My old friend Stewart Hanratty is gravely ill with cancer. We put on a gig for him on Sunday 3 March at the Jazz Bar, Chambers Street, Edinburgh, featuring John Sampson; Freddie King & Lachlan McColl; Lorna Brooks; Dave Anderson, Sarah McCardie & John McGlynn; Martin Morrey; Mary May, Ray Leonard & Phil Craig; Terminal Bliss; Elaine C. Smith & Robert Pettigrew; Odd Times; Christine Kydd; the Kings of Cheeze and the Great Shakes Allstars. The centrepiece was a set of three of Stewart’s songs, beautifully arranged by pianist Robert Pettigrew. The band for these consisted of Freddie King (vocal), Robert Pettigrew (piano & vocal), John Sampson (trumpet), Steve Kettley (tenor sax), Duncan Black (accordion), Allan Knox (double bass) and Rick Bamford (drums). The venue was packed with Stewart’s friends and family. The man himself had a great time, and got up to dance to the salsa sounds at the interval, and to his own tune as played by the Great Shakes Allstars at the end. A great day for a great man, musician and friend.
I played in probably one of the best concerts of my career at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on Mon.28th January, “All Will Be Well” – celebrating the life and music of my friend, the wonderful singer and songwriter Michael Marra, who tragically left us in October last year. An excellent house band; Alice & Matthew Marra’s group The Hazey Janes; many singers, including Eddie Reader, Kris Drever, Dougie McLean, Sylvia Rae Tracey, Rod Paterson; a poem from Liz Lochhead; all put together by Rab Noakes, and before a sell-out crowd. It will take us all a while to realise how much Michael gave us, and how much we have lost.