Ivor Cutler: The king of fantasy island

Many of the biggest names in Scottish music have gathered to explore the imaginary kingdom where Ivor Cutler’s career began, discovers Sean Guthrie

I asked Paul McCartney,” says Matt Brennan, eyes lighting up. “I found an email for his manager and I thought: you know what? We’d collected so many musicians we’d never thought there would be any chance of getting. Very generously his manager did reply and said: ‘Paul is working on his own projects right now, but he’s a keen supporter of Mr Cutler.’ I thought: good on him.”

Mr Cutler, of course, being Ivor Cutler, the Scottish humorist, poet and songwriter who appeared in the Beatles film Magical Mystery Tour at McCartney’s behest and whose influence on the Fab Four is indisputable (more of which later). He is also the inspiration behind Return to Y’Hup, a thrillingly picaresque compendium of Cutler’s songs and poetry driven by Brennan and friends, and featuring a lengthy list of the great and good of contemporary Scottish music. Continue reading

Grit Orchestra/Celtic Connections review – filmic fusion from an 80-strong band

Greg Lawson’s boisterous ensemble celebrate freedom and the Declaration of Arbroath while US duo Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn add festive moonshine

Glasgow’s annual roots music jamboree Celtic Connections may have only just launched but the breakout star of the 27th edition has already emerged. A 10-meter-high sea goddess made of driftwood stalked the city as part of a mini festival celebrating Scotland’s coastal cultural heritage. The aptly named Storm – guided by puppeteers in fetching yellow sou’westers – strode from the Clyde to the Royal Concert Hall, causing ripples among awed Saturday morning shoppers. With her slo-mo gait, seaweed vestments and startling blue eyes, Storm cut a rather majestic dash.

Making waves … the Celtic Connections festival puppet Storm on walkabout.
 Making waves … the Celtic Connections festival puppet Storm on walkabout. Photograph: Michael McGurk/Rex/Shutterstock

The opening concert was similarly larger than life, featuring the return of the multifarious Grit Orchestra with a new six-part piece commissioned to mark the looming 700th anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath. That document was an assertion of Scottish autonomy, but bandleader Greg Lawson introduced the 70-minute suite – composed by six members of the ensemble – as a celebration of the concept of freedom rather than the currently prickly topic of independence. Continue reading

Radcliffe and Maconie – Mogwai’s Stuart Braithwaite

Mark Radcliffe and Stuart Maconie present a feast of great music and chat for weekend breakfast

Ahead of Burns Night later today, this morning’s Radcliffe and Maconie Show celebrates some of the best music to come out of Scotland.

Today’s guest is Stuart Braithwaite of Glasgow post-rock band Mogwai. He joins Mark and Stuart to talk about the Ivor Cutler tribute show he’s involved in, celebrating the Scottish humorist, poet, philosopher and surrealist’s career and legacy.

Part of this year’s Celtic Connections Festival, the tribute show brings together some of Scotland’s top indie, folk, rock and pop artists including Belle and Sebastian’s Stuart Murdoch, Kris Drever, Karine Polwart and Emma Pollock to play an array of Cutler’s compositions.

Also on today’s show… Clare Crane has the latest music and entertainment stories in ‘This Week In Music’.Plus music from The Blue Nile, Teenage Fanclub, Kathryn Joseph and Camera Obscura.

Listen to the entire BBC program: Radcliffe and Maconie – Mogwai’s Stuart Braithwaite – BBC Sounds