Grit The Orchestra - Bothy Culture & Beyond

Grit The Orchestra - Bothy Culture & Beyond

27 January 2018 7:30PM
The SSE Hydro, Glasgow

Bothy Culture & Beyond; a music-vision-dance-bike spectacular featuring The GRIT Orchestra & guests with special appearance by Danny MacAskill.

A spectacular and unique celebration of musician and producer Martyn Bennett that will feature global cycling sensation Danny MacAskill performing to a soundtrack from the re-formed GRIT Orchestra will help celebrate Celtic Connections’ 25th Anniversary in 2018.

The epic production, being staged at the SSE Hydro on Saturday 27 January, will feature the world premiere of the orchestration of Martyn Bennett’s second album Bothy Culture by violinist and composer Greg Lawson.

It will include a section featuring professional street trials rider Danny MacAskill as inspired by his short film The Ridge, in which he returns to his native home of the Isle of Skye for an action packed ride along the notorious Cuillin Ridge, set to the soundtrack of Martyn Bennett’s Blackbird.

The GRIT Orchestra performed one of the most memorable and moving opening nights of Celtic Connections’ entire 25 year history when they performed GRIT, Martyn Bennett’s final album, in 2015 to mark the 10th anniversary of his death.

Tickets for Bothy Culture & Beyond are on sale from 10am Thursday 31 August 2017.

"There is a dichotomy in this music, a gentle old tradition of the land and the sea against the neon technology of our growing Urban culture. The tunes are of an old style: Scottish, Irish, Swedish even Islamic. The beats and mixes are of a new style: Garage Breakbeat, Trippy, Hip, Drum and Bass. I hope when you listen or dance to these tunes you get a sense of your own roots. If you push back the pressure of Urban development for a second you might remember where you came from. Go climb a mountain and see."

Many people ask what "Bothy" means. A bothy, in the Highlands at least, is a small stone built shelter constructed on Drovers routes, which criss-cross the most remote parts of Scotland. Now you ask what is a "Drover" ?. Well, a Drover is a shepherd, of sorts, that drives cattle and sheep from outlying rural areas to the bigger market towns. This almost always involved a lengthy and, often, treacherous route over high, mountain passes. It is on these passes that bothies can be found, and although it is generally more than a century since any Drovers have used them they are still maintained by the estates in order to give stalkers and hill-walkers some refuge.

Obviously, being a man of the mountains myself, I have spent many happy weeks trekking from one bothy to another across some of the most breathtaking scenery in Scotland. I've also met some great characters along the way and played many a wild tune to a bottle of Lagavullin (or something else if I was lucky). I should add that bothies have no electricity, heating, baths, sinks, or running water and in the winter time can be pretty grim places if there is no fire-wood to be found.

Of course, most of the time God's grace leads you to that piece of dead wood, and in no time a cold, forbidding night can be transformed into a blazing, cosy, room that smells of smoke and coffee. It has to be one of my favourite things.

Folklore and traditions attached to the life of the Drovers, "na drobhairean" as they are known in Gaelic, or "Bothy Lads" as they were known in the North East has survived well and I even knew a couple of old shepherds (two hardy, radge bastards by the way - now sadly deceased) who had hundreds of bothy songs and tunes that were composed over generations. Of course, you can see the same types of tradition and way of life in many mountainous regions of the world - Spain has a bothy (refugio) tradition as does Scandinavia, Austria, Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey, China etc.

Finally, I would say that in some ways bothies have the same, familiar atmosphere to urban nightclubs - arriving for the sound-check when they are merely cold, empty shells is always a spooky experience. Perhaps the same spirits of so many fire/spot-lit, whisky/drug charged nights have somehow imparted a memory of the ghosts of those people you have never met and can only imagine. Although the music and songs that have been played in them are totally contrasting it is this same sense of excitement that can transform four bare walls into a chamber of sheer sensual delight.