Howdy all,

I've been lurking too long around here without writing a few words by way of telling Pat and Greg, and the Hue and Cry Music Club, how I found my way here and how much I appreciate the music.

I'm an American who spent a year studying in Aberdeen in 1990-1. My proper uni studies fell to pieces there (I picked them up later, you'll be relieved to hear, so am now properly overeducated and underemployed like most folks my age), but my studies in Scottish Appreciation went brilliantly. I came away with a love of many new things--prominent among them being music, from traditional Scots/Celtic folk to distinctively north-of-the-border pop acts. Among the latter sort, Runrig and Deacon Blue made an especial impression on me then; and I still remember the night Goodbye Mr Mackenzie came and played a tiny pub at the Aberdeen Student Union. (Shirley Manson live + Guinness at 80p a pint = guaranteed good times.)

Fast-forward all the way to this spring. I've got this new iPod device and am devouring, via podcasts, the latest on Scottish football. (The Rangers Ragnarök-cum-dumpster-fire made for some truly compelling real-world soap opera...and it's not over yet! I hope 'Gers supporters will forgive the rest of us at least some of our Schadenfreude.) One day, two brothers show up as guests on "Off the Ball"...

"Hue and Cry". Hmm...that rings a bell..."Labour of Love", "Looking For Linda"...yeah, I think I remember hearing those songs. And these guys seem really fun and clever...not at all like some of the sad "I used to be big in the '80s/'90s" acts I've encountered. (A few years ago, Vanilla Ice turned up to play a show in the college town I live near. A memorably sad spectacle, even for those of us who only wandered by the open door on our way to some better venue.)

Stuart and Tam ask these guys to close the show with "Mother Glasgow"...and I'm simply blown away. Never expected to hear something like that following "Ice Cream Van Memories" and the "Kids' TV XI", that's for certain. (Nor did Pat and Greg expect to sell albums in northeast Georgia from appearing on "Off the Ball" either, surely. But they did.) How did I manage to come home from Scotland without any of their albums in my luggage? Shocking oversight, that.

I soon found my way to the Hue and Cry Music Club to see what else the brothers had been up to since the good old days of preposterously large 10p pieces and only four TV channels, and gave "Open Soul" a try. Listened to the whole album via streaming, without interruption (even though technically I was at work just then). Ditto for "Bitter Suite, Again". Bought both, registered at the Music Club website, and carried on finding all sorts of things Hue and Cry to listen to and view and read, off and on, over the following weeks.

To Greg and Pat: I admire your talent and dedication to your craft, your independent spirit, your willingness to try (and genuine skill at) exploring and blending musical genres, your openness to and appreciation of your're a couple of cool cats, there's no denying it. And I think your attitude is well-suited to this very challenging and uncertain time in the music business, where an act really has to be scrappy and creative and indefatigable to keep making a living.

If y'all ever want to give a college town in the South a go--call it a working vacation--just give a shout. I'd pester the folks at the Georgia Theatre until they booked you a gig...preferably a Friday night in the fall when Athens is starting to fill to bursting with college football fans. And I'll be sure to provide you tailgate hospitality, tickets to the game, and explanations of what the Sam Hill is going on down there on the pitch on gameday.

To the die-hard fans: I appreciate all you've done to help put the show back on the road and keep it going, so that there could be an "Open Soul" for forgetful laggards like me to discover one day at random. You're welcome at the tailgate party anytime yourselves...just bring along a bottle of something or some other treat to share, and be prepared to spend a few hours with some courteous, slightly-inebriated Southerners who will genially puzzle over your peculiar accents as you puzzle over theirs.


     -- Kevin

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