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Nigel Gatherer's Mandolin Diary



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May 2000

BBC Music Live

In BBC Music Live, the emphasis is on live music (no surprise) and it tries to encourage everyone to have a go at music. Many, many people get involved, from Elton John to Josephine Bloggs.

This year in Scotland we had Martin Taylor, jazz guitarist extraordinaire, who produced a guitar festival in his home town of Kirkmichael, Ayrshire. We had a clarinet duo who played in 26 interesting places round Scotland, each starting with a different letter of the alphabet. We had a choir at the Forth Bridge joining in with the rest of the UK with Lou Reed's "Perfect Day", which has become Music Live's theme song. I've been quite active in the events. On Tuesday I played live on Radio Scotland to publicise various happenings in Edinburgh. On Friday evening, I played my last gig with The Skeerwud Band in the glorious setting of the Royal Scottish Museum.

On Saturday the ALP Scots Music Group, who put on many adult evening classes in traditional music, had planned a mass picnic, with hundreds of our students having a huge session in Princes Street Gardens. Unfortunately the heavens opened in the morning a poured May's quota of rain in one morning, so we made alternative arrangements to meet in a hall. The atmosphere was great: more than a hundred folk crammed into the hall playing Scots music and dancing. Derek Hoy led us off in a couple of tunes (Fingal's Cave and Sean Trews - these tunes were chosen for beginners to join in on - having practised for weeks!).

The weather cleared up a bit and we marched down to the local park to attempt a very long Strip the Willow (I'd estimate there were more than sixty dancers in the line, with about 25 musicians playing My Darling Asleep/Miss Campbell of Sheerness/Jig o' Slurs/The Jig Runrig over and over. Then I led the stragglers in a big session. All in all, it was a great success. It might have been better in Princes St, with the public more able to join in, but it's hard to think of how it could have been better for the participants.