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Sunday, 25 December 2011


As the year creeps ever closer to relinquishing it's hold on us all I suppose this is the best time to reflect on it.
So in a small way I'd like to say thank you for the music and good times that the Ayrshire music scene has provided by compiling a little roll call of honour.
Prior to beginning though I would like to take the opportunity to point out that by praising one artist and excluding another doesn't mean that one is good and the other bad, but just that in my own personal opinion one may simply tick all the boxes a little harder than the other.
You got that?
Okay. Here goes.

Male artist - Ross Gilchrist.
I don't think many people would be surprised at my opting to give Ross the highest praise as I've been shouting his name from the rooftops since first seeing him play.
Forget trying to put what he does into a nice little box as a singular genre tag falls short of being able to hold him.
When people talk about genius I think of Ross.
In a year that has provided a multitude of great performances, fantastic releases and more surprises from local talent than I could have imagined possible it is Ross Gilchrist who is in my humble opinion standing on the shoulders of giants.

Female artist - Melissa Kelly.
While the mainstream falls over itself to shovel praise on auto tuned divas, or award technically gifted, but soulless sounding, women with plaudits it's a fact that the real talent is to be found in the performances that Melissa Kelly is known for.
It's earthy, it's raw, and when she opens her mouth to sing she conveys the real emotion that is required to make the hair stand up on the necks of an audience.
Modern rhythm and blues? Rock and roll? Call it what you want but this young lady is what people will call 'the real deal'.

Group – Rose Parade/Brown Bear and the Bandits/Fole.
It's not possible to praise one of these bands higher than the other.
If this was a race then then it's a photo finish that shows that none of them are edging ahead of the pack. All are equal winners to my ears.
There's a broad range of styles to get your teeth into and for those with eclectic tastes then they will find plenty to get excited about regardless of what one you choose to listen to first.

Under eighteen male artist - Sam Christison.
At fifteen years of age young Sam has just released his debut ep called '3 songs about you + 1 about me', and in doing so he has probably sent shivers down the spines of his more mature peers.
There are musicians in there twenties who have been playing for years who still haven't travelled as far down the road as Sam has.
I fully expect to hear a great deal more from him in the forthcoming years.

Under eighteen female artist - Anna Sweeney.
Tentatively stepping into the spotlight with performances that are grabbing attention Anna is quickly garnering a reputation as a precocious talent who is blooming into something rather special.
Early 2012 should see something being released that I'm sure will provide ample proof that she will deliver on all the current promise shown.

Best venues that supports local talent.
Jollys Sports Bar (Kilmarnock)/ Su Casa (Ayr)
Every month both of these Ayrshire establishments have been providing a platform for local talent to grow.
I've lost count of the artists that I have been introduced to while frequenting them.
It was in Jollys that I first seen Ross Gilchrist and Matt Scott. Su Casa were I met Jamie (Little Fire) McGeechan and seen Brown Bear for the first time.
I could go on and on.
Both deserve our support, as does any venue that ethically promotes local talent, so if I was to ask for one thing from local readers it would be that they support the evenings that they have as the time worn phrase 'use it, or lose it' comes to mind.

Ross Gilchrist – Feersum Enjinn/Roscoe Vacant and the Gantin' Screichs – Reckurdt
Both of these albums highlight just how strong the music scene in Ayrshire is.
Each of them in their own way are breathtakingly fearless and unapologetically pioneering in spirit.
While some bands and artists will tread a well worn path, Ross Gilchrist and Ross Morris choose instead to step away from being directly influenced and instead tear up the rule book and paste it back together to create something that while recognizable in places is still refreshingly original.
I doff my cap to both.

Record label.
There's no hesitation from me in naming Newtown Products as the label of the year.
This one man cottage industry embodies all that is good about the independent DIY scene.
The passion, the belief and the cojones to take the risk financially to bring original talent to the public is something that shouldn't be downplayed so I'm naming Andrew Meikle as my music scene hero of the year.

Honourable mentions for 2011 go to Jamie McGeechan for fighting the good fight to promote Ayrshire's many artists through booking them to play Su Casa, writing about them in the local press, name checking everyone as often as he can and doing all that while working tirelessly to further his own career as the the artist known as Little Fire.
He's the hardest working man in showbiz and if success was measured in respect then he is probably the most successful artist in Ayrshire.
I'm sure that my acknowledgement of his efforts and talent will be construed by some as sycophantic praise of someone who I now consider a friend, but I will not bite my tongue on the matter as everything said is true.
I sincerely hope that 2012 is the year where all his dreams become a reality.
Next is Matt Scott who I have had the pleasure of seeing live numerous times now.
From a friend initially introducing me to his live set - thanks Munro - earlier in the year, to the recent release of his debut ep I've been privileged to see him grow as a singer, songwriter and performer.
January the 11th of 2012 will see him start the year with his second performance at King Tuts Wah Wah Hut.
Get in there early for a ticket so that in years to come you can say you were there.
Last, but by no means least, is Masters of the Sea who probably played the most drunkenly shambolic acoustic gig I've witnessed this year - and that's saying something as I've seen the Girobabies - and still managed to sound better than most bands who turn up sober and intently try and entertain.
As is usual I am sure I've missed people out.
Oh well. It's a shame, but if you weren't mentioned feel free to pretend that it was an oversight rather than deliberate.

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