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