Campbell Cameron: Argyll’s got talent

Joy Dunlop and the argyll band

So….Argyll’s got talent. We never doubted it …not the sort of plastic manufactured talent that the X Factor or The Voice produces ….but real honest to goodness ability that comes of endless hours of practice and much performance experience.

It all began with Joy Dunlop (top with the Argyll band) – a great product of the Gaelic choir and Fèis movements. Following in the footsteps of Karen Matheson, Joy has found the old Gaelic standards born of Argyll have not been heard by audiences further afield. Both have spent many hours individually at the School of Scottish studies in Edinburgh trawling through the rich seam of recorded music archived there. Joy found many of them recorded on the original wax cylinders.

The new album is complete and a few of us lucky souls got the chance to take one home from her recent run of concerts with the Argyll Band. Comprising all Argyll musicians to reflect the songs she sang – it is apparent that our girl; for she hails from Connel, within earshot of the Falls of Lora, has come on in leaps and bounds. Joy’s range and depth is fantastic and she has a confidence that makes her a great entertainer with stories and jokes between the songs to entertain the audience. If I marry I shall not marry a big girl opens the album in ironic style as Joy is a generous 6 foot tall beauty and well worthy of the suitor who penned the song. The album takes us a tour of Mull, The Isle of Luing,  Glen Ure,  to lament Colin Campbell, Colonsay Coll and Tiree, Carsaig Beach and back to the water’s edge of Loch Etive with Taigh an Uillt, the loch where the Falls of Lora ebb and flow daily. Treat yourself when Joy comes by or get on her website and be sure to get wind of the albums official release later this year.

aidan orourke quintet

Back to the Corran halls we went only three days later for The Aiden O’ Rourke Quintet (above). Aiden and Gordon MacLean, the impresario extraordinaire from An Tobar, had a cunning plan earlier this year. The grand games of the 40th Olympiad in Londonium required musical content and the boys persuaded them to include TAT-1. When the powers that be decided after the second world war that radio telephone communications were no longer sufficient in 1956 – they laid a cable from Oban to Clarinville in Newfoundland, and TAT-1 became the first Transatlantic telephone cable .

During its lifetime it was variously a contact for expatriates abroad and the hotline between the Whitehouse and the Kremlin. The new album comprises a collection of 5 movements each completely original and comprising Scottish Fiddle traditional tunes, jazz and classical influences, with a smattering of modernist moves which all combine to create a great musical experience. Aidan’s great talent is backed by the quintet – all superb in their own right. No album release date yet …but it is “in the can” and is likely, like Joy’s album, to appear later this year. The link at TAT-1 above will take you to the website of the 2012 – 20 musical creations, each twelve minutes long.  2012 – Get it?

Finlay Wells and his class of 2012.

A week later we return to the Corran hall to see 46 musicians at work – all the class of 2012 of guitar hero and tutor Finlay Wells (pictured above with the gang). In fairness due to family commitments I just caught the second half and that was sufficient to know that we are in good hands.

From 9 to …well, much older… they all come to Nutshell to learn their craft and the standard is high! From acoustic to electric and with vocal support from Leah Harris and others – the concert rocked and rolled, through many genres and we left enthused and with our mouths open at the content of talent displayed. The finale allowed Finlay himself to lead; he had been very reserved most of the time, and inspires the assembled audience in the process. A great night out and what a group of talented guitarists we have.

So we can report that all is well in Argyll. All is musically talented and there is much more musical talent to come.

Argyll’s got talent indeed.

Campbell Cameron, Music Editor

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