Monday, December 26, 2016

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Happy Christmas, here's the Christmas Eve Beatcroft Social - playlist, Facebook Live and Mixcloud

Here's the Facebook Live video, with webcams and audio, of the Christmas Eve Beatcroft Social (and Museum of Lost Audio); also the full playlist: ...and the streamed version on Mixcloud  
Status Quo: Over and Done With
Pretenders: 2000 Miles
Solomon Burke: Christmas Presents
River Detectives: Love Like a Needle (cassette)
Everything But the Girl: Always on my Mind (live at the Royal Albert Hall, 1986; exclusive)
Pet Shop Boys: Always on my Mind
Staple Singers: Last Month of the Year
Dave Edmunds and Plum Crazy: Jingle Bells/Run Run Rudolph (from Christmas at the Patti, 1972) (vinyl)
Gavin James: Driving Home for Christmas
The White Heather Club Party: Anne and Laura Brand - Over the Sea to Skye/the Northern Lights of Old Aberdeen (mono reel to reel)
Low: Just Like Christmas
Kissing Bandits: Caveman Rocks (single, vinyl)
Jenny Keldie: Away in a Manger
Eels: Christmas is Going to the Dogs
Elvis Costello and the Attractions: Watching the Detectives (Live at Glastonbury, 1997; exclusive)
Average White Band: Pick up the Pieces (single, vinyl)
Fleet Foxes: White Winter Hymnal
Al Lewis: A Child's Christmas in Wales
Donny Hathaway: A Very Special Christmas
Deacon Blue: Christmas and Glasgow (vinyl)
Megan and Lauren: Undermine (live at Shetland Reel, Unst, 2015; exclusive)
Lumineers: Blue Christmas
Everything But the Girl: Little Hitlers (Live at the Royal Albert Hall, 1997; exclusive)
The Bashies: Gotta Get Out
The Pogues and Kirsty McColl: Fairytale of New York

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Eve - a wander around Hillswick and looking forward to tonight's live Beatcroft Social

....we are on 60North Radio at 7.00pm, also on Facebook Live. Some exclusive recordings for you, never before heard on the radio, from local stars and worldwide superstars too...

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Winter Solstice, Shetland. A videopoem for the shortest day of the year.

Solstice, Shetland 2016

349 minutes
21940 seconds
Five and three quarter hours and five minutes
Or thereabouts
Depending on the clouds
The rest of today
Eighteen and quarter hours, less five minutes
Is darkness
Cold, fast-moving
Turbulent darkness
Dangerous, restless
Tip you up and chuck you in the big bad sea
Powercut darkness
Empty gas cylinder, running out of peat,
Damp driftwood darkness
Heart attack, generator-won’t-start darkness
No spark, old unleaded petrol darkness
Candles flickering
Batteries dying
1075 minutes
64500 seconds
Comforting darkness
Snug, centrally heated darkness
Rayburning, coal and turf fuelled darkness
Tilley-lit and laughter-leavened
Kettle boiling, soup sputtering
Flame-toasted, secure and temporary
And afterwards
After, the world begins to turn
Looping back towards the sun
Like a grateful downhill cyclist
Gathering speed
First Christmas flickers
Then Hogmanay
Then New Year,
Faster, faster, stronger, stronger
Second by second,
Minute by minute,
Hour by hour
Days lengthen
Until the numbers
Vanish into light

Tom Morton 2016

Monday, December 19, 2016

Not-Quite Christmas Beatcroft Social - pre-record from 17 December with full playlist

Back home now for Christmas and at last a chance to post Saturday's pre-recorded semi-Christmas show, now streaming in audio only on Mixcloud. Remember this coming Saturday's programme is LIVE on Facebook and, with full webcam mix, but at the new time of 7.00pm, for two hours.

Tractors: Rockin' This Christmas
William Bell: Every Day Will Be Like A Holiday
Kathleen Edwards: I Make the Dough, You Get the Glory
Jet: Are You Gonna Be My Girl?
James Brown: Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto
Mary Gauthier: Mercy Now
Shoormal, Joyce McDill: In the Bleak Midwinter
Arcade Fire: No Cars Go
Ramones: Merry Christmas (I Don't Want To fight Tonight)
Divine Comedy: Absent Friends
Teenage Fanclub: Hold On
Stevie Wonder: One Little Christmas Tree
Gillian Welch: Pass You By (alternate version)
Booker T and the MGs: Jingle Bells
Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham: Sunset over Foula/Isles of Gletness/Starry Night in Shetland
John Martyn (with Danny Thompson and Eddie Reader): He Got all the Whisky
Chris Rea: Driving Home for Christmas
Biffy Clyro: Re-Arrange
Richard Hawley: The Ocean
May and Mackie: Silent Night
Ryan Adams: Bad Blood
Drive By Truckers: Daddy Learned to Fly
Jason Isbell: Something More than Free
Tom Russell:He Wasn't a Bad Kid When He Was Sober
The Killers: A Great Big Sled
Julian Casablancas: I Wish It Was Christmas Today
Otis Redding: Merry Christmas Baby.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

What's in the record bag? Preview video of tonight's Beatcroft Social

...and my first attempt at working with a MEVO camera (thanks Ken and IScot!) which has a complete automatic vision mixer on the iPhone. Sort of...Needs more volume, but  next time with a proper microphone.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

"A cage for every crofter": how Shetland salmon farming went multinational.

The announcement in September that Cooke Aquaculture had acquired Shetland’s last independent salmon farming operation, Balta Island Seafare, brought to an end the dream born, appropriately enough, in the late 1960s: a dream of individual crofter-aquaculturalists throughout the isles adding to their income portfolios with a cage or two down in the voe, by the kale patch and the sheep fank.

Now the ‘big three’ - Cooke, Scottish Sea Farms and Grieg - run what is Scotland’s biggest salmon producing region, with 30 per cent of the national output coming from Shetland. And while, particularly in the USA, the business of ‘back yard aquaponics’ is seeing the development of DIY fish farming, including salmon, it all seems like a bit of a hippy fantasy when you take in the scale and, it must be said, the fiscal and scientific  seriousness of the industry today.

A quick canter through the history of Shetland aquaculture - and a full, official history is being worked on under the auspices of what was the Shetland Salmon Farmers’ Association and is now Shetland Aquaculture - quickly  reveals all kinds of fascinating and a times scandalous  tales, many of them not fit for repetition here. But the oft-told story of exactly how profitable the industry was in the early 1990s, and how annual Christmas bonuses for one company’s workers included brand new Audi cars, is essentially true. It indicates an inevitable pathway of development: small farms merge, go under or sell out to local ownership, expand, profit, diversify, face slump, then crisis, then self-destruction, leaving capable, deep-pocketed, necessarily predatory multinationals to pick up the pieces. Or to be precise the sites, staff and hardware. 
Who can forget the wild-west antics of Karol Rzepkowski and Laurent ViguiĆ©, running legendary local entrepreneur  Gibby Johnson’s Johnson Seafarms through £30m of city finance into disaster via the ‘No Catch’ cod farming debacle? Or the spectacular demise of the Shetland Seafood Group, really the beginning of the end for local fish farm ownership, despite desperate attempts by the local council via the Shetland Development Trust to save it?  

Veteran councillor Drew Ratter, a former chairman of the Crofters’ Commission said:
“SSG failed because we could not hold our nerve long enough to get through the low price period. And the Norwegians could and did. And what remains has been profitable ever since.”

There were other hiccups along the way. There was  the occasionally, ah, casual distribution of financial aid by the local enterprise company, and, as Shetland Islands Council’s retired fisheries development officer Ertie Nicolson remembered, the granting of works licences for new farms without any proper enforcement of conditions.

"The whole system was tidied up – there have to be laws out there, the sea belongs to everybody, it does not belong to the salmon farmer,” he told The Shetland Times.

Of course it was The Zetland County Council Act of 1974 that gave the council that authority over coastal developments, and a level of control unthinkable elsewhere in Scotland. Originally intended to provide safe supervision of local oil-related developments and masterminded by  MP the late Jo Grimond, it stated in one section:

The Council may upon such terms and conditions as 
they think fit grant to any person a licence to construct and place, 
maintain, alter, renew or extend any works on, under or over
tidal waters or tidal land below the level of high water in the
coastal area notwithstanding any interference with public rights
of navigation or other public rights by such works as constructed,
placed, maintained, altered, renewed or extended. 
Sites were temporary, not owned by the aquaculture firms, and controlled in the end by the council. The ZCC Act in turn informed and was to some extent usurped by the Marine Scotland (2010) Act, which many in Shetland see as part of a process of Holyrood centralisation. But under Town and Country Planning legislation, more control has slipped away with companies able to retain sites in perpetuity. The ZCC Act also served to drive forward early local developments and energise the aquaculture industry, as well ensuring, as Mr Nicolson says, that standards were, for the most part, kept high or at least under local oversight. 

Oddly, the first aquacultural proposals in Shetland, more than 40 years ago, were  for mussel farming, and today of course that is a major, largely locally-owned success story with Shetland Mussels Ltd and Blueshell major suppliers across the world. Shetland Mussels is a family business, and it was Lollie Tait whose pioneering work in small-scale salmon farming led to expansion, a trial with bivalve molluscs and an eventual switch entirely away from salmon.

And so Shetland aquaculture continues, despite the issues which have dogged Grieg recently due to algal blooms, to thrive, although that long-ago vision of the crofter/fish farmer has gone. Unless there’s anyone with a very large fishtank in their house pioneering DIY hobby aquaponics  and plotting to market their system worldwide. 

It wouldn’t be surprising.

Text copyright Tom Morton, 2016

Sunday, December 04, 2016

The Beatcroft Social - Thomas Fraser special, 3 December 2016.

Here's Last night's Beatcroft Social, which celebrated the life and work of Burra Isle's own Thomas Fraser in the company of his grandson Karl Simpson. Find out more about Thomas, including the bi-annual festival and how to buy the CDs, here.

The full playlist for last night's show follows, with embedded players for both Mixcloud and Facebook Live. Remember to visit the 60 North website for our 24-hour webcams, more music and other delights such as videos and access to other Shetlandic content.

See you next week!

Keith Gooch: Demi Monde (exclusive demo track)
The Bible: Graceland
Iain Shaw and David Shrigley: Listening to Slayer (cassette)
I Am Kloot: Northern Skies
James Mainland: If You Say so (Poem)
Little Richard: Tutti Frutti
Thomas Fraser: TB Blues
Thomas Fraser: My Philipino Rose
Thomas Fraser: Harvest Home/The Balkan Hills
Thomas Fraser: Somewhere Over the Rainbow
Astrid Williamson: Saint Saviour
Miracle Glass Company: Higher than High (vinyl)
The Bashies: Gotta Get Out
Badly Drawn Boy: A Peak You Reach (Minidisc)
Lloyd Cole and the Commotions: Are you Ready to be Heartbroken?
Shakin' Pyramids: Take a Trip (Vinyl; 45 rpm single)
Joe Tex: Hungry For Your Love
We Free Kings: Death of the Wild Colonial Boy (Vinyl; 45 rpm single)
Bap Kennedy: Let's Start Again
Just the Job: Living in the Welfare State (cassette)
ABC: That was Then, This is Now
Duncan Macrae: The One Tune Piper (vinyl; from 'Highland Voyage' LP)
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: Skeleton Tree
Rod Stewart: Every Picture Tells a story

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Beatcroft Social (Incorporating The Museum Of Lost Audio) broadcast live on 26 November 2016. Playlist and embedded streams

Still up on Facebook! Here's last night's Beatcroft social, complete with 78s, 8-tracks, cassettes and LP vinyl! Plus an interview with Robert and Chris from Shetland band Trookers, who you can discover more about here.

Really loving their first single 'Minute Steak', which you can download for free via their Soundcloud page here.

Welcome to the future of r@dio!

UB40: Blues Eyes Crying in the Rain
Rolling Stones: Ride 'em On Down (2016)
Rolling Stones: Route 66 (1964; vinyl)
Trookers: Chris Thomson and Robert Balfour interview
Trookers: Minute Steak
Trookers: Birds
Chuck Prophet: Bad Year for Rock'n'Roll
Eddie Taylor: Big Town Playboy
Wendy James: This is a Test
Elvis Costello and Jimmy Cliff: Seven Day Weekend (vinyl)
Ricky Ross: The Germans Are Out Today (cassette; So Long Ago)
Spoothawk: Hot Love (Straight After Midnight)
Bull Moose Jackson and his Buffalo Bearcats: I Love You Yes I do (78 rpm shellac 10-inch single)
Mark Kozalek and Minnie Driver: Something Stupid
Buddy and Julie Miller: The Price of Love
James Mainland (reading): No Particular Place
Chuck Berry: Promised Land
Imelda May: Call Me
Blue Aeroplanes: You're Going to Need Somebody (cassette)
Bob Dylan: Motorpsycho Nitemare (vinyl)
Lyle Lovett: If I had a Boat
Lindisfarne: Winter Song (from a vintage Kyoto 8-track player)
Al Green: Tired of Being Alone (vinyl)
Gallagher and Lyle: Among the Birks
Tom Russell: Tonight We Ride
Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band: Blue Jeans and Moonbeams

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Latest Beatcroft Social on 60 North Radio: Bongshang to Para Handy via Bryan Ferry and the Bluesbreakers

Here's the Beatcroft Social (incorporating The Museum Of Lost Audio Reproduction) from last night, Saturday 19 November 2016. A few wee hiccups with cassettes and vinyl, but a lot of fun messing about the redundant tech.  You can go straight to the Facebook video, with the outdoor Shetland webcams and cameras inside the studio in Lerwick...

...or, in glorious highly mellifluous stereo and audio only, stream the music from Mixcloud...

Anyway, the full playlist follows. Next show on Saturday, live on Facebook and at (ZE3 stream). And advance warning - from 10 December, the show will be moving to the earlier time of 7.00pm on Saturdays. And we will be LIVE on both Christmas Eve and Hogmanay.


The Beatcroft Social's Museum Of Lost Audio Reproduction

Bongshang: If and When (CD)
The Supernaturals: I wasn't Built To Get Up At This Time (cassette; from the album A Tune A Day)
Bryan Ferry: Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues (CD)
Filska: Repeal the Poll Tax (stream)
Spooky Tooth: I am the Walrus (Vinyl; from the Island compilation Bumpers)
Peter Bruntnell: Domestico (CD)
Firegarden: Choose Your Own Adventure (stream)
A Highland Voyage: We're No' Gaun tae Blaw (Vinyl; from the album Highland Voyage)
Karl Blau: That's How I Got to Memphis (stream)
Taj Mahal: Six Days on the Road (Vinyl; from the CBS compilation Fill Your Head With Rock)
Starwheel Press: Subbuteo (stream)
Aberfeldy: Vegetarian Restaurant (stream)
Easterhouse: The Boy Can Sing (cassette demo)
Family: Burlesque (Vinyl; from the album Bandstand)
Andrea Marini: White Van Man (CD)
UB40: Can't Help Falling In Love With you (stream)
James Yorkston: Woozy with Cider (stream)
King Creosote: Wake Up to This (stream)
Hank Wangford: Never Wear Mascara (cassette; from the album Rodeo Radio)
John Mayall's Bluesbreakers (feat. Peter Green): Out of Reach (Vinyl; from the album The World of Bluespower)
June Tabor and Oysterband: Love Will Tear Us Apart (stream)
Elmore James: It Hurts Me Too (Vinyl; from the Island compilation This Is Blues)

Sunday, November 13, 2016

The new Beatcroft social on Mixcloud and Facebook, with playlist (and a brief note on foiling music identification algorithms)

Here's the playlist and Mixcloud audio version of last night's (Saturday 12th November) Beatcroft Social, as broadcast on 60 North Radio. As I write, the Facebook Live feed is still up on my timeline as a recording with all the accompanying video, some glimpses of the aurora and my bargain priced red microfleece from excellent Cumbrian company EDZ.

A quick word regarding our continued efforts to stop the phantom Facebook algorithms from taking the live feed down (during and after broadcast) in the mistaken belief (if algorithms can believe anything) that we don't have the requisite licences. The Facebook machines are not geared up to detect relatively obscure music from Inverclyde, Edinburgh and Dundee. Nor are they good at dealing with old cassettes and vinyl. Leonard Cohen, bless him, tripped the wire this time but as I say, the feed is back for the moment.
Catch daytime views and much more music and video content from Shetland at

And now the playlist:

The Garlands: Viva Tomorrow (from the album Kerosene Days)
David Heavenor: Jenny and the Cold Caller (from the album  I Wanted To See Him)
Bruce Cockburn: Mama Just Wants To Barrelhouse All Night Long (Vinyl; from Waiting for a Miracle)
Leonard Cohen: You Want It Darker
Transvision Vamp: The Only One (from the cassette Velveteen)
Andy White: Tower of Babel Time
Joe Cocker: Many Rivers to Cross (from the horribly scratched vinyl album Sheffield Steel)
Southern Tenant Folk Union: The War (from the album Join Forces)
Deacon Blue: Church (1986 cassette demo)
Dean Owens: Raining in Glasgow (single)
Bryan Ferry: A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall
The Legendary Hearts: Make a Home (single)
Cado Belle: Stone's Throw From Nowhere (vinyl; from the eponymous album )
Vivian Stanshall: Terry Keeps His Clips On
Sam Spiers: Three Cemetery Town (from the album Downdie)
Edwyn Collins: Hope and Despair (vinyl single, from the AED Edwyn CollinsTape Box)
The Big Dish: Prospect Street (Cassette. Live in Liverpool, 19th May 1985)
Mowgli and the Donuts: Out of Time (from the album Volume One - Terms and Conditions Donut Apply)
Luka Bloom: You Couldn't Have Come At a Better Time
Tom Russell: He Wasn't a Bad Kid When He Was Sober
Ry Cooder: Face to Face That I Shall Meet Him (vinyl; from the album Jazz)
Tired Pony: Dead American Writers
Leonard Cohen: The Darkness

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

On the Election of a Former Gameshow Host to the Presidency of the United States of America

The dad-dancing Strictly buffoon
The Apprentice psychopath with interesting hair
The I’m-A-Celebrity-Get-Me-In-There
Rehab refugee from an afternoon

He’s no dope

Don’t think that for a minute
A woman-hating, fumbling, groping freak
Cunning, desperate, wealthy, scared and weak
It’s his gameshow world, and we’re in it

Press play
There’s no ‘press’ today

Only the pad of thumbs on glass
Tweeting and retweeting
Endlessly retreating
Enabling the crass

To win

So it begins…

Tom Morton 2016

Sunday, November 06, 2016

The Beatcroft Social on 60 North Radio - 5 November 2016. Absolute Beginners please!

Back live after a week awa' sooth, and back into the battle with Facebook Live. We ARE legal, here at 60 North, or as legal as the antiquated, sheet-music system of music licensing can allow. We have all the licences we can obtain. Get with the programme, guys! I see Facebook are advertising for a 'Global Music Licensing Executive' who will doubtless be negotiating with the likes of Sony and Universal, and be immune to the wishes of tiny wee outfits like 60 North. Just get on with it, Markie.

So, the Facebook stream has been removed, without explanation, and that took all your valuable and much appreciated comments as well. Sorry, but we cannot control the Mighty Zuckerberg and his algorithms.

Thank goodness for Mixcloud, an entity which understands music and how it should work on the web. Here's the link to Saturday's show. A full playlist follows. Back next week for more adventures in visual radio, and hopefully some better weather.

Oh, and as I write, Sunday Teas in Gulberwick Hall this afternoon. Thanks to John Hunter for that information. I should also say that the track which just leaps out at me from the show is the long, soundtrack version of Absolute Beginners, by David Bowie, played off cassette. It's a truly awesome song, and an amazing performance with fabulous piano from Rick Wakeman and one of the all time great saxophone solos by Don Weller.

Other highlights: Kid Canaveral off 45rpm single; James Taylor's still-stunning guitar playing on You Can Close Your Eyes, probably the best solo acoustic accompanist there has ever been. And the news (via Michael Craig) that ALL the late Michael Marra's recordings will be issued digitally, for the first time, in January.

This week's show has more cassettes and vinyl than ever before, including some very rare tunes indeed.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: Into Your Arms
Yvonne Lyon: We Were Not Made for the Shadows
XTC: Love on a Farmboy's Wages
Steely Dan: Dallas (from the Probe/MFP sampler 'Spirit of Rock'. Vinyl)
World Party: When the Rainbow Comes
Teenage Fanclub: Kylie's Got a Crush on Us (Select Magazine Cassette 1992, live at King Tut's)
Staple Singers: If You're Ready (Come Go With Me)
Dougal and the Blue Cat: Excerpt from the original soundtrack (vinyl).
Andy Fairweather-Low: Wide Eyed and Legless
David Bowie: Absolute Beginners (full film soundtrack version; cassette)
Lindi Ortega: Ashes
Tom Waits and Crystal Gayle: This One's From The Heart (Vinyl; full soundtrack version)
Half Man Half Biscuit: Adam Boyle Has Cast Lad Rock Aside
Ramones: Blitzkrieg Bop
Kathleen Edwards: Sidecar
Tony O'Neill: Throw Away Your Guns (1986 cassette demo)
James Taylor: You Can Close Your Eyes
Michael Marra: O Fellow Man (from the cassette Candy Philosophy)
Kid Canaveral: Low Winter Sun (from 45rpm vinyl single!)
Amazing Rhythm Aces: Third Rate Romance
The Walkabouts: Murdering Stone (from NME 'Fort Apache' cassette)
Linda Ronstadt and Anne Savoy: King of Bohemia
Jennifer Warnes (with Stevie Ray Vaughan): First We Take Manhattan
Leonard Cohen: Everybody Knows

With thanks as ever to Iain Waddell and Bo Anderson (and Andy in Singapore!)

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Beatcroft Social, 22 October - Mixcloud audio & Facebook Live with video

Here's last night's very slightly slicker analogue-meets-digital collision - no Spotify playlist as much of the material was played from vinyl album and cassette.

Still up on Facebook if you scroll down my timeline: here.

For the interest of anyone, ah, interested, the tape deck is an old Sony Walkman Pro portable, the legendary WM-D6C which is built solidly from metal and was standard issue to broadcast hacks at the BBC. I took one around South Africa on a motorbike and also used one for the radio series Hell's Golfer, riding around Scotland on a Kawasaki Z650 with a set of golf clubs. It is reputed to be the equal of top-end Nakamichi hi-fi decks in terms of sound and good used ones can sell on eBay for up to £500.

The record deck is brand new - an Audio Technica ATLP120USB USB turntable. Don't know what the cartridge is but it's a professional one you can reverse/backtrack for cueing up the track. Something I admit to never having done until now. When I was playing in my own tracks on the afternoon Tom Morton Show, it was all CDs and Minidiscs.

The software being used (last night for the first time) for playing out digital material is Algoriddim's DJay Pro running on a Mac Mini, which is really, really good - you can create playlists from any digital source including iTunes and Spotify. It is far, far better (at least for me, in terms of ease of use) than the playout system used at the BBC.

All of this runs through a host of digital gubbins I don't understand, masterminded by Andy Steven, Iain Waddell and Bo Anderson, who are the three folk you see in the background on the studio webcam.

Next week's show is pre-recorded so WON'T go out on Facebook Live - it will be available at

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Analogue special! Cassette, vinyl and digital Beatcroft Social on 60N Radio, 15 October

This is the fairly ramshackle (my fault!) Beatcroft Social from 15 October, the first to use vinyl and cassette as well as digital files. As I write, still available on Facebook Live with all the webcam action, but also, as below on Mixcloud, audio only.

Worth saying a couple of things: I had never, in a quarter century of broadcasting, actually played a cassette or vinyl record out on air myself until last night. At the BBC there were either people to do such things or I used CDs, minidiscs or files.

And so, when I arrived at the Market Street 6.00pm last night, Iain was still installing the Audio-Technica turntable 60N had just acquired (indeed, he was wiring up the cartridge). There was a great deal of level-sorting to work out, too as everything was either too loud or too quiet.

I had spent the morning sorting out cue points for the cassettes (despite its legendary quality and reliability, the Sony Walkman Pro we were using is a fairly (very!) primitive device). But I just hadn't thought through the vinyl. OF COURSE we needed to be able to cue up the beginning of each track. OF COURSE we therefore needed to what's called pre-fade the signal from the turntable (hear it eithout broadcasting it). And could we manage that? Nope, despite strenuous efforts and the technological fact that it should have worked. So the start of records was guesswork. Hence the Oxbow Lake Band 33 rpm single starting at 45...among other things.

Anyway, steep learning curve and all that. One thing for other DJs and radio stations using Facebook Live: They're using an algorithm to detect 'unlicensed' music and will take the stream down if it finds something it doesn't like. Last night said algorithm claimed we played a version of Tainted Love by a band I'd never heard of without permission (we didn't: scratchy vinyl Gloria Jones). As I say every week on Facebook, and have told them directly, we have gone out of our way to obtain EVERY semi-relevant licence for net 'broadcasting' we could find, most of which are, of course, bought from organisations still living in the very early 20th Century, and who probably use goose quill pens and pigeon post. Fortunately, you can resist and simply tell them you DO have permission and stick the stream back up. Which is what I do every week.

I'm assuming that the BBC, indie broadcasters and everyone in broadcasting are trying to negotiate deals with the Zuckerbergians even as we speak. But FB will have to get the licensing thing sorted out, a la Mixcloud. FB Live is, potentially, a true killer app, in that it could kill aspects of YouTube, all of Periscope and a lot of traditional radio. Or, it could reinforce and benefit at least one of those. Guess which?

Sunday, October 09, 2016

The Beatcroft Social, 8 October - Facebook, Mixcloud and Spotify

This show was broadcast live from the 60 North Radio studios at 4 Market Street, Lerwick, and if the Facebook Live video is still up, contains a host of webcam and Instagram shots to illustrate the wonder of Shetland life.

The music has a loose New Jersey/Springsteen influence, as I had just got hold of the Springsteen autobiography Born to Run, kicking off with his wife Patti Scialfa's Lucky Girl from her excellent album Rumble Doll. We have Shawn Colvin doing I'm on Fire, Greg Kihn's definitive, I think, version of Rendezvous, and of course Bruce himself doing 4th of July Asbury Park (Sandy). Plus some unlikely references points: fellow Jersey rockers Bon Jovi and other more obscure links.

Next week we're going analogue. Engineer Iain Waddell has lent me his Sony Walkman Pro cassette recorder, rescued from the loft, and it's working well. I have some serious obscurities to play, including some which may never have been heard on radio before...and Andy is promising a record turntable, so there may be vinyl as well.

Meanwhile, here are the various ways you can get Saturday's show:

The entire Facebook Live video and soundtrack is still up as of this moment, so go to my timeline if you desire, scroll down and see/hear the whole two hours, here.

You can go direct to the Mixcloud and Spotify audio-only (and in Spotify's case, music only) versions from this page. Just click on the links below. The Spotify playlist is here too.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

For National Poetry Day: The Brothers Corbyn - An Historical Tribute In Verse

They lived at Yew Tree Manor
An aristocratic name
So the Yew Tree Guesthouse
It became

David and Naomi 
Jeremy and Piers
Did bed and breakfast
For years and years

Bohemian and radical
Naomi rode a scooter
And used old Guardians
As draft excluders

Piers became an expert
In meteorology
But the world of politics 
Called him and Jeremy

In the Labour Party
Jeremy had sympathy
For his brother, his friend Tariq
And other members of the IMG

That’s the International Marxist Group
By the way
Jeremy was never a member
Or so they say

Jeremy became an MP
For North Islington in London
Waitroses. Marxists.
They have an abundance

Piers bet against
The Met Office. His predictions
Were sometimes accurate
Sometimes fiction

Skipping ahead: Now
Jeremy’s Labour leader
“Theresa May?” He snorts
“I will defeat her.” 

Climate change, meanwhile
Piers denies
All contra-indications
Are mistakes or lies

They were brought up believing
Evidence and proof
Are always deceiving 

So Piers and Jeremy
Still battle the class enemy
One predicts the weather

One predicts the future
One has a beard
And that would be Jeremy
These days. Not Piers

Copyright Scar Quilse 2016. All rights reserved

Sunday, October 02, 2016

October 1st - Beatcroft Social on Facebook, Mixcloud and Spotify.

After a bit of a hiatus due to Facebook suspending my account due to 'suspicious activity', here's last night's Beatcroft Social in various formats - there's the Facebook Live (video recording) with all the webcam and studio action, plus music, but in mono - very noticeable during Pink Floyd's Money. In glorious full-on stereo, there's the Mixcloud audio version, and then there's the not-quite complete Spotify playlist, which gives you an idea of what went out - though we were taking requests last night and there were quite a few last-minute variations.

And remember, is functioning 24-hours a day, seven days a week with webcam action this week promising some possibly spectacular auroras.

So, Facebook. That would be here, though there is always the chance that FB will take it down. I'll say it again - we have taken out every licence we can to try and ensure this is legal and that copyright holders get their just rewards!

The Mixcloud audio stream is here:

...and the Spotify playlist is here:

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Special Shetland Wool Week Beatcroft Social with only ovine music and human guests

This is the Mixcloud link for the two-hour Beatcroft Social  show which went out on 60 North Radio on Saturday 24 September, and the full Spotify playlist. Guests were the three people most involved in planning the week-long celebration of all things sheepish which is Shetland Wool Week - Misa Hay, Ella Gordon and Carol Christenson

And here's the Spotify playlist and link

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Beatcroft Social on 60 North Radio - audio from 10 September plus Spotify playlist

Well, we had a few sonic and technical (sonically technical, technically sonic) issues with Saturday's live show on Facebook, and the fact is that it's early days for Facebook as a platform for music, as they haven't made any effort to sort out a licensing deal and so just randomly take down shows like The Beatcroft Social DESPITE all our efforts to get every conceivable licence we can get hold of for what we do at 60 North.

Nor that the licensing authorities make it easy. Still operating in an early 20th Century world of sheet music and records, they really need to up their game and sort things out for online playing of music. Mind you, Facebook will have bite several bullets, including coming up with payment for MCPS, PPL and their international equivalents. And yes, probably charging. They should look at Mixcloud, who make this work.

Anyway, the show is on Mixcloud here

And the Spotify playlist follows, with several changes, a different order and some extra songs!

Sunday, September 04, 2016

The Beatcroft Social - live Saturday on Facebook and, also available on Mixcloud and as Spotify playlist

I think Saturday's Beatcroft Social is still lurking on Facebook as a 'was live' timeline posting, complete with the live footage from the studio in Lerwick and the webcams around the isles. Incidentally, we did get some aurora action on the Sumburgh webcam, but not until we were off air, radio-wise.

Anyway, here's the sound-only Mixcloud recording, and here you will find a link to the Spotify playlist (with extra tracks). Back next week, live at 8.00pm UK time on Facebook and 60 North Radio.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Summer of the Black Suit: How I started conducting non-religious funerals

Where the road runs out

When someone dies, we know what we have to do. We’ve always known.

We need to accompany that person to where their road runs out, and make sure there’s a place prepared for them there.

We need to say goodbye. And then we have to leave them.
Because we have our own roads to travel. And miles to go before we sleep.

We must go with our dead to their place of rest, be it grave or cremation. We should remember where they are, or where their ashes are scattered, and make sure we can visit that place when we want to.

On our way, bearing the burden of our loved one’s body, we may want to speak, sing, listen to music, pray; shout, scream, weep, argue. Fight with and take comfort from the God we don’t believe in, or the one we do.

When the time comes, we’ll know what we have to do. To quote the poet and undertaker Thomas Lynch, we’ll know where our dead need to go. And where we need to be.

What if you don't believe?

A funeral is a time to mourn. A time to remember, a time to say goodbye.

A funeral is always hard. Sometimes it’s a chance to look back on a full, well-lived, much loved life, and the sense of sadness and loss  is tempered by a celebration of achievement and times of shared joy.

But sudden bereavement through illness, accident or violence can leave those left behind shocked and very disturbed. Particularly when someone very young dies.

A funeral recognises loss, acknowledges and marks it, and provides the opportunity to grieve and begin the process of acceptance. Traditionally, death is a time for families to look to the church, to a God who promises everlasting life, heaven or possibly hell. Reward, punishment. Reassurance and hope for believers. Comfort.

But what if you don’t believe? What if the person who died wanted nothing to do with religion? If you feel uncomfortable with prayers, churches, ministers, hymns and talk of resurrection, redemption and faith? What  if you’re just not sure, or perhaps love hymns and Bible readings, blessings and prayers, but want no preaching and proselytising?

Some ministers will be happy to provide a service which avoids confrontational religious content, but many will not, particularly if the funeral is being held in a church. Which is understandable. God is ultimately their employer. That’s God’s house.

The religious humanist

At the start of the summer I was asked to speak at a friend’s funeral, and in our tiny corner of what is a small island community, over a few weeks a number of people, friends and neighbours, died in quick succession. I began to wonder if there might be a need for someone to conduct funeral services that weren’t necessarily religious, or that contained only the religious elements - hymns and prayers - that the bereaved actually wanted.

Anyone can conduct a funeral service, unlike a wedding, which needs a Government approved ‘celebrant’. And as I’ve said, we all know what needs to be done. But sometimes it’s just too emotionally fraught a time for us to handle it all ourselves.

I was already a member of the Humanist Society of Scotland, but my background is -  profoundly and going back two generations - Evangelical Christian. These days I’d describe myself as a religious humanist. Which may sound like a contradiction in terms. A paradox. Or that theological concept, an antinomy.

I asked Anne, owner of Goudies in Lerwick, our only funeral directors, if she thought there might be a need for someone to do funerals that weren’t necessarily religious. Definitely, was the reply. And the sooner the better.

I looked at training with the Humanist Society of Scotland and its new competitor, the Caledonian Humanist Association, but labelling a funeral officially ‘Humanist’ brings, it seems, an obligation not to have any Christian content and to exclude God altogether. While some people may want that, Anne pointed out and I agreed that others would like a prayer, a Bible reading or a hymn. Denying them that possibility seemed wrong. Also, it’s £2000 to train with the HSS, and £500 with the CHA. Who turned me down. It may have been my insistence on hymns. Anyway, I was only interested in funerals within Shetland.

And then the telephone rang. Could I...this week? There’s no-one else. Yes. Of course. Alan at Goudies had conducted many services himself when he worked on the Scottish mainland, and with his guidance and the rest of the staff’s help I began working intensively on various approaches, finding poems and other readings. I met the bereaved family, spoke to some of the deceased’s friends, and realised my training as a journalist and indeed obituarist was going to be more than helpful in compiling a life story.

So, I conducted my first funeral. And since then, every 10 days or so, I've walked with another family to the end of someone’s road, and tried to find the right words. I bought a black suit, some white shirts, ordered a black tie, black shoes. A coat. An umbrella.

I try to put together the funeral service those left behind want, one which fully reflects the life which has ended,  a service  they have input to and control of. As dignified, solemn, and accurate as I can make it, painting a real picture of the departed, one which includes as much humour and music as required or thought appropriate. Each funeral is three days of hard, intense work. It's absorbing, frightening and incredibly rewarding.

With or without God

I will conduct a completely Godless service. Have done so, with John Cooper Clarke instead of John Wesley, Kris Kristofferson rather than John Newton. I have come to appreciate the sheer emotional heft of Daniel O’Donnell. And I'm not joking. But I recognise the importance of Christian prose, music and poetry in our collective and individual lives, and I’m at ease incorporating some of the great hymns and prayers, Bible readings and psalms. And material from other religious traditions too.

But I will also help find the not so obviously religious readings, poems and music that may reflect a loved one’s life better. From Marcus Aurelius to Emily Dickinson, Bob Dylan to Dylan Thomas, Hemingway to Robbie Williams. At a community hall or at Goudies’ chapel, and then at the graveside, there will be no surprises, as the family will have seen the full order of service and all content beforehand. Errors are unforgivable. There are no reruns with a funeral. No editing after the event.

Although the emotional power of the occasion often takes what’s said and heard far beyond words. The American minister Thomas G Long says a local funeral is a piece of  ‘sacred community theatre’. There may be some truth in that. But we’re not dealing in fiction. This is the very edge of life, the ultimate step. It’s as real as ‘real’ can be.

Part of the grieving and healing

Before the funeral, I  meet the bereaved family and we talk. Sometimes they’ve prepared a written outline of  the life that is over, sometimes it’s just a question of taking copious notes, of listening. I’ll need to  write a full eulogy and find any music and readings required, something made a lot easier by the internet. This can be difficult, but it is part of the grieving and healing. Just being there, just listening.

Folk may wish to speak at the service themselves or have close friends involved, and that is always good.The right things get said by the right people.

This all happens quickly. Interments in Shetland are usually within a week of death, embalming (beware that mainland euphemism ‘hygienic treatment’) being rare. Cremations, though, have to take place off the island, and a crematorium away from home can be a lonely and alienating place, sometimes with no service before the cremation itself. I like to write something for a family to take with them, to read silently or aloud before finally saying farewell.

At a Shetland graveside, in bad weather or good, there is always a sense of home, of belonging, of departure, of a place to remember. And of brutal finality. It’s a raw, simple encounter with the earth. Two council gravediggers with spades. A pile of undisguised soil, propped behind wooden slats. Wind, rain, sunshine, seabirds, sea. Men and women, the power of words, the end of words. Dust to dust. The crash of dirt on wood, waves on this Old Rock.

And then we leave

Deep down, as I’ve said, we already know what needs to be done, and we always have. I’m just there to help accomplish that. To provide people in my community with the structured service and the words they need, at a time when words can be particularly hard to find. To tell the story that needs to be told. To say the things that must be said, in the end.

It’s a privilege. When we remember, bear our loss together. When we say goodbye.