THIS week ah thocht ah wid gie a wee heize up tae an auld buddy o mine, the byordnar singer/songwriter/guitarist frae Irvine, Colin Kennedy. Colin, fir the last hauntle o decades hus bin a kenspeckle character oan the Ayrshire an south-west Scotland music scene. He played in popular local baunds lik Midnight Express an Dance Faction (baith o whilk ah played wi at ae time masel) wha wir cuivers baunds that entertained fowk in the pubs, clubs, miners’ clubs, working men’s clubs, an aa the ither venues an ootlets whaur (verra much) live music prevailed in the 1980s and 90s. Afore that Colin played wi the band Yankee wha hud a brief stab at the “big time” in the era o the Bay City Rollers.
Nou Colin hus pit a rock baun thegaither an is finally “giein somethin back” tae the communities he hus entertained, an wha hae supportit him throu the decades. The Colin Kennedy Band, alang wi ither live acts Addiction and Marc Bunten, are due tae play a big gig at the Dumfries Arms in Cumnock oan Setterday, February 25. Aa the proceeds frae this gig wull gang tae the cancer charity the Ayrshire Hospice. It wull be a great nicht o real live music, nane o yer third-rate karaoke X Factor or The Voice candidates here, singin alang tae pre-recordit backin tracks. It'll be guitars an drums plugged intil amps and played bi fowk wi a lifetime o experience at the coalface o the music industry.
Ah claucht up wi Colin at Irvine Harbour Arts Centre the ither week. We hudnae seen yin anither fir years. We sat an cawed the crack fir aboot three hours! Reminiscin, as auld rockers dae, anent baunds we hud played in, an hou oor lives hud panned oot ower the years.
Loading article content
Colin hus hud his ain plaisterin business fir a wheen o years an is a verra successful businessman. He wis tellin me that he’s 60 this year, an ah daur say he cuid retire the morn gin he liked an pit his feet up (he’s a keen an able golfer!). He admits hissel that he’s tryin tae step back frae the business an tak twa days a week aff – but the mobile phone aye seems tae twitch in his haund an he cannae resist aye takkin the helm o his wee empire tae owersee its various contracts an joabs.
He’s aye bin mairriet tae Eleanor, an they hae twa growne-up kids, Kerry an Sean. Sean hus bin emulatin his faither an is a talentit songwriter an performer in his ain richt. His music cuivers a braid canvas o styles, frae modren “alt-country” tae mair mainstream commercial pop, and he’s currently based in Nashville, USA, furtherin his musical career. Ah weesh him luck in whit must be ane o the teuchest businesses in the warld.
Fir aa that fowk lik Colin an masel, an thousands o ithers in Scotland, hae hauden doun a day joab aa their days, warked haurd tae raise their families, an hud tae juggle aa the challenges that life throws at us – abune aa that fowk need tae pursue their ain dreams! An the dream fir mony o us (likesay these days in X Factor an siclike) is aye-an-oan tae glaum at oor ain wee bit o “stardom”. Ah ken (an ah’m shair you’ll ken!) individuals wha are byordnar singers or musicians, an we wunner why they ne’er made the big time as they’re jist as guid as onybody we’ve seen oan the telly. They aiblins made bad deceesions, or goat ripped aff bi bad management or sharks o lawyers, or jist ne’er goat the breks in life… as Bon Scott an AC/DC sang, it’s a lang wey tae the tap gin ye want tae rock ’n’ roll!
Maist warkin-cless west o Scotland boys – an lassies – didnae hae the backin, opportunity, or soun advice needit tae ultimately succeed in the music business. Fir evri Sheena Easton or Gerry Rafferty or Boabby Gillespie thair’s a hunner braw young musicians/singers that skailt their talents awa an didnae mak it. Likesay, it’s a teuch gemme! An the burden o providin fir families an weans alang the wey maks it doubly teuch.
Mind, playin in a rock ’n’ roll baund, e’en when ye’re jist tourin the dive bars an clubs o this kintra, an ye’re a youngster in yer early 20s, is aiblins ane o the finest pursuits there is! Ah’ve mind wi vieve recollection a tour o the Hielants wi Midnight Express in the early 1980s wi the Patna Svengali hissel, Brian “Bonzo” Jones (a rael leevin legend in his day!!) – playin at Tain, Inverness, Portmahomack (o aa places!?) then Wick an Thurso, fuelled maistly bi Merrydown Cider! An neednae tell ye an excellent time wis hud bi aa!
That wis in auld lang syne richt enow! Mibbes we didnae mak the big time, but the things we hae achieved syne mibbes gang some wey tae mak up fir no scalin the heichts; solid faimilies, bills aa peyed, a braw hoose o wir ain, kids we’re prood o! Life gangs oan – an the dreams we mibbes failed tae realise leeve oan fir oor ain weans. Wi a bit o luve an encouragement mibbes they’ll succeed whaur we didnae. Young anes in Scotland nou can dream as big as they like!
Meanwhile, ah’m ettlin tae see Colin agane the morra. He hus a braw “state o the art” recordin studio in his hoose – anither thing we cuid anely hae dreamt o back in the day! The Colin Kennedy Band hae a braw CD oot the nou (richt professionally duin!) cried Paint The Grey Sky Blue – an it’s a guitar driven blast! Gin ye’re local an ye hae enjoyed the singin o Colin ower the decades then get yersel alang tae the Dumfries Arms oan Februry 25! Ye’ll hear rock music as it shuid be played – an sung! Ye’ll hae a richt braw nicht – an ye’ll alsae be supportin ane o Ayrshire’s foremaist an maist vital charities!
Rab Wilson is a health campaigner and Scots poet