I first played the guitar in public when I was 12. That was 44 years ago. A lifetime of dreams in wood and wire. I still have that first guitar, a little Selmer. I still play it. But, oh, how I used to fantasise about a 'proper' flat-top, jumbo, something exotic and glamorous like an Eko Ranger 6 or 12...
My dad had an Eko arch-top, and my uncle gave us an old Hoyer pickup for it. I played at the gospel hall through an Elizabethan tape recorder and a jumble sale radio speaker. Backing a choir.
A second-hand Framus arrived, university, lots and lots of gigs, mainly but not all religious. The Eglinton Folk Club in in Irvine was an exception. Shambolic, terrified floor spots. A Yamaha FG180. And FG200. The Gibson J40 I wish I still had. Festivals and pubs and clubs and churches and schools and strange, strange days.
Bands, electric guitars. Shetland and a whole new musical culture. Martins, a beautiful black one. A matching black Gibson 335 semi acoustic. A glorious red G and L S500, which I still have, the last guitar to bear Leo Fender's signature. Three-hour pub sets, folk festivals, and then a long hiatus. Playing, always. Singing, always. Writing, constantly. At home, mostly, for myself and family and friends.
The comfort of guitars, the ease of music, the decades of fretboard chording never quite progressing enough, but somehow, satisfying. Friend and confidant. The same progressions sounding fresh and visceral.
Radio. Blind Boy Flugga. TV, again. Then more festivals, the Malt and Barley Revue, My Bad Gospel. Adding whisky to guitars. It seemed to work.
Now. 2012. Playing at the second Inverness Whisky Festival a couple of weeks ago. Hootenanny's in Inverness with old colleague and pal Bruce McGregor of Blazing Fiddles. A wee Stella guitar from the 1960s. The sweaty joy of performing, after all this time, all these dreams and drams, all that wood and wire.
Many thanks to the Inverness Whisky Festival for the pictures.