Paisley’s Spree festival closed at the weekend after a nine-day arts extravaganza …and organisers reckon the festival is going from strength to strength.

The Spree 2014 saw around 60 shows across five venues around the town, including a specially-built Spiegeltent, with an estimated total attendance of more than 5,000.

This year’s bill featured music, comedy, theatre, film and even a hypnotist, as well as a well-attended programme of children’s shows to coincide with the October week.

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The undoubted highlight was a one-off collaboration between King Creosote, Roddy Hart and the Lonesome Fire, and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra in the stunning setting of Paisley Abbey on Friday night.

The show was the most eagerly anticipated on the bill – with all tickets having been snapped up within days of going on sale in August – and it didn’t disappoint, with the orchestra adding a thick layer of sonic grandeur to the music of both artists.

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Host for the night, broadcaster Vic Galloway, thanked festival organisers Renfrewshire Council and asked the crowd to wish Paisley all the best with its possible bid for UK City of Culture status in 2021.

Roddy Hart described the gig as his ‘proudest ever moment as a songwriter’ and the reaction to both sets suggested the 400-strong crowd were delighted to be there.

Other musical highlights from throughout the week included Dougie MacLean, Withered Hand and Merrymouth (featuring Ocean Colour Scene’s Simon Fowler).

There was also plenty big-name comedy on the bill, with Russell Kane, Craig Hill and Daniel Sloss all featuring, alongside two editions of the regular Buddy Good Laugh stand-up nights.

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And the children’s programme proved popular, with the kids’ comedy attracting big crowds to the Spiegeltent, as did the free Let’s Do Robotics with Lego workshops, timed to run alongside the first week of the Brick Wonders Lego exhibition at Paisley Museum.

The festival was organised and promoted by Renfrewshire Council as part of a wider push to offer a varied cultural programme and use events to bring people into the area.

Council Leader Mark Macmillan said: “This was the third annual Spree festival and the event is now starting to firmly establish the town on Scotland’s festival map.

“We want to show people they don’t have to go to the city for a good night out – that we are able to attract quality acts to Paisley.

“Some of the feedback we have had has been fantastic – in particular the reaction to the Abbey show confirms we have a venue and a formula that is pretty special, and we look forward to building on that.

“The council has big plans to use Paisley’s superb heritage assets and cultural scene as the engine behind a wider process of regeneration over the next decade.

“We are grateful to everybody who came out and supported the event and we look forward to growing the festival in the years ahead.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Scottish songwriting stars team up for Rafferty tribute.

Paisley hosts Bring it all Home festival to celebrate Gerry’s legacy

The cream of Scotland’s songwriting talent is teaming up for a series of unique concerts to celebrate the memory of the late Gerry Rafferty in his hometown of Paisley.

Bring it all Home (11 to 19 April) will bring together some of the finest Scottish artists of the past few decades for a star-studded tribute to Gerry and his life’s work.

The festival – a key part of the Homecoming Scotland celebrations – coincides with a two-month exhibition of the singer’s memorabilia at Paisley Museum, featuring artwork from his friend and another of Paisley’s best-known sons, John Byrne.


The centrepiece of the festival will be Bring it all Home: The Gerry Rafferty Concert (Wednesday 16 April, Paisley Town Hall) – a very special evening of Gerry’s songs performed by his friends, family and fans on what would have been his 67th birthday.

Led by Gerry’s daughter Martha and his long-time friend and collaborator Rab Noakes, the night also features Eddi Reader, Barbara Dickson, Emma Pollock, Roddy Hart, Siobhan Wilson and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.

It will include all his most popular songs as well as some lesser-known work, with many pieces specially arranged for the RSNO.

Later that week will be From Burns to Biffy: A Celebration of Scottish Songwriting (Saturday 19 April, Paisley Town Hall) with a unique collection of talent paying tribute to the breadth and depth of Caledonian hitmaking.

Veteran songwriters Midge Ure (Ultravox), Hamish Stuart (Average White Band, Paul McCartney) and James Grant (Love and Money) will be joined by contemporary artists Siobhan Miller, Karine Polwart and Blue Rose Code.

Each artist will perform some of their own material alongside their favourite songs from other Scottish writers, showcasing the country’s rich treasure trove of words and music.

Other shows on the bill include:

– an international concert in Paisley Abbey featuring Irish multi-instrumentalist and songsmith Paul Brady and US singer-songwriter Mary Gauthier

– a show from Mercury Prize nominee Kathryn Williams and local rising star Michael Cassidy

– a series of musical masterclasses from acts including the RSNO, RM Hubbert and the Cairn String Quartet, and Stevie Wonder’s manager Keith Harris.

All shows will take place at various venues around Paisley. Tickets will go on sale from from 9am on Friday 21 February, and from the box office at Paisley Arts Centre, New Street, Paisley, on 0300 300 1210.

Running alongside the festival will be Bring it all Home: The Exhibition (7 March to 18 May).

The unique exhibition at Paisley Museum will feature Rafferty memorabilia from guitars to album artwork and gold discs to hand-written lyrics.

Paisley artist, and close friend of the Rafferty family, John Byrne will also showcase some of the artwork that brought the pair so close.

Gerry’s daughter Martha said: “I’m looking forward to marking what would have been his 67th birthday with a great bunch of artists and musicians. Breathing new life into his songs is always a pleasure.”

“It’s also fantastic to be able to stage this festival in Paisley – his home town meant a lot to him and inspired much of his work, I’m sure he would be delighted to be able to help shine the spotlight on the town.”

Bring it all Home is being organised by Renfrewshire Council, with funding from Homecoming Scotland and Creative Scotland.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan added: “Gerry Rafferty is one of Paisley’s most-famous sons and there remains an incredible amount of affection for him and his work.

“We are delighted to host Bring it all Home – which comes after the area successfully hosted The Spree and The Royal National Mòd last year – and Paisley is ready to welcome the national and international interest we expect it to attract.”

Caroline Packman, Homecoming Scotland Director, added: “We are delighted to have the Bring it all Home festival as part of the packed programme of Homecoming Scotland events.

“For many people, his music brings back memories of a wonderful talent so it is fitting the success of Gerry Rafferty should be celebrated with a fantastic line-up of musicians and songwriters, in his home town and on his birthday.”