Sunday, 19 June 2016


Solas 2016: Beyond Borders

Inspiring: Ian Brennan reminding us that everyone is a musician, and those who disagree are usually those promoting a western-pop monoculture.

Challenging: Alastair McIntosh retelling open conversations between a pacifist and military leaders.

Dazzling: BDY_PRTS — surely destined for great heights — delighting the audience with thumping pop and a magical avent-garde stage presence.


These are just a few highlights; amongst others I also caught old-favourites Andy Wightman, Marit and Rona, Stanley Odd, Karin Polwart. It's telling just how much of my cultural discovery now takes place in this field west of Perth.

And of course, the usual Solas serendipity was ever present (not just in the title of Sarah Rose Graber's wonderful wide-eyed single-handed show). The festival's scale and no-hassle welcome to all means that striking up conversations with strangers is very easy, and you're equally likely to find the person you're comparing notes about falafel with is a punter, festival organiser, main stage performer, volunteer or MSP.

My only sadness is that there was no reference to this week's murder of Jo Cox MP. Perhaps it's too recent for comment.

The festival ended with a performance by The Hazey Janes with Liz Lochead and Steve Kettley. With two of his children in the band, and one number about his funeral, Michael Marra's presence felt very near. So with a little time spare before our train home this morning I walked through South Inch park beneath the walls of Perth prison, seemingly the inspiration for Marra's song of optimism and hope, Letter from Perth.


I want to talk to the trees
check out the smell of the blossoms and the bloom.

I would rock in your sweet and tender arms
if I wasn't doing time.
I have to get this message to you baby
it's a beautiful day and I feel fine.

There's a light at the end of the tunnel,
I can see it peeking through.
Big Light must shine on someone,
may as well be me and you.

I find I'm listening to this more and more these days. In Liz Lockheed's words, "The light comes back. The light always comes back."

Posted by pab at 13:26 | Comments will be back one day. Please email me instead!