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Tam True

‘He could be on the telly,’ they said about Tam True, ‘and then he’d never have to go doon the pit again.’

One Saturday night every month, Tam and the village’s other amateur musicians and singers gathered in Braeshee Community Centre and played for an audience. There would be solo performances, small ad hoc groups would play a set and then all twentyodd would combine for a finale. The Community Centre saw bingo nights and WEA classes and church socials and Labour Party meetings, but the Traditional Music Evening was always the highlight, providing even more enjoyment than the funeral purveys.

Near the end of the night there would be a medley played by Tam on the fiddle, Graham Hamilton, a grizzled pithead worker who squeezed deft magic from the accordion, Sandra, daughter of Jim McGuire the local NUM official, who played clarsach and mandolin, and Dougie Wallace, another miner’s son who was now at Glasgow University, but who came back often at weekends to play the pipes. ‘If ye’re gonnae get a degree and become a boss,’ his dad had told him, ‘ye’ll come back and play the pipes whenever I tell ye.’

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iScot Magazine
May 2017

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