Tommy Smith, Brian Kellock
2014, Spartacus Records
"Devoting a beautiful saxophone sound to the interpretation of popular standard songs is a pursuit that goes back 80 years or more – but Scottish saxist Tommy Smith and his resourceful and sensitive piano partner, Brian Kellock, prove how much mileage remains in it here." [read more]
As we hit 10,000 signatures that emphatically oppose the proposed Edinburgh City Council destructive cut of 75% to our Instrumental Tuition Service, we step significantly closer to eventually hearing from a senior Council officer and the evidence they may communicate at a public meeting to whether they will expunge their apathetic overture.
The Edinburgh City Council Petition Committee, which consists of 10 members: 3 Labour; 3 SNP; 2 Conservative; 1 Green; and 1 SLD, all congregate on Thursday 21 January 2016 and trustingly will discuss and debate our petition with philosophic wisdom.
The committee is:
Councillor Jeremy Balfour [Con] Telephone: 0131 529 4083 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Councillor Chas Booth[Green] Telephone: 0131 529 3182 E: email@example.com
Councillor Denis Dixon [SNP] Telephone: 0131 529 4988 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Councillor Marion Donaldson[Lab] Telephone: 0131 469 3841 E: email@example.com
Councillor Paul Edie [Lib] Telephone: 0131 529 3172 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Councillor Nick Gardner [Lab] Telephone: 0131 529 3282 E: email@example.com
Councillor Karen Keil [Lab] Telephone: 0131 529 3261 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Councillor David Key [SNP] Telephone: 0131 529 3260 E: email@example.com
Councillor Alex Lunn [SNP] Telephone: 0131 529 4956 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Councillor Lindsay Paterson [Con] Telephone: 0131 529 4970 E: email@example.com
Scottish singer, songwriter, musician and actress, Shirley Manson has written this heartfelt letter to the council, which I encourage you to read.
“Dear City of Edinburgh Council
It has been brought to my attention that you are proposing a 75% cut to the budget that funds Edinburgh’s instrumental music tuition and all of the Edinburgh Schools Orchestras and ensembles.
It is difficult at this time in our culture, where everything is weighed, measured and valued in financial terms or by how popular it is, for music education to be considered important or necessary.
However it is crucial as a society that we safeguard as many of the beautiful, wonderful, nebulous things that bring joy and happiness to people all across the globe, that are of cultural importance.
The difficulty being that the cultural importance and the impact of music is often impossible to evaluate in simple monetary terms.
Unless music is presented in the particular form that generates massive amounts of money for the corporate world and proves itself wildly popular to an international pre-teen audience, it becomes so easy to dismiss.
I understand you are in a tough position. Setting budgets to run a city cannot be easy.
But I beg you to rethink your position on this proposal.
We are living in dark times. The news is at best depressing, at it’s worst, terrifying.
Music is an art form that transcends terror. It is the exquisite and beautiful opposing force to everything that is cruel and frightening in this world.
Please do not rob the school children of Edinburgh of the opportunity to engage with music, learn from it, fall in love with it, master it.
As a former pupil of Flora Stevenson Primary School and Broughton High School in Edinburgh, I have personally benefited directly from the musical tuition that was offered up to students in Edinburgh as part of our educational curriculum.
As a result apparently of displaying an aptitude for music I was picked out by my teachers for both violin and clarinet tuition. I played in my school orchestras and sang with both choirs.
I have gone on to enjoy a career in music that has lasted over 30 years. I’ve played all over the world and been exposed to so many experiences that I am so fortunate and grateful to have had.
There is not a day goes by when I don’t think how lucky I am.
Everywhere I have travelled I have spoken of the immense good fortune of being born in Edinburgh where I received a musical education that I quickly came to realize was exemplary.
I hope that the pupils of Edinburgh schools with an aptitude for music continue to be as fortunate as I was.
That is what I hope for them and for the great city of Edinburgh.
Finally…..I hope that anyone in Edinburgh with a love of music will repost this story of these proposed cuts, protest in their own voice where possible and lend their name to the petition of protest on Change.Org
I also urge any Edinburgh based papers to report on this story.
Perhaps if we all push together, we can make a change to this proposal.
After all, in the words of the mighty Patti Smith,
PEOPLE HAVE THE POWER.
Love all, hate no one.”
“Free music tuition is a lifeline of help to so many children from very mixed backgrounds. It enriches life and broadens horizons.”
Michael Holton, Haddington, United Kingdom
“I don’t want school instrument tuition to be the exclusive preserve of the affluent middle class in Scotland. As if it wasn’t a big enough deterrent already for poorer households that families have to pay for a child’s musical instrument, this move will make it even less likely that a child from a poorer household will have the opportunity to play an instrument.”
Rebecca Reid, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
“My daughter has benefited immensely from free music tuition, both at primary and secondary school. Our primary school’s parents association regularly buys more instruments to allow the wind and brass band to grow.
Private music tuition is unaffordable and a luxury for many families. If this extreme cut goes through, so many kids won’t get a chance to receive music lessons and schools will be left with a pile of instruments and no one to use them!
The music tuition service is so much more than just weekly lessons – there are numerous performance experiences throughout the year, the experience and challenge of dedicated practice and the rewards that brings, boost to self confidence and positive impact on mental health… there will be children who may struggle with other aspects of school, but excel at their music tuition.
How many young musicians will we lose? How many young people who wish to become a professional musician, but their families cannot afford lessons or to spend hundreds of pounds on providing instruments at home?
Learning to play an instrument should NOT become an elitist pastime.”
Jeda Lewis, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Image by Colin Robertson
Edinburgh’s 12th Century broken heart
Erupts with celebratory applause,
Smiles caress Rodin’s sweet art
Through untouchable marital laws.
Imposition of Anglican liturgy
Ruffles the golden goose,
Literal Presbyterian eulogy
Frees the hangman’s noose.
Senses agitate, foreheads glisten,
I arise and respectfully follow
The newly weds as the congregation listen
To the organ as it reverberates fortissimo.
Floating through holy aisles
Merriments trail dank air,
In the High Kirk of St. Giles
Odors spiral plaited hair.
Feverish allergy, invasive toxins
Filter the word of God Anglais
Generations of invasions,
Dictating guilt, fear and compulsion to pray.
Sporting my ancestor’s pretty kilt,
An amusing breeze blows cool and airy,
Towards the evening’s cotton quilt,
Music and sobering malt of the ceilidh.
Beyond the Kirk, adjacent to the spirits
And spit of the Nation’s heart,
A King Charles Chevalier pivots
And zooms after a once elusive wildcat.
I kilter off balance but steady myself
On the 5th Duke of Buccleuch’s statue,
And pretend nothing happened by averting my gaze
To a gull perched on Walter’s curlicue.
While posing for photos the feisty cat
Rockets by chasing the King,
I exhale a sigh as the feline acrobat
Regains dignity after centuries of pursuing.
The married couple mount their Mercedes
As the bride’s bouquet silhouettes the sky,
Rotating like a ballerina in a meadow of daises
Descending eagerly towards the passersby.
Caught by the pernicious cantankerous gull,
Fibonacci’s posy of elegant roses nosedive,
Graze and tumble upon the stony quadrangle;
White bouquet and persistent scoundrel survive.
Dog and cat attack with synchronized jaws,
The gull ascends with a caaa-caaaa rose-free,
To perch upon a spouting gargoyle because
Views far above are Albany.
Guests awe and gasp at the tangle of fur,
Then the wildcat escapes into the Kirk
To feast on intelligent rats that scamper;
Furry spirits oblivious of latticework.
The procession navigates down the Royal Mile
Past a piper playing a lament.
The throne of Arthur’s volcanic smile,
Shadows North Bridge’s foundation cement.
We arrive back at the Balmoral hotel,
It’s clock famously two minutes early
To assist travelers in wishing their farewells
Either north or south of Waverley.
In room 1314, I cast off my breeches
And ventilate to meet the elite,
At the gathering of the speeches
In the sumptuous Sir Walter Scott suite.
Drinking and legless jollity follow
Euphoric dances and giant roast beefs,
Swirling yards of tartanisms that echo
Inflicted shame on banned clan-chiefs.
I try to pause, expressions melt
And the room heaves and burls,
Fire face red, drunken celt
Let’s bribe more greedy Earls.
I quickly poured another malt
And addressed my swaying kilt,
Slurring like sleat in a somersault,
Dam, dram gracing floor, spilt.
“Ye bedraggled, mothball eaten
Patriotic fabric o’ time.
I plead yu tae speak tae m’
Yu mishmash o tartan slime.
Resonate wi’ m’ a smack
Or a smidgeon o realization
Aboot Scootlund, th’ jack
‘N’ this country’s unionization.
Impart yer scholarly wisdom,
Recall fae future-past.
Ah implore yu, ah beseech yu.
Yu wooly Hielan outcast.”
The kilt speaks:
You are certainly intoxicated sir
And that’s no way to speak to a kilt.
I’ll be a truthful babbler
Until your self-confidence is unbuilt.
You are nothing but a pretender
Perpetuating a myth.
Why do you call yourself Scottish
When only you recognize it, Adam Smith?
You are a chinwagger with a foreign dialect
Uttering fast rhythmic sounds,
That baffles the southern intellect
And reinforces Hadrian’s mounds.
Yer locked in th’ cludgie
Huvin a wee stooshie
Juist cause a wee beastie
Bit ye oan th’ bahookie.
Yer juist a wee radge
Wha’s erse needs skelpin,
Juist haud yer wheesht gadge,
Or ye’ll git a beltin!
Yer a wee cowering hoolet,
Sleekit, muckle clocked ‘n’ glaikit,
Gonnae shoogle ‘n’ cool it
Ye schemie peely-wally eejit.
Yer juist pure mingin’
Wi’ wiry hairy oxters
‘A’ yer aye bloody singin’
Aboot charlatans ‘n’ hoaxers.
Howfur come yer aye blootered
Oan dreich ‘n’ bonnie days,
Mibbie yer wappenshaw needs neutered
‘A’ goosed lik’ a Fabergé.
Sae ye’r left a’ alane
W’ mawkit geggie screamin’
Na need tae hae anither bairn
Cried Albany fur th’ schemin’.
Proclaiming yourself a Scot
Is considered rank, invalid and vain;
Powerless strength, seamless crackpot,
By law, you must declare the Kingdoms chained.
While completing a passport application
Your alien identity is misconstrued,
Intertwined through world web officiation,
You must choose UK on drop-down menus.
You smirk and shrug it off
Like a placid Presbyterian beast,
Tamed like the house of Romanov
Through centuries of countless deceased.
You are still a puny pretender
Perpetuating a folkloric disjoin phage.
Call yourself a Scottish defender?
When no one recognizes your coinage.
You are scared of transformation,
You are petrified of going it alone,
You are anxious about monetary misinformation,
You are sheep, worried about clearances and headstones.”
I reply to the cloth of my ancestors:
“Bun-kum, a tum-tom toosh!
Why are you beating aboot the bush!
Plaidie squabbling fabrication.
Haggis basher, get oot ma Nation!
Your razor edged tongue,
Sharply poisoned with veracity,
Wounds deeply cutting among
My lacerated audacity.”
The kilt interrupts:
“Take me off and put yer troosers on Jock!
For seven hundred years
Scots and English bled.
Endless battles, crimson tears
Countless Kings dead.
Acts upon Acts
Of law enforcing power,
Legally bound to detract
Behead and devour.
Acts of Settlement, Security & Proscription
Burned freedom into our heart,
Poisoned political cunning inscription
Forced the Scottish nation to part.
Scaremongering tactics and chanty jive
See karmic laws unfold untold truth,
For the Alien Act of 1705
Pressurized the Scots and future youth.
By treating Scots as foreign nationals,
Their estates as alien assets,
The Alien Act was so irrational
But achieved its sweet regrets.
Unless we entered freely
Into a union with mighty England,
Half of Scottish trade discreetly
Embargoed in my opinion.
The Scottish Parliament’s conclusion,
106 Ayes to 69 Noes,
By signing the Act of Union,
1707 an extremist blow.
Scottish people powerless to change
Broke out in discontent,
The Kirk & Jacobites did arrange
A partnership to torment.
An English-dominanted Parliament
That provoked us from within,
Bought loyal Scottish predicament
And their alliance a bargain.
Paltry pounds of callousness
Our future fate was clinched,
Injured, pitied and lynched.
After the Union in 1707
Followed more bloody wars,
Corpses ascended to Wallace in heaven,
Blood streamed Scottish shores.
Glenshiel, Prestonpans and Sheriffmuir,
All screamed with axe and sword,
Death lay wallowing on Culloden Moor
Where brave Jacobites once roared.
The ground black with blood,
Scots gutted, slain and strewn,
Writhing insane in clotted mud,
Cut down by red Dragoons.
To end the Scottish Highlands
Ability to revolt,
The English crushed my lands
With a fist of thunderbolt.
For thrity-six years the English smashed
The structure of the Clans.
Hushed and crushed while necks were slashed,
Me, the Highland Dress was Banned!
Half a year of incarceration
For wearing a Highland kilt,
Proud price to pay for separation,
Trousers cover coward’s guilt.
Caught a second time
With Tartan underneath,
Seven years for crime
Grinding at your teeth.
His Majesty’s Plantations
Across the seas, wait for you to come,
Enough of poignant lamentations
To the beat of the English drum.
Scottish heritable Sheriffdoms
Reverted to English Crown,
Plaid wearing meddlesome
People and culture drown.
But before and since 1707
Scots discovered and dreamed,
Inventions that observed heaven,
Others that puffed and steamed.
From the pneumatic Tyre wheel to tubular Steel,
The Telephone and Sherlock Holmes,
Radio, Radar, the Calendar,
Television and Higgs Boson.
Bank of England, Bank of France,
Let’s vote Aye and clasp a chance,
Marmalade and Stirling Heat,
Let’s not forget Dolly, the Postage Stamp Sheep.
Curling, Golf, Shinty and Football,
Cycling and Peter Pan,
Long John Silver, the Carnegie Hall,
Macleod of Lewis Clan.
MIR and PIN,
BBC, Sean Connery,
Malt Whisky and Modern Sociology.
Hypnotism and Hogmany,
Insulin and Colour Photography,
Chloroform, Burke and Hare,
Billy Connolly’s bum is bare.
Fierce and tribal,
King James Bible.
Miles of Wire Rope,
Tins of Shortbread,
Did we invent Wikipedia?
But Modern Geology,
SI unit power, Watt?
Iron Bru and Paraffin,
Fax Machine and Halloween,
World’s first Oil Refinery.
With a Gregorian Telescope
You spot a humpbacked whale,
Iron Steamship isotopes
Spouting Kelvin’s Scale.
New York Herald, Penicillin,
First text book on Surgery,
Self Filling Pen hyperventilates
Modern Asthma Therapy.
Imaginations for creation
Enlighten our amazing nation:
Bovril Gravy, United States Navy,
Worthy of no parchment declaration,
Our backyard a dumping ground,
Northlands a faded sensation,
Experimental people uncrowned.
We send taxes down the road,
Where they decide to spend it,
If we keep our money stowed,
Return Poseidon’s Trident.
But today I remind you aristocrats
Repetition of History wail,
While spiteful political diplomats
Panic North Briton’s tail.
Render us mute and impotent,
Coerce and bully the Scots,
Quivering and non-combatant,
Stagnate like putrid water-pots.
Light the fire in your belly,
Melt their offensive rhetoric,
Be inspired by Machiavelli,
Focus and be a maverick.
But as a pseudo Scotsman
You wrestle negative doubt,
Quietly observing the fiery charlatan,
It’s important to rise and shout.
Your focus and deliberation,
Passport to the world,
Grants you passage for exploration,
Warmed heart unfurled.
Years of circling the globe
Sees a soul without a nation,
Scottish loot a xenophobe,
You forget to exchange your money
And travel far abroad,
To reach cloudless lands of honey
Quickly on Concorde.
Without thought or question
Nor pious picky prejudice,
You present foreign indigestion
With speechless guttural injustice.
Embarrassed you drift away,
Credit card at home,
Your cash burned by Dante,
And head back to the aerodrome.
Coin of Hans Christensen Andersen,
Considered false economy,
Exchanged to English loot in London,
Scotty-dosh no isonomy.
The tens of thousands that have died for Scottish freedom
Mean nothing to the no-thank-you sway,
For finance and fear have always defeated
Yes we can do….
Yes we can leave…
Yes we can decide..
Yes we can achieve.
Why trust the banks
Who gambled our currency,
Whose mis-managed managers overdrank
And deliquesced this Nation’s solvency.
Expounding Scotland’s future
Is in the hands of our youth,
Uprising for our Culture,
Welfare, Workforce and Truth.
Making your own mind up,
Hope conquers enforced fears,
Job opportunities lined up
Progressional new careers.
Intimidation from doomsayers
In our land, our garden of Eden,
Self governance welcome naysayers,
Our backyard, our freedom.
Oil fund for generations,
Ta-ta to crumbs from Westie’s table,
Governing budgets and administrations,
Our country rich and stable.
If you vote and cross a no,
Democratic right is yours,
Carved in the manifesto,
Enticing atomic lures.
In times when a ghostie wrote,
You prayed and crossed your cross,
Limbs believed a single vote,
Empowered the Alba-tross.
Tuning to the solo note,
The power is ours to spend,
Yes Aye, is the antidote,
And our country will transcend.
We are people determined to carve
A path out in the snow,
Clear directives not to starve
And govern our own show.
Or is our destiny to be wrapped
In fluff and cotton-wool,
And looked after like a patient strapped
In an asylum fit for fools.
We have clearly been diagnosed
Crazy and off our heads,
To contemplate, coast to coast,
City freedom to farmstead.
For we know not, how to run
Our own land as in England,
Nine hundred years, empowered sons
Since first King Kenneth MacAlpin.
YES is not an aye in the sky,
It’s a real optimistic choice
To banish the Union’s samurai,
Clean cut through and rejoice.
Our hands and impressions
Decide our future plans,
Our bonds and expressions
Shape our vibrant lands.
It’s healthier to be neighbours
Than be ruled until you’re blue,
No ambition to govern raiders,
In woe, we’ll help you through.”
And with a weave of passion
The kilt unfolds its memories
And slumps on gravelly ground,
Silence unravels mysteries
That embroider and astound.
For the future is clearer
Than the brightest bluest sky,
Our cosmopolitan nation-state should always be independent,
Make it that way again and vote Aye!
Written by Tommy Smith
The Catstrand, New Galloway, Scotland 18 April 2014 (more…)
Glasgow, Feb. 2014