The car took me to an unreconstructed part of Glasgow I had not seen before - a featureless street off the Clyde. I'd spent over twenty years to-ing and fro-ing about this heartland including the ordination of the city as European Capital of Culture in 1990 when, with 'The Ship', the great Phil Cunningham was my guide and guardian.

I was directed to a door beyond which lay the most celebrated gathering of musicians it was ever possible to bring together in one small space.

I knew them all for their specialisms and the iconic positions they held.


Graham Coxon, sitting cross-legged on the floor tuning his Martin, graciously waiting his turn; the sublime Ian Carr, carefully placing time where time has never been before; James Mackintosh, putting just the right pressure on his panoply of percussion; Ewen Vernal, breaking hearts with his editorial instinct of choice; Emma Reid, working like a jeweller in her detail; Ian MacDonald, guru, shamen, the piper of all pipers - and in an envelope of peace the singular Andy Cutting quietly about his indelible role; Julie Fowlis, the voice of an angel singing in the language of angels moving easily between whistle and Gaelic song; gentle Jim Causley of the most beautiful Devonian baritone voice; Roddy Woomble, stalking like a feral cat delivering serial wonder - and me! What the hell was I doing here in this box of brilliance?

In the midst of this with a wink of an eye or a gentle nod from his fiddle stood the reason we were all there - John McCusker.

The unity the space engendered under John's gentle guidance proved the point. There is only one sky and we all live under it.

John Tams
October 2008