Friday, 21 February 2014

Cairn String Quartet and guests

Platform in Easterhouse, Glasgow on February 21st 2014

In early March, the city of Austin Texas hosts the 28th "South by South West" Music festival [ and history:

The Cairn String Quartet will be there! 
"To my knowledge there's no record of a Scottish classical act being chosen to play at South by South West, so it's very exciting," said Annemarie McGahon, founder and violist of the Cairn String Quartet.

However to get there, the girls needed some travel cash, and enlisted the help of some friends for a spectacular SxSW fundraiser at at Platform ( in Easterhouse, Glasgow on February 21st

Cairn String Quartet were joined by members of:
  • Errorsa three piece "post-electro" band from Glasgow. They are signed to Rock Action Records, the label founded and managed by the band Mogwai.
  • The Twilight Sad - are an indie rock band from Kilsyth, comprising James Graham (vocals), Andy MacFarlane (guitar), and Mark Devine (drums). The band are currently signed to Fat Cat Records 
  • Aidan Moffat - best known for his work with Malcolm Middleton in Arab Strap. 
  • Emma Pollock - Emma Pollock is a Scottish singer, songwriter, and guitarist, and a founding member of The Delgados 
  • Aaron Wright - A singer songwriter from Edinburgh. Following the success of his first EP ‘Behold A Pale Horse’ Aaron released his debut album on 7th March 2013. 
  • Call to Mind - from the Scottish Highlands, near Inverness (Ardersier), but spend most of their time in Glasgow. Debut LP, 'The Winter Is White', due out on 14 April 2014 through Olive Grove Records 
  • Francis Macdonald - the drummer and sometime member of British alternative rock band Teenage Fanclub. He has also played with BMX Bandits and Eugenius 
  • Kid Canaveral - see previous Blog posts 
  • Lou Hickey - Lou Hickey is a singer-songwriter from Neilston near Glasgow, Scotland. Debut album ‘True Love Ways’ released May 2013
  • RM Hubbertcommonly known as Hubby, is a Scottish guitarist and singer. Best known for his solo work as RM Hubbert and as a member of Scottish post rock band El Hombre Trajeado 
  • Gasp - is a Glaswegian Hip Hop MC/wordsmith 
  • Hector Bizerk - is an experimental hip-hop group from Scotland comprising drummer Audrey Tait and rapper John Louie. Louie was the man in attendance on this occasion. 
  • Stanley Odd - is an alternative hip-hop group based in Scotland combining live instrumentation with samples and loops - Solareye was the man for this gig.
So it all kicked off a little later than advertised, but the venue was good - a place called Platform. Part of a community resource in Easterhouse with a library, exhibition space, leisure centre and theatre. The theatre itself was like a plush lecture hall and we got comfy seats right down the front. 
First up, the Cairn Quartet eased us into the evening with some of their own compositions, and a couple of arrangements of popular tunes.
Next they were joined by Emma Pollock (ex of the Delgados) who performed a couple of her own recent compositions backed by the CSQ - fine voice.
Picture courtesy of 7aheadmusic
Next RM Hubbert joined them and added his excellent acoustic guitar to a couple of tracks he and Emma had composed.

Next up was Aidan Moffat, his voice instantly recognisable as that on many of an Arab Strap track. Mostly spoken rather than sung, but very atmospheric.
Picture courtesy of 7aheadmusic

Then it was the turn of late line-up addition Aaron Wright. He played just one track - "Middle Ground" with the CSQ backing and sounded really good. If you get a chance to see this guy - do it!
Picture courtesy of 7aheadmusic
Short interval, beer and toilet visits, and next to take the stage were Call to Mind, full band, mostly acoustic set - just did a couple of numbers unfortunately, as they were good too. Check out their EP HERE

Next we had David MacGregor of Kid Canaveral, strolled in, plugged in his guitar and performed a beautiful version of So Sad, So Young with CSQ backing - really excellent, but that was it - just one song.

Next was Francis Macdonald, who has been composing film scores recently, since his days drumming for Teenage Fanclub. He treated us to a couple of beautiful ambient film-score tracks with CSQ string accompanying.
Picture courtesy of 7aheadmusic

Next was Lou Hicky, who was on a fleeting visit between two other gigs. She performed a lovely version of Minutes Hours Days, especially good with the CSQ backing. Then she was off to her next gig. Will definitely try to see her again soon - she's got another CSQ gig soon apparently.

Next up - Simon Ward of the Glasgow band Errors. Juggling guitar and keyboards, he played a couple of tracks, with string backing of course, and just made you wish the whole Errors ensemble were there. Need to investigate - sound good.
Picture courtesy of 7aheadmusic

The next act on was a collaborative hip-hop number by Gasp, John Louie (Hector Bizerk) and Solareye. I have to admit that I did not expect to enjoy this section much, but they had each penned separate verses to a new number "Phantom of the Awkward" specially for the CSQ gig. First ever performance. I was very pleasantly surprised - they were really good - and the CSQ string backing worked well.
Picture courtesy of 7aheadmusic

The Cairn String Quartet then treated us to a number of contemporary chart hits on strings - my favourite was Franz Ferdinand's Take Me Out. 

Last but definitely not least was James Graham of Twilight Sad. 
He sang a very fine version of Alphabet from the Twilight Sad album No One Can Ever Know. His voice was great and the band should definitely do an official string backing version some day - this sounded fantastic.

Anyway - it was all over except for the raffle prizes (well it was a fund raiser) - lots of good prizes and they even raffled the chance to have the Quartet play in your venue of choice - your front room if you wanted!

All in all, a very varied evening, but hugely enjoyable, and a few bands (new to me) to investigate further.

Good luck in Austin, Cairn String Quartet 


  1. Very comprehensive record of what sounds like was a Who-Who of contemporary Scottish Indie. Did you take the non-credited pix yourself?

    1. Hey Ian - just spotted your comment. Yes, I was front row and twas easy to get the pics of everyone. I am v new to this bloggy thing but I do think a few photos help to relive the moment. It was a very diverse evening, and more than a few acts that I'd never heard of were good enough for me to seek out more of their stuff - Call To Mind, Lou Hickey and Aaron Wright in particular