August 7 marks the 230th Anniversary of the 1789 Lighthouse Act and the role of Alexander Hamilton in the developing the lighthouses to guard American coastlines.
Prior to becoming America’s first Secretary of the Treasury, Hamilton also oversaw the establishment of the Lighthouse Service and Cutter Service, the basis for today’s U.S. Coast Guard Station New York.
The importance of lighthouses to ensure the safety of shipping and development of trade was clear to Hamilton.
Jamie McGeechan, ASF Music Ambassador, updates us from Scotland today with news around Culann, an award-winning band from Ayrshire, Scotland, who have just released their second album, The Great Ecumene.
Culann are PJ Kelly, Sean Kelly, Greg Irish, Ross McCluskie and Calum Davis.
As Jamie goes on to explain: “I first met singer and guitarist PJ Kelly on the set of Outlaw King, the recently released Netflix biopic about Scottish king and freedom fighter Robert the Bruce on which Jamie had a supporting role.
Jamie, aka Little Fire, is one of our leading “eyes and ears” in Scotland, reporting that ..”Culann may be the best Scottish rock band that you haven’t heard of yet, and well NOW you have.”
It’s clear, however, that Culann is a band completely at ease with doing their own thing. They have been thriving by developing their sound, from their self-titled debut album released in 2012 to their follow up, The Great Ecumene, released at the end of April 2019.
The opening track “Evonium” is a great scene-setter for the album and gives a good insight into what Culann sound is like: intelligent compositions with powerful performances, great melodies and hooks, and 100% given with every note on each track.
What you get with Culann is a band who is not afraid to play with styles, aesthetics, and colors. They literally throw everything at it in the first track so it completely works. And, in case you’re wondering, the name Evonium is an ancient lost city in Scotland, considered by some to be Irvine, close to where the band lives.
In fact, The Great Ecumene itself is full of literary references – lyrics and sounds evoking nautical themes, ancient and forgotten lands and heroes – and all whilst sounding very modern indeed. Culann is Scottish storytelling, and “Evonium” is a welcoming opener on our journey into the world of Culann and The Great Ecumene.
Second track “Event without experience” is a track that is the key to Culann; “the band packs so much sonic brilliance into each song that it can initially confound you whilst arresting your attention; for me that’s what great music is all about–you can’t ignore it and it will stop you in your tracks. There is a particularly delightful flute solo from Gavin Millar, which is a real thing of beauty, ” explains Jamie, on a track that has everything else.
Track number four is atmospheric and clever, a song Jamie has not heard in a long time. One of Jamie’s favorites on the album, he tells us that because “Ecumene” is the name the ancient Greeks gave to the known world, the track is quite menacing and arresting at the same time. “It’s well crafted and takes the listener on a journey full of twists and turns, and as I’m listening to it right now, I feel like I’m in a dream world.” Its this juxtaposition of myth and human that makes Culann’s music so powerful.
All Reverie is another stand out track, one of the more obvious with real commercial appeal, although other songs such as Century Box and Aegis are “real growers” that can remain with you for days after listening.
The last track on the album, Queen Street, is a song which will grab you by the heart and serves as a fantastic closer to the album. Starting off as a heartfelt acoustic ballad, it builds into something people will want to sing back at the band, bringing down the roof live.
The band give everything on every track, mastery of song writing and composition, performances nothing short of mesmerising, “even artists Peter Strain, Pamela Scott, and Culann themselves have brought together the aesthetics of the album visually to tell a story,” Jamie informs us.
As Jamie noted …”Culann may be the best Scottish rock band that you haven’t heard of yet, and well NOW you have.” TAKE A LISTEN
The Great Ecumene is available from iTunes, Amazon, Spotify and in CD / Vinyl from the band directly at
Jamie McGeechan, contributing writer, May 2019, email@example.com
ASF knows that our members love to hear about different places to stay in Scotland, so we are delighted to share a unique accommodation we you could stay at. Would you like to stay in a contemporary take on a traditional Scottish Brochs or Blackhouses?
VisitScotland have spotlighted this authentically Scottish experience so one can get in touch with ancestral roots – staying in an architecturally stunning modern broch or a charming (but modernized) traditional Blackhouse,
Traditional Brochs are often located in picturesque and secluded locations as we show in this image of The Brochs of Coigach. Today’s Brochs and Blackhouses but still offer modern life essentials such as hot showers, electricity and WiFi!
Unique to Scotland, historic Brochs are large drystone towers, dating from 100 BC to 100 AD (during the Roman invasion of Britain), the new generation of Brochs are warm and inviting custom-built drystone Broch, inspired by the architecture of prehistoric Brochs.
Once common throughout the Highlands and the Outer Hebrides, Blackhouses are traditional Scottish dwelling with a thatched roof, and today’s charming versions offer sympathetically renovated interior, including exposed stonework, solid fuel stove, underfloor heating and a fully fitted kitchen. The Isle of Lewis Gearrannan Village is pictured here.
When growing up in Scotland do you remember the The Sunday Post as your memories are about to flow back as leading Scottish publisher D.C. Thomson & Co. Ltd launch a podcast on June 12, of the Post’s Archives, primarily around the popular little column where readers, usually women, could write in with tips for running a household. Alongside will be a series of books as capsules of social history of the time.
The tips are funny, delightfully dated and dubious at the same time, and occasionally even useful!
WE ALSO TODAY HAVE GREAT TIPS and so DC Thomson are launching the podcast of the “Pass It On tips,” with a young, modern woman’s voice that remembers these tips in practice re-imagined.
A few of ASF’s favorite tips from the Sunday Post archives include: DENT REMOVER—Put table tennis balls that are dented into a bowl and pour boiling water over them. This takes the dents out.
A KNOTTY PROBLEM—A knot in string or laces which cannot be easily loosened should be hammered gently. Then insert the point of a thick needle and prise open.
REHEATING PIE—When reheating either meat or fruit pie, put the dish right into a paper bag, fold over, and pin in end. The pie heats all the way through without spoiling the crust.
CLOTHES PEGS—New clothes pegs should be popped into cold water and brought to the boil. Allow to cool and dry before using. They won’t snap or break so easily.
Presented by Historic Environment Scotland in association with ASF, the exhibit traces Muir’s early days in Dunbar Scotland to Yosemite CA, taking one on a journey to see the environments which Muir loved and did so much to help preserve spearheading the formation of America’s National Parks.
In 2018, the exhibit was expanded to include images from John Muir Trail in Scotland. The 134 mile route stretches coast-to-coast between Helensburgh in the west, to John Muir’s birthplace in Dunbar on the east.
On behalf of the ASF Board a thank you to everyone who worked so hard to make the Wallace Award Celebration such a memorable evening.
The evening saw Sir Moir Lockhead, Chairman of National Trust for Scotland, and Dr Andy Scott, renowned sculptor, with the Wallace Award for their contributions to Heritage, Arts and Culture.
Scotland’s National Chef, Gary Maclean, oversaw the menu, adding special touches. Glendronach Single Malt offered guests a whisky tasting of their excellent malts.
The wonderful team of Claire Mackenzie and Scott Gilmour of Noisemaker gave us musical interludes.
Silent and Live auctions helped support the ongoing work of the ASF and for an ASF Grant to the new Baird Family Hospital in Aberdeen and its Neonatal unit being overseen by the ARCHIE Foundation alongside the University of Aberdeen.
If you have questions please call the ASF Office on 212 605 0338
Smithsonian Magazine offers an instight into what was served for the first Thanksgiving Celebration shared by the Pilgrims and Wampanoag Nation at Plymouth Colony in 1621 from an account written by Edward Winslow, an English leader who attended and wrote home to a friend.
It is a full account of the meal served – where turkey was a part of the feast but not the center piece it is today.
Further insight is offered by Kathleen Wall, a “foodways culinarian” at the Wampanoag Homesite Plimoth Plantation a living history museum in Plymouth, Massachusetts who has researched recipe books and documents
Wall explains .. “Thanksgiving was a three-day celebration and … have no doubt whatsoever that birds that are roasted one day, the remains of them are all thrown in a pot and boiled up to make broth the next day. That broth thickened with grain to make a pottage.”
In addition to wildfowl and deer, the colonists and Wampanoag probably ate eels and shellfish, such as lobster, clams and mussels. “They were drying shellfish and smoking other sorts of fish,”
A Happy Thanksgiving to all from all of us at The American-Scottish Foundation® team.
Historic Environment Scotland are leading on the honoring of a group of 6 Scottish stone masons who travelled to Washington DC in 1794 – they have now been honored with a plaque unveiled at 66 Queen Street in Edinburgh
HES have now mounted an exhibit with background to The Scots Who Built the White House – and is now on display at the Engine Shed in Stirling until Friday 12th April 2019. Entry is free.
Sir Moir Lockhead, Chairman, National Trust for Scotland for a lifetime journey providing transport for people to reach & enjoy Scotland’s beautiful landscapes & his current inspired leadership to conserve Scotland’s rich heritage.
Dr. Andy Scott for his outstanding contribution to Scottish Arts. Dr Scott is recognized as one of today’s foremost contemporary sculptors, world renowned for his public art. Amongst his most recognizable works are his 100 foot tall Kelpies, the largest equine sculptures in the world, located in Falkirk, Scotland.
The evening will be a celebration of Scotland with whisky from Glendronach Single Malt Scotch Distillery, Scottish food, music, dancing – and opportunities to bid on our silent and live auctions.
Scotland’s National Chef Gary Maclean, Winner of the UK MasterChef The Professionals 2016, Chef Lecturer at the City of Glasgow College, will bring “touches” to spark the menu.
The award winning team of Claire McKenzie & Scott Gilmour of Noisemaker will offer musical interludes with Mike Ogoltree and Shortbread, and will then lead the Scottish reels. Silent and Live Auctions will bring opportunities to help support the ongoing work of the ASF, and an ASF Grant to the new Baird Family Hospital in Aberdeen for its Neo Natal unit overseen by The ARCHIE Foundation alongside the University of Aberdeen.
We hope you will join us for this very special evening.
ASF is proud to have helped to bring the Kelpies to New York – we were so sorry to see them leave.
The full size 100 ft Kelpies, unveiled in 2015, are the largest equine sculptures in the world; situated in the Helix Park, Falkirk, beside the Forth of Clyde & River Carron extension. Boats traverse “through” the Kelpies; and when lit at night they become magnificent beacons.
Monday, October 1
6:00 pm Reception, 7:00 pm Lecture
The Explorers Club Headquarters, 46 E 70th Street, NYC
Member Ticket Price: $10
Guest Ticket Price: $25
Student Ticket Price: $5 with a valid student ID
John Keay, British historian, journalist, radio presenter and lecturer specializing in popular histories of India, the Far East and China, is widely seen as a pre-eminent historian of British India.
Keay will take one on a journey …
Like the travels of Marco Polo, those of Alexander Gardner clip the white line between credible adventure and creative invention. Either he is the nineteenth century’s most intrepid traveler or its most egregious fantasist, or a bit of both. Contemporaries generally believed him; posterity became more skeptical. And as with Polo, the investigation of Gardner’s story enlarged man’s understanding of the world and upped the pace of scientific and political exploration.
Before more reputable explorers notched up their own discoveries in innermost Asia, this lone Scots-American had roamed the deserts of Turkestan, ridden round the world’s most fearsome knot of mountains and fought in Afghanistan ‘for the good cause of right against wrong.’
From the Caspian to Tibet and from Kandahar to Kashgar, Gardner had seen it all. At the time, the 1820s, no other outsider had managed anything remotely comparable. When word of his feats filtered out, geographers were agog.
He witnessed the death throes of that Sikh empire at close quarters and, sparing no gruesome detail, recorded his own part in the bloodshed (the very same featuring as the exploits of ‘Alick’ Gardner in the ‘Flashman’ series).
Fame finally caught up with him during his long retirement in Kashmir. Dressed in tartan yet still living as a native, he mystified visiting dignitaries and found a ready audience for the tales of his adventurous past. But one mystery he certainly took to the grave: the whereabouts of his accumulated fortune has still to be discovered.
Using much original material, including newly discovered papers by Gardner himself, renowned historian John Keay will take us from the American West to the Asian East to unravel the greatest enigma in the history of travel.
Author of over 25 books and regularly contributor to a number of prominent publications in Britain and Asia. He began his career with The Economist as a political correspondent, and was a contributor to BBC radio.
Keay is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society & the Royal Literary Fund, and he has received several major honors including the Sir Percy Sykes Memorial Medal of the Royal Society for Asian Affairs. He read Modern History at Magdalen College, Oxford, and now lives in Argyll in the West Highlands of Scotland while traveling widely.