Last weekend was pretty special.
The hotel was full, we had live music. Lots of food and drink were consumed.
Nothing pretty special about that you may think.
Except everyone at the hotel were fans of The Blue Nile.
The Blue Nile, in case you don’t know, were a Scottish band who produced four wonderful albums; A Walk Across the Rooftops, Hats, Peace at Last and High between 1984 and 2014.
They only made four albums in those years which was one of the things which set the band apart from their contemporaries.
Each album was memorable and a product of the highest musical craftsmanship.
Each live performance was a triumph of, as one critic famously put it, a “shared private experience”.
For those of us about in those years, The Blue Nile’s music, above all others, was the soundtrack to our loves, losses, successes and failures. We all know who Tinseltown in the Rain reminds us of, where we were when we heard The Downtown Lights for the first time. How Family Life brought us to tears. Some of us even went to Toledo because The Blue Nile made a song about the place.
If you’ve never heard the band’s music, get yourself a glass of wine or a cup of tea and allow yourself half an hour to watch this magical film…
Even though the band no longer record or play live together, the fans have this eternal music. The fans also realise that they have a lot in common. People who like The Blue Nile tend to have fine taste in other music, in films, in books and art.
So, in 2019, it should be no surprise that there is a vibrant online Blue Nile community. The Facebook Page “The Blue Nile – The Music of Paul Buchanan, PJ Moore and Robert Bell” allows fans to share memorabilia, videos, anecdotes, sightings and selfies of band members amid rich discussion.
Members of the group have had a couple of Gatherings, allowing people to actually meet up and share their musical stories, forming lasting friendships. When Geno, one of the Page’s admins, suggested having a Gathering in Aberdour, I was absolutely thrilled.
Aberdour is a good venue because while we’re out of the central belt, providing a ‘holiday’ experience, we’re still pretty accessible. One couple came from Leeds, another from Durham, one from Ireland and Nicole travelled from Gothenburg too.
Myself and a lovely guy called Ross started The Aberdour Gathering at about 0840 on Friday 26/4 with a game of golf. Ross showed me that he doesn’t spend all his time listening to The Blue Nile, he actually spends a fair amount of time on the golf course. My local knowledge was no match for Ross’s single handicap acumen but it was clear to me that if Ross’s patter was typical of the group, I was in for a fun weekend.
Come 2pm and the Nilers started arriving. A crowd of people everywhere. At the bar. I was on the wrong side for a few hours pouring the gins, the pints and the wines. No half measures! The warmth and the friendliness was tangible. The old hotel came to life. In my short time here it has never seen such a happy bunch of people. I longed for a member of staff to arrive so I could join in!
Scottish legend Karen Matheson was booked to play at night. Karen had played a barnstorming public show the night before so i knew how good Friday night would be. But, to accommodate the Nilers I had to move the Dalgety Bay folk club to the local village hall. That meant schmoozing the council caretakers, setting up tables and chairs and a temporary bar too, hoping all would go well.
If Karen and her band were brilliant on the Thursday night, they stepped up another gear on the Friday. Karen’s set was a marvellous collection of gaelic, traditional Scottish songs and covers of contemporary classics. Covering The Blue Nile’s Peace at Last was not just brave, it was highly thoughtful and ecstatically received. The Nilers partied on, the bar rocking to the sounds of Mark, a top drawer acoustic performer.
Saturday saw the sun shine and the Nilers walk around the village. There was the chance to complete The Blue Nile treasure trail. At least there was until someone uplifted the final card from the train station bench.
I’m not a local, I’m from Glasgow, but I’ve lived in Aberdour for 22 years and it was great to hear how much the Nilers enjoyed walking round the beaches and the clifftops. Taking the most amazing photos and clearly enjoying each other’s company. What I enjoyed most was blethering about The Blue Nile but then moving on to effortlessly discuss any number of issues in a friendly, intelligent way. The Facebook Page is notable for its tolerance and humour and these guys in the flesh were exactly the same.
Saturday night saw another performance, this time from the Americana artist Amber Cross. Amber had a family health issue to contend with but honoured her commitment and made several new fans with her Natalie Merchantesque sound. The equipment was left for what i was told by geno would be an open mic session of high quality. He wasn’t wrong. David asked me what Neil Young song I’d like to hear and off the bat he sung a brilliant version of Old Man. Ross, whom I’d last seen tearing a strip off me at golf, did superb Danny Wilson songs, Mary’s Prayer and Never Gonna Be the Same. Robert pitched in with Cannonball. And Mark sung Paul Buchanan’s Mid Air. The great man himself would have applauded.
Sunday morning’s breakfast saw more hilarity and bonhomie before the group went their separate ways. A few had a hair of the dog in Edinburgh.
Aberdour 2 will take place in September and wonderful though Aberdour 1 was, I get the feeling the September one will be even better. I’ll have my thinking cap on for ways I can add to the experience and I know Geno is working hard at it too. The bottom line though is, it isn’t rocket science to make a weekend with these great people, who know how to enjoy themselves, work. It’s obvious that their love for The Blue Nile reflects their overall love for the good things in life; family, friends and good times. No more shout. No more fight.
Haste ye back.