The opening of Paisley’s Spree Festival this year, the year of them being in the limelight with their City of Culture 2021 bid being launched and their shortlist, was an intricate forging and weaving of cultures, honing in on the theme for 2017’s festival, friendship. The town, renowned for its mill industry and Paisley Pattern celebrated its link with India by hosting an event which saw musical cultures intertwine with richness in its very own pop-up Spiegeltent.
The Spree twins with one of India’s most prestigious festivals, the Rajasthan International Folk Festival (RIFF), and as such both programmed this Musical Tapestry where three Scottish musicians – piper Ross Ainslie, musician and composer Angus Lyon and singer-songwriter Ross Wilson (aka Blue Rose Code) collaborated up with Indian counterparts Smita Bellur, Asin Khan Langa and Sawai Khan, for a rich cultural mix of traditional vocals and instruments.
With the Spree growing and strengthening with every year (it’s now into its sixth) , 2017 sees a fantastic programme of events, including A Musical Tapestry, which was being recorded by BBC Scotland’s Travelling Folk programme. The town’s textual heritage is imperative to its place on the map, which is why this curated event sounded ideal to kick off twelve days of cultural events around the town.
Supported by the British Council as part of their UK/India Year of Culture 2017, this event incorporated some rather fine accordion, and bagpipes fused with Indian percussion and resonating vocals. However, it was not pieced together as finely as the Pattern or the cloth of India in that some of the richness was missing. After witnessing the mesmerising Yorkston/Thorne/Khan perform several times in the height of summer, it is a tad disappointing to watch this kind of textural layering after seeing it performed with a touch of extra class.
No doubt an interesting and unique experience for the musicians, blatantly all technically proficient, there was just often a lack of organic fusion in many of the tracks, with a stop-start feel and approach. However, it was great to be in the midst of the excitement of the opening event, witnessing these astute and diligent musicians fill an evening.
Photo courtesy of Euan Robertson.
For more on The Spree and the remainder of it’s programme click here.