The Scotsman Sessions #399: Last Boy

Welcome to the Scotsman Sessions, a series of short video performances from artists all around the country introduced by our critics. Here, Haydn Park-Patterson, aka Last Boy, performs The Dowie Dens o Yarrow in a bothy near Furnace in Argyll

You’d have to call it a bothy ballad, as Haydn Park-Patterson, aka Last Boy, recounts that hoary old tragedy, The Dowie Dens o Yarrow, over a spare accompaniment in a hiker’s bothy.

This particular bothy, however, isn’t situated in the ballad-rich Border valley of Yarrow itself, but near Furnace in Argyll – an area the singer has known and loved since childhood holidays. Park-Patterson is perhaps better known as frontman with the Glasgow band The Ninth Wave, currently on hiatus. And while the Spartan surroundings and minimal accompaniment in this recording for the Scotsman Sessions are a far cry from the ominously toned synths and drums of The Ninth Wave, they unite his music with another enthusiasm of his – the great outdoors.

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Aged 27, as well as making music, Park-Patterson has been attending a mountain leadership course and has his assessment booked for July, so hopes to be a qualified mountain leader by the middle of the summer (he’s also studying environmental geography as a mature student at Stirling University). “I spend a lot of time in the outdoors and hiking,” he says, “and I love staying in bothies, but it’s not very often I get the chance to combine my two passions.”

He and his filmmaker friend Craig McIntosh hiked to the bothy, bearing minimal equipment, and there made an EP as Last Boy, Live from the Carron Bothy, launched today at Glasgow’s Old Toll Bar, with a follow-up support gig with Haiver (a recent project from Frightened Rabbit’s Billy Kennedy) at Edinburgh’s Voodoo Rooms on the 23rd.

His Last Boy incarnation, however, involves Park-Patterson with yet another longstanding enthusiasm – his love of traditional music. “I’ve always played traditional music and folk, but it’s something I’ve never really been able to explore when I was in The Ninth Wave.

“I’ve been playing a lot more traditional songs and old folk songs and arranging them in my own style at my gigs so it was probably time to show what I’ve been doing.”

Two of the songs on Live from the Carron Bothy are Americana, including The Boatman’s Cure, which he first heard sung in a Dublin pub while he was touring in Ireland last year with his girlfriend’s band, Lucia and the Best Boys. Another track, The Boy With Blood on His Hands, is his own composition while the sanguinary Border ballad featured here, The Dowie Dens o Yarrow, was, he agrees, age-old when Walter Scott first published it in his Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border in 1803.

Last BoyLast Boy
Last Boy

Park-Patterson finds himself intrigued by the timelessness or such songs and their oral transmission. “I’m an artist in 2024 but some of these songs are ancient. It’s one of these things – I hear a song and even though it’s so old, when I’m singing those words I’m imagining it all in my head and it’s so vivid. It’s pretty cool that I’m here today but those words were written – God knows – 200-300 years ago and they’re still having that effect.”

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