Merry music memories and hope for the future.
Another fortnight and another slate of cancelled gigs struck off the calendar. December is usually such a busy month for musicians, and I would normally have gigs with our band Dorec-a-belle as well as solo work. There are still a couple in my diary before Christmas but, though I know they’re not happening, I can’t bring myself to delete them!
Playing in the festive period is tremendous fun; workplace groups on nights out, friends celebrating finishing work for the holidays, students wrapping up their term, and everyone in good spirits and full of Christmas cheer. It’s invariably the best of craic.
Thinking back to this time last year, it’s like night and day. It was all go, with dozens of gigs and rehearsing like crazy for the biggie at Hogmanay. Performing at Inverness’s Red Hot Highland Fling, for an audience of 10,000, is a fantastic experience and we’ve been lucky enough in Dorec-a-belle to play it twice.
The cold at outdoor concerts can play havoc with musicians’ hands though and I recall hoping last year, as the feeling was draining from my fingertips halfway through our set, that muscle memory would do its work. Even if I could no longer feel the keys of my accordion and piano, I had to hope my fingers would still go to the right places!
What I would give for that disconcerting feeling this year! The Fling was, like all live music events, cancelled many months ago, but we send our very best wishes to Gerry Reynolds, events manager at Highland Council and the man behind the Red Hot Highland Fling, for a relaxing retirement, with enormous thanks for all the hugely successful events he organised and delivered over many years.
As the year draws to a close, there appears to be light on the Covid horizon; the vaccine hopefully means we will turn the corner soon and the small steps being made in live music are so very welcome.
I had a fantastic time in the Ironworks Music Venue last week at Davy Cowan’s concert. He and son Sam were obviously as thrilled to be back in front of a live audience as we were to be there; they played for over two solid hours, one great song after another and it was superb.
The Ironworks also has three great nights of comedy and music on offer this weekend. A special mention though for Saturday’s concert with Calum MacPhail and Sean Cousins from the trad band Hò-rò - this will be an excellent night.
I doubt many will lament the passing of 2020; I think the general feeling is ‘Get thee gone’ or, as we say around these parts, ‘Mach a seo!’ I will be back with more ArtyNess folk music news in the New Year but, in the meantime, wish everyone a Merry Christmas and all the very best for a healthy and happy 2021.
(First published by Highland News & Media 11th December 2020)