DCSIMG

Songwriters united in tribute to Michael Marra, Bard of Dundee

Singer songwriter Michael Marra. Picture: Robert Perry

Singer songwriter Michael Marra. Picture: Robert Perry

  • by BRIAN FERGUSON
 

RICKY Ross paid tribute to the late Michael Marra after performing a moving rendition of one of his best-known songs at the Scots Trad Music Awards.

The Deacon Blue frontman silenced the room at the Nevis Centre with his classic track “Hermless” - then had the entire 750-strong audience joining in.

The awards ceremony had earlier heard singer-songwriter Dougie MacLean pay his own tribute to Marra, as well as watch a video montage of the “bard of Dundee” performing throughout his career.

Backstage after his appearance, Ross revealed how Marra, a fellow Dundonian, had been influencing him since he was a teenager.

Ross said: “I remember going to see Michael for the first time when he was in the band Skeets Boliver in Dundee. I would only have been 16 or 17 at the time.

“He was always really helpful to young musicians and was a big influence with the way he would write songs playing the piano.

“I think he’ll come to be seen as Scotland’s Hank Williams. I hope that one day his family will see that, he was that good.

“I know there’s going to be a BBC documentary about his career and there will be the big tribute concert at Celtic Connections, and hopefully more of his albums will be re-released as they’ve always been so difficult to get.

“He had so many great songs and I think he just got better throughout his career. I’d never actually performed ‘Hermless’ before tonight, so I had to rehearse like mad.”

Dougie MacLean said: “The great thing about Michael is that he was very observant, he had a wonderful way of using language to bring it into his songs and painting pictures with words.

“His great legacy will be that he wrote about his own stuff and used his own language about ordinary people.”

Marra died at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee at the age of 60 after a battle with cancer. The Celtic Connections tribute concert, which Eddi Reader, Riley Briggs, and Pat and Greg Kane are performing at, is being staged on 28 January.

 

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