Stencilling in turn of the century Glasgow

Saturday June 11, 2016

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Victorian Glasgow was a great place to be for artists, rich industrialists were in abundance and they were keen to patron the young budding talents, fresh out of the newly opened School of Arts and Design. But, while fine art painting and the Glasgow Boys were always a big favourite, young architects and designers managed to grab their share of the fame. Those wealthy patrons needed temples of abundance to show their success and in the manner previously used by the princes of the Renaissance they made sure to secure the best architects, artisan, craftsmen and artists to complete magnificent mansions in glamorous places such as Parc Circus in the vicinity of the newly landscaped West end Park… only a step away from the Gothic tower of the University of Glasgow.

Glamorous periodical published lavish descriptions of those mansions for all to marvel. The Art Journal, The Baillie, and others compete to get exclusive rights to describes such carved marble fireplace, such stunning wall decoration designed by the young talents such Charles Rennie Mackintosh or George Walton. Business owners like Miss Cranston opened amazingly designed Tea rooms where all could enjoy a high tea in themed rooms adorned by amazing stencilled decoration.

Yes stencilling was at the high of fashion !

Stencilling is the technique of transferring  a pattern through a pre-cut template has been used through the ages by many civilisations for hundred of years to decorate interiors in ancian China, create the most intricate indigo fabric in Japan, produce shop signs in Africa and so on… it is such a flexible process that it has been used for hundred of years by many trades.

But in Art Nouveau Glasgow… stencilling was a unique opportunity for young designers to complete schemes in their own style or the style required by their patrons without having to rely on a printed wall paper designed by people like William Morris. And young designers seized the opportunities offered by this medium to make up grand rooms by their private patrons and fantastic ones for their business ventures.

Period magazines describe the colourful schemes in Miss Cranston’s willow tea rooms, I have in my research times uncovered some more discrete but also very beautiful unique schemes long covered.

Because of course, Victorian followed fashions very avidly and wall treatments however beautiful they were had only a short live. They were painted or papered over very quickly replaced by a more up to date scheme, and its only by accident that nowadays schemes come back to life. They are in great demand by “conservators to be” or new owners of Victorian properties who want to recreate original schemes in their newly bought properties. I have spent the past 16 months re-creating stencilled schemes in a George Walton house from 1903. Those were beautiful designs, unique and partly fresh under the paper and paint but not fresh enough to be revived. 

The Victorian West end of Glasgow is a mine of stencilled sources. It was built just at the right time but they are not all grand. In many occasions it will be a small classical border out of a pattern book applied to a complete building by a painter and decorator. In conversions appartments, new owners might find a more intricate scheme if they have purchased the old grand showy dining room of the house. You never know … the first owner of your property might have had a deep friendship with George Walton or Charles Rennie Mackintosh and he could have had designed for him a very unique set of motifs. Keep an eye opened when you strip off wall paper. Walton at the turn of the century was well known for getting on the steps himself putting an overall on and “having a go” specially when he worked for Miss Cranston on her unique rooms.

The Mitchell library in Glasgow has a great number of sources to be found if you care to search long enough. A number of years I found there a copy of a painters manual from the turn of the century, “Stencilling for Craftsmen” was describing in great details how to produce a stencil plate and coat it in linseed oil to avoid the paint from destroying it. As well as how to mix pigments with medium to achieve the best finishes. You see there is no need to give into the modern Chalk paint or the very expensive small pot of Stencilling paint. Basic materials are the best ! But if you are into reproducing your own stencilled scheme you should take care to get yourself the best brush as even in those days the short hard bristle brush were said to be the best to use.

I have set up The Lansdowne House of Stencils in the West end of Glasgow over 25 years ago with the aim to research and renovate some of those stencilled schemes. Freshly graduate out of a Christie’s Decorative Art course I had the chance to find my way into a few building sites crowded with workmen with hard hats. There I saw quite a few bits of stencilled decorations coming out of the woodwork when the tiles come down or the wood partition. Over the years I have been involved in recreating long gone schemes for exhibitions or historic houses including The House for an Art Lover. 

The excitement I felt the first time I discovered a little piece of stencilling behind a partition has never gone, a bit like a modern time archeologist I hunt the Glasgow West end for discoloured painted figures to record them. And then back in my studio I cut a fresh template made of yellow card, the smell of linseed oil comes out strong and fresh. The tool is ready to be used. The forgotten design has found a second life. I record my schemes and research in my blog www.thelansdownehouseofstencils.com

 Periodically I run workshops to pass on the knowledge and share the experience and I am always so excited to see the same enthusiasm in participants who may have just discovered a little bit of a pattern while taking wall paper off inside a long forgotten cupboard.

During the West end Festival i will be running a one day workshop at the Mackintosh Church on the 16 June on using historic stencils to decorate your own home, we will work with Glasgow Art Nouveau patterns. For details and bookings see the West end Festival brochure under “Stencilling Mackintosh".

 Guest blog post by Elisabeth Viguie-Culshaw, The Lansdowne House of Stencils - Glasgow

 

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The multi-faceted benefits of Transcendental Meditation

Tuesday May 31, 2016

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Whatever your particular health concerns or New Year’s resolutions may be—sharper memory, lower blood pressure, less stress … conventional wisdom leads a lot of us straight to the gym. But decades of research paints a fascinating, promising picture of what an effortless relaxation technique called Transcendental Meditation can do you for instead—without setting foot on that treadmill.

Yep, we said effortless. Transcendental Meditation, or TM, is 20 minutes, twice a day, of profound rest and relaxation, according to its fans. Meditators use a mantra to guide their minds to a place of stillness that (apparently!) exists within all of us—we’re just too stressed and stretched too thin to know it’s there. If the goings-on of our buzzing, frazzled minds are like the waves on top of the ocean, the inner quiet is like the silence at the ocean’s depths, says Bob Roth, executive director of the David Lynch Foundation, which brings TM to at-risk populations like domestic abuse survivors, inmates, and inner-city students.

You can do TM anywhere, but you’ve got to learn how first, typically over 4 consecutive days for about an hour to an hour and a half at a time, Roth explains, and from a certified teacher. It doesn’t require any particular religious, spiritual, or intellectual belief—even skeptics are welcome, he says.

Sitting comfortably, meditators close their eyes . “You think the mantra in a way that serves as a catalyst for the mind to turn within,” Roth says. That’s it.

Roth’s been practicing TM for more than 40 years now, and the research supporting his practice has been going on for about as long. Some of the latest, most intriguing work is expected to wrap up this year (which should make for some welcome support for next year’s resolutions).

Even soldiers meditate

Funded by a $2.4 million grant from the Department of Defense, it is examining over 200 war veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. The vets have been randomized to one of three groups: One receives traditional treatment for PTSD, a form of cognitive behavioral therapy called prolonged exposure therapy, which involves addressing specific trauma events and the negative thoughts, feelings, and behavior associated with those traumatic exposures. Another participates in a health education program, learning about lifestyle changes they can make to manage PTSD and promote greater overall well-being. The third is trained in TM.

All three groups will have 12 sessions with treatment providers over a period of 3 months. Then researchers will compare the changes in their trauma symptoms, explains Sanford Nidich, EdD, the study’s principal investigator and a professor at Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, [Iowa] where students get a “consciousness-based education” and everyone—students and faculty—practices TM.

So far, Nidich says, the veterans are fairly regular with their TM practice in the study. “They’re finding it’s easy to meditate,” he says. “In general, studies have found that psychotherapy can sometimes be rather intense, whereas TM is something the veterans and active military really enjoy doing and typically see immediate benefits.”

Another recent PTSD study, funded by the David Lynch Foundation, found that TM helped decrease medication use among military members with the condition. After a month, nearly 84% of the 37 meditators had stabilized, decreased, or stopped anxiety meds, while about 11% increased their dose. Among the 37 who didn’t meditate, 59% were able to stabilize, decrease, or stop their meds while 40.5% had to increase them.

Similar research has found that TM helps to reduce trauma symptoms among prison inmates, and while very few of us have spent time in combat zones or behind bars, few of us avoid trauma altogether, either. TM reduces feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression among caregivers and feelings of burnout among teachers. It’s been shown to mitigate stress among earthquake and tsunami survivors and improve quality of life among women with breast cancer. 

By now, most of us are pretty willing to accept the idea that 20 minutes or so of quiet time will undoubtedly be relaxing.

But the stress relief of TM is truly physiological, explains Normal E. Rosenthal, MD, a clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University Medical School and the author of Transcendence: Healing and Transformation Through Transcendental Meditation, as reported in a small study that found increased blood flow to the brain during meditation.

“It seems like the brain is being nurtured with blood, with all the nutrients that keep people going, to a greater extent during meditation than during a non-meditating state,” he says. He calls TM a sort of “surge protector.” Consider the hallmark jumpiness of people with PTSD, for example.

“That’s evidence the sympathetic nervous system, the fight or flight response, is excessively cocked,” Rosenthal says, like a burglar alarm that goes off every time you close the door a little too forcefully. “TM makes you less reactive to stimuli, so if you have a pang or crash you won’t go into a panic.” We don’t entirely understand why, but TM seems to readjust the sensitivity of your alarm.

Granted, that isn’t really enough to replace going to the gym (sorry), but TM’s clearly got potential. “It belongs in the toolbox of health,” Roth says. He calls upcoming research on TM’s effects on the brain “the new frontier,” and there’s still a lot we don’t know about TM and how it affects the brain.

TM increases Brain Wave Coherence

We do know that it promotes what’s called brain wave coherence, when essentially more regions of the brain sync up and chug along together. “These areas are in some kind of harmonious relationship with one another,” Rosenthal explains. Greater coherence is in turn thought to lead to calmness, intelligence, focus, decision-making—you get the picture. “People frequently have the experience that after meditating, a problem is resolved,” he says. “Our understanding is that these brain regions are cooperating better with one another.”

Greater coherence shows up in the brains of new meditators while they’re practicing after just a few weeks of TM, but long-term meditators show these effects even when they’re not meditating. “As meditation continues, coherence moves into non-meditating hours,” Rosenthal says.

In fact, long-term meditators also show different responses in their brains to physical pain even when they’re not meditating. In a study of a small group of healthy, middle-aged adults, researchers found a 40 to 50% reduction in the brain’s reaction to pain after 5 months of TM when the participants were not meditating.

Those long-term meditators also might live longer. Recent research shows that TM—and other stress reduction techniques, too—increases the activity of telomerase, an enzyme that rebuilds and lengthens telomeres, those disease-mongering ends of our chromosomes that otherwise shorten with age. It also seems to lower blood pressure as effectively as medication. Older research found a 23% decrease in mortality risk among TM practitioners because of the lifesaving effects of stress reduction alone.

TM’s star-studded list of supporters know all too well about those big wins. About a year after Ellen DeGeneres started meditating, she said she “can’t say enough good things about it.” In 2014, Jerry Seinfeld said of his 40-year practice, “You know how your phone has a charger? It’s like if you had a charger for your whole body and mind.” That same year, Jim Carrey delivered the commencement speech at Maharishi University of Management. Oprah visited the school in 2012: “I walked away feeling fuller than when I came in, full of hope and a sense of contentment and deep joy,” she said of the experience, “knowing for sure that in the craziness of the world that seems to bombard us at every angle, there is always the consistency of stillness.”

Guest post by Iain Campbell. Full event details here.

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Carol Laula plus support at Woodend Bowling and Tennis Club

Tuesday May 31, 2016

Scotland is famed the world over for its exports and one of its finest has to be singer-songwriter, Carol Laula. With a style which bobs around somewhere between the sweet, clear delicacy of Joni Mitchell and the tougher edges of Joan Armatrading, it's hardly surprising that she's risen from a young unknown to become a household name. She first captivated the media and her audience in 1990, when her independent single, 'Standing Proud', was chosen to represent Glasgow in its year of culture.

The same decade saw Carol team up with Stuart Adamson to produce a series of songs that will no doubt be seen as a legacy to the talent of the late Big Country singer / songwriter. Carol has also collaborated with Jane Weidlin of the Go-Go’s, Ryan Hedgecock of Lone Justice and Australia's Cheryl Beattie.

The noughties shaped up to be another busy decade her. As well as touring new areas such as Iceland, she has performed across the UK and Ireland with Eliza Gilkyson and appeared at Glastonbury - something of a highlight, where she shared the bill with Billy Bragg.

With seven albums under her belt and another eagerly anticipated album due in 2016, she still stirs critics to describe her as "One of Scotland's leading singer-songwriters" and "an undeniably passionate and whole-hearted singer".

Carol is a great live performer where she truly feels at home; chatting between songs and even encouraging the audience to make requests. It would strike fear into the heart of most seasoned performers, but Carol has good reason for the structure of her shows;

"It can be quite disappointing when you see someone perform live and then they act all precious on stage, taking themselves terribly seriously.

"No, I really want to make the live side of my work that little bit special and accessible to those who take the time to come along to the shows - that way, I get to enjoy it too!" (Carol Laula)  

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Woodend Bowing and Tennis Club

Tuesday May 31, 2016

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A great double bill coming up at Woodend Bowing and Tennis Club in Jordanhill on the 23rd of June featuring two great female singer songwriters, Hannah Aldridge and Lilly Hiatt

Hannah Aldridge

There are few artists that can truly encapsulate the essence and true range of Americana like Muscle Shoals artist Hannah Aldridge, whose musical pedigree precedes her and speaks for itself.

Hannah Aldridge is the daughter of Alabama Music Hall of Famer Walt Aldridge, who is one of the most prolific songwriters of the modern musical era.

With sounds ranging from blues in the Mississippi Delta to the dusty, Dixieland jazz sounds from New Orleans, the musical stylings of Muscle Shoals on up to the primitive roots of American Country music, Hannah Aldridge leaves no inspiration or influence untapped.

Hannah debut record “Razor Wire” has received outstanding response across major mediums (Billboard, American Songwriter, No Depression, Americana UK, Maverick UK, …) and fans all over the world.

 Working on a new record – to be released this year, she is coming to Glasgow in order to showcase the new songs and greet our city with new material.

Lilly Hiatt

Lilly Hiatt is the daughter of John Hiatt and her second alum Royal Blue, is about the majesty of melancholy-or, as she explains it, “accepting the sadder aspects of life and finding some peace in them.” A dance between pedal steel and synths, the album examines the vagaries of love and commitment but steadfastly refuses to romanticize any notion of romance. Singing in a barbed lilt full of deep worry and gritty determination in equal measure, she conveys emotions too finely shaded to be easily named, yet will be familiar to any listener who’s had their heart broken-or has broken a heart.

Lilly Woodend 23 June

 This is, in other words, not a well-behaved singer-songwriter album. Instead, it’s feisty and rough-around-the-edges, full of humour and bite and attitude from a woman who proclaims, “I’d rather throw a punch than bat my eye.” Royal Blue hints at autobiography without sounding self-absorbed, as Lilly transforms a rough patch of life into smart, sturdy, sometimes even hilarious songs that don’t sit squarely in any one genre. Instead, Royal Blue reaches out boldly and playfully into many different sounds and styles: Austin folk rock, Pacific Northwest indie, pre-Oasis Britpop, New York punk ca. 1977. There are ’90s alt guitars and ’00 indie synths, some twang and some Neko Case and Kim Deal.

Doors at 8.00 and Tickets £12 from Tickets Scotland.

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The Mighty Fine Lobey Dosser

Tuesday May 31, 2016

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The Mighty Fine Lobey Dosser show for the 2016 WEF as well regenerating the legendary characters in Bud Neill’s cartoons also celebrates a variety of associations with the artist.

The Pearce Institute based in Govan reconnects Partick with Govan as they were one burgh when Bud Neill was born here in 1911.  The Lobey Dosser show is also a contribution to the annual Govan fair.

The Dram! In Woodlands Road has been the home of a yearly celebration of Bud Neill for many years and it is in close proximity to the bronze statue of Lobey, Rank and El Fideldo, currently removed for repair.

Partick Brewing Company, is close to the full size bronze statue of another character from the Lobey Dosser cartoons, the GI Bride and Wee Ned her baby son, located inside partick SPT Railway Station. The pub owner also contributed to the cost of the statue.

The spirit of the wit and humour of Bud Neill inspires the story for the new cowboy comic misadventure called ‘Lobey Dosser in Showdown at the last Chance Saloon’. However for those who seek some historical understanding of Bud Neill’s  interest in ‘Westerns’ I have rounded up some info and ideas for your consideration:

 

The Comic Art of Bud Neill and the Western film:

Bud Neill (1911-1970) created in Sheriff Lobey Dosser a comic strip legend for the readership of the Evening Times (1949-55), which has survived the test of time, because it was fun blend of everyday Glasgow attitudes, illustrating dramatic adventures of life in a Wild West cowboy township, the classic image of the ‘Western’. Bud’s graphic art tales spiced a marvellous combination of humour and sharp wit, which has gripped the imaginations of his readers ever since. He captures in cartoon art the attraction of being a pioneer in a new world where the individual could make a difference. In Scotland today are many social clubs and events that celebrate the ‘Western’ aesthetic. One of the best known Glasgow’s Grand Ole Opry has had its spread in Govan Road since 1973, and it maintains I high standard of entertainment in its weekend Country and Western music and dance shows. It provides a link between ‘Western’ culture today and the 1940s, to help seek the reasons why Bud Neill imagined, in subtle black & white art, a pioneer cowboy Sheriff who would become a ‘mighty fine’ legend of popular culture in the city.

Lobey _Dosser _3

Mighty Fine:

 In the six years that Bud Neill drew his daily cartoon strip the readers of the Evening Times, and a wider audience in The Daily Record and the Mail on Sunday into the late 1960s, grew to love the Sheriff and his posse, they could relate to Bud Neill’s art because, as a former Corporation of Glasgow bus driver, he drew on personal observation of street life in the city and used his understanding of art sharpened by his training at Glasgow School of Art. He added this knowledge of Glaswegians to a fantastic Wild West location, yet one easily understood by the popularity of cowboy films at the cinema. Bud Neill, in addition to his catchphrases ‘ho hum‘ and ‘mighty fine’, created a world of names and characters that then re-entered mainstream conversation in Glasgow: Fairy Nuff, GI Bride, Rid Skwerr, Rubber Lugs, Toffy Teeth and Rank Bajin. His characters often came from districts of Glasgow inc: Calton, Govan, Partick, Springburn and Yoker.

The first daily news of importance in reading the Evening Times was to study the latest form of Sheriff Lobey Dosser. It was in the adventures of this laidback and unlikely lawmaker and how he overcame the criminal schemes of Rank Bajin, that a warm humanity was communicated - a refreshing tonic - for a people still living with the harsh living conditions of post-war austerity and rationing. 

Lawman v Lawbreaker:

But what did Bud Neill communicate: What is it about Lobey Dosser that tapped into the hopes and ideas of post-World War Two Glaswegians and what is it that new generations of people find fresh, funny and alive. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, with limited Television, going to the cinema, for all the family, was one of the most popular forms of entertainment, and that films about ‘Cowboys and Indians’ were crowd-pullers.  Cowboy adventures offered an escape from the daily grind because they allowed viewers access to a life where the individual could take some control of their life. Although the difference between good and bad tended to be shown as opposites, the fairness of the Sheriff - the law-keeper - always struggled against the overwhelming odds of the outlaw and often the corrupt criminal activities of rail and cattle barons. The cowboy hero of Bud’s youth was William S Hart who’s most famous silent film was ‘Tumbleweeds’ of 1925. This ground-breaking cowboy film also contained a comic side kick called Kentucky Rose who has some visual similarities to Lobey Dosser, and the story of settler pioneers must have planted seeds of ideas in Bud’s imagination. Two cowboy films of 1939 that Bud would have known ‘Dodge City’ and ‘Destry Rides Again’ are stories of how unusual people rise to the challenge of being an honest sheriff - a fair lawman - and clean up the town. These films reflect the mood of why the war, if it came, had to be fought by individuals who believed in freedom and fairness who had to defeat Nazi dictatorship.

Humour v Conflict:

However, in the post-war era, Bud Neill found an alternative way to illustrate the eternal struggle between fairness and injustice, not just repeat dramatic adventures like the war comics, The Commando or Battle, or the gunfights of wild west tales in cowboy comics: Instead he was to use his understanding of art and compassionate humanity to invent a new fresh humorous and charming adventure series that transcended the evil consequences of conflict. In an original formal style of light and shade Bud Neill used his art and imagination to create Sheriff Lobey Dosser as a most un-Hollywood hero; he was short and dumpy with a long straight whiskers, poor dress sense and the clumsy tackety boots of the working man; but if long suffering, a resourceful and fair character, who had as his target, greed. It is a notable coincidence that the Glasgow comic strip adventures of Sheriff Lobey Dosser, matched in purpose the new American TV show ‘The Lone Ranger’ 1949-1957. In a post war appetite for peace, both stories shared a desire to limit violence and, instead of guns, use as a new weapon of choice, reason and wit to overcome anger and greed. A competing TV show ‘The Cisco Kid’, 1950-56’, also had a different way of solving conflict, they cracked corny jokes! Whilst ‘The Cisko Kid’ and ‘The Lone Ranger’ with other inc ‘Hop Along Cassidy’ were home grown American cowboy heroes, Lobey Dosser was a Scottish settler hero elected as sheriff, because of his sage leadership of the wagon train, by the pioneer populace of Calton Creek, Arizona, USA. This township in the Wild West cowboy prairies was founded by a wagon train of settlers from Calton, adventurous souls from the East End of Glasgow. The settlers of this new frontier town were now in the legendary Wild West of such infamous outlaws and gunmen as Billy the Kid, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Jessie James and the resilient ‘Red Indian’ Native American fighters against injustice inc, Cochese, Crazy Horse, Geronimo and Sitting Bull. The new citizens’ of Calton Creek had many difficulties to overcome, despite being in a place with the healthy air of the open prairies and the warmth of desert landscapes, new hazards lurked around every stage post.

Ho Hum:

Although surrounded by natural dangers and two Native American tribes, The Pawnee – later renamed the Layabouts - and the Blackfeet, the real threat to peace came from the mysterious outlaw and wannabe criminal mastermind Rank Bajin, who is obsessed with making lots and lots of money by lying, cheating and stealing in what he thinks, is a very clever manner. The origins are unknown of the very bad man, the outlaw, Rank Bajin; but the clue to his character is in the name. However the good man, the law-keeper, Lobey Dosser, came from the most unlikely of heroic origins; the clue in his name was the Glaswegian slang for homeless people who slept in closes, which confirmed his lowborn origins. Lobey Dosser’s dramatic life story is illustrated by Bud, who ultimately reveals Lobey - who has transcended the difficulties of his origin - is now a fair minded personality who retains his Glasgow humour along with his accent. In contrast, the arrogant Rank displays his superior education through a sophisticated use of over-polished English. However Lobey Dosser was not to face this tricky criminal alone, ho hum.

Heroic Horses, Hi Ho:

Great cowboy film characters often had, as a companion, free-spirited horses: ‘Silver’ was the name of the Lone Ranger’s horse. ‘Trigger’ was Roy Rogers ‘Four Legged Friend’. Another period example is ‘Champion the Wonder Horse’ who befriended a wee boy and with him had lots of adventures.  Lobey Dosser ‘the wee boy’ has a rare breed of horse called El Fideldo. However Elfie had an original disadvantage over the horse TV and film stars of his time, he was a twa-legged friend!

Lobey’s Contemporaries:

Cowboy and cowgirl film stars that illuminate the heyday of Sheriff Lobey Dosser are worth recalling, some of the better known are: Gary Cooper in ‘High Noon’, Doris Day in the musical ‘Calamity Jane’, Betty Hutton in ‘Annie Get your Gun’, Alan Ladd in Shane, John Wayne in ‘Stagecoach’, James Stewart and Marlene Dietrich in ‘Destry Rides Again’, Audie Murphy in ‘Destry’, and Errol Flynn in ‘Dodge City’. Bud Neill, a cowboy star in his own imagination, did, by creating Lobey Dosser and posse, add a Scottish artistic contribution to the intriguing personalities these stars represented on screen. It is worth noting that he also included the musical element, often having snatches of film and pop songs included in the scenarios as an added layer of meaning to the jokes.

Bud Neill, A Pencil Sharp Wit:

The scene is now set for a posse of characters to engage in a series of showdowns between, on the one hand, the law-keeper, Sheriff Lobey Dosser, and on the other, the crook, Rank Bajin. To summarise the effect of these stories: Hold on to your Stetsons and let the fun begin as you will witness a battle of wits between right and wrong, a satire on fake attitudes - sometimes off planet - that will entertain, engage thought with songs and jokes, stimulate the imagination and quite possibly liberate some laughter from the jail of everyday concerns. 

Bud Neill rode off into the sunset in 1970, but his comic creation Sheriff Lobey Dosser has lived on in the imagination of the citizens’ of Glasgow and in those who discovered and relished his many subtle meanings. Three collections of his cartoons have been published in book form by Ranald MacColl in the 1990s, two bronze statues have been financed by public subscription and situated in public spaces; Lobey and Rank on El Fideldo - currently removed for repair - in Woodlands Road by the entrance to Park Terrace, in 1992; and The GI Bride, in Partick SPT Railway Station in 2009. A ‘Lobey Dosser Day’ folk music event held at The Dram, supported by Michael Dale of the West End Festival c2008-2014 and organised by Ian Black: A five minute video of a musical and visual blend of trumpet composition by John Maxwell Geddes played by Nick Walkley and illustrated with Bud Neill’s art in the reform of Rank Bajin in 2012 (on youtube): A one hour play by ‘Mighty Fine Theatre’ where Lobey and posse were regenerated in a new adventure called ‘Bud Neill’s Lobey Dosser Rides Again’ at Partick Burgh Halls in 2014 (on youtube). Throughout all these events The Grand Ole Opry has stood since 1973 as a bright beacon of those values that Bud Neill admired - many Opry-ans  attended the unveiling of the Lobey statue. All this activity reveals an impressive record of support for Bud Neill’s artistic creativity, and a reflection of post-war values.

Full events details here. Six performances. Tickets £5.

Guest blog post by Duncan Comrie. 

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Why are you playing in a wee cycle shop cafe?

Monday May 9, 2016

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Glasgow in the summer time is a special place. Aside from the weather  I'm talking places to eat, attractions to see, parks to walk in,  and so many interesting things to peruse. And there are Musicians to watch! Wait a minute. That's a novel idea, and something Glasgow excels at.

I was taking these photos, when a 'Glesga' man comes over and says “Hey Big Man.” - in Glasgow, all males are 'Big Man'.  “Why are you playing in a wee cycle shop cafe?” I admire his honesty and he's looking at me as if I've just told him I don't like chips. The conversation didn't go much further but it did make me think that I should tell you all why we're playing Siempre.

These days I love playing in a space where people can come along and enjoy listening to music. After all, isn't that what every musician anywhere in the world is trying to do? To find an audience and be listened to?  Quirky spaces and different environs to listen to performances is the way forward for me.  It becomes unique when it's a small and intimate place, not only for the musos, but for the audience too. It becomes  a one off and everyone feels part of the performance. It's memorable and special. That's the idea anyway.

There are so many so-called gigs out there.  Some are fine but, as a general rule, attempting to control a room of people who are trying to get served alcohol when I'm armed only with an acoustic guitar is no fair match. Ask any performer. The bar always wins, we sing louder, they talk louder and before you know it I'm hoarse, they're pissed and we all end up with sore heads.

When I was asked to be part of the West End Festival I didn't have to think too hard about it. It's always a privilege to play in your hometown. I've watched the festival grow and love the way it has become a big part of the Glaswegian Summer.

So, come on then and be part of my summer in Glasgow. Sit down and enjoy the music in a lovely place. Have a coffee, a glass of wine, a scone or two and we can all get to know each other. That's how it should be. 

Click here to read more about the event and buy tickets.

Guest blog post by Graeme Clark, Wet Wet Wet.

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West End Festival Entertains 125,000

Sunday June 28, 2015

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Photo credit John Linton


The West End Festival, which celebrated its 20th anniversary this year, has come to an end for another year. It is estimated 125,000 people attended festival events between 5 and 28 June

The festival celebrated what has been the biggest and most enjoyed festival to-date with over 400 exhibitions, performances, talks, tours, workshops and screenings at over 80 west end venues. Many of the events are programmed free of charge to encourage a wider audience and it is estimated that *115,000 festival go-ers attended free events.

Creon Brock, music and theatre programmer for Oran Mor said, “This year’s West End Festival has been another great success at Oran Mor. We've had 38 shows across the festival, and a typically eclectic range of genres including theatre, tribute bands, folk, pop, indie, jazz, talks and poetry. The highlight of the festival at Oran Mor was our 4th annual All Dayer which took place last weekend and saw 14 Scottish bands, playing across 3 stages, all in the one building”.

Other festival highlights included the Kelpie Maquettes 'coming home' (which saw over 20,000 visit the G20 Heritage exhibition) and Mackintosh Queens Cross Summer Concert, ‘Feel the Spirit’, with globally renowned composer and conductor, John Rutter. For families, author Julia Donaldson and illustrator Nick Sharratt brought the Gruffalo to the festival, giving children the unique opportunity to meet the literary character.

Festival director, Michael Dale said: “Participants from all over the world brought events to the festival including those from Japan, Serbia, India, Russia, Germany and the USA. From the mobbed streets of Byres Road on Festival Sunday to the packed out Kelvingrove bandstand finale, we’re very pleased with WEF 2015!”

This year, the festival has been working with Yelp Glasgow, the online crowd-source review company. Yelp helped recruit over 30 citizen reporters; they attended events, wrote reviews and posted them on the dedicated WEF Yelp page. Glasgow’s blogger community also got involved on a bigger scale this year helping engage more visitors and bring them closer to the festival experience.

The website also reached record activity during the festival with 200,000 page views since 5 June and nearly 16,000 unique visitors to the website on parade day alone.

The festival would not be possible without support from key funders including the National Lottery, Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Arts and Scottish Book Trust, in addition to all local businesses and participants who contribute tremendous effort.

Festival chairman, Liz Scobie, finished, “This year has been the most fantastic and energised festival yet and I would like to thank everyone involved including funders, visitors, participants and the local community.  We're already looking forward to our 21st birthday celebrations next year.  In the meantime, we're taking a short break prior to launching our second winter event at the end of 2015, The Electric Gardens!”

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Recital - From The Golden Age

Saturday June 27, 2015

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Last night, in the beautiful surroundings of Mackintosh Queen’s Cross, I attended a ‘Recital from the Golden Age’, performed by violinist Feargus Hetherington and pianist Edward Cohen. 

A golden age of anything is a period of time looked back on with fond sentiment. For violinist Feargus Hetherington, there was a clear golden age for the violin and piano duo between 1920 - 1939 with many pieces now lost and no longer played in public. Feargus’ goal is to resurrect some of these pieces and bring them, as well as the golden age of violin and piano concerts, back to their former glory. And boy did he ever!

Although not packed out, there was a fair crowd of around 30 at the event which in a way made it feel more exclusive - a sort of private evening with Feargus and Edward as they played their music. The variety of pieces packed out the hour making it seem like much longer in the best of senses. One minute a light-hearted melody which would have been suitable for a mixer on the lawn of the White House and the next a dramatic piece which could have come straight from a black and white tragic film. 

The pieces were played with such conviction, as could be seen in the faces of both musicians, filling the small stage space with enough drama and fervour to keep the audience near enough transfixed for the entire performance. It was incredibly impressive to see two musicians hold a group’s attention so completely for so long! 

A piano and violin recital is not my usual cup of tea, I’ll admit. However, after the performance tonight, I will seek to try out something of a similar caliber in the future. For any who wish to experience a performance in the Mackintosh Queen’s Cross there is A Piano Recital with Peter Seivewright tonight at 7.30pm with tickets available online and at the door.

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Moby Dick - A Play, A Pie and A Pint

Friday June 26, 2015

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Oran Mor’s “A Play, A Pie and A Pint” is a hugely successful lunchtime theatre initiative where visitors – you guessed it – have the chance to see an adaptation of a classic play while enjoying a pie and a pint (or glass of wine or soft drink if you are so inclined). It’s great to see the event continue as part of the West End Festival with its Summer Season of Classic Cuts. This week the feature piece was Harman Melville’s ‘Moby Dick’ which I had the pleasure of seeing yesterday afternoon.

Arriving ten minutes before the performance started, it was already difficult to find a seat among the 60 or so other people there where I could enjoy my pie (meat and vegetarian options available) so my first observation would be to get there early! The performance space consisted of a small runway and stage behind it making for a very intimate-feeling performance no matter where you were sat. As the lights dimmed the three performers who played all of the characters marched in from the rear, singing an old sea shanty and even slipped in a sly nod to Scotland during it. This was met with more than a few chuckles from the crowd.

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The three actors regaled the captivated audience (myself included) with the tale of the white whale and one captain’s insatiable need for revenge against it. All three of them gave powerful performances using very subtle, if any, sound effects and basic props. The transition between narrative and performance was very slick and worked well as part of the 45 minute piece. Despite watching captain Ahab descend further into his destructive obsession with Moby Dick, there were a few light hearted moments which were weaved skilfully into the performance keeping the experience not too intense for a lunch time event.

Moby Dick was incredibly enjoyable to watch at Oran Mor. Great setting, great cast, great play and great pie (although I could have eaten another!) I’m a convert to “A Play, A Pie and A Pint” and will be back to check out whatever takes centre stage next!

Moby Dick will be performed again today (26th June) and tomorrow (27th June) with tickets available online or at the door of Oran Mor. 

Daniel Irwin

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Speaking In Tongues

Thursday June 25, 2015

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Little Bat productions presents: Speaking in Tongues - the story of nine interwoven lives. It deals with the right and wrongs of emotional conduct, of contracts broken between intimates, bonds forged between strangers and the darker aspects of human nature.

Sonja & Leon and Pete & Jane are all happily married. Or so they say. But one night Sonja meets Pete in a bar – they go back to a hotel room.  Leon meets Jane in a bar – they go back to a hotel room.  Is what happens tragic or inevitable?  How well do your really know the one you love?

A woman disappears. But who was the last one to see her alive?  Her husband? Her client? Or the man who finds her shoe in his car? Speaking in Tongues takes you on a journey through a web of deceit, love, lies and death to answer the question ‘Do you truly know the one you love?’

The production company Little Bat Bat is the creation of Meli Bach in collaboration with Simon McCay and Una McDade.

“Little Bat grew out of the need / desire to DO something and not just sit around waiting for someone else to cast us in great roles.  By taking control of ‘making it happen’ we get to cast ourselves and choose projects that challenge us.  When looking for material we wanted stuff that intrigued and captivated us.  When we first read Speaking in Tongues we all thought ‘how are we going to do this?’ That’s all part of the challenge. 

The ability of this play to capture the imagination, to keep people debating and asking questions, is one of the reasons we chose it.  It is brilliant writing and technically quite difficult with simultaneous scenes and overlapping dialogue.”
                                                                                                     - Meli Bach

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Review by Andrew Stewart:

"The recently renovated and elegant Webster’s theatre plays host to the fascinating production by Andrew Bovell, ‘Speaking In Tongues’.   

Meli Bach, Simon McCav, Jessica Phillippi and James J Robson take centre stage in this play about adultery and betrayal.  Opening in a sleazy hotel, we are introduced to the first four characters telling two similar stories at once.  At first this method seems confusing however as the play progresses we see the reason for this clever approach.  As the act continues we learn about the individual characters and their marriage woes.  This initially required intense concentration pays off as the story progresses.  

As the second half begins we are introduced to four more characters played by the same people.  Although again mildly confusing, this device becomes compelling and creates a feeling of pain shared between the characters.  This play is clever as it intertwines everyone’s story and brings about an interesting plot involving a detective, a woman councillor with self-esteem issues and a character who might have been a murderer.  As the plot develops, the audience begin to see how each character connects with one another and with that allows for a unique story about relationships to be told.

During the play there were many different environments including a bar and a hotel.  The clever use of props allowed the audience to feel as if they were in the set environment with the characters.  Working with little space, credit is due to the creative ability in order to make this a success.  With only four actors playing nine different characters the opening night of ‘Speaking In Tongues’ was certainly a hit at the Webster Theatre."

 

Tickets available online through Little Bat Productions for performances today (25th June) and tomorrow (26th June).

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