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Angus & The Mearns

Singer Ginger Wildheart falls in love with Arbroath

February 8 2013

A stalwart of the UK’s punk rock music scene has fallen in love with a Tayside town. Ginger Wildheart, born David Walls and singer with rock band The Wildhearts, has been swept off his feet by the charm of Arbroath while on a two-day stop-over in the coastal Angus burgh. Ginger, known for his guitar playing and dedication to his fans and music, has been staying at the Harbour Nights Guest House, taking time out to relax before embarking next month on a tour with The Darkness. The singer/songwriter has been making his way round the coast of the UK, stopping off at specific points in search of inspiration. However, Arbroath is the only place he has stopped at for more than one night, and the singer said his heart has been captured by the town’s honesty and beauty. Ginger said: “I’ve been doing a drive around the entire coast, looking for inspiration from this crazy island we live in, and it’s something that I’ve never done before. “Arbroath is the first place I have come to where I thought I want to spend another day here. I get a great feeling and I’m loving the energy here. It reminds me of home. “Bill and Sunita at Harbour Nights have made me welcome and they have been really lovely. They’ve been stuffing me full of Arbroath Smokies. I had been told a lot about them and they’re brilliant. “I’m glad I’ve had the chance to spend some time in Arbroath and Angus and I’m definitely going to come back.” Harbour Nights owner Bill Adam said he was happy to have Ginger stay and was appreciative of the singer’s nice comments. He added: “All praise is welcome and we do our best to go that extra mile for our guests.” Ginger made one final stop off in Angus before moving on to his next destination and tweeted a picture of the memorial to former AC/DC frontman Bon Scott in Kirriemuir.

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...

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.


Chicken bone drama won’t stop KT Tunstall heading to Alhambra

October 28 2016

She was rushed to hospital after swallowing a chicken bone earlier this month, but that's not going to stop KT Tunstall from playing a gig in Dunfermline tonight. The 41-year-old singer-songwriter from Fife was enjoying some time with family in Bath when the drama unfolded. She underwent an x-ray and had a camera placed down her throat to check for damage to her vocal chords. Thankfully, medics discovered there were no lasting problems, and KT took to Instagram to tell her followers what had happened. She wrote: "One X-ray and a beautifully painless Laryngoscopy later, and it looks like the f***** just scratched me on the way down and nothing got stuck." Ever the trooper, KT played a gig at Bristol the following night - and tonight (October 28), she plays Dunfermline's Alhambra Theatre. Since KT burst onto the music scene in 2004 with her debut album Eye to the Telescope, the singer-songwriter has never looked back.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vp0Pt-VFe_g Hits like Black Horse and the Cherry Tree and Suddenly I See made KT a household name and led to tours around the world, but she still holds the Alhambra in high regard, with the Edinburgh-born singer having played there after the venue’s refurbishment in 2008, and again in 2011. Her new album KIN was released in September and boasts a rejuvenated sound with KT’s familiar fast-paced, toe-tapping tracks returning to the fore. Having grown up in St Andrews, KT relocated to Venice Beach, California, in 2014 to start a new life after her father’s passing and the breakup of her marriage. She was nominated for the Mercury Prize in 2005 and her BRIT Award won Best British Female Artist in 2006. www.alhambradunfermline.com    

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

Perth & Kinross

Homage to rock and roll legend at Perth festival

June 28 2017

Guitarist Andy Fairweather Low is to pay homage to the “father of rock and roll”, Chuck Berry, at the Southern Fried Festival of American roots music in Perth. The musician, who has played with a who’s who of greats including Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Roger Waters, Stevie Wonder, The Who and Jimi Hendrix, will lead a cast of singers from home and abroad in Rock ‘n’ Roll Music: The Songs of Chuck Berry. The show on Thursday July 27 in Perth Concert Hall launches the tenth Southern Fried Festival which takes place in venues across Perth city centre until Sunday July 30. A pioneer of rock ‘n’ roll, Chuck Berry was a massively influential singer-songwriter who was covered by and inspired both The Beatles and The Rolling Stones and shaped much of today’s music. John Lennon even famously said: “If you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it 'Chuck Berry'.” Andy Fairweather Low, who fronted Amen Corner in the 1960s, explained the impact that Chuck Berry had on him. “It is beyond words to sum up the effect that Chuck Berry’s guitar playing and life have had on my life and guitar playing,” he said. “So I am honoured to be asked back to the Southern Fried Festival (the best run festival I have been involved with). Together with my own band The Hi Riders who will be the house band and with some great guests involved it will be a fantastic evening to honour Chuck.” Andy Shearer, Southern Fried festival director added: “We’re really excited to open this year’s festival with this fantastic celebration of an American music icon — even more so since we’ve got a world-class musical director in Andy Fairweather Low and his eight-piece soul revue to anchor proceedings." Nick Lowe, Loudon Wainwright III and Beth Nielsen Chapman headline the tenth Southern Fried Festival which also features Canadian soul singer and songwriter Cyndi Cain, bluegrass, folk and country band Flats & Sharps, Steve Gibbons, country blues singer-songwriter Amythyst Kiah, singer-songwriter Angaleena Presley, country music legend Doug Seegers, ex-Average White Band’s Hamish Stuart and Welsh pianist and accordionist Geraint Watkins.


Canadian Prime Minister leads tributes to songwriting legend Leonard Cohen

November 11 2016

Renowned singer, songwriter and poet Leonard Cohen, who penned the haunting classic Hallelujah, has died aged 82. The Canadian artist passed away peacefully at his home in Los Angeles, his son, Adam, said. No further details have been given of his death, which comes just weeks after he said he was "ready to die" in an interview. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YrLk4vdY28Q He released his 14th and final studio album, You Want It Darker, in October. "My father passed away peacefully at his home in Los Angeles with the knowledge that he had completed what he felt was one of his greatest records. He was writing up until his last moments with his unique brand of humour," his son told Rolling Stone. A memorial will take place in Los Angeles, a statement on Cohen's website said. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau paid tribute to the Grammy Award winner who was also bestowed with the nation's highest honour. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6o6zMPLcXZ8 "No other artist's music felt or sounded like Leonard Cohen's. Yet his work resonated across generations. Canada and the world will miss him," Mr Trudeau wrote. The PM also quoted a line from Hallelujah, which was famously covered by Jeff Buckley and inspired hundreds more interpretations. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=51lVBZE1b5Y The Recording Academy, which honoured Cohen with a lifetime achievement Grammy in 2010, said it was "deeply saddened" by the news. "Leonard became one of the most revered pop poets and a musical touchstone for many songwriters," chief executive Neil Portnow said. "His extraordinary talent had a profound impact on countless singers and songwriters, as well as the wider culture. "We have lost a cherished artist and our sincerest condolences go out to Leonard's family, friends, and collaborators. He will be missed terribly." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HKnxmkOAj88 During a career spanning six decades Cohen earned a reputation for combining spirituality and sexuality and had a string of hits including Suzanne and Bird On A Wire. He counted Nobel Prize-winning singer and songwriter Bob Dylan among his fans and despite his advancing age was still touring earlier this year. Dylan told The New Yorker in October that Cohen's best work was "deep and truthful, "multidimensional" and "surprisingly melodic". It has not been revealed how Cohen died, but he suggested he had come to terms with his approaching death in the same article. He told the magazine: "I've got some work to do. Take care of business. I am ready to die. I hope it's not too uncomfortable. That's about it for me." The grandfather later qualified his comments in another interview, saying: "I think I was exaggerating. I've always been into self-dramatisation. I intend to live for ever." Cohen considered himself both a Jew and a Buddhist and from 1994 to 1999 lived as a disciple of Joshu Sasaki Roshi, a Zen Buddhist monk he met at university. Born to a Jewish family on September 21 1934, Cohen's first musical effort came in his teens when he formed a country music group called the Buckskin Boys He went on to attend McGill University where in 1956 he published his first poetry book, Let Us Compare Mythologies, to plaudits. His first album, Songs Of Leonard Cohen, came in 1968. He released Hallelujah in 1984, and it was covered by Buckley in the 1990s. One of Cohen's greatest hits was 1967's So Long Marianne, written for former lover and muse Marianne Ihlen, who also inspired his song Hey, That's No Way To Say Goodbye. Ihlen died aged 81 in July and in a letter reportedly read to her on her deathbed, Cohen said: "Well Marianne, it's come to this time when we are really so old and our bodies are falling apart and I think I will follow you very soon. Know that I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think you can reach mine." News of Cohen's death emerged on Friday morning with a statement posted on his official Facebook page. It read: "It is with profound sorrow we report that legendary poet, songwriter and artist, Leonard Cohen has passed away. We have lost one of music's most revered and prolific visionaries. "A memorial will take place in Los Angeles at a later date. The family requests privacy during their time of grief."

Farming news

Aberdeen-Angus DNA test hailed by Victor Wallace

February 13 2015

The adoption of a new DNA test to authenticate the pedigree of all Aberdeen-Angus calves will put the breed in the vanguard of genomic technology, retiring Aberdeen-Angus Cattle Society president, Victor Wallace, told a packed annual at Stirling. The society has decided to collect blood samples using special ear tags which incorporate a small uniquely identified receptacle. As the tag is inserted soon after birth the small amount of displaced tissue and blood is captured ready for future DNA testing. Responding to criticism of the society’s decision to use only one company, Caisley, for the collection of samples, Mr Wallace insisted Caisley was the only ear tag company which had the technology to meet the society’s required specification. “We invited a number of ear tag companies to tender and some didn’t bother to reply while others couldn’t meet the spec,” said Mr Wallace. “It is a simple and inexpensive system which most breeders are finding easy to use.” The aim is to collect blood samples from all bull calves to enable the sire of all calves to be verified in the case of any uncertainty or dispute and to authenticate beef being sold as Aberdeen-Angus.” The move by the society has been welcomed by major supermarkets selling Aberdeen-Angus beef. Mr Wallace added: “This process was extensively and rigorously tested with management and council visits to the manufacturers in Germany and the completion of field trials. After this process it was brought back to council and unanimously approved. “Like all changes, there has been some resistance but I am convinced that putting the society in a position to be leading in genomic testing can only be a good one. “We should be leaders, not followers.” Mr Wallace admitted that a £34,000 re-branding exercise carried out over the past year, which included the dropping of the society’s long-established black, green and yellow colours, left room for “significant improvement”. The issue, particularly improvement to the website, would, he said, be addressed in the coming year. The decision to prop up the pension fund of chief executive, Ron McHattie, by £120,000 in four tranches was defended by new president, David Evans, who explained that it was a “catching up” operation as the funding of the pension had not been addressed for 11 years and annuity rates had halved in that time. Mr Evans, who works as a financial adviser, runs a 60-cow pedigree herd in Cleveland with his wife, Penny, and has been chairman of the society’s breed promotion committee. He is planning a series of open days throughout the country this year to promote the commercial attributes of the Aberdeen-Angus breed. “There is a huge and growing demand for certified Aberdeen-Angus beef with the active involvement of most of the leading supermarkets in the UK and registrations in the Herd Book are at a record level and continuing to increase,” said Mr Evans. “But we can’t stand still and it is important that the breed adopts all the latest technology to take the breed forward in the future.” New senior vice-president is Tom Arnott, Haymount, Kelso, while Alex Sanger, Prettycur, Montrose, was appointed junior vice-president.


In photos: Gary Barlow at the Caird Hall, Dundee

April 21 2018

Gary Barlow hailed his “loud” Dundee fans after performing at the Caird Hall. The former Take That star described the sold-out concert as “amazing”. Fife singer-songwriter KT Tunstall also appeared as his support act. Read a full review here.

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.