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Motoring news

Audi’s new Q cars

April 12 2017

Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...


Fat Goth get support from Dundee City Council to produce and promote album

November 17 2015

Musicians producing everything from heavy metal to polyphonic choral music of the Renaissance have been given grants as part of the Dundee Musicians’ Awards. The artists all received funding as part of the scheme, which helps support new projects for musicians working in a range of genres. Established in 2008, the awards are run by Leisure and Culture Dundee. Grants of up to £500 are given to Dundee-based musicians to help them meet the cost of creating new works. The recipients include critically-acclaimed heavy metal trio Fat Goth. The rock band will put their grant towards the cost of producing and promoting their forthcoming fourth album. Fat Goth released their third album One Hundred Per Cent Suave last year, which was recorded with support from Creative Scotland. They have played T in the Park and won comparisons with acts such as The Jesus Lizard and Queens of The Stone Age. The band have also been immortalised in Kerrang’s legendary Pandora comic strip. Also receiving a grant were Cantiones Sacrae, a vocal ensemble that exist at the other end of the musical spectrum to Fat Goth. The group specialises in polyphonic choral music of the Renaissance period. It is the second time the four-piece vocal group has won a grant from the Dundee Musicians’ Awards. The a cappella group will perform a Christmas concert in Dundee at St Salvador’s Episcopal Church on Sunday, December 20. Also receiving grants yesterday were Inkomega, a DJ and producer who creates electronic music with a tribal influence, and up-and-coming Dundee band Jonny Jewel, whose debut album was released earlier this month. Dundee Lord Provost Bob Duncan, chairman of Leisure and Culture Dundee, said the awards not only benefit the musicians involved but also help to raise the profile of Dundee and its cultural successes. He said: “The Dundee Musicians’ Award has supported a varied range of projects this year and continues to raise the profile of the excellent music coming out of Dundee.” Previous winners include The Mirror Trap, who recently completed an arena tour of Russia with Placebo, and Dundee favourites Anderson, McGinty, Webster, Ward and Fisher.

Road tests

Audi Q2 puts quality over size

March 21 2018

Audi’s Q2 was one of the first premium compact SUVs on the market. It sits below the Q3, Q5 and the gigantic, seven seat Q7 in Audi’s ever growing range. Although it’s about the same size as the Nissan Juke or Volkswagen T-Roc, its price is comparable with the much larger Nissan X-Trail or Volkswagen Tiguan. Even a basic Q2 will set you back more than £21,000 and top whack is £38,000. Then there’s the options list which is extensive to say the least. My 2.0 automatic diesel Quattro S Line model had a base price of £30,745 but tipped the scales at just over £40,000 once a plethora of additions were totted up. Size isn’t everything, however. In recent years there’s been a trend of buyers wanting a car that’s of premium quality but compact enough to zip around town. It may be a step down in size but the Q2 doesn’t feel any less classy than the rest of Audi’s SUV range. The interior looks great and is user friendly in a way that more mainstream manufacturers have never been able to match. The simple rotary dial and shortcut buttons easily trounce touchscreen systems, making it a cinch to skim through the screen’s menus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eQ5p5Z7-Ek&list=PLUEXizskBf1nbeiD_LqfXXsKooLOsItB0 There’s a surprising amount of internal space too. I took three large adults from Dundee to Stirling and no one complained about feeling cramped. As long as you don’t have a tall passenger behind a tall driver you can easily fit four adults. At 405 litres the boot’s big too – that’s 50 litres more than a Nissan Juke can muster. Buyers can pick from 1.0 and 1.4 litre petrol engines or 1.6 and 2.0 litre TDIs. Most Q2s are front wheel drive but Audi’s Quattro system is standard on the 2.0 diesel, as is a seven-speed S Tronic gear box. On the road there’s a clear difference between this and SUVs by manufacturers like Nissan, Seat and Ford. Ride quality, while firm, is tremendously smooth. Refinement is excellent too, with road and tyre noise kept out of the cabin. It sits lower than the Q3 or Q5 and this improves handling, lending the Q2 an almost go-kart feel. On a trip out to Auchterhouse, with plenty of snow still on the ground, I was appreciative of the four-wheel drive as well. The Q2 is expensive – though there are some good finance deals out there – but you get what you pay for. Few cars this small feel as good as the Q2 does. Price: £30,745 0-62mph: 8.1 seconds Top speed: 131mph Economy: 58.9mpg CO2 emissions: 125g/km

Angus & The Mearns

From Lionel Richie to Gary Barlow…Here are Tayside and Fife’s biggest gigs of 2018 so far

January 30 2018

It's not even the end of January, but already 2018 is shaping up to be one of the biggest years for live music that Courier Country has experienced in a long time. Excitement reached fever pitch on Tuesday morning following a string of huge gig announcements, with music icons including Noel Gallagher and Lionel Richie confirming shows in the region. We've put together a list of the biggest acts heading our way in the coming months. This article will be updated as and when further acts are announced. Lionel Richie US singer Lionel Richie will perform to thousands of fans at McDairmid Park, Perth on June 3. Tickets for the gig will go on sale online at 10am on Friday, February 2. Richie is the biggest star to play the stadium since Elton John more than a decade ago. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nqAvFx3NxUM https://twitter.com/LionelRichie/status/958249678314721280   Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=67zX4oiXqqY The former Oasis man will be the headline act at the BBC's Biggest Weekend festival at Scone Palace on May 26. The guitarist and singer-songwriter, who penned some of the most famous songs of the 1990s, will perform with his High Flying Birds band. https://twitter.com/NoelGallagher/status/958254887866916864   Rita Ora Music superstar Rita Ora is another big name added to the Slessor Gardens concert list. She will play at Dundee's waterfront venue on Saturday July 28.   Gary Barlow The Take That frontman is playing two gigs in Tayside this year, one at Perth Concert Hall on April 19 and another at Dundee's Caird Hal on April 20. Tickets for both gigs sold out rapidly.   Status Quo Legendary British rock band Status Quo will be at Scone Palace as the headline act for the 2018 ReWind Festival in July.   Bonnie Tyler, The Boomtown Rats and UB40 These are just a few of the other big name acts returning to Tayside for this year's Rewind Festival.   Simple Minds and The Pretenders Scottish rock bands Simple Minds and The Pretenders will lead the line-up at Dundee's Slessor Gardens on September 9. Steps The pop group are coming to Slessor Gardens on June 22. They will be supported by fellow 90s bands Blue and Aqua.   KT Tunstall The Fife musician is providing support to both Simple Minds and The Pretenders at Slessor Gardens on September 9, and to Gary Barlow at his local gigs in April. Belle and Sebastian The influential Scottish band will play Perth Concert Hall on Friday, March 23.   Eddi Reader The Scots singer will play Perth Concert Hall on February 28. Leo Sayer The pop star will play at Rothes Halls, Glenrothes, on October 9. Suggs https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dc3AovUZgvo The Ska legend and Madness frontman is playing at Dunfermline's Alhambra Theatre on Wednesday, February 28.   Erasure https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x34icYC8zA0 The 1980s synthpop act are playing Dundee's Caird Hall in just a matter of days - on Friday, February 2.   The Proclaimers The Scottish musical legends will play Dundee's Caird Hall on December 15.   Could more great gigs be on the cards for Tayside and Fife? Dundonians were treated to three shows at Slessor Gardens in 2017 from UB40, Little Mix and Olly Murs, so we may well see some more big-name musicians making their way to the city in 2018. And MoFest is yet to announce its 2018 line-up after attracting The Beach Boys last year.   Will Carnival 56 return? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=29oN9VBXf_U Despite attracting thousands of music fans and earning several major award nominations, the future of Dundee's new music festival still remains unknown. Festival founder Craig Blyth has left the company that set up the popular event at Camperdown Park last year. However Dundee City Council has granted permission for it to run every year until 2021. In October last year an official festival spokeswoman said there had been “no confirmation” of the festival’s return, adding: “The debrief process is still under way”.   Sir Rod Stewart to Dundee? No, we've not given up on Sir Rod coming to Dundee in 2018! The rocker is partnered with the Liz Hobbs Group, who are behind all of the hugely-successful 2017 Slessor Gardens concerts. Sir Rod came out as the overwhelming favourite in a Courier poll which asked locals who they would most like to see next at the waterfront music venue in 2018. And the Lizz Hobbs Group themselves haven't ruled it out. Sir Rod is not believed to have played in Dundee since the 1970s, despite a number of appearances elsewhere in Scotland.   In this weekend's Courier, we speak to Simple Minds singer-songwriter Jim Kerr.


Dundee pianist benefiting from city’s support

April 10 2010

Helen Brown meets pianist Christina Lawrie and hears how her native city's support has allowed her to enter the recording studio for the first time. Last year, as the result of the efforts of charity fundraisers Garry Fraser, Ken Murray and Jim Patrick who put together the City of Discovery Charity Concert at the Caird Hall Christina Lawrie made her debut as a soloist in the Gchristirieg Piano Concerto with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. It was a memorable occasion in many ways and the exuberance and technical brilliance of her performance brought the house down in a packed hall. Making that debut might have been enough of a major event at the time, Christina herself described it as "a dream come true." But, in the way that some of the best career moves can never actually be planned, listening to her that night were a group of people so impressed by what they heard that they contacted her about the possibility of her making her first recording. Members of the Pollok House Arts Society of Glasgow had travelled to Dundee specially for the concert. Christina explained, "Putting a CD together was something I had thought about, but at that stage I wasn't actively looking into it. This incredibly generous offer was to help me fund a recording project and their vision and enthusiasm inspired me to take it to the next stage and apply for further support. I contacted the Scottish Arts Council Recording Fund and Dundee Musicians' Award Scheme and got the thumbs-up from both. "I think we're lucky to have a very supportive council in Dundee and a really healthy, growing arts sector."EncourageThe Dundee Musicians' Award Scheme is run by the city council's leisure and communities department and offers grants to Dundee-based musicians to encourage their professional development and the creation of new work or music-related projects. It arches across the musical and performance spectrum since 2008, it has supported recordings by bands such as The Hazey Janes and Luva Anna, funded training in music therapy and vocal technique and the creative development of Balkan gypsy cabaret group The Lost Todorovs. The £1000 grant, matched by the SAC, will allow Christina to go into the recording studio and the resulting CD will be released in July on the new PHAS label created by Pollok House Arts Society. She will be the first artist to appear on it. The CD will be launched at St Martin-in-the-Fields in London on July 20 by the Park Lane Group who have been instrumental in encouraging the careers of many emerging classical musicians through their Young Artist New Year concert series. Christina has performed for them many times, most recently in January. Christina will be travelling to Potton Hall in Suffolk to record under the eye and ear of legendary EMI producer John Fraser who has worked with some of the biggest names in the classical world, from Yehudi Menuhin and Daniel Barenboim to Placido Domingo and Kiri te Kanawa. She will feature music by Brahms the powerful, dark and introspective Fantasies Op.116 which are less often played than some of the composer's other piano works and Rachmaninov's Morceaux & Moments, dramatic and intense. Before she goes to Suffolk in April, she has some meticulous planning in mind, including a visit to America to her mentor, Armenian-born, Moscow Conservatoire-trained pianist Sergei Babayan. "I think you have to arrive at a studio very well prepared and ready to explore what happens during recording. I've done some demo sessions and practice sessions in recording studios but it's very different from the preparation for a live performance.Pressures"There is a different set of pressures. I've still to find this out but people say that the challenging in recording is to maintain energy and momentum when there's no audience buzz and reaction to spur you on." She hopes, too, that she may be able to include some Scottish and Gaelic music on the recording, if it fits. She regularly plays such pieces as encores and is a keen improviser on these tunes. "It will depend on how it works but Brahms in particular was very interested in folk music and Scottish themes. In Rachmaninov, too, there are boat songs, love songs and ideas that fit in with Gaelic music. There's a Gaelic quote along the lines that 'the world may come to an end but love and music will last forever'. That seems to me to sum up what music and performing and playing is all about." Christina will be playing an afternoon recital at the Caird Hall on August 21 as the Scottish launch of her CD and, in the morning, she'll be conducting a workshop for local pianists. "Part of the reason I'm so pleased to have the backing of the Dundee Musicians' Award Scheme is that I'm a very proud Dundonian I think it's fantastic place, with great scenery and so much going on. So many people and groups and organisations have helped me along the way and because I'm so conscious of that and of my roots, I like the idea of giving something back. It's a privilege to contribute to what the city is planning for its artistic future."To register for a copy of Christina Lawrie's debut CD visit www.christinalawrie.co.uk. To find out more about the Dundee Musicians' Award Scheme visit www.dundeecity.gov.uk/ leisurecomms/grantaid or email musicdevelopment@dundeecity.gov.uk


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.


US broadcasting giant CNN names ‘ambitious’ Dundee one of world’s ‘top seven’ cities to visit

January 10 2018

A US broadcasting giant has named Dundee alongside Tokyo and Paris as one of the world's most "design-savvy" cities. CNN Style - a branch of the American news channel dedicated to features on travel, fashion, architecture and the arts - has listed the City of Discovery on its 'top seven' list of the most eye-catching locations to visit in 2018. It comes just days after Bloomberg Businessweek listed Dundee sixth in its “top 22” destinations to visit in 2018. The Guardian also listed the city on its "where to go hotlist" for 2018. Toronto, Paris, Tokyo, Muscat, Tbilisi and San Miguel de Allende all feature on the CNN list, which picked out "seven of the cities you should be eyeing in 2018". The article originally appeared on digital publication The Spaces. The article states: "It was once the UK capital of cash register production, but the decline of traditional industry and loss of jobs in the 1980s saw Dundee adopt a plan to reinvent itself as a cultural center. https://www.thecourier.co.uk/fp/news/local/dundee/574567/dundee-named-alongside-los-angeles-singapore-florence-patagonia-bloomberg-top-22-world-destinations/ "A massive, £1 billion regeneration masterplan kicked off in 2001 and the resulting transformation of the city has started to take hold, with the Dundee Waterfront scheme set to hit crucial landmarks in 2018. "It may have had its 2023 European Capital of Culture bid scuppered by Brexit but the city's under-construction, £80-million V&A Museum of Design Dundee will open its doors within the next 12 months, placing it firmly on the international art map." It adds that Dundee stands out due to its "ambitious renovations and build-to-rent developments". Locals have also reacted to the mention of the city in the CNN article. Director of Creative Dundee Gillian Easson said: “We're delighted to see Dundee in this list of top global cities for design and culture. "We hear people talk about what Dundee 'will be' like in the future, so it's great to know the city’s current cultural scene is already on the map alongside many must-visit international destinations. "As we celebrate 10 years of Creative Dundee this year, there’s an ever-increasing amount happening right across the city, from ambitious urban developments, to incredible community gardens, great events, shows and exhibitions, and brilliant local artists, musicians, designers and creative spaces. "We're glad to see the growing recognition of our city and look forward to giving a typically warm Dundee welcome to visitors when they arrive."

Farming news

SNP handling of new beef scheme attacked

November 10 2016

The Scottish Government's own efficiency has been called into question over the handling of the new £45million Beef Efficiency Scheme (BES). An estimated 180,000 beef cows from 2000 Scottish farmers have been enrolled in the new five-year  scheme which aims to improve the efficiency and quality of the beef herd and help producers increase the genetic value of their stock. But months after signing up for the scheme, farmers are still waiting to be supplied with special tags to meet the rules which call for 'tissue tagging' of 20% of cattle. And now NFU Scotland's livestock chairman Charlie Adam says farmers' confidence in the scheme is being affected and has called for the rules to be adjusted. The union has also urged the Scottish Government to update all scheme applicants on progress with BES and let them know when the necessary tags will arrive. “If tag delays cannot be resolved in the immediate future, then the Scottish Government should recognise the problem and make the tissue tagging element voluntary for 2016. This will allow those who can take samples from the animals that they still own to do so,"  said Mr Adam. “Applicants to this important scheme, worth £45 million to the industry, have every right to know now, and in detail, what they are expected to do to fulfil their BES obligations and Scottish Government must get back on the front foot in delivering the scheme.” Mr Adam added that it was frustrating for the farmers who have already housed and handled their cattle for the winter as many of those animals were by now located in overwintering accommodation that can be some distance from home farms. Shadow Rural Economy secretary, Peter Chapman MSP claimed it was impossible for farmers to sell store cattle in the autumn sales until they were told which animals need tagged and were sent  the tags to do the job. He added: "This will create huge cash flow and logistic problems for farmers who normally sell calves at this time – this is the SNP letting farmers down yet again.” A Scottish Government spokesman said work was under way to rectify the problem and a timetable was expected by the end of the week. He added: "It is not necessary for farmers to hold off from selling their animals. "We will ensure that the sampling regime accommodates those farmers who have sold their calves and there will be no penalties for those whoo have. It may mean that some farmers will have a higher rate of sampling next year." nnicolson@thecourier.co.uk      


Traditional music greats welcomed into industry hall of fame

November 11 2016

The legacy of a local music icon was toasted a packed-out event held at Dundee's Marryat Hall. The work of late Dundee folk singer Michael Marra has dominated the traditional Scottish music scene for decades. Known as "the Bard of Dundee", local hero Marra died in 2012. During his career he penned and performed songs about life in Dundee. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ktqsrMgceCs Such was his impact on both the local and national music scene, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by Dundee University in 2007. On Friday, a sold-out crowd witnessed Marra being posthumously inducted into the Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame. According to local music journalist and musician Alan Wilson, Michael was and is "an inspiration to thousands". https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yOwH9hmjNrM He said: "Michael, or Mick as he was known to all his friends in Lochee and the west end of Dundee, was an inspiration to thousands of Dundonians, in a way possibly some only realised after he sadly passed away. "His lyrics were amazing, he wrote beautiful melodies and his Dundee shows were always a hilariously fantastic occasion, whether at Dundee Rep, the Westport Bar(s) or an impromptu singalong in the back room of the Campbeltown Bar. "Literally hundreds of musicians have been inspired by his songs and poetry since he started out performing at the Dundee Folk Club in the early 1960s and the list of great people he collaborated with is a long one. "Michael Marra the musician was – and is – a national treasure. Michael Marra the man is a Dundee institution and will always be. He absolutely deserves this honour." Fife-born musician Barbara Dickson was also inducted. Barbara began her career in the 1960s and went on to enjoy mainstream success with a series of hits. She was awarded an OBE in 2012 for services to music and drama. Fellow performer and friend Rab Noakes said: "Dundee singers today will still be aware of what Barbara did and will cite her work. "Barbara has always had a terrific voice and traditional Scottish songs are the backbone of her repertoire."

UK & World

This student took his Tinder profile to the next level by turning it into a PowerPoint presentation

February 21 2018

Standing out from the crowd on Tinder can be tough, but with the help of Microsoft PowerPoint a British student has managed just that – and gone viral in the process.Sam Dixey, a 21-year-old studying at Leeds University, made a six-part slideshow entitled “Why you should swipe right” – using pictures and bullet points to shrewdly persuade potential dates to match with him on the dating app. The slideshow includes discussion of his social life and likes, such as “petting doggos” and “laser tag”, and “other notable qualities and skills” – such as being “not the worst at sex” and “generous when drunk”.It even has reviews mocked up from sources such as “Donald Trump”, “Leonardo Di Capri Sun” and “The Times Guide to Pancakes 2011”.Sam told the Press Association the six-slide presentation only took about 20 minutes to make and “started off as a joke”.However, since being posted to Twitter by fellow Tinder user Gracie Barrow, Sam’s slideshow has been shared tens of thousands of times across social media.So, it’s got the seal of approval form Gracie, but how has the slideshow fared on Tinder? “I’d have to say it has been pretty successful,” Sam said. “Definitely a clear correlation of matches and dates beforehand to afterwards.“Most of the responses tend to revolve around people saying ‘I couldn’t help swipe right 10/10’ but I’ve had some people go the extra mile and message me on Facebook.“Plus some people have recognised me outside, in the library and on dates.”A resounding success.