The Park Bar album was well and truly launched on Sunday when 50 years of ceilidh music was rolled into a wonderful eight-hour session of songs, tunes, drams, and nonsense.
For all of us who were there, this was an occasion we will never forget, marking the 50th anniversary of the Park Bar receiving its music licence. Music was from Gary Innes and friends, Skerryvore, Gunna Sound, Dodgy Ground, Deoch ’n’ Dorus, Martin Pottinger, Eriskay Lilt, Scott Harvey, Trail West, myself with a couple of the Tide Lines boys, and the star of the show - who else but the legendary Donald Macrae?
It is hard to believe all those bands played on the same stage on the same day but it was all kept going like clockwork by Ross Wilson, who organised the entertainment and also produced the album. As many people said, it is people who make the Park Bar and there were many stalwart attendees of the pub in attendance.
I enjoyed a good blether with ‘Donnie the Hearach’, for example, and it was also great to hear a song or two from Bernie Smith senior.
Nina Steele, the current manageress, made a speech in which she thanked all the musicians who have played over the years and everyone who had supported the pub. She also paid tribute to former manager, Terry Ferguson, who first applied for the music licence 50 years ago. Terry couldn’t be there but his son, Terry junior, made a fantastic speech which in my view really encapsulated the ethos of the Park perfectly.
‘You show me another bar in Glasgow,’ he said, ‘ where you can come on a Saturday night and see a 79-year old- dancing with a 19-year- old and nobody bats an eyelid.’
He made special mention of Leslie MacColl and Donald Macrae - whom he described as the ‘ keystone’ of the Park Bar. He joked that perhaps the Rolling Stones were the only other musical institution to have lasted 50 years - and his comparison between Donald Macrae and Mick Jagger, as well as Martin Pottinger and Keith Richards, brought the house down with laughter.
Terry finished off his speech with the famous quote from the late, great Islay MacTaggart: ‘Sing Park Bar!’
And sing they did for the rest of the night. And sing they will, I am certain, for another 50 years at least.
The album is available to buy on eBay and from the Park Bar, with proceeds going to the RNLI.
Friday January 27: The Glasgow Uist and Barra Association new year dance in the Glasgow University Union. January 19-February 5: Celtic Connections Festival - schedule and tickets available on celticconnections.com.
Park Bar. Friday January 20: Gunna Sound. Saturday January 21: Beinn Lee. Sunday January 22: Beinn Lee. Islay Inn. Friday January 20: Crooked Reel. Saturday January 21: The Raggaels. Wednesday January 25: quiz night.