Duncan’s Blog – February 2014

Normally weeks of relentless rain and gales would get to me, and I’d be desperate to head off to the sun for a while, but I’ve been so busy in all sorts of ways I haven’t spent too much time fretting about it. I just hope we’re rewarded with a good Spring and Summer – we deserve it, I’d say.

I think I mentioned before that Cy and I have been working on a song about ‘Skylark IX’, one of the ‘little ships’ involved in the Dunkirk evacuation during the early years of WW2. The ‘Skylark’ had been working as a cruise boat on Loch Lomond, unrecognised, for decades, eventually sinking at the moorings on the River Leven. A Dunkirk veteran, on holiday from the US, spotted the sad wreck, and identified her as the boat that saved 600 lives, including his own. A group of volunteers in the Vale of Leven have spent the past year or so fundraising to restore her to life, with the help of several young people who have not had the best deal from life, and who will learn new skills and play a part in the wee boat’s rebirth. We managed to deliver the song to the Trust this month, and at the time of writing, we’re hoping a well-known actor and musician will be recording it as a fundraising single. I hope to be able to name names next month!

Gig-wise, we’re hoping to go out on the road with Duncan & Johnny Cameron’s ‘McGinn Meets Seeger and McColl’ show, which sold out (with a waiting list of over 50 at Celtic Connections) so we’re busy sending out info to theatres around Scotland – two provisional bookings so far, so that’s a good start. March will see us at Greenock Boat Club (a particular favourite gig) on Saturday 15th and at Milton of Buchanan Memorial Hall, near Drymen on the 29th. Stevie Lawrence can’t make these gigs – he’s getting increasingly busy with his other bands, such as the Chili Pipers and Raintown – so we’ll be joined by our old pal Jim Yule, who is one of the most gifted guitarists we’ve ever worked with, and a founder-member of 70s and 80s folk-rock outfit New Celeste. He’s also a natural entertainer, so we’re really looking forward to the gigs.

In other news, we’re in talks about another Clydesiders CD – the one released at Christmas 2012 has sold really well, so the record label is keen to follow up its success. As ever, time is the enemy, and trying to get everyone in the band together to get things moving is really difficult, bt I’d really like to make it happen.

Cy and I seem to be getting a bit more productive at the writing, and we’ve a couple of quite strong ideas on the go. Because the band is in my name, a lot of people think that I write all the songs, but everything we do is a collaboration between the two of us – some are predominantly Cy’s, some mine, and some real 50/50s, but our ethos is that we share everything, and have done since we first started writing and playing together, abck in our school days. Cy Jack is a quiet, understated guy, and very modest, but I’d like to put on record that he’s very much the engine room of what we do. Far, far more of a musician than I could ever be, he’s responsible for many of the arrangements, and keeps the sound tight. I’m the blethery one who does the singing, and that gets the attention – rather unfairly. I’d be lost without him.

Anyway – late with the blog again, as per usual. March has come blinking into the sunlight already, and I can’t wait for the days to get longer and longer.

All the best

Duncan x

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