COULD Paisley be the coolest place to be this month? A sell-out gig by Paulo Nutini, music from one of India’s most prestigious festivals and a spectacular show from Frightened Rabbit and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra in the stunning surroundings of Paisley Abbey are just part of this year’s Spree.

It is the sixth consecutive year of the festival and probably the most important to date, pending the final decision on whether Paisley will be named the UK City of Culture 2021.

As a result, all the stops have been pulled out to make this Spree the most impressive yet.

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Almost 60 venues across Paisley will cover a wide range of art forms from music and dance to theatre and poetry, with plenty of events for children included.

Along with well-known Scottish and international names, there is a platform for the city’s home-grown talent and some of the hottest acts in comedy.

This year’s festival will be kicking off with a twist, opening with a celebration of the Spree’s twin festival, the Rajasthan International Folk Festival (RIFF). The musical collaboration will weave together the two cultures by featuring traditional music from India and Scotland.

Other acts on the bill include Dougie McLean, Emma Pollock, RM Hubbert, Laura Cortese and the Dance Cards.

ANYONE ELSE?

ONE musician determined to get there is Johnny Lynch of Pictish Trail, who is making a flying visit from Germany where he is supporting KT Tunstall on her European tour.

In order to do so he is flying in from Cologne on his only night off to host an eclectic night of music featuring some of the bands on his independent record label, Lost Map, which he started in a caravan on the island of Eigg.

“It’s quite weird as I thought we might not be able to do the Spree because of the KT Tunstall tour but then I noticed our night off was the 22nd, which is when we are booked for Paisley Arts Centre,” said Lynch. “It means flying from Cologne on the day of the gig then flying back next day, but I reckon the Spree is worth it.

“The Spree is such a cool festival as there is a variety of acts and a real focus on one-off performances and collaborations, which is exciting. It’s good to go to a musical event that has a different flavour and where you can see something you won’t see anywhere else.”

Added Lynch: “Paisley is a great place that’s often overlooked – it’s not on the gig map that often so when we were offered the date we decided we should support something a local body has put together.”

WHAT’S ON OFFER?

FOR Lynch it is also a great opportunity to showcase the mix of bands signed to the Lost Map label.

“We’ve got a wide breadth of styles which is really exciting,” he said. “We’ve put out some amazing records, by bands like Kid Canaveral and Tuff Love, and we’ve got a broad mix of stuff. It should be good fun, as people will be able to see acts they’ve not seen before as well as acts that are perhaps more familiar.

“David MacGregor from Kid Canaveral is doing a solo set and we have a harpist called Serafina Steer who plays in a band we’ve just signed called Bas Jan. She is an incredible singer songwriter – very melodic but very funny as well. Any time I have seen her I have been blown away.

“Then there is Alabaster dePlume, who is a performance poet and a great sax player. It’s a really immersive experience watching him perform.”

Also appearing will be Glasgow band Savage Mansion and bass player Susan Bear from Tuff Love, who will be making her live debut as Good Dog.

“She sings beautiful grungy-pop songs, and we’ve also got Ed Dowie who plays atmospheric electronic music,” said Lynch.

WHY EIGG?

BEFORE launching Lost Map four years ago, Lynch ran the Fife-based Fence Records label for ten years. When his business partner Kenny Anderson left in 2013 he decided to keep going, along with musicians already signed to Fence.

He moved to Eigg after meeting his partner, Sarah Boden, who is from the island and was moving home after working as a music journalist in London.

“I went to visit and fell in love with the place,” said Lynch, who was particularly taken with the community buy-out which this year celebrated its 20th anniversary.

“It is an incredible thing that happened here and has got particular resonance with Scotland’s fight for independence and the heightened awareness of land ownership. Eigg has been a pioneer in that respect. A lot of people pass it off like being a commune but that is completely not what it is. The community managed to create its own sense of identity and make change happen. It’s something that could be expanded nationally.”

To celebrate the anniversary, Lynch staged a special festival on Eigg featuring KT Tunstall and bands on his label. This year, as Pictish Trail, he’s also played Glastonbury, the Green Man and other top festivals.

“The music I’ve been making over the past year-and-a-half is fun and people can dance to it, so it’s perfect for festivals,” he said.

WHICH WAY NOW?

AS for Lost Map, he says it is going well and he is excited about showcasing some of the bands in Paisley.

“We’ve had a lot of really good releases and we’re reaching an audience that we maybe didn’t reach before so that has been really exciting,” he said.

The name of the label reflects what he is striving for.

“I’ve always loved maps but you have to follow your instinct if you lose your map,” he said. “I hope that is apparent in the music we’ve got with the label.

“I follow my instinct regardless of what is trendy – my taste is always towards something where you get an emotional connection, as that is always the best music. I wouldn’t put out a record just because it was the taste of the moment.

“I just want to put out stuff that I hold very dear.”

He aims to develop the label and its Eigg connection still further, and this winter is to establish a residency project that will bring musicians to the island.

“I want to begin a new wave of music created on Eigg,” he said.