Jem Shaw logo

Menu drop button

Manran doing what they do best

< Back to more nonsense

Gigging by the Goil

Friends Reunited and Music Revisited


Old friends are the most valuable possession you'll ever have. Guard it well.

I'm just back from a joyous long weekend with two very special people. Alan's been a great mate since school, through falling off over-accessorised Lambrettas and trading semi-factual grope-boasts to attending weddings and, with somewhat more difficultly, the funerals of far too many other special people. I was there when he married Jill in 1973 and he reciprocated, a few months later, when I married Eva.

Alan and Jill retired to the Isle of Arran some years back. It's a long trek from Stafford, but we get together whenever we can. It's not often enough, but when it happens it's always magical. This time was even better than usual as we decided on an adventure.

The Gig in the Goil is an annual event at the head of Loch Goil in Argyllshire. It's a loosely constructed mini-festival of Scottish folk music, and I don't know how we missed it for so many years. This year, the bill was headed by Donnie Munro, late of the incredible Runrig. As long-standing fans of that grossly underrated band, we booked a lodge a few miles away from the gig (the on-site accommodation books solid within 15.4 milliseconds of going on sale) and started ticking off calendar days*. I met them at the ferry terminal in Ardrossan and we headed north in my trusty Jeep.

What a gig. Donnie Munro was all we expected, but the eye-openers were, well, eye-opening. Dave Arcari with his gloriously insane resonator playing lit up the VIP lounge and made me long for a National guitar. Then there was a Scottish band called Headland. They were fronted by Kieran Ferguson, one of the best singer-songwriters I've heard for many a year, supported by a solid, tight ensemble of first-rate musicians. Check them out on YouTube and thank me later. Kieran performed solo in the lounge and did it again, while getting gloriously pissed. Standing became a challenge, but he never fudged a note. He broke his plectrum and appealed for a replacement from the audience. As I always carry a dozen or so in my pocket, I was able to oblige and felt like a pop-star. Meanwhile, Manran - a band I as a sassenach hadn't heard of - had begun their set on the main stage. Kieran alerted us to the fact:

"It's great you're all still here, but you do know you're missing Manran?"

No one moved.

A couple of songs later: "What's with you lot? It's fuckin' Manran!"

Another few songs, then: "Sod this, you can miss 'em if you like, but I'll not."

One more song, as brilliant as the others, and we all trooped downstairs behind him. And I saw his point. Manran are an example of Scottish infinitely renewable energy. It's pure Gaelic hoots with the stopping power of George Foreman's knuckles. I leave you with them teaming up with Donnie Munro. Sound quality not spectacular, but look for the vibe.

Life is good. Really good.

* Well I did, anyway. Alan has never demonstrated any such enthusiasm - for anything. Jill, on the other hand, undoubtedly laid plans in slightly greater detail than Dwight D. Eisenhower did in 1944.


Facebook Share Button



The Larks

All This Way for a Shilling

Yellow Impi

Back Burner

Other Nonsense

About Me


Privacy Policy