So Down to The River has been busy since its release back in May and been played from one side of the world to the other ‘on another date line’ in various countries. So very proud to see the Saltire flying amongst a host of international flags on the playlists. That made my day totally.
What have I been up to?
Although I’ve been darting around various places, the majority of my time has been spent rehearsing the album tracks and a few other songs (including a couple of Gaelic) alongside John at Wild Biscuit in preparation for the special Brodick Castle event.
Wow!!! What an absolutely stunning venue.
I left Islay in the sunshine and steamed towards Oban a few days before so I could have some practice sessions with John and get busy with my camera en route. We tend not to appreciate the beauty of our own lands so it’s great to take it all in whilst gadding about.
Friday came, car packed up and off we went, right through the heart of Argyll, the summer colours on the Mhoine Mhor dulled by the angry skies looming ahead towards the west coast and the Claoinaig ferry. Goat Fell adorned the skyline as we reached the summit of the single track road from Whitehouse to the ferry. The heavens opened and the gods cried for Scotland as we sat and munched our ‘sannies’ in the car awaiting the boat, Loch Tarbert. True touring I’m told! Hello the boat and all aboard, a choppy 20 minute or so trip and finally we’re under the shadow of Goat Fell at Lochranza.
The association of Dalriadan history resonates and hits home as we ascend through the heart of Arran, an almost eerie feeling as we are being blanketed by the bleak moor-ish hills on either side. I could imagine the people of long ago traipsing heavy hearted and heavy footed to reach the other side of ‘the hill’!
Not so bleak on the descent though. Arran has various geological markings. I felt I was on the M74 at one point, then Donegal, whilst further downwards it resembled home on Islay. Quite surreal.
On arrival at the castle we followed our host Chris into the rather austere entrance hall, decorated with multitudes of weaponry and trophy heads of stags, as most Highland residences of the time would have I daresay. Up the stairs we went and into the first floor drawing room. After a sharp intake of breath, I managed to squeeze out a ‘wow’. What a beautiful and regal room awaited. The ceiling above was as magnificent as the gilt edged furniture on the ground, most which had been cleared to make room for the show. Overlooking the piano was my favourite portrait, that of Duchess Mary of Montrose. There is a story surrounding her portrait which tour guide Jane told us but I shall leave that for your own visit.
It felt like an invitation in to the Duchesses private guest room. An accomplished pianist with a passion for music, I gave her a nod and said I hoped she would enjoy the evening. :-)
The room lent itself beautifully to our concert set. We’d carefully chosen songs to accompany the album tracks, telling stories of other islands, the sea, and history akin to that of the castle. I could almost sense the feeling of a peace amongst the audience and the many people of yesteryear staring down on me. What a beautiful feeling to have, and safe to say I am very honoured to have opened up the castle’s live performance programme this summer.
I was actually sorry to end this very intimate evening and say goodbye to the audience who came out in this blustery Argyll evening to listen to the first real Angela Paterson album set and I wholeheartedly thank them all. We had a very special evening indeed.
Next day we were promised a no-holds-barred tour of the castle with the wonderful Paula. With stories in abundance, the many tour guides know their history, each making their own mark. Fantastic, and even the young people were catered for - I wanted to join in the hunt for the little figures hidden in each room too!
I would recommend to visitor and performer alike, if you get the chance to go to Brodick... jump at it!
That's the first review up on line at FolkWords. Written by Tim Carroll.
A few pictures from the past few days of glorious weather on the west coast of Scotland. The first review of down to the river in and more amazing views from Islay. Perfect day. :-)
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