MacPhail

The Oban Times - - Letters - AN­GUS MACPHAIL an­gus­macphail@ya­hoo.co.uk

NOS­TAL­GIA is a feel­ing I find deeply en­joy­able. And when I was at home last week, com­ing across the very first mu­sic record­ing that I owned, I was im­mersed in that warm emo­tion.

My mum had been root­ing through the at­tic look­ing for books and toys suit­able for my new nephew, Eachann, and, in her for­ag­ing, she un­cov­ered a box of mu­sic tapes and some Al­lan Camp­bell MacLean nov­els. Con­tained in the box was He­bridean Ac­cor­dion, by Iain McLach­lan. To this day, the late Iain McLach­lan of Ben­bec­ula is my favourite ac­cor­dion­ist and He­bridean Ac­cor­dion my favourite record­ing.

I had taken this tape with me wher­ever I was liv­ing over the years, but some­how in the moves and the brochan of life, re­cently I had lost track of where it was.

What joy and re­lief to be un­ex­pect­edly re­united with it. The sen­ti­men­tal value of it is strong for many rea­sons, not least be­cause it was signed by the mu­si­cal ge­nius.

I re­ceived this tape nearly 30 years ago, in Oc­to­ber 1987, around the same time as I started my ac­cor­dion lessons with Gor­don Connell.

My fa­ther had bought a fish­ing boat in County Clare, in the west of Ire­land, and on his way home with her af­ter be­ing in Oban get­ting work done at Cur­rie’s Boat Yard, he had stopped off in Tober­mory. Play­ing in the Mish­nish Ho­tel that night was Iain McLach­lan and, as I had just started learn­ing to play the box, dad bought this tape for me.

I was an in­stant fan and over the fol­low­ing months re­ceived two of his other record­ings, An Is­land Her­itage fea­tur­ing Calum Camp­bell and Calum Iain MacCorquo­dale and The Kings of the But­ton Key Box, a col­lab­o­ra­tion with Fergie MacDon­ald.

In July the fol­low­ing year, while at­tend­ing Fèis Bhar­raigh, we heard that Iain McLach­lan was to be play­ing in the Clachan Beag Ho­tel in Castle­bay. My ex­cite­ment was im­mense and this brought about the only en­counter I was to have with my mu­si­cal hero. The event nearly led to huge dis­ap­point­ment, but due to Iain’s kind­ness and an un­der­stand­ing ho­tel owner, the sit­u­a­tion was res­cued.

The an­tic­i­pa­tion of hear­ing him play live and per­haps meet­ing him had been build­ing for days, but when we ar­rived at the bar we were told no- one un­der the age of 14 was al­lowed in. I was only nine, so that meant hav­ing to lis­ten from out­side.

How­ever, some­one re­layed to Iain that he had a su­per fan in the front con­ser­va­tory and he – with­out be­ing asked – spoke to the owner who then gen­er­ously and cor­dially in­vited us in.

And, to my de­light, they ar­ranged seats for us right be­side where the great man was play­ing.

This was a land­mark ex­pe­ri­ence for me and rec­ol­lec­tions of it are still vivid. Iain signed my three tapes – see pic­ture - and his stature was el­e­vated to new heights in the eyes of that young fan.

All th­ese rich mem­o­ries came flood­ing back on see­ing the tape - the mu­sic, the ex­cite­ment, the en­cour­age­ment and, above all, the kind­ness.

Iain McLach­lan signed the tape.

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