Hamish Matters in 2018
November 8, 2018 by Perthshire Creates
Hamish Matters Festival kicks off in his birthtoon of Blairgowrie
Hamish Matters, a Festival celebrating the life and work of Blairgowrie born Scottish poet, songwriter, soldier and intellectual Hamish Henderson, got off to a rousing start on Wednesday evening in Blairgowrie Library.
An enraptured audience heard leading Scottish scholar and Professor of Scottish Music at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Fred Freeman speak about his friend and mentor Hamish Henderson, whom he described as having been “a new voice on the carrying stream.”
He spoke of a man who made no boundary between poetry and song – and considered the oral tradition of the travellers’ poetry and song to be high art, despite perceived opinion. The late Sheila Stewart, storyteller and author, born in Blairgowrie within the traveller community, is known to have said of Hamish “He fed us with a sense of worth and made us great citizens of Scotland. He put us on the map as human beings”
Excerpts from “A’ the Bairns O Adam”, a tribute to Hamish Henderson, were played including the “Ballad of the D-Day Dodgers”. A moving tale of the futility of war and death, it ends “You’ll find the scattered crosses, there’s some which have no name, Heartbreak and toil and suffering gone, The boys beneath them slumber on – Those were the D-Day Dodgers who’ll stay in Italy”. This was particularly poignant to hear in the lead up to Remembrance Sunday.
There was humour and fondness too as Fred described Hamish as “just bonkers”, saying “I met almost everybody and his dog via Hamish…he put serious points into relief with his wicked wit. He created human touches few poets ever achieve.”
Bob Dylan is said to have stated that he wrote The Times They are a Changin’ after hearing “Freedom Come all Ye”, a Scots language anti-imperialist song written by Hamish in 1960 –and hearing a rendition of this was a fitting finale to the evening.
There’s still much more to come from Hamish Matters
Hamish Matters, the Hamish Henderson Festival, continues this week with a number of events for all ages, including Perthshire tales storytelling session with Lindsey Gibb, we’ll hear ‘The Tale o’ the Wee Mowdie’ and there is a Bookbug session for babies and pre-schoolers where stories will be told in Scots and in Gaelic. Folklorist, writer, singer and broadcaster. Margaret Bennett and Scottish radio broadcaster Fiona Ritchie MBE will be in conversation about Hamish and his legacy. The programme of events will be rounded off with a People’s Cèilidh in Blairgowrie Town Hall – with songs, music, stories and poems in the spirit of Henderson’s ground-breaking 1951 Festival Cèilidh in Edinburgh, which has been cited as a catalyst for the modern Scottish Folk Revival.