BE INSPIRED – by Ali Hutton

In all honesty this blog has taken me weeks to get round to. I’ve changed my mind so often about what to write. Fortunately, the other night I watched a TV programme about Billy Connolly called ‘Made In Scotland’. This gave me the idea that I should write about ‘Inspiration’……’Being inspired’………..

Now, I’ve never been a big fan of Billy Connolly. I never really watched his comedy shows. I’m not sure why this was? I was never really into watching comedians. I didn’t think of Billy Connolly as any more than a guy who stands up on stage and shouts at an audience for 3 hours. This doesn’t really matter. I’m not writing this about how I now appreciate how funny this guy is, or even how much he has become a cultural icon. I’m writing this because when I watched this programme I was moved and inspired. I was inspired by how this guy, a regular guy like most of us, pursued his dreams, how he was inspired by his upbringing in Glasgow, his environment and the everyday people that surrounded him. I was moved by the way he perceives life, and also where he is now at the other end of his life. His words were…….”There is no denying it, I am 75, I have got Parkinson’s and I am at the wrong end of the telescope of life, I am at the point where the yesteryears mean more than the yesterdays”………”I’m 75, I’m near the end, I’m a damn sight nearer the end than I am the beginning but it doesn’t frighten me, it’s an adventure and it is quite interesting to see myself slipping away.” I found this outlook to be poetic and profound. Throughout the programme he shows a genuine appreciation for all the places and people that he has experienced on his journey. The programme shows Billy visiting various different artists of different walks of life and different trades. His enthusiasm for their talents and their expression of life is beautiful. He has a real deep interest in their humanity and how they express themselves through their art. What inspired me was his appreciation and respect for others, his interest in others and his willingness to share his talents, stories and experiences. We should show interest in others, respect what others have to offer, be intrigued by what’s happening around us. Billy reminded me to pursue inspiration.

There is an incredible depth and beauty in being inspired. It is a moving experience to see, or hear something that really resonates inside. This is a feeling that we should be seeking out on a daily basis. It’s the spark of creativity, the fire that drives us to put everything into what we do. We should always be looking to others, always learning, always finding inspiration in the folk that have come before us, the different walks of life, the diversity in humanity, the places and the people. We are so lucky to live in Scotland and to be submerged in a scene of such rich tradition, culture and talent. We are, on a daily basis, surrounded by inspiring people. We really don’t have to look far!! I’ve been very fortunate over the years to have been able to play music on and off stage with my musical heroes, people that I have looked up to from a young age. I was lucky enough to have been taught and influenced by my greatest musical hero, Gordon Duncan. Gordon was someone that I looked up to and that I aspired to be like. I remember the first time I heard his album, ‘Just for Seamus’. He had given me a copy on cassette. I listened to it in the car on the way back home from pipe band practise. This is the first time I had ever experienced the feeling of being profoundly inspired by music. It was like nothing that I’d ever heard before. This moment shaped the way that I moved forward with my own music. From then on Gordon shared his music and experiences with a few of us, myself and Ross Ainslie in particular. He gave us our first ever experience of going away on tour as “professional” musicians (aged about 15?), or so we thought at the time. It was a rocky experience to say the least but it gave us our first taste of being on the road and playing some big festivals. We spent most of the trip avoiding catastrophes, but it was exciting and new. I knew then that this was how I wanted to proceed. This was the kind of journey that I wanted to set out on, experiencing the world, meeting interesting people and sharing music. Gordon was an inspiration not only as a musician, but as a human. He was incredibly humble and quite a shy, unassuming guy. He worked as a bin man in Pitlochry and like Billy, took great interest in his surroundings and the everyday folk that he met on his rounds.

Through Gordon, I was also introduced to the music of another of my heroes, Duncan Chisholm. Gordon was, at one time, the piper in a band called Wolfstone, in my mind, the greatest Celtic rock band that ever existed……but we don’t need to get into that!!! Duncan is one of the founder members of Wolfstone and an incredible musician in his own right. He has a musical style that is incredibly moving and poignant. He paints pictures with every note that emanates from his fiddle. I have been very fortunate to have had the honour of playing gigs with Duncan’s band over the last few years. I’ve found great inspiration in the descriptive nature of his music, the way he tells a story, how he gives you a sense of place and atmosphere. For me, this is what great music is all about. Creating a feeling, allowing the listener to be put in that place along side you. Duncan is a true master of his craft. There is a commonality shared by these folk and it’s not the fact that they are all musicians, or artists of sorts. It’s their incredible human nature. It’s the intrigue, the sharing, the respect, the appreciation, their outlook on the ever changing world. These are the things that inspire me.

So this blog is a wee rant…….a reminder………Go out and be inspired!