My friends’ annual Robert Burns party has come and gone and a great time was had by all. Met up with friend Nils at Barfly and got a lift with Allan and Gail down to Old Montreal. Nils is a talented professional singer and guitarist who has a passion for old Scottish music, so bringing him to the party was a no-brainer. This party, which has been going on for over 10 years now, is a real treat. There’s always a large selection of single malt whiskies on hand, great food, and a sing-along led by Johnny Graham and co. Song highlights include “Loch Lomond”, “Flower of Scotland”, and Stan Rogers’ “Barrett’s Privateers”. Best single malt scotch of the night: Balvenie 12 year old.
Nils played a short but fantastic set of some of these old songs he has from an historic Scottish Music collection he has and stunned the guests with the quality of his voice. Gail, Allan, and I have had the pleasure of hearing him sing at Barfly, but the rest of the crowd had never heard him. Hell, they never even met him before. He’s a professional operatic singer, so his voice filled the room. Definitely not sing-along material, but a treat nonetheless. Hopefully he’ll put in a set at Barfly soon.
My personal highlight of the night was Will’s Scottish dumpling made from his granny’s recipe. It was almost as good as my Glasgow granny’s was. Now I’ve got to fry it up and have it with eggs and bacon, just like we used to when we were kids.
Traditional Scottish Dumpling (Clootie) – the only dessert vegetarians can’t eat.
So naturally, Nils and I got dropped off at Barfly and lo and behold Rick’s there with Carlos. Rick Klucinskas and I go way back with the Soria brothers and have probably seen Alex play more shows than anyone. Alex and I met Rick in our first year in CEGEP back in 1983 through mutual friend Dwight Faithful and have been best of friends ever since. In our way, we all felt like we were brothers.
We reminisced – a lot. Talked a lot about Alex, the music we used to listen to back in the day, how great our combined record collections were, remembering the early Nils shows. It was funny remembering that from the moment I saw Alex and Carlos’ collection, I was competitive – I had to have a collection at least as good as theirs. I never managed it, but I know Alex and Carlos always appreciated my tastes and my collection. When my father died suddenly in 1986, I had to bury him on the isle of Eriskay in Scotland where he was born. Because I was going to be gone for a month, I left my stereo and entire record collection at the Soria house on Gilbert Street. That house was the official Nils HQ at the time, and this was just 3 months before they would be forced to move out because their Dad was going away to California. Anyway, I left my records there and my collection was thoroughly raided – in a good way. Many mixed tapes were made from records in our combined collections. It was the only time my records were mixed in with theirs, and it was the ultimate compliment to know that they rated my bunch of LPs, EPs, and singles. Combined, we probably had the best collection of early punk and hardcore I’ve ever seen in one place. It would probably cost thousands to get those records in a single place today.