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A Evening for Alasdair Gray at the Oran Mor

Alasdair-Gray-004On November 29th at 7 PM, Songs for Scotland will stage An Evening for Alasdair Gray in the auditorium at the Oran Mor. First and foremost, the event will be a celebration of Alasdair’s accomplishments in art, literature and other fields. The evening will also serve to launch the Alasdair Gray Musical Scholarship Trust (a £500 scholarship will be awarded on the night); and to debut a downloadable compilation album, Native Musicians: Songs for Scotland 2. The album has been dedicated to Alasdair and is themed for his dictum, ‘Work as if you live in the early days of a better nation.’ Go here to book your tickets.

NativeMusiciansWebPosterB(1)Scottish musical greats from across the board have contributed songs to the album: genres include Hip hop, Folk/trad, Americana, Reggae, Afrobeat, spoken word and more. Dick Gaughan, Karen Matheson, Kathleen MacInnes, Dean Owens, Stanley Odd, and Emily Smith, are included on the compilation, and others.

An Evening for Alasdair Gray will also be a celebration of Scottish musical genius. Artists performing on the night will include Emma Pollock (ex The Delgados), Dean Owens, Allan MacDonald, Griogair Labruidh, Brina, Loki, Findlay Napier, the Matt Seattle Band and more. Songs will be performed in the Scots, Gaelic, and English languages; and in the Pop, Folk/Trad, Hip-hop and other idioms. Well chosen words will also be spoken in oor mither leid by Billy Kay; and writer Alan Bissett will compere a beautiful evening out.

A percentage of ticket sales will go to fund the Alasdair Gray Musical Scholarship Trust; and all tickets will include a free download of Native Musicians: Songs for Scotland 2.

Join us on November 29th, on the eve of St Andrew’s Day, for a brilliant evening featuring the finest in Scottish culture.

A signed Alasdair Gray art print will be awarded as a door prize on the night. Tickets are available from the Oran Mor, or on ticketweb.co.uk or at this link.


Comments (10)

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  1. Wul says:

    Can’t go – a pity.

    A wee bit worried by the term “Native Musicians”

    Non “native” not good?

    1. Alf Baird says:

      “Native” too parochial? i.e. Scottish culture too cringeworthy? Ye’ll bi sairly misst.

      1. Wul says:

        I don’t think it was a cringe.
        It just seemed to me that advertising that there would be “native” musicians seemed to suggest that they will automatically be better than any other kind.
        I was/am unsure what we mean by “native”. If it means someone who lives in a place then that’s OK. If it means someone who was born in a place then its a bit more difficult.

        I’ve always assumed the word has roots relating to birth (“post-natal”, “nativity” etc)

        I think I have experienced the cringe though. Pre-indyref, I used to be a firm Radio 4 listener. Listening to Scottish radio (and the Scot. Parliament broadcasts) made me cringe a bit. Always sounded too wee, unsophisticated, too local and somehow not “proper” news or current affairs. I had to switch to Scottish sources for better Indyref reporting and have never looked back.
        Now, I find Radio 4 almost comically posh, privileged and London centric. I rarely go there except for science & biographical stuff.

        That was a real bit of learning for me, the way that my impressions of my own place and culture can be totally turned around just by a little bit more exposure to my own kind. I’ve realised how vitally important it is to hear our “own” voice (wherever we are in the world) if we are to have any hope of realising our potential.

        1. Marcia Blaine says:

          We’re treading very close to the old colonialists and settlers argument and I really don’t like that. Don’t let me get all Carol Craig on yo ass!

  2. kevin brown says:

    Wul, thanks for bringing that up. I’m happy to clarify the origins and meaning of the title.

    Alasdair’s bagpiping lion serves aa a greeting image at the Oran Mor for arriving patrons; there it is untitled. Alasdair used the image again as a part of his ‘Folk of all kind’ Scottish typology in the Hillhead Subway mural. There it is titled: ‘Native Musicians’.

    Which begs this question: who am I to rewrite the prose of Alasdair Gray? I took that title and transferred it to the album for that reason, and also because short, punchy titles work well. The balance of the title establishes lineage with the first album, ‘Bella Caledonia: Songs for Scotland the Album’.

    Moreover, there is an element of double entendre in play: the songs featured are by a cross section of musicians from highlands and lowlands, and as well, from England and Senegal, from Kingston, Jamaica… but they all live here now, and all are ‘native musicians’. Alasdair’s civic nationalism (and mine) is about the governance of small, manageable countries by all of the people living within their borders — to replace the current lethal system of mega states, ’empires’, ruled by far distant elites.

    A good article appeared today in The National about one of the ‘native musicians’ on the Songs for Scotland 2 album, Brina. She’ll be performing tomorrow, and she’s just amazing!


    1. Wul says:

      Thank you for taking the time to reply Kevin.
      Your reply reassures me. I don’t have any problem in celebrating & enjoying the talents of people who live in a particular place. It’s an essential part of any community. I was just worried by any potential suggestion that “we” are always better than “them”. I can see that that is not what is meant here. Great to see that people from all over the world, who have chosen to spend time here are welcomed.

      And how indeed can you muck about with Gray’s work?

      I am very appreciative of Alistair Gray’s work; got the books, posters, been to the exhibitions etc. I wish him the longest & sweetest of lives and I hope the event went well.

  3. Sarah Jo says:

    What annoys me about ‘civic nationalists’ is the poverty of enquiry and the total refusal to engage with the paradox and confusion of their position. And the way they patronise ‘the other’ by their faux inclusiveness – oh look little alien English person from Blackpool, you too can join our exclusive little community, so long as you agree with the collective and shut up and agree with our vision of complete political separation.

    The notion that a nationalism (in this case Scottish) has no appeal to ethnicity when it simultaneously appeals to culture is absurd – collective culture always has had an ethnic/ historical component. Besides, the real distinction is not ‘civic’ or ‘ethnic’ but of exclusivity and inclusivity, of fundamentalism and pragmatism, of whether it assumes superiority over culture and history and identity (as Scottish nationalists like Alistair Gray do – Songs for Scotland? Really how many did you ask, not me, not my songs – I prefer the Stone Roses.) or allowing an open society that is cosmopolitan and fluid and that accepts multi level governance and shifting culture and identity.

    Put simply, I do not want to live anywhere that has been ‘imagined’ by Alistair Gray or any other self appointed custodian of Scottish culture (which seems to actually be middle class West of Scotland Byres Road culture) stroking their chins in Oran Mor. I have my own imagination (admittedly not great) where I’m happy living – preferably in the most convenient open society possible.

    Some great ‘civic nationalist’ projects of the past in no particular order.

    1) The Jacobin ‘civic’ terror – see the Vendee.
    2) The civic basis for Roman citizenship – except for the Carthaginians etc etc
    3) The ‘civic’ nationalism of Mao’s multi ethnic China – every ethnicity welcome so long as you do as you’re told – The cultural Revolution was ‘civic’.
    4) The ‘civic nationalist’ Macarthyite witch hunts – not remotely concerned with ethnicity – black, white, Jew where equally persecute for being ‘un-american’.
    5)The ‘civic nationalism’ of the USSR and socialist project – nothing to do with nationality according to the rhetoric.
    6) The ‘civic nationalist’ roots of India and Pakistan – both huge multi ethnic entities – didn’t stop 1 million people being killed during partition (ask Ghandi).
    7) The ‘civic secular democratic’ nationalism of Isreal – for which the term was first coined by Hans Cohen. It’s curious how people who waves Palestinian flags in support of Scottish Independence forget that the only country in the middle east that has a secular constitution and a ‘civic nationalist’ narrative is Isreal. There are Isreali Ethiopians, Arabs, Americans etc etc.
    8) The nationalism of Ataturks Turkey had it’s root in Ottoman civic multi ethnic practices (hence the reason Kosovans are European yet Muslim) – was initially entirely constitutional and ethnically inclusive yet led to the Armenian genocide.
    7) Serbian nationalism began as a ‘civic project’ multi ethnic and focused on institutions as a means to nation build vis a vis the Austro Hungarian empire.

    and so on…

    Also the denial of shared historical community is absurd. There are traditions, there is culture and there are shared identities, this is not the problem, this in fact should be celebrated – the problem comes when it is politicised, when the few assume ownership of the ‘culture’ and make it ‘exclusive’ and impose it on the many or over the individual and refuse to acknowledge the contingent overlapping nature of that identity, or the contingent nature and fluidity of political and social organisation. The latter is known as Cosmopolitanism. Unlike the absurdity of ‘civic nationalism’ Cosmopolitanism does not deny the attachment people have to shared history and identity. It simply refuses to make it the primary source of identity, authority and power.

    And finally this conceit – ‘to replace the current lethal system of mega states, ’empires’, ruled by far distant elites.’

    Aside from sounding like something Nigel Farage would say it is laughably A historical. The most progressive and stable, non violent periods in history have overwhelmingly been under the ‘pax’ of various loose Empires that facilited the coexistence of many identities through overlapping inter-changable political power. The most violent periods have consistently been at times of fragmentation and exclusivity of power into small units.

    Perhaps we will see this for ourselves as ‘Pax America’ retreats as does ‘Pax Europa’ and we all split into our own petty little fiefdoms, until the new world order – there is always a dominant power arises (China or Russia?). Then we will be ‘imagining’ Scotland in Vladimir Putins vision.

    E.g) The Waring States period or multiple other periods of fragmentation in China compared to the stability and extraordinary progress of Tang dynasty. Or a more recent example would be the collapse of Yugoslavia, or the collapse of the British India and the conflcit that followed or the confederation of native American nations, or for that matter the 70 years of peace of the European Union.

    This is not to say that Empire is best (that depends on the dominant power), it is just that small nations are no better – see Game of Thrones if you don’t like actual history.

    Oh and if Burns had moved to Jamaica he would have been a slave owner or slaver (that was his intention – to make a fortune out of the suffering and misery of others for his own profit) at a time when the righteous abolitionist movement was centered on Westminster, Wilberforce and the unionist Tory party/ unionist Calvinists in Scotland. The Slave’s Lament is pitiful in it’s inadequacy compare to others writing and campaigning of the time. ‘A man’s a man for a that’ except it seems if you were black.

    Inconvenient but true. Sorry to burst your pious bubble.

    Enjoy your Native Songs, for Native People.


    Try reading Bernard Yack – is intersting.

    1. Alf Baird says:

      With respect, this sounds like the incoherent ramblings of a dejected British Nationalist, fully aware of the impending end of the inherently one-sided ‘union’ of England and Scotland.

    2. Wul says:

      What annoys me about “civic unionists” is that they never address the central questions which make me seek an independent Scotland:

      Why is it that even though the majority of people in my country consistently vote left, we are mostly ruled by the right?
      What means, Sarah Jo, are available to the majority of people in Scotland to influence who runs the country they live in?

      In order for the above questions to be valid, you need to first accept that Scotland is indeed a real country. Perhaps that’s where we differ? I see Scotland as an actual country and potential state. You maybe see it as just the northern part of Great Britain. If so, I can understand your blindness to the desire for many Scots to have a degree of control over Scotland.

      Regarding your list of crimes committed by so called “civic nationalists”, I see far more potential for that type of aggression & violence in the union-flag wearing, nazi-saluting supporters of “togetherness” who celebrated in Glasgow’s George Square after winning the 2014 referendum.

    3. Marcia Blaine says:

      Enough of this nationalist voodoo. Lets all just sing a round of Freedom Come All You and be done with it.

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