By Vonny Moyes
You’re in a room. A wee room, in a Glasgow venue. People crammed in like tinned pilchards, clutching warm plastic pints, shoulder to shoulder, gazing forward, waiting. Of course there’s some muckle great fella marking a spot he’s stratospherically disqualified from, the lassie who’s dumped her coat and bag in the middle of the floor – a pile that soon breeds – to guarantee a metre square of unspoiled air. Oh, and the gangly enthusiastic dancer. The ground is a minefield of sticky somethings, crushed cups and accidental beer slicks. The air is warm; smoggy with a hundred pre-gig preening routines, chatter and a familiar pub playlist.
The music stops. The lights dim. Musicians trot on, gulping down jitters, brandishing instruments with intent. The woos and whistles erupt. The band tunes up. The drummer can’t resist a few hits. A nod to sound guy, and it begins. A bass line drives at your chest, a bass drum mainlines to your toes, a crisp guitar lick howls out grabs hold, and then vocals. A melody melts over you, the spell cast, provoking a vestigial ripple of glee from spine upwards. It’s too loud, but right now your hearing’s tomorrow’s problem. This is music. Live music. This is living.
Music is in everything. It’s born in all of us, even if we can’t hear it. It’s the siren’s song that unites us, in sadness or celebration, in solemnity or satisfaction. Since time began the arts have shaped our nation. They’ve responded to our surroundings, challenging, highlighting and fighting for or against the things that define us. Right now Scotland is experiencing her most significant political epoch in our lifetimes, and with that the arts have come alight. There’s a cultural renaissance sweeping through our wee country, alight with bright young voices and fresh perspectives on Scottishness.
On 3rd September Bella Caledonia hosts Songs for Scotland – a festival of proud, relevant voices exalting the power of Yes. A gig that beats with the heart of the indy movement, in tandem with a one-off album of aspirational songs . Songs imbued with a genuine belief in change, rather than the promise of a £500 payoff.
While we can’t overlook the significance of our deep-rooted folk heritage, the night plans to laud the other voices woven into our rich musical tapestry. Scottish hip-hop, once a joke has become an unstoppable reactionary force against the marginalisation of our nation. The roster features Loki, a Glaswegian rapper who is bricks and mortar to the genre. Producing his first album at just nineteen, phoenixing from the ashes of homelessness, death and substance abuse, his revolutionary rhymes, ruthless delivery, and tireless activism have earned him a spot amongst the country’s most outspoken MC’s. The significance of burgeoning celt hip-hop genre is undeniable, with the Gaidhlig community’s own MC Gille-Goillidh performing Up-Ap, and album–only support in the form of Stanley Odd’s laser-guided funk precision and mighty political lyricism.
There’s also Adam Ross; frontman of Glasgow’s indie-pop love-in Randolph’s Leap, and unsuspecting wielder of Scotland’s canniest rhyming couplets. Whilst the band is a cacophonous whirling dervish of gleeful pop goodness, Ross’s solo performances are a thing of beauty. In the absence of his seven-strong rabble, his music takes on a quiet earnestness otherwise lost in the moment.
Dr. Zara Gladman’s pro-indy parody poster-girl Lady Alba will be bringing a touch of humour to the proceedings. Having become the unofficial face of the Yes movement, her lighting-striped alter-ego has become synonymous with the more comical offerings of the out-of-touch Better Together campaign. Continuing the offbeat touch, Edinburgh’s Shooglenifty bring their flavour of genre-spanning hypno-folkadelic revelry. Their celtic folk fusion is a patchwork of haunting balladry, acid house, and gritty banjo riffs is not to be missed.
Why is a night of music so important?
Music inspires us, and reminds us of the world that exists outside of politics. We’re not just fighting against poverty, or nukes, or a crippled economy – we’re fighting for the arts. We’re fighting for a meaningful landscape for our talent to flourish. This is our time stand against the cockeyed taxonomy of contemporary Scotland; we can do that by uniting our voices in hope. In buying a ticket, you’re acknowledging the importance of our cultural legacy, and guaranteeing your place at a final big knees-up before everything changes, forever.
These aren’t just songs for Scotland; they’re songs of hope, and a beacon for those whose belief falters, or who can’t find courage in the bluff and bluster.
Come along, bring your friends and make memories of a night untainted by the polls and electrified by progress. Regardless of what happens on September 18th, we’re about to walk into a hurricane; this wee gig is a moment in the eye to remind us why we’re doing it.