It's been a while since i've done an audio-blog, so I thought i'd mix things up a bit, and do a recording while having a walk around Eigg with my son on my back. This is a bit more of a podcast than my previous blogs ... it's an experiment more than anything else. Fans of heavy breathing will find much to enjoy here.
i’m communicating to you, live from the Planet Eigg, in these early, bleary eyed days of 2016. Do you receive me *cough* loud and *splutter* clear? Good
2015 was a pretty intense year. In October, I became a father to a small boy called Arlo. Freaky, eh? Freakier still, it was pretty much exactly a year ago that I found out that this was going to happen. Yeah - i knew all along! The entire year! Thing is, despite this more-than-adequate preparation time, and even taking into account his subsequent late arrival, when he finally emerged quite literally drenched in blood and shit, I was in shock. Now he’s 13 weeks old, and i’m still in shock. Although we’ve cleaned off a bit of the blood and some of the shit. I can’t quite believe it’s all happened.
But, it has happened. It has. And, 12 months ago, when I knew it was going to be happening, I set myself 3 tasks to accomplish by the end of 2015.
1. Pass my driving test;
B. Move into our new home on Eigg; and
3. Finish a new album
And - i’m pleased to tell you - I’m sat, here, in my new luxury Bullseye winner prize caravan, with a clean driving license, AND an even cleaner, shiny, sparkly new album. BOOOOOOOM. AWWOOOOGAAAA. YAAAAASSS.
Well, it’s quite shiny. We’re just sorting out the final mixes, and it’ll need to be mastered after that. But THEN, THEN it will be shiny. And new. I’m not going to talk about it too much just now, because I’ll get too excited, and spoil the shiny newness of it. Plus, i need to work out how to play the thing, live.
Thankfully, i’m off on tour with some nice men - James Yorkston & Withered Hand - throughout January, which will give me a chance to work out how to perform some of the new songs. This will be a fun tour - it’s like the one I did with Sweet Baboo, where we each take it in turns to perform songs. I’ve done loads of touring like this, with James. I hope our in-jokes won’t scare Withered Hand off. The shows are all taking place in Ireland and Scotland, and you can check out all the tour dates in the gig section of my webshite. We’ve released some session videos, too - where we’re each playing together, and dressed up like an amateur dramatic version of Last Of The Summer Wine. I’m Compo, obviously. Dan is Foggy. And James is Nora Batty. I’ve attached the vids in the blog.
Soooo, aye. I’ve got this tour in January, and then i’m back home to look after Arlo and put together a plan for the album. I need to ask myself some questions. Things like … ‘what song should be put out first?’, ‘what should the artwork look like?’, and ‘am i going to fit into these tight leather trousers?’. Questions like like that.
Speaking of questions, a LOT of people have been asking me about whether or not there’ll be another Howlin’ Fling on Eigg this summer. Pretty much every day they’ve been asking that. For the past 3 months. We’ll be making a proper announcement about it on the Lost Map website in the next week or so. What i CAN tell you is that there is definitely going to be something happening this summer. In fact, we’ve been putting together a plan for the next few summers. Becoming a dad has meant that i’ve had to try and make more effective use of my time. I’m sure you know already, but putting on a good, memorable event, is really, really important to me - I wanna make sure we do it right.
Before I go, I want to tell you that we’ve a load of great stuff coming up on Lost Map - including the release of an EP by a new signing, Victoria Hume. Her Closing EP is mesmeric - really intimate songs on piano and guitar, with some incredible cyclical arrangements. Perfect for cycling. Victoria’s voice and lyrical style alone is enough to draw you in. We’ve got Tuff Love’s album coming out at the end of this month, too - a compilation of their 3 EPs, entitled Resort. It’s like ABBA Gold for indie fans, every song a belter. For me, they’re the best band on the planet - just so many great tunes. They’re on tour in February, and I implore you to see them, so that you can fall in love with them, and we can start a fanclub together.
Christ, i’ve started lactating … so i better go. Come and see me on tour this month, look into my tired, tired eyes, and give me a hug.
hallo my very special peeps,
wipe that drool from your eyes, and lick your salty moustache - it’s the pictish trail, here. good moaning.
if you are in possession of any of the human senses, or even just an accurate calendar, you’ll have noticed that summer is in full swing, toplessly sunning itself into oblivion. have you burned yourself, yet? crisped up your skin all nice? have you?
I haven’t. I’ve stayed largely in-doors. I think i was at Glastonbury a few weeks ago, but it’s all a bit of a haze. I remember being in a car for hours upon hours, and then needing a lot of sleep when I arrived home ... so I must have been at Glastonbury. I’ve got a tattoo on my inner thigh that says “I met the Dalai Lama”. Not sure how that got there. Actually, it’s a bit smudged. Maybe it says “I met the Lilly Allen”. Good times.
This past weekend, I was up on the isle of Iona - playing at the Village Hall Music Festival, a two-day event curated by Roddy from Idlewild. I’d never been to Iona before. It was very pretty. Like a posh version of Eigg. A Gent’s Eigg, if you will. Mmmmn. Really cool place.
I was up there playing a Pictish Trail gig - which i’ve not done too many of, this year. I’ve been cutting back on playing shows, taking most of this year off from performing live ... my focus is getting the new songs ready for the next album. It’s definitely coming along - i’ve got 9 tracks in the works at the moment, and hoping to get a few more songs together this month. Recording sessions have been taking place in short blasts throughout the year - I record with the producer for 2 or 3 days, then go into an incubation tank for a few months, and torture myself with my own music until it’s acceptable for human consumption. It definitely won’t be out until 2016. At the earliest.
Anyway, aye, I was up on Iona at this festival ... and had a really good time playing. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed acting the arse on stage. It’s a great laugh - was a fun audience, too. So, yeah - I’m looking forward to doing lots more gigs when the new album is ready. Until then, though, i’ve only got FOUR things on the Pictish calendar for 2015: Deershed Festival in July, Lost Map’s Howlin’ Fringe in August, Green Man Festival, and the Moseley Folk Festival in September. That’s it. (Although there might be a Xmas thing ... but that is it).
I want to tell you more about Howlin’ Fringe, as it’s the only Scottish show i’ve got lined-up this year. It’s an all-day music party taking place in Penicuik Town Hall, from 3pm til midnight, on Saturday 8th August. It’s kind of a Lost Map showcase, i suppose. Those of you who have followed my career over the past decade or so (gasp!) will be aware that organising events like this has played a big part in who I am as a musician - getting to play with my pals, and celebrate each other’s music whilst imbibing a cold, delicious and reasonably priced lager flavoured beverage. More importantly, it’s a fun way of meeting and hanging out with the folk who have supported our releases - it’s what Home Game was built on, back in the Fence days ... and it’s carried on through to our Lost Map events like Kid Canaveral’s Xmas Baubles, the Randolph’s Leap event I Can’t Dance To This Music, and our Howlin’ Fling! festival on Eigg.
I’d love to be able to do Howlin’ Fling! every year on Eigg - but it’s a pretty exhausting project, albeit a really special one. So, like the Away Game before it, it’s something we’re only gonna do once every two years. At most. There’ll be news on the next one later in the year.
Howlin’ Fringe, however, is a more intimate satellite event - and it’s about showing off what great music we have on the label, as well as inviting some close pals. I always think of these events being like the parent’s night at school, where your folks would visit your teachers and get an update on what you were up to in class, and then you’d get fucking whalloped when they got back home. It’s one of those where we’re each presenting some of our new work, and our best work - and then we’re going to whallop each other.
I’m not sure how i’m going to do my set, yet, cos I’ve not really worked out how to play the new songs, properly. There’s a lot of vocals going on, so i’m experimenting a bit with layering vocals on top of one another, triggering samples and stuff. But maybe i should just try cloning myself? I’ve got a month to figure it out. If you’re listening to (or reading) this blog, and you look like me and have a great voice like me, and you love working for next to no money, and you would like to be a Pictish Trail clone singer, then please pop me an email. Usual address.
The venue is a really beautiful hall, in Penicuik - which has two spaces. Upstairs we’ll have some music and comedy, and downstairs we’ve got some really amaaaazing food being served - covering all dietary needs - courtesy of our pal Austin. There’ll be some weird stuff going on downstairs too ... but there’ll be more info about all that later. We’re running the bar, and we’re going to keep prices as cheap as possible. So it should be a fun day. Come
Tickets are £15 at the moment, but they're gonna go up to £18 in the next week or so. £18 is still pretty cheap, i think.
Right, i’ll get going. Thanks for listening. Check out the other bits and pieces on the Lost Map site to see other people who are going to be announced. We are going to do a special thing with each announcement to remind you of our faces.
Right. I'm off. Bye. I love you.
It’s a Sunday. We used to always to go to church on a Sunday. 11 o’clock, every week, for an hour. Although it felt much longer than an hour. I stopped going when I was 15, and the intervening years of Sundays have usually been replaced by hangovers. Which is a sort of penance in itself, i suppose.
I don’t have a hangover today. I’m thinking about all those years of going to mass, though. Mostly the sharpness of smells. That potent mixture of mustardy incense, Dad’s honking 80’s aftershave, and the eye-watering stench of stale urine from the obese lady who always sat in the pew in front of us. Poor woman. It’s funny how the memories of smells can take you back. Smellories. Smemories.
I’m back up on Eigg. Back in the caravan, at last. The fire is roaring, the wind outside is blasting, and I am heaving huge sighs of relief. Been away for the past couple months, on the mainland, doing meetings, attending gigs, making plans, doing label stuff. Eating inordinate amounts of orange-flavoured chocolate digestives. It’s been a busy time. And it feels good to be back. The change is immense. I sleep better, I eat better, I even get out for a walk from time to time. I feel gooooooood.
What have I been busy doing on the mainland? Working on my Lost Map label, mostly. One of our bands, Tuff Love, just had a record come out - and it’s been really well received, getting tons of play on radio, coverage in the press, and the band have had some packed out live shows, too. On top of that, there’s a fantastic new album from Rozi Plain coming out in May, and i’ve been immersed in getting that ready, as well. All of this requires meetings. And lots of them, with lots of different people. Industry people. Chatting and planning. Channing. Having cups of tea. Channing some more. There’s a bit of me that thinks I coulda done all this channing via Skype, from my caravan … but it’s important to be there in person, I suppose. If the Tuff Love launch parties hadn’t gone well, and I hadn’t been there, I would’ve blamed myself for not working hard enough. Plus, I woulda missed some great gigs.
That’s most of the channing done, now, though.
Inevitably, what with all this Lost Map stuff, Pictish progress has been a bit slow. I’ve had only one day in the studio so far this year, recording a new song. I’m due to start recording again in about a week, though, before heading out on tour for a string o’ dates with my good pal, Josie Long. We’re playing Mull, Skye, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stockton and Kendal. Some of you might remember that I did a tour with Josie a few years ago … over 4 years ago, in fact. Touring with a stand-up comic is quite nerve wracking. Folk tend to want to hear jokes, not plaintive ballads. BUT it’s good to have a challenge, and Josie’s audience tends to be quite a broad minded, cool bunch, so it’s not too intimidating.
Anyway, just wanted to check in and say hello. I’m trying not to do too many live shows at the mo’ - but there’s a few festivals that have been confirmed, i’m doing two shows with Rozi Plain up in Elgin and Aviemore in May as part of the Spirit of Speyside festival thing … and there’s the Deershed Festival in July. There’s one or two other festivals confirmed too, but i’m not allowed to say just yet. So, aye, come along to the Josie Long shows if you fancy a blether, or a spot of channing.
Right, I best be off. Thanks for the smemories. Smell you later …
I’m so glad you could join me for another blog. Thank you for listening / reading / sniffing.
Ooh. And what is that smell? It’s the smell of 2014 - which has almost shat it. And what a fragrant year it’s been.
Cheers to everyone that came along for the Pictish Baboo Sweet Trail tour - it was great fun. So many memorable gigs, which is a feat in itself considering how much booze I imbibed. I’m surprised i remember any of it. I really loved it - it was fun getting to play some new songs, too. I think Sheffield and Cardiff were my favourite two gigs of the tour, probably the year … although Manchester was a top laugh, and York and Margate too. Ach, they were all good. Apologies we didn’t make it down to Exeter - Baboo got a deadly illness.
We’re reuniting for one more show, next month, as part of Celtic Connections in Glasgow. It’s the last Pictish Trail show i’m doing for a wee while. I’ll still be doing bits and bobs, but i’m concentrating on getting the album finished.
I’m back in the caravan, on Eigg, now - preparing to herald in the new year. I’m going to be celebrating by drinking large quantities of strong booze. Topless. Yes, i’ve already got my boobies out.
It's the end of the year, time to take stock. The best music this year, for me, was released by my label Lost Map Records. So of course i’m going to recommend the following new releases …
Tuff Love - Junk E.P.
Randolph’s Leap - Clumsy Knot
Insect Heroes - Apocalypso
Rozi Plain / Rachael Dadd - 7” split single
and all the Lost Cat stuff we released. More of that to come.
… 2015 promises a lot of good stuff, in fact. Rozi Plain’s album is a thing of sublime beauty, and we’ll have some news about that on the Lost Map site in the next week or so. Tuff Love’s second EP is out in February - you’ll hopefully have heard lead single, ‘Slammer’, already. It’s the first single from Lost Map to have reached the 6Music B-List, which is a maaaaassive step up for us. It’s well deserved, too - Julie and Suse have been gigging hard this year, and their new EP is really great. Lots of fun songs on it. Lots of fun.
Seamus Fogarty spent a lot of 2014 in front of his laptop, and his new recordings blow my mind. Really good stuff. Insect Heroes have had most of their second album ready for the past year so no doubt that’ll emerge soon… and Randolph’s Leap have just been in the studio, as have Kid Canaveral and Monoganon, and i’m really excited to hear all of that too. The whole Lost Map family are keeping busy. So that’s nice.
But here’s my top 10 of stuff that was not released by Lost Map …
The EP / mini album by Happy Meals called Apéro is really good. I love that record, it’s really nice. Have been listening to that on my new record player on Eigg, which i’ve just set up. Exciting.
My favourite electronic release of the year is by a Welsh dude called R.Seiliog - the album is called In Hz. It’s really mesmeric. Fans of FourTet, Gold Panda and some of the Border Community stuff, i think you will enjoy that.
Mac DeMarco - Salad Days - i love that record. A friend of mine said "you can’t like that album cos all the songs sound the same". But that’s why i like it.
Alexis Taylor’s album - the guy from Hot Chip, he did an record called - Await Barbarians, and i really love that. That record kinda made even more sense to me when i saw him perform it live with a band. The album is really great, it’s a lot of songs that are so minimal they feel like they could collapse at any point, they’re quite fragile. But it’s strength is in his lyrics and his voice and it carries the whole thing. It’s made a big impression on me, that album.
Recently i’ve been listening to this EP by a band called Winter - who released a collection of 6 songs, put out by GoldFlakePaint (a blog based in Glasgow), as part of a series called Beautiful Confusion. This Winter one is really good. I downloaded it earlier in the year, but didn’t listen to it until recently, and then i was like ‘oh yeah, it’s goooood’.
Other things i’ve enjoyed … Jane Weaver - The Sliver Globe is really great. So many different styles going on. We listened to that a fair few times on the car stereo in the Sweet Baboo-mobile, over the tour.
Caribou - Our Love is brilliant.
Angel Olsen - Burn Your Fire For No Witness is brilliant.
François & The Atlas Mountains - Piano Ombre is briliiant.
and H.Hawkline, Huw, is a guy from Wales who has been signed to Heavenly Records, and they put out a compilation of his earlier stuff called Salt Gall Box Ghouls, which is psychedelic and lo-fi. Fans of Lone Pigeon will enjoy, i think. His first album proper is coming out next year. This current compilation you can download for free, here. So you should do it.
I really liked that self-titled Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy album, but I just realised that was released in 2013. Oh. Courtney Barnett’s stuff too.
Ok, i’d best go and blow me nose.
Thanks for listening to this blog. I’ll be back some time in January or February.
I love you.
Good afternoon. Are you sitting, constable? Then i’ll begin. Welcome to the third Pictish Trail blog.
So what’s been going on since my last entry? Well, I’ve been around the world and I, I, I, aye, I, eye, I can’t find my baby. (Lisa Stansfield, what terrible parenting). By which I mean, i went on a short tour around France (with a stop off in Holland at the end). I was accompanied by Kate Canaveral (my driver), Brendooon (my drummer), and Tuff Love (my fitness instructors). And it was great. The shows were all really nice, people bought records, there was some dancing, i loved it.
They do eat a lot of bread. Lots of bready products. Brendon renamed breakfast ‘Breadfast’ on account of all the baguettes and croissants we digested.
I was on French telly the other week. A few filmmakers came up to Eigg earlier in the year, and filmed all the islanders. They decided to do an interview with me on the morning after the biggest party on the island. Needless to say I don’t look my best, and I’ve not received a ton of offers for me to return to France any time soon. Oh dear. Pardon! You can see a video of the tv show embedded in this blog.
Since getting back to the UK i’ve been working on a few things. Went down to the London the other week and did some new bits of recording, for the Pictish record. Feels like we’re almost a 1/3 of the way through it - i told you it would take a long time. But i’m really happy with how it’s going. Hoping to do some more recording this month.
As most of you know, I run a wee record label called Lost Map. We’ve just had our first Lost Map Hallowe’en party, which was great fun. I went as a dead BeeGee, but most folk reckoned I looked like a sweaty darts player. I’ve just recently finished reading Martin Amis’s London Fields, so that comparison made me feel a bit sick. I looked at myself in the mirror, sweating booze, and caught a whiff of Keith Talent.
I’ve been working on a new section of the Lost Map website, which is called … wait for it … CLUMPS. I insist that you go and check my CLUMPS, immediately. It’s kind of a web-magazine for all things to do with the label and the collective. In this first issue there is a free 9-track sampler to download, featuring music from all the artists on the label - most of it rare and exclusive. There’s also a short film about our Howlin’ Fling festival, and a Hallowe’en scented podcast from eagleowl. There’s more stuff coming in the next week or so, so don’t be afraid to return.
Now i’m getting myself ready for some more touring. I’m travelling to Germany, next week - doing some Pictish Trail shows in Berlin, Hamburg and Freiburg. Then there’s a small solo Pictish show in Edinburgh on November 19th, before I head out on tour with Sweet Baboo from November 27th onwards. Starting in Margate. Beautiful Margate. Please come and see us! We’re playing Margate, Birmingham, Brighton, Southampton, Bristol, Sheffield, Hebden Bridge, London, Reading, Cardiff, Exeter, Leicester, York, Manchester, Wakefield, then up to Kid Canaveral’s Xmas Baubles in Edinburgh, and then finishing the tour in Aberdeen on the 14th December.
These shows are gonna be fun. I love Sweet Baboo - if you don’t know him, he’s an incredible singer songwriter from Wales, with the wit of an old wise man, and the soft supple skin of a young boy. We’ve been pals for awhile - in fact, he produced my last album. For this tour, we’re gonna be on stage with each other, playing along on each others songs, tickling each other ivories, and having a laugh. I’m in the process of making a Lost Cat cassette tape for this tour, with a bunch of old and lost pictish recordings - so it’s worth coming along for that alone. Mmmmnn.
Ticket sales are fine at the moment, y’know … neither of us are Jon Bon Jobby Jovi … but we’ve sold some tickets. If you’d like to see us play, and you haven’t bought tickets yet, you should buy some advance tickets. I say this cos I know what it’s like promoting gigs, it’s always a bit frightening not knowing how many folk are gonna come along. I’ve noticed that, for a lot of my shows over the past year, a large proportion of tickets are purchased on the door - and lot of my friends have said the same about their shows. I guess folk are being a bit careful as to how they are spending their money, waiting til the last minute to see if they can afford it. Which is totally fair enough. All i wanna say is that a lot of the shows on this tour are in small venues run by independent, DIY promoters, and it’s a nice feeling for them knowing that folk are going to come along, makes things less stressful. We’re playing a lot of different places on this tour - something like 17 shows!? - and so if you were planning on coming to any of them, a good way to support your local music scene is to buy tickets in advance. It’d be lovely ta see ya.
Riiiight. That’s my admin work done. I’d best get back to working on some new songs. I’ll probably be back in touch post-tour, for a pre-Xmas massage.
see ya babez,
Welcome back to thepictishtrail.com. I hope you’ve supped up the dregs of your warm milk, and dabbed the corners of your creamy mouth, because it’s time for Blog #2. You can choose to read this blog, or listen to it using the SoundCloud link above - perhaps before you go to sleep so that it permeates your dreams.
Today’s the big vote in Scotland. I’m fully in support of independence, and I really hope it happens for us. I guess we’ll see the results tomorrow morning. There’s been a lot of talk over the past few months about this debate, and I don’t think there’s anything I can add to it. I think I would have liked to have seen a third option on the ballot paper, though. Not ‘Devo Max’ … no. I would like an option for Scotland to be invaded. Invaded by somewhere like Iceland. The people of Iceland are clean living, got lovely hair, and they like a good hot thermal spring bath. Iceland should come over here, ransack and pillage, and give us a bit of a salty-soap detox. But that option isn’t on the ballot paper, so i’ve gone for ‘YES’ instead.
It’s been a fun month, though I’m feeling pretty homesick. I’ve not been on Eigg for two months, cos i’ve been gigging and writing and recording and eating across various locations. Not only am I homesick, I think i’m actually sick. My throat is killing me - the past few morning’s i’ve woken up feeling like i’ve scrubbed it with a cheese grater. Covered in nettles. I’m feeling ill because I was drinking whisky FULL PELT at the weekend. I’d been playing a Pictish Trail full band set at a wedding, which doesn’t happen all that often - but was great fun. I got to do some DJ’ing at the end of the night, too, with my pal Bart from eagleowl. I love DJing with Bart. He turns into a wee ginger monster when he’s on whisky, though, and the marital party were plying us with the stuff. We were asked to close the night by playing the bride’s favourite pop song from her iPod … but Bart was insistent on the last song being ‘Got Your Money’ by Ol’ Dirty Bastard. The fact that he’d played out this exact track about 10 minutes previously didn’t seem to deter him. Thankfully I managed to push him off the decks before he hit play.
Anyway, aye - a fun month. Green Man was fun. Big fun. Cheers to everyone who came to see us play - was enormously exciting to play in front of such a full tent! We arrived on site about 30 minutes before we were due on stage, so were inevitably quite sweaty and flustered. For some reason I thought it was a good idea to serenade the crowd in between songs with a rendition of Mulligan & O’Hare’s haunting religious ballad ‘The Day The Donkey Derby Came To Town’. I normally reserve that song exclusively for those in the North-East of England. I was just trying to buy time whilst tuning my guitar. Apologies if I baffled anyone. Apologies also to anyone i inadvertently bruised whilst flailing my fat limbs to Caribou.
Right, back to admin. Despite the best advice from my dietician, there’s been a lot on the Pictish plate, of late. Went down to London last week to start recording some new Pictish Trail songs. I feel a bit self-conscious talking about them, cos it’s going to be a LOOOOONG time before they see the light of day. If you’ve been to my Facebook page, though, you might have caught a glimpse of who i’m working with. It’s going really well - we tracked three songs in three days, which is exactly the start I had hoped and dreamed for. It’s got me geared up for the next session, which is mid-October. I enjoy this approach to recording - spreading out small sessions over a long period of time. It means the actual recording process is really intense, and instinctive … but it also gives you time to reflect on the recordings in between sessions, allowing you to prepare for any edits and changes you want to make. For me, having this long gestation period is the ideal way of working. Unfortunately, it means you’re going to have to wait a fair bit before you hear any full songs, though. Soz.
Now i’m back in Edinburgh for the week, and getting ready for some gigs - i’m playing Stirling on Saturday, as part of a Lost Map showcase with Rozi Plain, Rachael Dadd and Tuff Love … and then i’m down in London, singing as part of James Yorkston’s full band show on September 25th at Dingwalls, before going off on tour around France. I’m taking Tuff Love with me, as well as my Eigg-man drummer Brendan - with Kate Canaveral on tour manager duties - so it’s a bit of a Lost Map road-trip. If you’re from Saintes, Paris, Dijon or Colmar, come and see us play! If you have pals over in Saintes, Paris, Dijon or Colmar, tell them to come and see us play! If you fancy treating yourself to a French holiday, come over to Saintes, Paris, Dijon or Colmar and see us play! The dates & venues are all listed on the SHOWZ section of this website.
Another month, another video - and if you go to the video section of the site (or the bottom of this blog post) you’ll see the new promo for my song ‘The Handstand Crowd’, which was filmed up on the isle of Eigg over our Howlin’ Fling festival weekend, by my pals The Forest of Black, and is a teaser of sorts for a longer film which is gonna come out at the beginning of next month, hopefully. Have a look at that. See if you’re in it. You might be in it. You might be in it getting all pissed up on booze and smoking a fag. Or you might be the person who is lying in a ditch. If that is you, if you could have a word with yourself, that’d be good.
OK. No time to tell you to buy tickets for the Lost Map Hallowe’en Party, or Kid Canaveral’s Christmas Baubles, or even Insect Heroes album launch … i’ll talk to you about all that next month, when there’ll be a clearer sense of desperation in my voice due to lack of sales.
Hey there, I’m the Pictish Trail. Thank you for tuning into my blog.
If you’re new to me, i’m pretty much a human who plays music. That pretty much covers it.
So i’ve put together this brand new website. I thought i’d tryyyyy something a bit different, but maybe it’s just the same as a million other websites, featuring chubby men with beards. For my continuing irregular series of blogs, I’m going to attempt to do this spoken-word thing, or provide some sort of audio content, alongside a typed-up version. It’s an experiment, so it might not last … but i wanted to try it out, mainly cos sometimes reading stuff on the internet can be a bit tiring. I don’t know about you, but my laptop screen is a constantly buzzing rectangle, that burns into my eyeholes for up to 12 hours a day, constantly trying to distract me from reading more than two consecutive paragraphs with web-links mid-sentence and pop-up email notifications every five seconds. I decided, by having some audio - which you can choose to listen to while reading it, or have on in the background, or download and listen to with a steaming hot mug of Horlicks - might make all the “news” a bit easier to ingest.
And also, in all seriousness, i thought it’d be good thing to do for the blind.
In the background you can hear some instrumental stuff that i've had kicking about on my laptop. Hopefully future blog recordings will prompt me into putting more new music out there. Ooh.
At the moment, i’m at my sister’s place in Edinburgh, having a cuppa tea and sorting through a month’s worth of missed emails, and catching up on accounts. Y’know - good ol’ creative shit. I’ve managed to see a few shows on the Fringe - i’d highly recommend Josie Long, Conor O’Toole and Robin Ince's shows. Mmn.
Anywaaaay - I should stop pissing about, and get through some admin. This particular blog entry has been a long time coming. To be honest, I’ve kind of been avoiding it, cos i wasn’t sure how i could encompass all my thoughts on Howlin’ Fling - our Lost Map Records festival, held on the island of Eigg last month. The whole weekend was just phenomenal, and the most perfect end to the first year of Lost Map. Every aspect of it - the music, the people, the weather, the atmosphere, the food, the boozin’, the dancin’, the craic. It was the best. It’s a difficult thing to sum up without getting a bit poetic (pretentious) or emotional (sappy).
If you want to dip your toes into the love-fest, there’s been a bunch of great reviews, and a heap of photos posted online, too - i’ll put links at the bottom of the blog. Our pals at Forest of Black are currently working on a video of the event, which i’ll post up as soon as it arrives.
Before I go any further, i need to do some THANK YOUS. I can’t really express my appreciation enough for all the hard work that everyone put in to make the weekend happen. Having said that, I realise it’s incredibly boring when someone reads out a list of platitudes directed at people no one else really knows.
First and foremost, I wanna give a big shout out my peeps on Eigg - big love to Sarah and all the Boden family; humungous hugs to Maggie & Wessy and the Eigg Community Association; fist bumps galore for Lucy & Eddie who were a huge help with the ferry sailings; mad props to Greg, Brendan and Dean for sorting out the firewood; extra honourable mention to Dean for getting into his pants to sort out the water supply; Donna the Piper, big up yo’self for dealing with all the recycling bags; high-fives to Saira & Katrin (Eiggy Bread), Dan (Hebridean Larder) and Stuart (Galmisdale Café) for providing amazing catering; cheers to Phil & Clare for the emergency cups o’ tea; thanks to Ben and Joe for the backline and beautiful hair; thanks to George, Paloma, Gary, John, Chris, Colin and everyone else who helped us erect the marquee and build the stage; thanks to Tasha and all the Eigg volunteers who joined in, too; thanks to the Kirks for keeping the shop open, to the doctor, all those that provided accommodation and everyone else on the island for being really patient, and entering into the party spirit.
Now for the non-islanders! Endless thanks to Kate Canaveral for all her hard work. Also our fellow Lost Map pals, Malcolm Jack and David Galletly, too - it’s great to be part of such a fun, excitable, energetic and attractive team. Thanks also to the Lost Map crew - Randolph’s Leap, Rozi, Insect Heroes, Seamus, Tuff Love, Kid Canaveral, eagleowl and Monoganon. I love you all. Thanks also to Kirsty and Laura for organising our volunteers, and while i’m at it, thanks to the volunteers an’ aw! Matthew Ferrie organised all the PA equipment for the weekend, and it was easily the best sounding event i’ve been involved with - which is in no small part due to the stalwart efforts of Robin, Sam and Paul on the sound-desks. Jonah’s indestructible marquee was perfect as always - thanks for all your help, man. Austin & Jess from Where The Monkey Sleeps went to gargantuan efforts to make sure everyone was fed, and, along with all the island catering, made incredibly tasty meals. Raise the roof for Sam Hunt at Homecoming Scotland, and to the folks at Creative Scotland who gave us some funding. Raise a dram to Ronnie and the Sheerwater crew who took everyone across.
Standing ovation, please, for all the musicians and DJ's that played - there were no diva strops, no crazy demands, no djembe solos. It was totally perfect.
I must have missed a million people out. I guess this is indicative of the kind of event it was - there was so much help from everyone. There’s nothing like putting on a great party with your pals.
Ah - the dolphins! A round of applause for the dolphins!
I’m about to head off to the Green Man festival, which - despite the fact it has no dolphins - is easily one of the best festivals in the world. It’s my favourite, in fact. I’m playing a Pictish Trail set with my band of Eigg-men - plus new recruit Suse, from Tuff Love - on the Thursday, in the Far Out Tent. I CANNOT BLIMMIN' WAIT. It’s the last full band show i’m doing this year - apart from a show up in Arisaig on the 6th September, actually, but i don’t have full details of that yet.
After that i’m doing a few appearances with James Yorkston - 24th August in Edinburgh, and 26th in London. And then later in the year, i’m doing a European tour with Tuff Love and then a Xmassy tour around the UK with my old recording buddy, Sweet Baboo. Go to the ‘SHOWZ’ section of this site for more details on all of that.
I’ll leave you with the news that i’m starting work on recording the next Pictish Trail album at the end of this month, which i’m excited about. I won’t go into details just yet, cos there’s not much to tell you … and this audio blog thing has been long enough already.
Thanks for listening / reading. There’s not been many jokes in this one. Sorry.
Now close your eyes, lick your lips. Good night.
PS. Oh oh oh! I have just remember a little PS. We've done a music video for the song Long In the Tooth, and it was directed by Ryan Eddleston at Howlin' Fling. We did it during the afternoon - jumped into the back of the pick-up truck and drove around. So yeah, watch that - it's being shown exclusively on thepictishtrail.com