Nigel Gatherer's Mandolin Diary
Saturday January 24th 2004
Burns Night, Killecrankie
For the second year in a row I was in Killiecrankie witnessing a very fine Burns Night while being part of the entertainment. I was part of a trio with my regular guitarist Sam Gifford and a fine singer living in Perth called Andy Stewart. We sang and played some of our favourites, such as Aye Waukin O and Anna (or Yestreen I Drank a Pint o' Wine, which I adore). Sam and I did an instrumental during Ca' the Yowes, later the piper confessed it "near made me greet!" - we assumed because it so beautiful. Other entertainment included Ron Greer's excellent Tam o' Shanter, and we basked in the friendly glow of a community event.
Once the entertainment, eating, addresses, etc was done, Sam and I were asked to play for some dancing, which we hadn't prepared for. The mandolin was no use (we were playing acoustically), because its sound would not have been heard over dancing feet, so I was glad I had my penny whistle with me. I hastily scribbled down a few sets with keys so that Sam could busk along, and set about blasting the hall with sets suitable for The Gay Gordons, Dashing White Sergeant, Strip the Willow and waltzes. It seemed to work a treat, and it was wonderful for me. I always like playing for dancing, but there was something about our paired-down sound which gave me echoes of times gone by. There I was in a village hall playing for the local community with nothing but a penny whistle. I saw that it doesn't really take much to help create community spirit, and it's something that we've been doing for centuries.
The whole event was thoroughly enjoyable and, more importantly, very satusfying to me as a musician.