Festival

July 29 2016

Michael Alexander speaks to the organisers of the first annual St Andrews Photography Festival which celebrates the town’s pioneers of photography and wider Scottish legacy. From golf to theology, links with history are everywhere on the streets of St Andrews. But few know the role the town has played nationally and internationally in the introduction of photography. That is all about to change with the launch of the first annual St Andrews Photography Festival which will celebrate the role and legacy of the town’s photography pioneers. From August 1 to September 11, the six-week-long festival will see events and exhibitions focus on the earliest days of photography in St Andrews as well as the pioneers’ legacy in Scottish documentary photography since. It’s the brainchild of BID St Andrews - the business improvement body created to support businesses in the town - which has been working with St Andrews University and local businesses to launch the festival. As well as appealing to tourists, it also aims to engage with local people who were perhaps unaware of the town’s rich photographic history. Festival organiser Rachel Nordstrom who is Photographic Collections Manager at the St Andrews University Library Special Collections Division – is particularly excited at showcasing what amounts to 18 separate exhibitions at venues across the town. But when the Canadian first arrived to take up her post more than three years ago, she admits she was “rather surprised” that the history of Scottish photography, and the St Andrews connections in particular, had not been celebrated sooner. “Thanks to a close friendship between William Henry Fox Talbot, the inventor of the photographic negative, and Sir David Brewster, Principal of the United Colleges in St Andrews, photography first arrived in Scotland by way of St Andrews, “she says. “The new medium was then taken up with great enthusiasm across the country. “But unless people notice a couple of blue plaques in the town, the rich photographic history is often overlooked by many visitors.” St Andrews’ links to photography date back to the mid-19th century and the pioneering calotype print work of the physician and curator Dr John Adamson.  The technique used paper coated with silver iodide Adamson, who is honoured with a blue plaque on the wall of his former home at 127 South Street – now the home of The Adamson restaurant - went on to teach the process to his brother, Robert, who despite his premature death aged 26 created around 2,500 calotype portraits. William Henry Fox Talbot’s calotype process had been patented in 1841 – but as the patent did not apply in Scotland, Dr Adamson was able to develop his own technique and pave the way for other Scottish names such as David Octavius Hill, who formed a partnership with Robert Adamson in 1843; Thomas Rodger, who set up the first photographic studio in St Andrews whilst still only 16 or 17 in 1849; and Sir David Brewster, a close friend of Fox Talbot’s. Rodger is also honoured with a blue plaque outside his former house and studio - now the university careers centre. The festival will put some of the photographic archive highlights of the St Andrews University Library Special Collections on show, as well as creating a showcase for contemporary Scottish photography. Thirteen local businesses, including cafés and restaurants, are hosting exhibitions alongside six more conventional venues. One will even be on the railings at The Scores. There will also be workshops to demonstrate a variety of early photographic processes including calotype and collodion, talks and events for photographers of all ages and levels. Other exhibition highlights include Scotland Through The Lens: 175 years of documentary photography - prints from St Andrews University Library’s Special Collections archive, and a selection by renowned rock photography of Harry Papadopoulos. This features 16 images from the collection at Street Level Photoworks which resulted in the major project What Presence: the Rock Photography of Harry Papadopoulos. A particularly topical exhibition will be by Alicia Bruce. It features prints from the controversial Menie: TRUMPED project by the award-winning documentary photographer and lecturer about the effect on the natural landscape and local residents of the creation of the Trump Resort in Aberdeenshire. She’s also hosting a presentation of her portfolio and giving a portraiture workshop. An extensive events programme includes early process demonstrations, a ‘Become a Street Photographer’ youth workshop, literary readings inspired by the work of Hill and Adamson, and a family history collections day. There will also be a series of talks by notable photo historians whilst Rachel herself will be leading a free St Andrews photo tour around some of the town’s historic photographic sites. Rachel is excited with all the exhibits. But if she was pushed to name a favourite, it would be the installation by Keny Drew at the Eden Mill Tasting Room under the Rusacks Hotel. She adds: “It’s a body of work printed on glass which has the effect of stained glass, and as it is being created specifically for the festival, I haven’t seen it yet!” For full exhibition details go to www.facebook.com/StAndPhotoFest/ malexander@thecourier.co.uk


Jim McLean’s methods at Dundee United explored in BBC documentary

August 25 2016

Maurice Malpas and Jim McInally, two of the big names from Dundee United’s glory years under Jim McLean, have given a BBC Scotland documentary series an insight into the manager’s uncompromising but successful regime. The two former Tannadice stalwarts have been interviewed for Scotland’s Game, a four-part series tackling the last 30 years of Scottish football, which begins on Thursday August 25 at 9pm on BBC One Scotland. This opening episode includes an examination of the methods Jim McLean used to drive a ‘corner shop’ club, as he called it, to the heights of European football, and of his ambitious plan to swallow up his rivals in the city. Maurice Malpas described how young players who didn’t come up to scratch were taught a tough lesson by senior members of the squad. He tells the programme: “I played reserve team football at 15, against men. Now, physically, you couldn’t handle it, but mentally you grew stronger, and you grew stronger quicker. We had experienced players who literally would punch you, if you weren’t doing the right things. There was none of this mollycoddling, you got a whack. You either grew up or shipped out - it’s as simple as that.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ILuA392TIg The former captain says the ex-United manager was ahead of the game in many aspects of his organisation and coaching. Bond He said: “We had dieticians, sports scientists, fitness coaches, psychologist in the early 80s, long before they became popular. Where he let himself down was his man management. Everybody was treated the same, we were all battered with the same brush.’ Jim McInally, who played alongside Maurice Malpas, tells how the manager strengthened the bond between the players. He tells the documentary: “Something I always think was paramount to our success was Jim McLean had a policy that we all stayed within eight miles of the city. We would socialise with each other quite a lot. Our wives were close. We were a close bunch of guys. We trained a lot - we were really fit. Even Christmas day we could train because we all stayed here. So if things went good you were quickly told by supporters - you need to, things need to improve.” Only the fourth Scottish club to reach a European final, United fell short in the ultimate test against Gothenburg in 1987 - but the scale of McLean’s achievements were obvious to the club’s fans. Broadcaster and journalist Graham Spiers tells the documentary: “That chapter with Jim McLean and Dundee United is equal with anything we’ve done in Scottish football in the last 50 years. For all that he was a tinpot dictator, for all that he might have flouted the United Nations Convention on Human Rights … he was a great football figure. His ways wouldn’t work now.”   The documentary also explores how the issue of sectarianism developed to become a malign influence in the West of Scotland and beyond and how, during this turbulent period of change in the business of Scottish football, attempts were made to face up to some unpleasant traditions. Contributors include Graeme Souness, Fergus McCann, Terry Butcher, historian Tom Devine, journalist and broadcasters, Stuart Cosgrove, author Christopher Brookmyre, and playwright and novelist, Alan Bissett. * Scotland’s Game, Thursday August 25, BBC One Scotland, 9pm.


James Yorkston: How the ‘freedom’ of Fife’s East Neuk helped forge a musical and cultural phenomenon

May 11 2018

As Tae Sup wi' a Fifer returns with another eclectic line-up in Kirkcaldy, East Neuk-based event founder and musician James Yorkston speaks to Michael Alexander about his Fence Collective roots and how his recent ventures have grown from strength-to-strength. If there’s one thing that East Neuk-based singer-songwriter James Yorkston has learned from his musical travels home and away over the years, it’s that “people are people”. But when the 46-year-old father-of-two is asked whether having children has changed his view of the world, he admits that he now wouldn’t consider staying away from home for longer than a fortnight – unless someone paid him “extraordinary amounts of money” to do so. “The kids are getting older now so I can Skype them, and that helps,” he says. “But I still feel it when I’m away. I was doing a show at the southern tip of India last year and you think ‘this is bizarre that I’ve travelled all the way from Cellardyke.’ “It just seems such a long distance away from my children and all I’m doing is singing silly wee songs. I enjoy travelling but really miss my children. It makes you think.” The universal language of music will continue transcending boundaries in James Yorkston’s world. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8p4rTxfvQM But on Friday May 18 he will face just an hour’s commute from Cellardyke to Kirkcaldy with the return of his highly popular eclectic live music showcase Tae Sup wi’ a Fifer at the Adam Smith Theatre – the first of three spring-summer shows. Organised with support from Creative Scotland, the show features Ian McMillan – writer, broadcaster and presenter of BBC Radio 3’s The Verb; folksinger, songwriter and activist Grace Petrie, and Withered Hand – aka Dan Wilson – who is regarded as one of the finest voices of the Scottish alt-folk and indie scene. This will be followed on June 16 by influential American alt-folk music legend Michael Hurley; comedian, actor and performance poet Phil Jupitus and unorthodox indie-pop/folk-noir artiste Siobhan Wilson. The July 14 show will feature an ultra-rare performance by American experimental musician Carl Stone performed in surround sound; the return of eloquent electronic folk-pop maestro The Pictish Trail along with a performance by Irish Traveller Thomas McCarthy. Tae Sup began in 2015, when James was invited to curate some live music and spoken word nights for the Adam Smith Theatre. It quickly developed a reputation for its quality, diverse line-ups and laid-back, welcoming nature. Diverse sets over the years have ranged from The Vaselines, Phil Selway (from Radiohead) and Scott Hutchison* (Frightened Rabbit) to Steve Mason (Beta Band), Karine Polwart and King Creosote. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6pII42seo8 As a fan of “stripped down” music and song writing, James, who started releasing records in 2001, is pleased with the way the largely “left of centre” event has slowly seen audiences develop, with the complimentary talents from different global avenues of indie, rock, folk, electronic and spoken word performance regularly capturing the imagination within the intimate 180-capacity venue. But Tae Sup is about more than just putting on concerts. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXndmItdpQY “For me it was all about bringing music back to Fife, because when I was growing up I don’t really remember having the opportunities to go and see that kind of artist,” reflects James, who grew up in Kingsbarns. “It’s almost as if Fife is overlooked because it’s so close to Edinburgh. People maybe play Glasgow and maybe Perth, but they don’t come to Kirkcaldy so much. “I’ve been delighted with the way it’s landed - the way it’s been received. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RC4BJrw_F1I “The thing I’ve heard here the most is people saying thank you for putting it on, which is very gratifying.” James recalls there was a dearth of live music opportunities growing up in Kingsbarns. But he and his friend Vic Galloway –who went on to work for BBC Radio Scotland - started discovering music through his dad’s rock and roll collection. Later, he was introduced to the sounds of radio DJ John Peel who “totally opened his eyes” to the realisation that he could listen to everything without being hemmed in by a particular genre. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zq9OpJYck7Y He’s not sure why at the age of 13, and living in the East Neuk, he got into Linton Kwesi Johnson who was singing about the descendents of the Windrush generation and their struggle to find their place in London. “Maybe it was the rhythm of his lyrics,” he laughs. However, he does know that the East Neuk has influenced him – even if it’s taken him a while to admit it. “When I used to be asked this question I would always say no, (it wasn’t an influence),” he says. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-Jtgx0vPRg “But if you grow up in a rural area there’s a lot more peace and quiet. There’s the colours, the proximity to the sea, just the general feeling of space. "It must contribute to what one does as a musician or as an author, a writer or whatever. "Purely from a career point of view, the very fact we don’t have 30 gigs on every night as you do in London, because we’re not surrounded by that it does let you develop your own voice.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OiG3NgpPOkU It was this creative freedom to develop without, as he puts it “worrying about a one-star review in a magazine”, that led to James being an integral early member of the Fence Collective - that loose collection of Fife-based musicians including KT Tunstall, The Beta Band and Lone Pigeon - that became a cultural phenomenon. Working with Anstruther-based Fence founder Kenny Anderson, aka King Creosote, the motivation to perform was “purely for pleasure” at a time when no one was looking to the East Neuk of Fife for music. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i7s87kZ_FS0 But when word spread and the record companies did start knocking, it awakened a wider appreciation from across the world. “When Fence was running at full capacity as it were, I remember one gig at the Cosmos in St Andrews,” he says. “It was a funny gig, we were just mucking around – we were just having fun as ever, but we realised Domino Records were there, Mute Records were there. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1IUra6Qcatg "It was like ‘hang on, all these guys from London have come up to see what’s going on’. “I talk to them about it now and they always say what excites them is when there is a scene of people helping each other and just joining in, a feeling of camaraderie, they really value that because the music has strong roots and the people growing out of it tend to have a strength a flavour that will last beyond one album. Everyone wants something that’s rare.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cn6YRGLtzOg James, who is signed to Domino Records, says the beauty of the East Neuk “really added a magic” to what was going on. People would travel from all over mainland Europe and North America to see the East Neuk ‘Home Game’ shows. But crucially, as well as the music there was a feeling of inclusion between the musicians and the visitors. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jtnnKsqiTPk “There was no snobbery,” adds James. “There was no green room. There was no back stage. It was just everyone. It was a natural extension of Kenny and myself horsing around in the wine bar at Aikmans (in St Andrews)!” he laughs. James missed those kind of events when Fence scaled back its big events a few years ago. But it was from those Fence experiences that James’ own  Tae Sup wi’ A Fifer was born. “One of the great things about Fence was that you’d see all these amazing artists in your home town – for me in Cellardyke and Anstruther – and I kind of missed that. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=piavfDPr4Ww “So working with someone who was at the Adam Smith Theatre at that time, we came up with the idea of Tae Sup. “We got some amazing people in like Sheena Wellington, Karine Polwart. We started off with a really strong line up and it’s kind of gone on from there. "Also thanks to Creative Scotland we’ve been able to get artists who normally wouldn’t come up to Kirkcaldy.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2gMHd0Fpd0 James says Tae Sup has also grown in strength thanks to the word of mouth support of artists. “I’m a touring musician myself and it’s very different when you get to an anonymous venue and there’s no one to welcome you, it’s not a supportive environment or maybe you’re headlining and you have support but you get put in a different room and you don’t really meet them,” he says. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=684cvMS-GCo “There’s a lot of venues on the road like that. “But with Tae Sup I always try to welcome them with a good relaxed feel. "Everyone gets the same set length really. There’s no real headliner, it’s programmed, everyone gets their slot. And there’s always three amazing artists. “Word is spreading and it’s through that I’ve recently managed to get people like Philip Selway from Radiohead and The Vaselines, Scott Hutchison from Frightened Rabbit. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7aaXEHiYKcs “It’s a fun gig, easy and they are well treated." James says that part of the fun for him is just programming the events - the "joy" of getting people up. Everyone he's booked is someone who’s music or poetry he's really into or he's really just wanted to see live. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gpZtnmqlF9U “In general, I’m a fan of more stripped down music and song writing, so when you hear someone like Scott Hutchison from Frightened Rabbit or Steve Mason, or King Creosote doing it solo - that’s always something I’ve always enjoyed," he adds. “I just love hearing the roots of the song. “How they sound just with the guitar or just with the accordion. You can really get to the heart off the lyrics or the melody. That is something that really appeals to me.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZhnoJapRndk *James Yorkston presents Tae Sup wi’ A Fifer – Ian McMillan/Grace Petrie/Withered Hand – Friday May 18, Adam Smith Theatre, Kirkcaldy. For information on all the forthcoming dates go to www.taesup.co.uk * This interview took place before the disappearance of Frightened Rabbit singer Scott Hutchison.


REVIEW – Tae Sup Wi’ A Fifer, Adam Smith Theatre, Kirkcaldy.

September 18 2017

What do you get if you take an 'underground psychedelic freak-ball', the 'doyenne of the spoken word scene' and add a hint of inspiration behind the world's most famous grunge rock legends? The answer could be found at the Adam Smith Theatre in Kirkcaldy on Saturday night when East Neuk-based musician James Yorkston held the fifth of his eclectic and highly successful live music events Tae Sup Wi' A Fifer. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bA0X3kGWCJc The Vaselines - the late grunge god Kurt Cobain's favourite band - performed a rare acoustic set as a duo. Cobain covered the Glasgow indie band's Molly's Lips and Son of a Gun as well as Jesus Doesn't Want Me for a Sunbeam at Nirvana's legendary MTV Unplugged session in 1993. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJrX_NbGgKk However, Vaselines duo Eugene Kelly and Frances McKee, who've only performed together a handful of times in recent years, made the stripped back versions their own with renditions that suited the intimacy of the Kirkcaldy venue. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=piavfDPr4Ww Kelly joked that McKee was "about five years old" when Son of a Gun was written 30 years ago - a time when Kelly certainly had more hair! Ahead of The Vaselines, BBC Radio 2 folk award nominees Marry Waterson - the daughter of English folk legend Lal Waterson - and David A Jaycock - the afore-mentioned "underground psychedelic freak-ball" - defied a number of broken guitar strings to play a spine tingling and at times haunting set.  They were followed by London-based poet, performer and author Salena Godden who, as well as being regarded as "the doyenne..." has also been described as "everything the Daily Mail is terrified of". Her thought provoking, light hearted yet hard hitting readings promoted making soup not war, saw red over the so-called #Tampontax and in her exploration of life and death's complexities, described anyone who commits suicide under 40 as effectively "killing a stranger"!  Tae Sup Wi A Fifer began life in 2015 when James Yorkston - associated with Fife's legendary Fence Collective - was invited to curate some nights for the Adam Smith Theatre. It has gone on to develop a reputation for its quality, diverse line-ups and laid-back welcoming nature with the likes of Steve Mason, Karine Polwarth and Dick Gaughan all having performed since. That blend of well-known and lesser-known names continues on November 25 when the next Tae Sup features Radiohead drummer Philip Selsey who has built up a body of solo work.  He will be joined on the bill by David Thomas Broughton and Mercury-nominated songsmith Kathryn Williams. It Taks A Lang Spoon Tae Sup Wi A Fifer, according to the old saying, but it's well worth reaching out for!