Monday, July 27, 2015

The Beatcroft Social, Volume Five: Bushmills edition!

Bushmills Distillery will always have a place in my memory as location of my worst motorcycle crash (so far).

A borrowed Triumph Street Triple, a degree of tiredness, restrictive leather trousers and a protruding tailpack on the bike combined with the distillery car park's camber to ensure that getting off the lovely wee thing was a disaster. I caught my foot on the tailpack, fell to the ground and brought the bike down on top of myself.

I was undamaged. But when the bike was taken back to Triumph (it was a press trip, my first and last courtesy of a motorcycle firm) that broken indicator and scarred engine casing, plus a bit of scratched panelling, amounted to £2000 of repairs. The press department were, let's say, not amused.

So by way of penance, I have since then owned not one, but two Triumphs. And occasionally tippled at Old Bushmills.

Music this week from Tom Petty, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Angel Corpus Christi, The Hold Steady and much more. Plus a wee dab o' whiskey of course!

The Beatcroft Social Volume 5: Bushmills edition! by Tom Morton's Beatcroft Social on Mixcloud

Monday, July 20, 2015

From Unst with chocolate and some quite good music

As I write I'm in Unst, northernmost island in Shetland indeed the UK, where I have a contract to do some tourism development work. I have just had lunch at a chocolate manufacturing facility, or at least in the room next door. And very nice it was too! This week's Beatcroft Social on Mixcloud features four Unst-related pieces of music, from spoof power-hair-metal through choral traditionalism to a beautiful piano-led Unst Bridal march. And of course whisky. Or in this case, Whiskey.

Lots of other great stuff too, I think, from Robin Trower to JJ Cale, King Creosote to Tuff Love. I hope you like it.

The Beatcroft Social Volume 4 (Unst tendency) by Tom Morton's Beatcroft Social on Mixcloud

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Sun, stents, peats and motorcycles

Thinking today of friend, music fan and motorcyclist Hugh Docherty, of Kilmarnock via Aberdeenshire, who has had a very similar cardiac experience to myself (two stents to my one) following a heart 'incident' at an East Fortune motorbike race meeting. He's in good spirits, but this angioplasty business is different for everyone. I had a dreadful time for the first month, then a worse time, and then a slow recovery over the past six weeks until now I'm feeling almost normal. Not liking the drugs, but they're non-optional if the heart is to keep pumping and the blood flowing. Which is generally desirable. At least for me.
Our back garden tonight
Work today has been mostly to do with the Destination North Isles Project, which aims to put together a three-year tourism development plan for the Shetland islands of Unst, Fetlar and Yell. I'm currently doing some tourism development work for Unst, but a combined 'Great Northern' campaign would I think benefit all the communities. I'll be in Unst tomorrow (two ferry rides and an hour in the car). Very busy there at the moment with UnstFest. Check out the programme at

 I've also been relaying accommodation vacancies on the island for the weekend, which is set to be the busiest of the summer. if you're interested. The afternoon brightened into a lovely evening, which saw Martha and Susan at the hill to raise our peats (the first process of drying after cutting). Mysteriously, they already have been raised. Nobody knows who's done this, or if they do they're not saying. But whoever you are, thanks a million.

Folk seem to like my Beatcroft Social Mixcloud music radio show (number three in Mixcloud's 'Classic Rock Chart!') Did a little work on a new show for Monday, with a high and rather beautiful Unst element. Dedications to Hugh (probably something about bikes; I'm getting twitchy during my first summer without one for a very long time)and for Gerry McGarvey, the only Shetland parliamentary candidate to have a song written about him by the Pearlfishers! Check the three current shows out at

 Oh, and I'm reading Daniel Woodrell's The Maid's Version, which is southern gothic so crisply written you can smell the Ozark dust.

Monday, July 13, 2015

New Beatcroft Social - Volume Three is now live on Mixcloud.

....This week we're tasting Auchentoshan American Oak whisky, and here's the playlist.

Pete Droge: If  You don’t Love Me (I’ll Kill Myself)
Frankie and the Heartstrings: Think Yourself Lucky
The Cardigans: For What It’s Worth
Deke Leonard: What Am I Gonna Do When The Money Runs Out?
Sidney Bechet: Viper Mad
Lola in Slacks: Tramlines
Cocteau Twins: Pearly Dewdrops Drops
The Hold Steady: The Swish
Fairport Convention: Meet on the Ledge
The Lost Soul Band: You Can’t Win them All, Mum
Paolo Nutini: Scream (Funk My Life Up)
Declan Sinnott: It’s Just the Noise It Makes
Flying Burrito Brothers: Farther Along
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: Dig! Lazarus,Dig!
Elvis Perkins: Ash Wednesday

Taste: Same Old Story

The Beatcroft Social, Volume 3 by Tom Morton's Beatcroft Social on Mixcloud

Friday, July 10, 2015

Drift: Soundscape and Sculpture, Skaw Beach, Unst. Part of UnstFest

On arrival at Skaw, Unst
 I wish my thumb hadn't been so sore. I wish the weather hadn't been so cold. But on the 10th July, adjacent to the UK's Most Northerly House at Skaw, Unst, on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, it was absolutely freezing and my thumb, recovering from being shut in the door of a Volvo XC90 (fully closed and locked) began to ache, spectacularly.

Which meant I rushed the last 10 or so of the (suggested) 45 minutes it takes to tour Vision Mechanics and Nordland Visual Theatre's installation 'Drift', and became increasingly irked by the somewhat florid Zetlandic musical pastiche hatched by the estimable Eddie McGuire to accompany the caped Drifter on his or her beach odyssey.  Songs were sung and a poised script read (in mostly convincing
Zetlandese) by Gerda Stevenson, all conveyed to me in digital purity via a kind of appropriate thumb drive. And headphones.

The compulsory cape didn't help. If it had been made of wool-lined Gore-texed oilskin it might have aided my concentration, but as it was, I felt like a bedraggled T in the Parker using last year's embarrassing waterproof. Still, if I was cold, think of the Vision Mechanics staff who are taking this show around Scotland (Burntisland and Nairn done, St Cyrus and Eigg to go). They're camping for the duration, in a classic canvas bell tent. Ah, but it has a cast-iron stove. That's very nearly cheating.

Still, I recommend Drift, partly because I'm a sucker for this kind of art-in-the-environment show, partly because some of the images are hauntingly odd and lovely, and partly because the story is so magnificent.

Every Shetlander and Soothmoother should know it: Betty Mouat, 61, sailing from Grutness to Lerwick to sell her knitting in January 1886. The crew of her boat are swept overboard, and Betty, alone and starving in storm after storm, is swept helplessly around the North Sea for a week, until the boat grounds at Leps√ły in Norway, with Betty safe, well and telling her tale for another 30 years. Drift delves beyond the surface narrative to examine what Betty's innermost thoughts may have been, and very haunting, yet uplifting it is. I particularly liked the meditation 'chapel' based on Romans Chapter Eight, Betty's favourite Bible verse: 'No condemnation'.

The drive to Skaw from Norwick is a piece of theatre in its own right, and Skaw itself is truly one of the world's wonders. If you can't get there (Drive to Aberdeen, 14 hour ferry to Shetland, hour's drive to Yell ferry, half hour across Yell, ferry to Unst, drive to top of world, descend to beach at end of world), then try to catch Drift in its other locations. You'll probably like the music more than I did.

But this is Scotland (and indeed Shetland, and in this case Unst) in July. Wrap up warm, and mind your fingers when shutting that car door.

UnstFest info:

More about Drift and Vision Mechanics:

Monday, July 06, 2015

The Beatcroft Social Volume Two: Alcohol Special (with whisky tasting!)

The great thing about this making-your-own-radio-programme stuff is the absolute freedom to mess about with things like poetry and, well, drink. So, possibly not on publication (it's 8.25 in the morning here in County Tyrone) here's the second Beatcroft Social, with every song somehow related to ethanol and its effects. As those nice people at Gordon and Macphail recently sent me samples of the two Benromach single malts currently available easily, I've "conducted a comparative tasting" (swigged them and talked nonsense). You can get them relatively easily, though the 15-year-old ispretty expensive. But good value I think, and I'm not being paid to say that. Anyway, the experiment continues. Thanks for all the nice comments about the first Beatcroft Social. Another one next Monday!

The Beatcroft Social, Volume 2: Alcohol Special! by Tom Morton's Beatcroft Social on Mixcloud