Love of Live Music in Glasgow and Greece by Mary Irvine
A Musical Interlude in Glasgow
I have been listening online to Jim Byrne singing his own compositions. I mentioned to Pat that I liked them. She kindly invited me to join her at ‘The Dram’ last night as Jim was performing there. Synchronicity methinks, as he apparently does very few such gigs.
Well worth the journey from Loch Lomond. The gig comprised three singers, all different in style. One was not to my taste. Fortunately we all like different kinds of music so there’s something for everyone. A second, Andy Flett, was a very talented musician/singer who presented quite an eclectic mix.
(Photo: by Dochan MacMillanCotton Candy Club)
Jim began with a song which reminded me of Woody Guthrie. As Jim went through his set I thought of the Carradine brothers, especially Keith. But whatever, whoever, has influenced him Jim’s words and music are all his own. Sadly, as the gig started late, I had to leave before completion of his set but so pleased I was there. Thanks for inviting me, Pat.
Oh, a word to the ‘rudies’. If you choose to sit in a room designated for a gig it’s usually considered polite to listen to the performers. There are other places in ‘The Dram’ where you could have carried on your loud conversations and not spoiled it for genuine music lovers. Well done, Pat, for pointing this out to the perpetrators!
Check out Pat’s Guide to the West End and go to Jim’s acoustic music adventures.
Larry was a tall, slender man, possibly in his thirties, softly and gently spoken with a sexuality of which he was probably not aware, unless he was exceptionally subtle about it!
He appeared on the island a few days after a fire in the Old Harbour. In time honoured fashion the boat involved – a beautiful yacht constructed of wood and brass, belonging to a regular summer visitor who sailed in from Germany – had been towed out towards the deep water and sunk. The flames being efficiently extinguished and there being no further danger to the other boats, it was then allowed to rise again to the surface and was securely anchored, still in the harbour but no obstacle to shipping. Now arose the problem of repairs.
The island was famous for its ship-building ability. Amongst the older men this was very much a rule of thumb. The younger ones learned ‘on the job’ from the older, but were slowly adding more modern approaches as they learned how to build boats in colleges, in a classroom! Although there was a lot of local experience this boat required an expertise with which very few men anywhere were bestowed. Such a one was Larry.
He had learnt his craft by travelling to areas renowned for being well-versed in boat building. In particular the Hebrides, arriving unannounced and asking that the boat builders there teach him everything they knew. In return he would work without pay asking only for accommodation and food. He stayed a year.
Larry was Canadian by birth, I believe, but could have been anywhere in the world at any one moment. How quickly he was located and actually arrived is still something of a mystery. In the event he stayed several weeks working and advising until the boat was showing signs of its former beauty – a point at which Larry left as his especial skills were no longer required.
Larry’s other skill was with the mouth harp. He always carried a set on a bandolier
and would play anywhere, anytime, purely for love. Larry had a friend on the island – a fellow musician who arranged for Larry to play at George’s Club. I had never realised how emotive and poignant the harmonica could be when played so expertly and with love. The player and the instrument were one and I fell in love with both. At the time I was ‘involved’ – happened to be Larry’s friend – so…
Although readers of this probably won’t hear Larry I do suggest listening to Rhapsody in Blue featuring Larry Adler and produced by George Martin, track 18 of ‘The Glory of Gershwin’ for a feel of the magic I experienced.
I have often wondered where Larry is now and if he has heard of the death of his friend. He probably has. Island news travels the world at a speed only slightly slower than on the island itself…
This section: Mary Irvine: Writer and Philhellene
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