Tuesday, 28 August 2012

The Singing Shepherd

A few weeks ago I wrote about a visit to a farm on the North side of the island to watch Iain Thomson, the singing shepherd at work. Since then he has completed our deer fence, fitted it with rabbit wire and hung our heavy metal entrance gates. So now it was time to go to one of his live performances. On the island we are fortunate to have some halls that hold about sixty people and thus have an intimate atmosphere for the benefit of both musicians and their audiences.

Iain, who writes his own songs, plays the guitar and keyboard was sharing the stage with a professional musician Marc Duff. Marc is one of those artists who play many instruments and can switch from one to another whilst drawing a breath. He supported Iain’s singing with bodram, low D whistle, Erin pipes and bouzouki, whilst not playing all at once easy and smooth transitions during pieces were a delight to watch and listen to.

The programme of Iain’s music celebrated his life with its up and downs and his travels from Mull to the Scottish mainland as a shepherd, then long distance trucking all over the UK before a stint as a shearer in New Zealand before returning to Mull and his croft with his flock of sheep. As with his fencing work his professionalism with his music is very apparent, his style is quiet and entertaining, the vocals thought provoking and they tell the story of land use change from the infamous highland clearances to the present day. People are important to Iain so there are songs to tell the tale of a man from Mull who fought as a Royal Marine Commando in the Falklands war and of the Welsh Pedlar, John Jones, who died on the island after nursing families sick with typhoid back in the late 1880s. For those not fortunate to know Iain and his music it can be enjoyed on his website www.iainthomsonband.co.uk

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