Everything in Moderation

Doing a lot of reading just now.

After the 2016 Danish ‘Hygge’ thing that we all fell in love with, I’ve been reading more about the Swedish lifestyle of ‘Lagom‘, which in a similar way is about making positive life choices and trying not to be excessive in things, enjoy each moment for what it is and be more aware of it.     So recently, we’ve also been trying to be better at spending time with kids outdoors and being more in tune with the world around us, from walks in the countryside, visiting nature reserves and simply feeding birds in the garden and being more aware of the natural world.

Between balancing a marriage, a working life, three children, and any kind of social calendar and personal hobbies and interests, it can be difficult to find place for it all and time.   But we’re trying.

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Festival Season is Over. . .

Thats the festival season over for another year for me.   I was quite late in getting to festivals, mainly because I was normally more interested in going on holiday around the summer months and so missed out on them.    Over the last few years I’ve been lucky enough to be able to visit some of Scotland’s best offerings as part of my job in music.

I’ve came to know Belladrum quite well – The Tartan Heart Festival in the glorious highlands of Scotland.   A nice family vibe with plenty to see and do, a real feast for the senses all around with some great bands through the years.    We’ve also been lucky enough to be able to give some live opportunities to some of the young artists we work with on the music project.

We’ve also become regular visitors to The Great Escape in Brighton, another wonderful festival that is actually overwhelming with the amount of talent and bands on offer everyday, I’ve saw some incredible bands and music industry panels at this festival.   An absolute gem.

This year I managed to secure some tickets to take the family (Joan, Amélie, Leo, Nina and Myself) to Electric Fields in Drumlanrig Castle Estate down in Dumfries.   This felt like a much smaller affair but with some excellent acts and a real cool family vibe and we met some absolutely lovely folks there enjoying the festivities.   I hope to go back next year.

Sneaking Out The Back Door

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Well I never been good at goodbyes
I’m gonna sneak out the back door
Nobody can say that I didn’t try
Gonna sneak out the back door
Let it ride, let the whole thing slide
Drift far from the shore
Don’t wanna be missed
Didn’t even exist
I’m gonna sneak out
Sneak out the back door

And when my life is over
I’m gonna sneak out the back door
Before the mood turns sober
I’m gonna sneak out the back door
Hadn’t much of a “Midas Touch”
No luck to be sure
Would you give my regards to the people in charge
While I sneak out
Sneak out the back door

A perfect goodbye to an old family friend.   Everyone has that family friend that you can call your ‘uncle’ or ‘aunt’ even though they are not related by blood, they are always there, and always great fun to be around.   This was Jim, he was uncle Jim and Aunt Marilyn (and Bob, Mitzi, Jura and Jess – the four legged friends).

The memories I have of my younger days of being up in Aviemore will always be a part of me until the day I sneak out the back door.   We often stayed with them in Glenmore in the summer as children and young adults, we watched movies with them, we went walks with the dogs, we travelled throughout the highlands, we enjoyed the holiday photographs on the large projector, we were captivated by the long conversations about live and recorded music.

Only recently after having Amélie and Leo I saw a different side to Jim, I saw a more fatherly side to him that I had never noticed with the dogs.   He was caring and held my children with so much love.   Perhaps he knew he wouldn’t be around for ever, and so had to take these times as precious as we all should remember to.    I’m so glad my children were able to meet with Jim, Amélie was so sad at the funeral, she was very fond of him and “He made her laugh”.   She’ll miss him dearly as will we all.

I am glad and honoured to have known Jim, the gigs I attended with him were always excellent and they always remained the best gig he had ever been to, until the next one.

We were lucky enough to catch many gigs throughout Celtic Connections as well Oh Susanna, Neal Casal, Josh Rouse, Hazy Malaze, Slaid Cleaves, Tom Russell, Ravi Coltrane, and many many more. . .  So, now its time to say Goodbye to an old friend, I’ll always take his memory to gigs he would’ve been at, and I’ll always cherish the times we shared.

See ye up the road ya rascal mccaskill!

Belladrum

Our annual trip to Belladrum – The Tartan Heart Festival as its affectionately known to all who travel up to Beauly, just outside Inverness.    This year we had real difficulty securing accommodation within our budget, and so jokingly suggested hiring a camper van.   As it turned out, it was the best option and we decided on a Rollerteam 694 which was perfect.

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One of the great parts of my working life is that I get the pleasure to work with and meet some very talented young musicians, singer songwriters, performers and people who are keen to be involved in the music industry in some capacity.    This year I had the pleasure to invite some of the acts to play at Belladrum.   I could imagine being 16 years old and being on the receiving end of that email and being asked to play my first festival.   It was great to offer this opportunity to these talented young folks.

We set off from Ayrshire, and took to the road on a beautifully sunny day and as we approached Pitlochry we had a stop with some coffee and switched drivers.   I took the spell into the highlands as we headed through Inverness into the site where we picked up our production passes.    An evening of cards, and beers as we listened to the end of the set by the Proclaimers.

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Over the weekend we managed to catch so many acts, all of the Music Plus acts included Hollie Atkinson, Alice Bentley, Michiel Turner, Jemma Tweedie, Beautiful Expectations, Chainsaw Tea Party, Something Someone, The Elephant Sessions, Josephine Sillars, Aylee and many more.   We caught Prides, Fatherson, Man of Moon, KLOË, King Creosote, The Mirror Trap, Martha Reeves & the Vandellas, Neon Waltz, Honeyblood, Hector Bizerk, Findlay Napier, and Model Aeroplanes.

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Leaving the site on the evening of the Saturday after the mighty show by Fatherson was a wise and calculated decision and allowed us to get all the way down through Aviemore to spend the evening on the banks of Loch Morlich before heading home in the morning to return the motorhome.

Commonwealth Games and Other Short Stories.

Its been quite a while since posting anything really, well except the frequent 140 character tweet, random Facebook post or mildly humorous youtube clip, so I thought it was about time I did a proper catch up.   This is really for me to mark time, and simply take stock, but its cool if you’re interested too.

So, I’ve just returned from taking Amélie (now two and a half years old) for a wee walk around our neighbourhood and now enjoying the smell and taste of a 12 year old Highland Park complimented by warm string sounds on the fantastic new album ‘Lights in the Sky’ by Peter Gregson.   Its a good time to post something.

// Commonwealth Games

Firstly, the Commonwealth Games have now left the wonderfully proud city of Glasgow.   What an excellent time we had.   We were lucky enough to catch the rhythmic gymnastics on day one, and then see my good friend and colleague Louise Mather compete for Team Scotland in the weightlifting.   Over the two weeks of the games being hosted here, we managed to get out to see loads of great events during the festival that surrounded the sporting events.    We visited the newly refurbished Kelvingrove Bandstand, Glasgow Green, and some events further out in the city.   Some of the best bits were; Remember Remember, Rachel Sermanni, James Grant, Commonwealth Youth Dance Festival, James Yorkston, Errors, and Admiral Fallow.   And all for free.

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// Music Plus

Many of my closest friends and even family members often ask me that dreaded question everyone who works in music is terrified of, “So, what is it that you actually do?”

Over the last year, I’ve been more involved in the national music mentoring project that I work on as a coordinator.   Through hiring someone else to take on most of the admin side of the project, it has allowed me more time to do some of the actual mentoring, and throughout the year I’ve come to realise that its that part of the job that I love the most.   Hearing the music and ambitions of young people becoming something.   Offering advise and a helping hand.   Listening to problems and difficulties whether music related or not.   Its been a great time of learning for me as well as the talented young people I work with.   I have the unique opportunity in my job to programme some excellent events and workshops and have the privilege to have met and worked with some wonderful people throughout the last few years of doing it.

“So, what is it that you actually do?”, Did I not answer it?

// Two Men on a Boat

Another piece of work I am proud of taking part in was the recent album by Findlay Napier and Chris Sherburn.   I was asked by Findlay if I would be able to design the artwork for the album, and the theme was all based around a boat, well the album is called ‘Two Men on a Boat’, so I used the photography they had from the recording sessions and turned it around for them.   I was proud to see the final result, and the album is great too.

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// A Beard?

Yes, I had given into the trend and decided to grow a beard.  A belter you might say.   It didn’t go down as well as expected with family and friends, Joni didn’t mind it, Amélie liked it i think, and I loved it.  So its off just now for the summer holiday to Kefalos in Kos we are preparing for, but I’m sure it will be back in time for winter.   It turns out I shave more when I have a beard too, mainly to keep it tidy and be absolutely sure that people understand that its a BEARD, and i’ve not just been lazy with my shaving routine.

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Lastly, I’m still keeping up with cycling to work everyday, its a 15 mile commute (return) so it keeps me fit and saves me a fortune on bus fares.   I also love the way cycling makes me feel, I have more energy, I can go at my own pace, I feel the sun on my face and the rain on my back.   Also, over the last few months I’ve been exceptionally lucky.   I’ve won a track pump from the Glasgow Bike Station, and a Tokyo Bike.   Both are very handy.

Well, nearly lastly. .  We’ve also started listening to vinyl at home.  I can highly recommend it, it keeps you in the same room and forces you to listen and not watch TV or skip tracks on your CD or iPod.    I’ve also began reading a great book on the early days of soul called ‘Sweet Soul Music’ by Peter Guralnick.   We’ve also been really enjoying the TV series of Fargo.

Oh, and I’m voting YES in the Independence Referendum.

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 Until we meet again. . .