Tales from the Road – Pagancon Glasgow
Last weekend me and Cerri travelled to Glasgow to play a concert at Pagancon. It was my first concert in Scotland for 6 years and one I was really looking forward to. The last time I played there Pagancon was called Druidcon and was a Druid-specific conference, but to help broaden its appeal they changed the name to make it a more Pagan-wide event.
Thursday night I said to Cerri, “So, what time shall we set off tomorrow?” Thinking maybe 9 or 10 o’clock. “I think we should go at 5?” she replied. 5am! Now I knew it made a lot of sense, but I’ve always said that, really, I should have been a Wiccan as I’m far better at night, and don’t do dawns very well. But seeing the sense we agreed and the alarm kicked us out of bed at 4.30… But we were in Glasgow by 3pm. Nice.
The organisers were lovely. They had arranged for us to stay in the Glasgow University Halls of Residence as they were just down the road from the venue. We met up with some of the other speakers, and I finally got meet Little Raven, someone I had ‘met’ several times on internet message boards but never in person. We had locked horns on a number of occasions and, if I’m honest, I was quite determined not to like him. But the internet can be a strange place, and his internet persona was nothing like the person I met. I have to report that nobody got hurt, and we got on really well.
A lovely spread of food was delivered to the kitchen and we all sat down and chatted for the evening.
The next morning we set off to the venue and, apart from having to carry Cerri’s stall and stock up three flights of stairs to get to the hall, it was a mellow and chilled time. I had time to interview Rufus and Melissa Harrington for the next edition of DruidCast about Enochian magic and the life of Alistair Crowley. Listened to a number of inspiring talks, including Little Raven’s, and finally 6pm approached and I moved my instruments into the Reading Room ready for my two sets.
The last time I played in Scotland in 2003 I think it was the worst performance I’d ever done. The people there seemed to enjoy it, but there was something wrong with my own energy, so I was determined to lay that ghost to rest with this one.
The venue was a little weird for music – a long, thin room with a bar at the far end. The seating, as you can see in the photo, was individual and rather comfy armchairs. It reminded me of a Men’s Club. The bar had a really noisy dishwasher, so people towards the back might have had trouble hearing the quieter songs. But I did 2 45 minute sets, the audience was lovely, and were singing along to the songs.
During the gig three moments stuck out for me. The first was realising, as I was introducing Twa Corbies, that I had translated the Scottish dialect of this folk song into English, and wondered how that would be received – it was fine. Whew! The second was hearing the words of Wild Mountain Thyme being sung by the audience in delicious Scottish accents. The third was the encore – I really wanted to play Caledonia by Dougie Maclean – now I truly understood the indescribable love I have for Cornwall, I know what Dougie meant in this song. I had to get from DADGAD to open C tuning… for the first time… right. Let’s say I just asked the audience to talk amongst themselves for a bit!! Anyway, I did get the guitar into the right tuning, and it was so good to play that song in Scotland, being a HUGE Dougie fan.
The concert ended at 9pm, and we were back in the car by 10, heading back to Sussex. We got home around 4 and had a welcome lay in. It was a wonderful night, and I’m really hoping it isn’t another 6 years before I get the chance to play in Scotland again!