The Mearns Connections Festival takes place at Arbuthnott from August 2-5 and for the first time there is a Thursday evening event which showcases local talent in two pieces, the first of which is written by Eddie Cairney of the Grassic Gibbon Songwriters. The second piece is written by well-known songwriter and musician Dave Ramsay from Catterline.
The first half of the evening, written by Eddie, is entitled William Burnes, a new musical which tells the story of the life of Robert Burns’ father from the early 1740s to 1759, just after the birth of the poet. It relates how William Burnes made his way from the Mearns to Ayrshire after the famine of the 1740s made his future untenable in the place of his birth.
The early part of the musical relates to the growing sense of despair in the family against the background of famine and the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion. It explores the tensions created between a father and mother who didn’t want William and his brother Robert, the poet’s uncle, to leave but who had to bow to the inevitable in the end.
The period of William’s journey south is covered and the main story resumes in Ayrshire with William falling in love with Agnes and it subsequently focusses on the drama surrounding the birth of their son, Robert.
The second part of the evening sees Dave Ramsay working with six friends who have all been part of his concerts and CDs in the past. The group will take the audience on a journey through the Mearns using Dave’s original material. The themes of Joan Eardley, Robert Burns and Lewis Grassic Gibbon will form the connections for the evening’s performance.
As always, Dave is keen to encourage new young talent and two of his guests will be the winners of the Father of the Bard poetry competition, an annual event, for which Mackie Academy pupils create new poetry in the style of Robert Burns. Two of the entries will be featured on the night of A Mearns Heritage.
The group will have their individual contributions and will provide a powerful group finale with a wry look at present day life in the Mearns!!
These two pieces give the audience an opportunity to see that the influences of Eardley, Burns and Grassic Gibbon are still present to this day.