As the National Collective’s Yestival rolls across Scotland engaging voters, a sister event, the Songs for Scotland Festival, is also successfully taking shape. Announced on Bella Caledonia two weeks ago, the concert will be staged in the upstairs venue of the Oran Mor in Glasgow on September 3rd. Yestival will end on August 26th. Only a week later, and a mere two weeks before the referendum, some of Scotland’s finest creative talents in the singing line will again take to the stage for Scotland at the Songs for Scotland Festival: a national concert of Scottish singers singing their support for social justice and for Scottish independence.
Artist line up: Singers have been asked to perform short sets of ‘aspirational’ songs about Scotland. Aspirational? I can’t say precisely what that means, or which songs the artists will choose, but I can offer some clues: will Dick Gaughan sing Hamish Henderson’s ‘The Freedom Come All Ye’ on September 3rd, beneath Alasdair Gray’s extraordinary painted ceiling in the Oran Mor? I hope so —thank you Dick for joining us after already spending so much of your time for the cause on Yestival events.
Will MC Gille-Goillidh’s Ùp-Àp song (that’s Gaelic for ‘Hip-hop’), which he has written especially for the festival, be aspirational? I don’t know. But I do know that it may be the world’s first public Hip-hop performance in that ancient national language (with DJ Dolphin Boy). Who is this MC Gille-Goillidh? That is the Ùp-Àp stage name for a well-known trad-folk singer in Gaelic, as you shall find out on September 3rd.
Other performers will include Emily Smith, Ewan McLennan, Siobhan Miller, Kathleen MacInnes, Eilidh MacKenzie, Allan MacDonald, Findlay Napier, Lady Alba, Adam Ross of Randolph’s Leap, Loki with Rebecca Wallace, and hip hop artist Louie. Yet other special guest artists, some very prominent, will also perform on the night but have elected not to be announced yet. Author and playwright Alan Bissett will host the event.
Venue: The concert will be staged in the upstairs venue of the Oran Mor (Gaelic for ‘big song’) because it is exquisite, perfectly fitted to be the backdrop for a national concert to sing into being the rebirth of Scotland. Alasdair Gray painted the vaulted ceilings in this former church (built in the 1850/60s) in a dazzling artistic celebration of birth, life and death; and Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s firm designed the Art Nouveau Brasserie Restaurant and pub, also in the Oran Mor, in 1909.
Filming the event: ‘Artists for Indy’
Award winning filmmakers Mike Gunn (festival designer) and Mark Hirst (director of photography) will be collaborating with project organisers to film the event for maximum effect in terms of bringing voters over to ‘Yes’ ahead of the referendum.
Bella Caledonia: Songs for Scotland the Album
As a part of the larger Songs for Scotland Project, we are creating a downloadable album of songs, most (but not all) by artists who will be performing on the night. Ninety percent of the songs we need are in place, with only details of dealing with permissions and copyrights remaining. Thanks again Dick Gaughan, for contributing your incomparable version of ‘The Freedom Come All Ye’ from the album ‘Sail On’(and thank you too, Ian Green of Greentrax Recording, for your help with this one). Songs on the album will variously be in Scots, Gaelic and in English, and will range from ancient classics to modern day hits. They will variously summon emotions of sadness, anger, rage, joy —and triumph. Some examples: thank you Emily Smith for contributing your superb rendition of Burns’ ‘The Silver Tassie’ to the album; and thank you too Matt Seattle, for contributing your 2014 composition ‘Theme for the early days of a better nation’. Both of these are ‘aspirational’ songs writ large. And so too is Scotland’s Story by The Proclaimers: thank you Craig and Charlie for contributing this great track!
‘Bella Caledonia: Songs for Scotland the Album’ will help in a small way to put Scottish voters back in touch with their ‘loyalties to group and place’ (to their Scottishness) ahead of the referendum, as I wrote in a previous post. It will also help us to crowd fund the budget to stage the festival, to produce the album, to film the event and to effectively distribute the film.
And finally, it will help to support Bella Caledonia into the future. Why is this important?
Even the mainstream media has its occasional lonely outlier. Kevin McKenna, who writes Scottish referendum news for the Guardian, is such a one. In ‘More power to Glasgow’s online journalists’ he wrote:
[…]‘Bella Caledonia, Newsnet Scotland and National Collective are probably the most outstanding examples of this new online publishing phenomenon’ [ …] ‘Scotland still produces many talented writers and blogs such as Bella Caledonia, which represent the long-term future of the [news publishing] industry’[…]; and also, ‘The writing on Bella Caledonia is of a very high quality and often surpasses what appears in paid-for [MSM] titles.’[…]
‘Bella Caledonia: Songs for Scotland the Album’ will serve both as a fundraiser for the Songs for Scotland Festival now, and for Bella Caledonia into the future. We have all benefited from Bella Caledonia as an alternative news source in various ways: as readers by virtue of its incisive coverage and its role as a truth telling window onto the world; and as writers because it has given us a large readership. And Bella Caledonia is not a ‘paid for’ title from the old corporate paradigm: it is freely available to all online, with no reader subscription base or steady source of income. ‘Bella Caledonia: Songs for Scotland the Album’ will contribute a small revenue stream to help support Bella Caledonia going forward. And even though the income it provides won’t be much, every little helps.
Songs for Scotland Funding
Oran Mor will seat only 350 upstairs. So if you want to go to the festival, please buy your tickets now. Simply put: the longer festival organisers spend beating the bushes for funding, the less time they will have available to make our Scottish national musical festival for ‘Yes’ everything it can possibly be.
To support Songs for Scotland by buying tickets or album downloads, please go to our Indiegogo campaign page here. And please tell your like minded friends about the festival, and bring them along on September 3rd.
Thank you, and see you there!